Thursday, 25 February 2010

Beauty Shopping In The Netherlands: The Parfumerie Stores


Updated 26 May 2011
Having looked at the drugstores in the Netherlands, let’s now move on to the beauty stores. We call that parfumerie here. I must say that the lines are blurred in some cases here, as some of these stores can have both a drugstore and a parfumerie section.


At these parfumerie stores, you will be able to purchase fragrances and the high end beauty brands, like Lancôme, YSL, Dior, Estée Lauder, Chanel, Clinique, Lancaster, Guerlain, Shiseido, Sensai, etc. At some of them, Bourjois, Maybelline, L'Oréal and Max Factor are also available. It is often possible to book an appointment for makeover sessions at these parfumerie stores.

1. ICI Paris XL
Pronounced ee-cee-paree

With 122 stores located in prime shopping areas in the Netherlands, chances are good that you will bump into this store. ICI Paris has its beginnings in our neighbouring country, Belgium. What started out as a little parfumerie store in the late 1960s with the aim of ‘bringing Paris’ into a district in Brussels called Ixelles (this eventually morphed into the ‘XL’ that we see in the name today), is now a chain of over 200 stores in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.


As is so common these days, ICI Paris XL is now under the management of A.S. Watson Group. Yes, that’s a familiar name as it was also mentioned in my article on the drugstores. A.S. Watson Group also owns Kruidvat, our ubiquitous drugstore chain.

The staff are professional and well-trained. However, the brand offering at ICI Paris XL is pretty standard, in my opinion.

2. Douglas
Pronounced here doo-glaas
Douglas began as a soap and perfume factory in Hamburg, Germany way back in 1821 and the first Douglas parfumerie opened in 1910. Today, it has a big presence in Europe (with more than 1,000 stores) and a small presence in the US. There are now 88 Douglas stores in the Netherlands.

Every Douglas store has a basic product offering as mentioned in the introduction paragraph above. In addition to that, each store may decide what other brands are to be brought in based on the demands of the local customers. So, some Douglas stores may offer a few of these brands: MAC, Bobbi Brown, Collistar, Artdeco, Helena Rubenstein, just to name a few.

Since Douglas is headquartered in Germany, I believe the product offering there is much larger.


Personally, I enjoy shopping at Douglas more than at ICI Paris. Douglas stores tend to be bigger and the brand offering more.....how shall I put it.....exciting. Because of the different range of brand offering, a visit to one Douglas store would not be exactly the same as a visit to another Douglas. Nail polishes from Mavala, KOH and its sister brand, Herôme, are also available at Douglas.

3. DA
Pronounced day-aa
Ahhh, finally a parfumerie with Dutch origins! DA began life during the Second World War when five independent drugstores came together and agreed to support and cooperate with one another during those difficult times. While the two aforementioned stores are pure parfumerie stores, DA stores are both drugstore and parfumerie in one. There are about 400 DA stores all over the country. Larger DA stores can be found in the bigger cities while in the suburbs and smaller towns, the DA stores tend to be smaller in both size and range of product offering. The large DA stores, especially the one in Amsterdam city centre, stocks many high end brands (even IMAN Cosmetics!) and OPI nail polishes.

4. Pour Vous
Pronounced the French way
Pour Vous celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. There are approximately 90 Pour Vous stores in the Netherlands but there is a likelihood that you wouldn’t know that a store is a Pour Vous because the stores are usually named after the franchisee running that store. Just like DA, some Pour Vous stores also have a drugstore section.

Just a note of interest: Very recently, Pour Vous, in cooperation with Clarins, organised a competition to find the Best Makeup Artist in the country. The competition attracted more than 2,000 entries and the results will be made known later this year.

5. Minerva
Minerva has a small presence with just a handful of stores. Minerva has been around since 1965 and the stores are a combination of drugstore, herbalist specialising in homeopathy, beauty salon and parfumerie. Not all stores offer the whole range of services though.

6. Mooi
Pronounced moy
Mooi (which means beautiful) is another Dutch chain of parfumerie stores. It is a relatively new player on the market, having opened its first store only in 2007. It has enjoyed a healthy growth as there are now 30 Mooi stores in the country. Some beauty brands available at Mooi are Chanel, Dior, Lancome, Clinique, Estee Lauder, La Prairie, Rituals, Une, Biotherm. OPI and KOH are the nail polish brands that I’ve seen there.

Updated 17 November 2010: Selected Mooi stores now also stock the entire line of ELLIS FAAS Cosmetics.


Whenever I step into a Mooi store, I think: fresh, clean and pristine, as reflected in the interior decor. Mooi was started with a vision to make luxury brands more accessible to everyone and I think they see themselves as an enabler through makeup workshops, which Mooi calls Beautyschool. Beautyschools are organised every week with a specific theme or in conjuction with a brand. ‘School’ sounds like a big word for this but in reality, these workshops are only for a maximum of 4 persons. A small fee is charged for the Beautyschool but you do get a Mooi gift voucher in return. I’ve never attended these workshops before but they do sound tempting.

