Sometimes you think that things are relatively easy. For example buying certain stuff. Let’s say, nail polish. You go into a cosmetics store or a drugstore, take the bottles you like, pay, and off you go.
But not in China. And not even in Shanghai, which is the most modern city in whole China. Not even Beijing comes close, and Hongkong is not actually China. So just follow me on a trip through China in search of nail polish...
Little did I know that the trend of nail polish hasn’t yet arrived in China. Women hardly seem to wear any nail polish. I saw it only very rarely in the Metro or in the streets. Also the retail system works a little bit different here. They have way more nail salons/studios where you can buy nail polish and get your nails done at the same time. The prices though are relatively high: A bottle with about 15ml costs about 100 RMB (~10 Euro). In some of those nail spas you might find brands like OPI or Sally Hansen, but keep in mind that bottles might be fakes.
So what about other stores? Drugstores do exist, but don’t offer a wide range of products.
Drugstore brand No. 1 in China is Watsons. I don’t know where they actually come from but their website also exists in English. They mostly carry their own brands like Watsons Rose Skincare, Lavender Haircare, Bird’s Nest Skincare etc. They also offer products by Garnier, Olay, Neutrogena and Nivea. The range of make-up is rather limited. I’ve seen Maybelline and L’Oréal counters, which was about it. The range of nail polish was ridiculous. Even in one of the biggest Watsons stores I could only discover two bottles of Mini Colorama glitter polish at the Maybelline counter.
Mannings is another drugstore chain that seems to be pretty new here. However, the store I was in looked less clean and shiny than the Watsons stores I went to. They offer about the same range of products as Watson. No nail polish though.
So, where to go if you want to find nail polish? You can try your luck in a large mall. And trust me, there are plenty of enormous malls in Shanghai and other bigger cities. If you are lucky, you can find a Sally Hansen counter there. The Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear series retails here for 55 RMB (about 5-6 Euro), Insta-Dri polishes cost about 88 RMB (9 Euro). I got three of the Hard as Nails for 100 RMB altogether, an ok price. But beware: the colour range is small and there will always be two or three saleswomen swarming around you, trying to get you into buying something. Don’t let yourself get talked into anything...
After days of frustrated searching I found a good source for my addiction: The Sasa store. Basically, Sasa is a make-up store chain with more of a medium price range. Sasa stores can be found in several Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore. The range goes from high/medium price like Revlon and Seventh Sense (their own “premium” brand) to low price like Sasa. And they have nail polishes, yay!
Most of those nail polishes are kept in a huge pile in a basket next to the entrance. German speaking readers might be familiar with the term “Grabbeltisch”. They lie in a relatively chaotic manner thrown into the baskets.
Their own brand is called Sasa/Sasatinnie, in addition to that they have polishes by Revlon, Arezia, Suki and some others that I forgot. They cost about 20 RMB/bottle, with chance of discount if you take two. Needless to say that I bought about ten bottles... Do I have to start worrying about my polish addiction?...
Until next time!