Cosmetics Shopping in Germany!

Hello! Gutentag! I'm back from Germany! This two-week trip was all about culture - we spent a lot of time in museums, churches, and castles - but I did get a little shopping in too, so I wanted to tell you all about that. If you're planning a trip to Germany any time soon, here are the kinds of places you might find cosmetics and fragrances:

On our first morning in Munich, we stopped in the Marienplatz to get data cards for our phones, and I visited an independent parfumerie called The Beauty Spot on the Marienplatz (the city center) in Munich:

A few days later, we visited Oberpollinger, also on the Marienplatz in Munich. Oberpollinger is a huge department store, with five stories of retail and a very fancy restaurant on the top floor. We went for breakfast, but while I was there I stopped at the MAC Cosmetics counter. After just a few days of museum-hopping I had already been outside enough to get some color, so I needed to get a slightly darker shade of my Pro Longwear foundation. I mention this mostly because my experience at the store was so nice. I was already worn out from struggling with my German, but although the sales associate didn't speak much English either, we still managed to make ourselves understood to each other and even had some laughs. It was such a relief - I felt right at home for the first time. (She also gifted me a Cremesheen Glass which I LOVE, the bright pink La Salsa from the Fruity Juicy Collection of May, 2017.)

I knew that Sephora didn't have any standalone stores in Germany, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked into Galeria Kaufhof, another German department store chain, and found a Sephora inside. Galeria Kaufhof reminds me a lot of Macy's - it's a moderately-sized store with fashion and home departments. The Sephora had on offer a lot of their own Sephora Collection products and a few more Korean skincare brands than I'm used to seeing in the U.S. stores, but I didn't see any other U.S. brands. (and I wonder if that's because of the same trade limitation that keeps Sephora from opening standalone stores there). I did pick up a couple of things from Charlotte Tilbury - the Wonderglow Primer (which I love!) and Magic Foundation in 1 Fair.

Germany has a couple of ubiquitous "drogerie markt" (drug store) chains - dm and Müller. They're a lot like CVS or Walgreens in the U.S., except that they don't have pharmacy counters. They carry some over the counter medications, plus other sundries, mostly cosmetics and body products. A few of the drugstore brands they carry aren't available in North America. dm, for example, has their own brand - Balea - that has some good skincare lines.

In Germany and Austria, prescriptions must be filled at a proper Apotheke, or pharmacy (you'll recognize them by their prominent signs). While these places mostly provide medications, they do also carry some finer skincare and fragrance lines. In Berlin, I went into one where I finally found Roger & Gallet fragrances (it's possible to order some Roger & Gallet products to ship to the U.S., but I had never tested any of them before so I was happy for the chance to do that):

Karstadt is another German department store chain. It reminded me of a cross between Macy's and Target, if that makes any sense. Their stores have a wonderful selection of products - everything from fashion to toys to home furnishings, all in colorful displays. The one we went into in Berlin even had a gourmet grocery belowground. We only stopped in to visit the Apotheke inside, though, so I can't tell you much about their cosmetics department (although I think most of what they carry are the major brands available in the U.S. anyway).

Douglas is a chain of standalone stores. They remind me of Sephora in terms of their layout, but they don't seem to carry as many brands. I saw them all over, but I only went into the one in the Mall of Berlin. Most of what they carried were brands available in the U.S., with a few exceptions - I picked up another palette from Zoeva, along with a few of their store brand mascaras and some skincare:

Finally, we stopped at Kaufhaus des Westens in Berlin. This is probably the largest department store I've ever been in, maybe even larger than Harrods in London. It reminded me a lot of Bloomingdales, with its individual boutiques for fashion brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada. They have a huge cosmetics floor but mostly carry brands available in the U.S., so I didn't buy anything there, just spent a lot of time marveling at the size.

