This article is for all you fashionists around the world who love to shop, drop by one of the many cosmetic stores and pick up the latest fragrance, eye-shadows, lipsticks, powders, brushes or skin-care products. When it comes to cosmetics, make-up, skin-care products and accessories, Hong Kong is a heaven and a dream come true for every woman. Hong Kong’s cosmetics market is highly competitive and having no sales taxes makes it a no-brainer to go shopping for the big brand names (depending where you are coming from you can save 30-50% …sometimes even more). The cosmetic market and industry is an important factor not only for Hong Kong’s economy, but also is a huge part of Hong Kong’s everyday life. No matter where you go, you won’t need to look for too long to find one of the major cosmetics and make-up outlets all over Hong Kong.
If you are looking for the big brand names (Lancome, Dior, Chanel, Shu Uemura, Shiseido, Kanebo, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Revlon, L’Oreal, Borghese, Anna Sui, Elizabeth Arden, Sisley, Meiji, Moshino, H20, Burberry, SKII, Laneige, Fancl, etc.), you are able to find them in all the major department stores (e.g. like Sogo, Lane Crawford, etc.) as well as almost every major shopping mall in Hong Kong. Most of the big players have their own stores or counters in the shopping malls (e.g. Lancôme, etc.). For further information about shopping and shopping malls in Hong Kong please visit and take a closer look at our article about shopping in Hong Kong. In addition, the major shopping areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, Mongkok and Causeway Bay have several brand name retail stores as well as small boutique shops and stores. Don’t expect to get real bargains at these official stores unless it’s big holidays such as Chinese New Year or Christmas. Certainly, you compare with Europe or the U.S. you find prices already quite attractive. The advantage of shopping at the official retail stores is that you will be able to get the latest collection of make-up faster than the cosmetic chains. Another reason to stop by these stores is that they have special limited edition items or promotion deals depending on the season. For example Lancôme offers especially to upcoming holiday’s very tempting promotions. Last Christmas if you purchased a certain amount of make-up e.g. HK$ 800 you could redeem e.g. a nice make-up beauty case including goodies like brushes, mascara, lipsticks, eyeliner etc. valued more than HK$ 1000 for just a few hundred HK$.
Besides the official stores of the big players, we at Next Stop Hong Kong recommend you to take a look at the following cosmetics chain stores since they are available almost everywhere in Hong Kong. Be assured you won’t be regret to stop by these chain stores since all of them not only offer the most famous and popular brands, but also substantial savings (often up to 70%).
SaSa is one the leading cosmetic and retailing beauty services group not only in Hong Kong. The company has stores in Mainland China, Macau, Malaysia as well as Singapore and offers a wide range of more than 400 famous brands and quality niche brands. There are currently more than 190 of these “one-stop” cosmetic specialty stores around Asia. If you walk around in the busiest shopping districts of Mongkok, Causeway Bay or Central you sometimes have the feeling that they are all located on one single road. Especially in Mongkok you just need to walk a few steps and you will hit another branch store.
Due to Hong Kong’s high rent, densely populated area as well as the very attractive prices, be prepared when you enter any of the cosmetics stores. The shops use almost every single space for products. Shopping alleys are narrow and especially on weekends, off-office-hours and holidays these cosmetic stores can be quite crowded. Don’t get confused or overwhelmed by the sheer variety of the products. At the first moment it seems almost impossible to navigate through the store without any professional help.
Keep the follow advice in mind when you are looking for your products or hunting for make-up and cosmetics bargains:
The stores are almost built up after the same concept. Once you figure it out…you have no problem to get in the next one and get what you want in few minutes. Usually, SaSa groups and arranges the products according to their product category (e.g. eye-shadows, lipsticks, cleansers, toner, foundation, etc). So if you are looking for a special eye-liner you have a good chance to find your product in the eye-liner session. The big brand names, high-end and more expensive items (e.g. Lancome, Dior, Estee Lauder, Annayake, etc.) are located at the back of the store (which makes senses…considering theft and the value of these products). Some products such as Mascara, foundation, etc. of expensive brands sometimes are locked in the counter that you need to ask the staffs to fetch them for you.
Bonjour is similar to the above mentioned SaSa cosmetic chain store. In the Bonjour cosmetic stores you are able to find more than 20,000 beauty and healthcare products. You can find Bonjour stores all over Hong Kong as well as in Macau and Guangzhou (Mainland China). Bonjour seems to cater almost every customer needs. The range of products is very broad and you can find products for every budget and needs. When you enter one of the stores you will have an experience and feeling similar to the SaSa concept. Products are categorized and divided into major groups like skincare, make-up, fragrances, hair care, healthcare and accessories. Similar to SaSa the more expensive and upper scale products are found either in glass cases, behind the counters and/or at the back of the store.
My personal impression is that Bonjour sells more beauty accessories than SaSa. Prices for brushes, make-up sponges and beauty tools are at a very competitive price level. In addition, you can find the one or other brand name quite heavily discounted there.
Colormix is another cosmetic chain in Hong Kong, but not as big as SaSa and Bonjour. Similar to the above mentioned chain stores SaSa and Bonjour, Colormix offers a wide range of branded products in their retail outlets. Colormix establish their business in 2004 and is currently expanding their business fields into Macau. You are able to shop in more than 40 stores throughout Hong Kong and Macau. The store concept claims to be a little bit more spacious and targets more the younger women. The range of products includes skin care, perfumery, make-up, personal care and “trendy” items. Colormix offers most of the major brand names as well as exclusive cosmetics products you just can find here. Although, the overall number of brands and products are not as impressive as Colormix competitors, you are able to get some really good deals here.
