Additional reporting by Vivian Yeong
Bangkok is known for its super affordable, stylish fashionable clothing items and we know this is why you can’t stop visiting this neighbouring city. Another thing you should certainly look out for when you’re there? Beauty products, of course!
If you’ve read our previous article on Thai beauty gurus or Thai beauty brands to look out for, you may have sighed in envy at their stylishness and the array of cute, unique products they have to offer – plus, since it is Bangkok (which, more than just the Land of Smiles, but also the Land of Bargaining for Foreigners) these products are often pretty affordable and of good quality too!
Not quite sure what to look out for or where to go? This is the ultimate guide for where and how to shop for your favourite beauty products in Bangkok.
Okay, hear us out on this one. We know what you’re thinking: we have many Watsons outlets in Singapore too, so why should we visit the ones in Bangkok? That’s because you can find exclusive products in Bangkok’s Watsons stores that you can’t find here.
Besides being able to find your usual evergreen drugstore brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal, it also carries many home-grown Thai brands like Cosluxe, known for its well-loved Slim Brow Eyebrow Pencil that makes brow-drawing super easy even for makeup newbies. You should also check out brands like Mistine, Sleek Makeup, and Cathydoll, all are popular brands that you can’t usually find easily in Singapore.
As we all know, Watsons holds plenty of sales to keep our wallets in check, so do look out for any sales or promotions that might be going on to snag an even better deal!
Where to find Watsons? Basically any shopping mall in Bangkok.
For those who love their Japanese beauty products, you’ll find Tsuruha the place that’ll meet your fix for them. From staple Japanese brands like Heroine Make, Majolica Majorca (which has pulled out of Singapore, sadly, so if you’re a fan of their iconic mascara, this is your chance to go get it restocked!), Cezanne, Hada Labo, and Curel.
Boots is another drugstore that can be located in nearly every shopping mall in Bangkok. What we’ll definitely go for when we are there is their in-house brand, known for affordable but quality hair products. You can also check out other home-grown Thai brands like Inecto Naturals – great for those who’re fan of the dearly beloved coconut oil! From hair treatments to body scrubs that use coconut, Inecto Naturals has it all for the coconut-lovers out there.
Another brand that we love stocking up on when we are at Boots is Soap and Glory. While it can be found in Sephora Singapore, Boots usually offer huge discounts on them that you shouldn’t miss.
For those looking for something completely unique, Boots even carries a Dead Sea Salt Scrub. And yes, taken directly from the Dead Sea in Israel itself. Known for its extra smooth and buttery texture, it has received the attention of many beauty gurus. So if you’re looking for an easy souvenir to take back home – this is it.
DV Tip: Look out for their Buy-2, Take-1 promotions that are run regularly!
Situated inside the Centrepoint of Siam Square and next to Siam Square mall, Beautrium offers brands like e.l.f cosmetics (yes, the brand the US folks keep raving about that have products that go for USD1) as well as the well-loved cult brand Lime Crime (that we sadly, can only ship internationally!).
Always wanted to buy these products without dealing with pesky shipping costs and the chance to swatch them before you buy? This is it, right here.
It is located at Centerpoint of Siam Square (G, Fl), Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.
5. Eve & Boy
Sort of like Thailand’s own home-grown and less intimidating counterpart to USA’s Ulta, Eve and Boy has near everything from low-end beauty products, to super high-end, and attracts near every Thai beauty enthusiast.
Eve & Boy stock several brands that you have definitely heard of but can’t buy easily in Singapore. The ones that we’ll definitely reach out for when we visit Bangkok: Peripera – their lip tints are amazing, and Milani – which has beautiful blushes that are highly raved about.
Besides these brands, you can also find homegrown brands like Srichand and Cute Press, which often does cute collaborations to roll out products with packaging that is to-die-for.
There are several outlets located at Terminal 21, SQ1, The Underground, and Siam Square.
6. Beauty Buffet
A beauty kiosk you’d be able to spy in between many intersections of MRTs and BTSs, Beauty Buffet is one of Bangkok’s more unique beauty brands that bases their products on the concept of food.
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With products like their Whitening Milk Plus skincare range (that is apparently famous for its pleasant, creamy, milky scent and whitening properties!), to cutely packaged egg treatment masks, to beloved brands like The Bakery (has products based on baking like chocolate lipstick, yum yum!), to the well-known M.A.C. dupe, Gino McCray, this is the ultimate paradise for those who love all things cutesy, whimsical and lastly, affordable.
There are multiple outlets located all across Bangkok. Click here for a comprehensive list of all the outlets.
7. Hej Street Beauty
A beauty store that offers makeup products that are exclusive to Thailand? Yes, this is where you can find metallic eyeshadows from Essence and exclusive skincare line Chu’s Skin.
Best of all? It offers these products at super affordable prices, with most going for below 500 Baht, and opens till midnight so you could literally shop till you drop!
Bonus: There’re also comfy seats above where you can charge your phone, sit down, and look at the chaos of the frantic shoppers below from above. You can also get a makeover if you visit on a Friday.
