#1 FOR DRUGSTORE COSMETICS: MATSUMOTO KIYOSHI
Beauty junkie or not, never plan a holiday to Japan without a trip to this drugstore. Whether it’s interesting snacks, eyedrops for tired eyes – two full rows of them – or sunscreen for a long day of sightseeing, you’ll find the best practical buys for yourself and the family here.
One of the biggest drugstore chains in Tokyo is Matsumoto Kiyoshi. Those who have visited Japan will remember the store’s yellow and blue signboard, with paper tags of “price downs” and deluxe beauty kits, packaged in every Sanrio character you can imagine.
We hear that the outlet in the shopping districts of Tokyo with the most extensive range is in Ikebukuro: Ask for the “part two store” that’s located right opposite the Uniqlo in Sunshine City, and a short walk away from Tokyu Hands. It’s open 24 hours daily, so go at night before you head back to the hotel if you’re going to buy a lot of stuff.
For a more convenient option, drop by the store near popular tourist spot, the Asakusa Kannon Temple (or Sensoji, as some know it). It’s on a side alley located right along the Nakamise shopping street, leading up to the temple. Just be prepared for a little scuffle between the narrow aisles with hoards of other tourists at peak hours.
WHAT TO BUY: If you’re a frequent traveller, don’t miss out on the many travel-sized skincare kits and sachets the store has to offer. They come in packets that last for a day or two and go up to two weeks, depending on what you buy. Of course, this also works if you want to try everything. (We know we do.)
#2 HIGH-END COSMETICS: ISETAN SHINJUKU
This is the best place to get all your luxury cosmetics at one shot (plus a lump sum of tax off your bill).
The beauty section in this department store spans over two storeys, the first is where big name brands – both local and Western – are housed. Here, you’ll find more extensive ranges from the usual high-end brands we get in Singapore. Take for example an entire makeup line from SK-II and Albion – eyeshadows, lipsticks and eyeliners included – as well as trial kits and more size options for products.
Then, in the basement, you’ll find mostly organic and niche brands such as Yonka and John Masters Organics – both relatively difficult to get in Singapore.
Also visit the information counter to find out about facial treatments if you have the time. Cle de Peau Beaute boasts a luxe facial cabin in the store, too.
WHAT TO BUY: Local brands Three, Suqqu and Addiction. The first specialises in organic products, all sourced within Japan – the products smell deliciously herbal – while the second is known for its super soft, luxe brushes, as well as its creamy eyebrow and eyeshadow palettes.
Finally, the last is for the edgy makeup lover, boasting numerous customisable blusher and eyeshadow singles to choose from.
#3 ORGANIC COSMETICS: COSME KITCHEN
Those on the hunt for solely organic products should make a trip to Cosme Kitchen, conveniently located at Lumine buildings in Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yurakucho, as well as Shibuya’s Hikarie and Harajuku’s LaForet. These are all connected or are in close proximity to the JR line train stations.
The store not only offers organic beauty products, but herbal teas, detergents and other eco-friendly goods from all over the world.
WHAT TO BUY: It’s easy to find organic skincare in Singapore, but not so much organic makeup. So if you’ve been eyeing that RMS Beauty lip2cheek on Net-A-Porter for a while now, it’s time to get it here.
Don’t forget to check out Japanese organic beauty brand naturaglace too while you’re there.
#4 BEST RANKED COSMETICS IN JAPAN: @COSME STORE
If you’ve only got time for one store, let this be it. All of the country’s top ranked products – hair care, beauty tools, makeup and skincare (all broken down into each available category) – are available in this little space. And you get to test every single one of them, be it drugstore or luxury, without any watchful sales assistants. They are still around, however, if you require a skin type test or any product recommendations.
Image: @cosme store
After the whole process, you can also try your hand at submitting a rating and review for the product at the laptops in store. Oh, and did we mention it’s all tax-free?
WHAT TO BUY: Anything we don’t have that’s ranked number one – duh.
ONE LAST TIP: If you’re getting a tax refund, your products will be sealed at the counter and you will not be allowed to use them until you leave the country. So shop for all your beauty products at once to avoid wasting space in your luggage from all the cumbersome packaging. Enjoy!
Want to know more about beauty shopping in Japan? Check out the 4 drugstore beauty buys you must look out for this June, and 2 Japanese beauty brands to try.