Angel Cosmetics is another chain store where you can find lots of cosmetics. They don’t have as many branch stores as SaSa or Bonjour but the operation concept is similar. In Angel Cosmetics, it is not renovated as modern as other cosmetic stores because you will see they always put boxes of goods on the floor and look like on a removal sale. Although their shops are smaller and they have less variety of shopping choices, if you do the price comparison, you may find some items cheaper in this cosmetic store.
Aster Cosmetics Center offers more than 400 different top brands and more than 20,000 cosmetics brands. Products include perfumes, skincare products and slimming aids. Although Aster Cosmetic Center has a wide selection of brands, my personal feeling is that they primarily cater and focus on the needs of Mainland Chinese customers. The shops are generally smaller than SaSa, Bonjour or Colormix and you might not be able to find the top high-end brands. Nonetheless, if you come across one of the retail outlets you still can have a look and find some good bargains there.
For all of you who are looking especially for Japanese beauty products, you might want to consider taking at Lan Lan Cosmetics House. Unfortunately, their website is only available in Chinese, but you still can have a closer look. Lan Lan Cosmetics House is well-known for its specialization of Japanese make-up products. If you are looking for brands like Shiseido, Cle de Peau Beaute, Kanebo, Maquillage, Haku, Pola, etc. or Japanese accessories like brushes, etc. than this little cosmetic store is definitely worthwhile to have a closer look.[Go Back]
To wrap up and complete this article we would like to mentionWatsons and Manning’s Pharmacy. Both are major players here in Hong Kong and are actually more a pharmacy and drugstore than cosmetic chain stores. The focus is more on skin- and health-care products. Nonetheless both stores carry several make-up brands and accessories too. You will be able to find Revlon, Max Factor, L’Oreal and Maybelline among other brands. So why not drop in on your way to one of the shopping malls and have a closer look.
An interesting fact to note is that in Hong Kong you won’t get free sample sizes which mainly have to do with the low prices in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, you are able to purchase these “not-for-sale” sample products. Usually, the sample products are located in the front part of the store. Just follow the young local fashion-savvy ladies or look where the biggest crowd is. If you just want to try if one of the Asia cosmetic brands is for you or if you want to have a handy size of your favorite cosmetic brand for traveling …this might be worth to consider. Don’t think to purchase because you want to stock up. You get better deals when you buy the normal retail packages.
Furthermore, you will ask yourself if it is worthwhile to have a look at the same outlet store of the above mention cosmetic chain stores (e.g. SaSa or Bonjour). Although, there are sometimes several SaSa stores in one street, it is a good idea to take a look at all of them before you decide to buy. Not every store has the same products and prices can differ sometimes (substantially) too.
As for any product make sure you know it well. In addition, know what you want and how much you have to pay for the product at your home country. Then you are able to judge if the local product is a bargain or not.
Especially for cosmetics have a close look at the expiry date. Most of the time, the expiration date is encrypted. If you cannot find an expiry date or you are not able to decipher it, ask one of the beauty consultants to help you. Usually, the staff is very nice and helpful and has a list to look up the expiration date. In addition, make sure that you purchase an original sealed packaged. You don’t want to find out that the mascara you just bought already dried up because somebody opened it a few days earlier. Another important piece of advice is to look at the “made-of-origin” label as well as the components/ingredients list of the product. Often cheap prices of famous brands result due to the fact that they are produced in and/or are for a secondary country and are re-imported. Products targeting the Japanese, European and North American countries are usually made in either of these countries. Last but not least, take a close look if you want to purchase one of the Asian editions of lotion, crèmes, etc. Contrary to the western world where a tanned skin is considered “beautiful, young and sexy”, Asians prefer white skin. Therefore, many of the Asian edition crèmes and lotion contain some kind of whitening component.
Is Hong Kong a cosmetic heaven? Hong Kong is definitely a heaven for shoppers from around the world and this applies to the cosmetic market as well. The advantage of shopping cosmetics in Hong Kong is the sheer variety in a very limited space. I can’t think of any other country or city which has so many choices and varieties of cosmetics. Especially, if you are keen for Japanese and/or Korean products, Hong Kong offers you a wide selection with very attractive prices. The wide range of brands, accessories and products makes it difficult to stay focused and very easy to get carried away. The above mentioned stores have every product you can even think about or even imagine…so yes…Hong Kong is a heaven for cosmetics lovers.
Is make-up in Hong Kong cheaper? This question is difficult to answer. It really depends where you are from and which price structure you are used to. Basically, I would answer yes (especially, having prices from Europe and North America in my mind). If you are coming from one of the Asia countries like Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand you might not find some prices so attractive (some are cheaper, some may be a little bit more expensive). On the other side, you do have much more choices here and you are able to find many products, which are not available in some of your home countries. Certainly, it depends on the brand you are looking for as well. Generally speaking, you have a very good chance to get bargain prices on Japanese cosmetics. Some of prices for Japanese make-up are even cheaper than in Japan. Last time my friend bought a night crème from Annayake with about HK$ 300 (which is 70-80% less than the suggested retail price) in a special holiday promotion. Besides the major brands, you are also able to find many of the side or sub brands (also known as B-brands or secondary brands) of these brands which add to the choices and selection you have.
If you are pressed for time and also want an all-in-one shopping experience (from fashion to electronics) we would recommend you to go to Mongkok. You have an upscale shopping mall there (Langham Place shopping mall), the Ladies Market, the sport shoes/sneaker street and the electronic street. Depending which MTR station you exit you almost fall into one of the above mentioned cosmetic chain stores. Believe me you won’t miss it. They are nearly at every corner.
Another location we can recommend is Causeway Bay. Similar to Mongkok, it is a very crowded place, but a better mixture of upscale shopping stores and cosmetic stores. Sogo (the Japanese department store) is nearby as well as Times Square Shopping Mall. Just cross Times Square you are able to find all kinds of cosmetic and fashion retail stores.
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