It is located at 191 Si Lom, Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, Thailand.
Exclusive Thai beauty brands to look out for
If you’re looking to bring home something unique, consider bringing home well-loved Thai brands that locals can’t get enough of. Here are a few of the most exciting ones that you should consider:
Karmakamet first started in 2011 as a small shop in Chatuchak Weekend Market, and has now grown into one of Thailand’s most famous beauty brands.The brand offers everything from essential oils to moisturizers. The essential oils are derived from Thai herbs, spices, wild grasses and flowers. Online reviews highly recommend their body lotions and diffusers, which are guaranteed to help you feel more relaxed and actually get some beauty sleep.
Siam Botanicals positions itself as an honest brand that sells natural face care, skincare and personal care products. By ‘natural’, they mean that their products are completely free from synthetic chemicals, artificial colouring, and fragrances. In addition, they don’t test on animals and bottle their products in Thailand using recycled brown bottles or reusable plastic, for which glass refills are available. We recommend checking out their famous Rose Gernaium Milk Cleanser, and Rudis Oleum Repair Formula Face Serum.
This Thai brand is best known for their eyeliners and blushers, and carries two main lines for their blushes: The Professional and The Heritage. Beauty enthusiasts say that their blush products are very similar to what M.A.C offers, but are sold at only a fraction of its price. Gino McCray is also the choice of many beauty gurus when they shop in Thailand, and is featured frequently in beauty haul videos on Youtube!
Find out more details on their website.
If a brand has been around since 1948, you know that it must be good. In fact, Srichand’s famous Powder is so good that it is a household name amongst Thais (and Thai celebrities) till date! Srichand has recently undergone rebranding (read: more attractive packaging) while retaining its vintage feel to reach out to the younger generation. However, its products are said to still be just as great as before for oily skin.
Reportedly Thai’s no.1 makeup brand, Mistine has even exported its products for retail to Korea, where its products retail in Incheon airport and downtown Seoul! If you want to try out Mistine’s products, you should definitely start with the mascaras. Online reviews also recommend eyeliners, the Magic Secret Lip Tint, BB Loose Powder, and BB oil control mousse with sun protection.
Find out more details on their website.
Tips on shopping for beauty products
Now that you know the best places to shop till you drop, here’re some tips before you go crazayy with the shopping!
If you’re intending to get items that are also available in Singapore, write up a shopping list complete with the Singapore’s prices so that you can make an informed comparison when you’re in Thailand. Otherwise, the confusion from the exchange rate and the glitzy lights from the huge beauty stores may make you purchase an item that you can actually get for cheaper in Singapore.
Tax refunds for more discounted prices
If you’re going to spend a large sum of money (come on, you already know you’re going to!), look into getting tax refunds – an essential when travelling anywhere, really.
In Bangkok, tourists may get a 7% VAT (Sales Tax) refund for purchases above 2,000 Baht (within the same day and store), or for total purchases amounting to 5,000 Baht within a 60-day period.
Do be sure to check thoroughly on the tax refund procedure and to keep all your invoices from your purchases!
Get yourself a tourist discount card
Exactly as the title says, there are tourist discount cards that will be issued at certain malls by just flashing your IC at the Customer Kiosks.
Sure, some discounts are only at a 5% rate, but if you’re planning on buying a truck-load of items, your 5% will be pretty substantial in saving you some money!
Make sure that the beauty products you purchase are legitimate
You are likely to see too-good-to-be-true prices of beauty products at several places, even popular malls like MBK. And you’re definitely going to be tempted to grab them ASAP.
Don’t let you guard down; many of these products are retailing at a steal because they are counterfeit.
Often made from industrial waste, animal waste, and even harmful metals – these are not things you want to even put anywhere near your face. Ever.
Our suggestion? If you spy any suspiciously cheap product, be sure to swatch, and load up a pic of the original and see if they match, as many counterfeit products tend to look similar, with minor differences. And many times, when it’s too good to be true, chances are, it isn’t.
All about bargaining and haggling
You won’t be able to do this in the retail places we suggested as these places tend to have a fixed, retail price, but if you decide to go to the independent retailers in MBK or places which don’t offer fixed prices or price tags, here’re some tips to get a better price:
- Try to speak to the locals in Thai – speaking in their local language, simple phrases like a hi, bye, or thank you will suffice in getting the storekeepers in a friendlier mood. And a friendlier mood equates to being more willing to haggle for lower prices.
- NEVER accept the first given price by the retailers. Often, prices given right at the start are marked up 100 – 200% higher than the actual price. What you can do about that? Bargain more than half the stated price, then compromise with the retail owner from there to get the best price.
- Try to put previous purchases in your bag pack rather than carrying multiple shopping bags around, as carrying multiple shopping bags may give the impression that you have plenty of money to spare.
And lastly, remember not to pack too much into your luggage if you’re looking to go on a shopping spree in Bangkok. Chances are, you’re going to end up with twice or even thrice the amount you brought to Bangkok, so make sure to leave lots of space for that!