Europe at this time of year can get a little warm. It was in the mid-70's to low 80's most days, which doesn't seem particularly hot. The catch is that a lot of European buildings don't have air conditioning - they haven't really needed it before now, so global warming is making things a little uncomfortable. Even the museums were warm - I've gotten used to those being chilly havens because, you know, temperature control is important for preserving the art and artifacts. But across Germany, most museums are in buildings that are, themselves, hundreds of years old, so retro-fitting with modern air conditioning may not be easy. In the apartments we rented, our only option was to leave windows cracked to get some air flowing. Basically, I was a giant sweatball for two solid weeks - I never really cooled down, except in the earliest hours of the morning.

But my MAC Pro Longwear foundation worked like a champ. I'm so glad I tested foundations before I left. At the end of August I'll be putting it to the ultimate test: the New York City subway in the hottest part of the summer.

Current obsession: Marie Antoinette. We spent a few days in Vienna, and while there we visited the Hofburg, the palace where she grew up (her mother was Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria and the only female Habsburg ruler). I picked up a book about her life after I got home, and suddenly I'm down a rabbit hole, learning about her life, the strategic importance of her marriage, and how very much she was a product of her environment. I'm not sure she could have turned out to be anything other than she was, and I'm also not sure that she was quite the villain that popular history paints her to be.

Current music: Depeche Mode. They were in town while we were in Berlin. In fact, they were playing at a venue near the Olympic stadium the day we visited, Evidence of the band and their music was everywhere, so I've been revisiting my collection since I got home.

In a few days, I'll be off traveling again, this time on a work trip to Baltimore, so I probably won't be writing much until mid-August. Keep an eye on my Instagram account though! If anything interesting happens that involves makeup, you'll see it there!

Body Lotions I Love (And One I Don't)

I have far too many body care products - soaps, shower gels, shampoos, hand creams ... the list goes on and on. To give you some idea of what I mean, here's a summary of just what's in my body lotion rotation currently:

The Body Shop - Strawberry Body Butter
I often find that lotions and butters with fruit scents land to the side of cloying, too sweet, more like candy than anything natural. This strawberry body butter is an exception - it reminds me of a flat of fresh-picked strawberries straight from the field, the kind you'd find at the annual Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, California - or the Strawberry Social from 'To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar'.

Sabon - Delicate Jasmine Body Lotion
Sabon is a European body care chain with stores in New York City. I'm going to NYC next month, so I'll do a more complete review then. In the meantime, this is my favorite of their lines. It's much more aquatic than floral - in fact, it reminds me a lot of Philosophy's seasonal line Snow Angel, lots of fresh water with just a hint of jasmine at the end.

L'Occitane - Almond Milk Veil
What I like best about this lotion is that it's light and absorbs quickly. The scent is mild - it's a neutral sort of milky fragrance, making it a versatile base if you're layering moisturizer with perfumes.

Diptyque - Lait Frais Body Lotion
Diptyque Lait Frais translates to "Fresh Milk" but it's actually a light, refreshing citrus infused with orange blossom water. It's also very moisturizing without being greasy, with one of the best textures I've experienced in a body lotion - Diptyque never does anything by halves. I love layering this with their Eau Des Sens with its orange notes. The combination is so fresh and uplifting and lasts for hours.

Elizabeth Arden - Green Tea Honey Drops Body Cream
This cream has a really lemony citrus scent, with just a little bit of honey and some underlying musk to temper it. It's also really thick and rich. It feels so luxurious! My only complaint is that the fragrance doesn't last long, although that's not such a big concern since it's become my go-to for moisturizing right before bed.

Blue Haven Bee Company - Georgia Peach Nourishing Lotion
I found this local brand at a gift shop while I was on a trip last week (I went to a wedding in Savannah, Georgia). The peach scent is SO GOOD. Sadly, the fragrance doesn't last long, but the lotion is very good texture-wise (absorbs quickly and is non-greasy).

Sol Janeiro - Brazilian Bum Bum Cream
I got a sample of this one with a Sephora order a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I do not get what the big deal is. Did the formula change at some point? I've seen people raving about how good this cream smells. The lotion texture is fine, but it smelled really cheap to me. I'm glad I was able to sample it before I ordered a larger size.