If you are an English speaker that has made the trip to the skincare mecca that is Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, it can be daunting trying to find and buy the products you’ve been dreaming about. I recently got back from a trip through Taiwan and Japan, where I got to wade the beauty aisles in search of my dream skincare regime. It began as an overwhelming experience, but overtime I developed some key tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your trip.
1. Identify your dream products ahead of time
When I began my trip, I knew shopping for Asian makeup and skincare products was going to be a highlight. However, I was completely unprepared for how may options there were going to be at every store and the difficulty the language barrier presented. After a few failed visits to stores, I began to hone in on what I wanted to purchase. For me, that included an oil cleanser, a two step cleansing regime, and some fun products I’d read about (lipstick and charcoal mask). I would recommend finding a few types of products plus a few specific brand/product combos to streamline your process in the store.
2. Utilize the pharmacy/drug stores
Although I visited department stores, dollar stores, and makeup stores, by far the most success I had shopping for products was at a drug store (it was actually on my last day of the trip)! Although you wont be able to find the high-end products, you will be able to find many products that are unique to Asian beauty and skincare at much more affordable prices. For comparison, the makeup store I went to had most cleansing regimes around $30 – $50, while the drug store prices were mostly around $10.
3. Plan multiple trips
Although cosmetic and skin care departments are fundamentally the same in Asia, the diversity of products is much greater in Asia. As a result, it takes some time to get your bearings. I recommend going once in the first few days of your trip and buying a couple cheaper products to try out. Give yourself plenty of time to explore and absorb. That way, when you’re ready for your major splurge session, you’ll understand the general layout and system better. Plus, if you like your first products, you can stock up on your second trip!
4. Use Google Translate
Outside of the brands and products you intentionally seek out, most products will predominantly be written in another language, most likely a different set of characters completely. You will be able to find some product info in English, such as the type of product (essence, toner, etc.), but nothing other than that. I recommend downloading Google Translate so you can get an idea of what you’re buying. It won’t be a perfect translation, but at least you can make sure you’re not rubbing foot cream on your face.
5. Have some fun with it
This is the most important tip. It may be stressful and daunting, but if you get overwhelmed just forget the list and buy some things that look fun and different. You may end of finding your favorite product that way!