Of the 30 stores, two are located in major train stations in the cities Leiden and Amsterdam, with another one to follow in The Hague. Last year, to celebrate the opening of the first train station store in Leiden, Mooi organised a Beautyschool in a train! A carriage was hired for half a day and as the train travelled from Leiden to other cities and back, passengers could get a taste of Mooi’s Beautyschool experience for free. Cute, no?

7. Sephora
Yes, we do have Sephora but no, we don’t have Urban Decay and Stila. Grrrrr! Go figure!

Updated 26 May 2011: Selected Sephora stores now stock Urban Decay products. A small selection of Burt's Bees products are also available.

Grouse aside, with the arrival of French Sephora in the Netherlands less than 2 years ago, the Dutch ladies can finally have easy access to brands like Too Faced, Benefit, Make Up For Ever, Cargo and, of course, its house brand. Other classical luxury brands are also available.

At the moment, all the Sephora stores are located inside V&D. V&D is a Dutch departmental store chain with a big enough presence in the Netherlands. I can’t say it’s the coolest departmental store around but I do take my hat off to them for snagging Sephora. V&D's advantage: location, location, location!

The number of Sephora stores stands at 13. If you’re travelling through Amsterdam, you’d be disappointed that there isn’t a Sephora store here. “What?!?” It seems that the V&D in Amsterdam doesn’t have enough floorspace to accommodate Sephora. I believe that will soon change as I’ve read that the first Sephora standalone store in the Netherlands will be opened in Amsterdam.

8. Skins Cosmetics
Skins opened its first store in Amsterdam in 2000. At Skins, it’s all about exclusivity and bringing in brands that are not already available in the Netherlands. And so we have here brands like Rodial, Annick Goutal, Ren, Diptyque, Philosophy, Aveda, Dr Sebagh, Creed, among others. For makeup, this is where Ellis Faas, Laura Mercier and NARS can be found. However, truth be told, NARS is rather overpriced here compared to what you would pay in the US.

Update 26 May 2011: For some information on where to buy NARS if you live in the Netherlands, please read this post on NARS.


A visit to a Skins store promises a pleasant experience. The interior decor is classic and classy, providing visual pleasure for the eyes. The well-trained staff are friendly and know what they are talking about. Skins also offers makeup workshops and makeover sessions.

There are currently only five Skins Cosmetics stores in the country and a small store located within the upmarket departmental store, de Bijenkorf. Other than Skins Cosmetics the store, there is also Skins Institute which offers the services of a beauty and hair salon using the brands offered at the store.


Please note that this list of parfumerie stores is by no means comprehensive as there may be other smaller, independent ones not mentioned here.

The entire Beauty Shopping In The Netherlands series can be found here.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Adorned Nails: Essence Object of Desire


Let’s have some bright and happy nails from a cheap and cheerful brand this week! This is from the German brand, Essence. You’ve heard about Essence before from that Nail Art Stampy Set that I got earlier.

This is Multi Dimension 3 in 1 nail polish in shade No. 44, Object of Desire. It’s an attention-seeking flamingo pinky coral colour with a hint of gloss. It says on the bottle “with XXXL shine”. I see some shine, but I think triple-XL is an exaggeration.

Application was problem-free. Imperfect strokes? They’ll disappear. Pictured here is with two coats, taken indoors in daylight. Not bad for a nail polish that cost less than €2! I believe this colour has been discontinued as I don’t see it in the stores anymore and neither is it on the Essence website.

I’m keeping it simple. I won’t torture some of you with images of my sub-standard nail art stamping efforts this time. Maybe next week.......

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Ellis Faas: Some Eye Looks


This is the Ellis Holder that was specially designed to hold the Ellis Faas pens. Last week, this cool canister earned Ellis Faas an Astir Award for 2009.

Every year, The Association of Beauty Journalists in The Netherlands holds an Astir Awards ceremony to honour the best beauty products of the year. The winners are chosen by a panel consisting of 47 Dutch beauty journalists. The awards are divided into two categories, the Luxury Segment and the Mass Market Segment but for the first time this year, there was an Astir Award for the best cosmetics launch in a specially created category: the Niche Segment, for exclusive products that are available only at the most selective stores. It was this Astir Award in the Niche Segment that the Ellis Holder (right, image owned by Ellis Faas) won. Congratulations!

Anyway, I mentioned at the end of my review of the Milky Eyes that I might show some eye looks created with the Ellis Faas pens that I have. I have only three of the eyeshadow pens:

• Creamy Eyes E103 (black)
• Creamy Eyes E104 (dark brown)
• Milky Eyes E207 (rust/terracotta orange)

It’s not many to play around with but there are enough combination possibilities. Remember, quick fingerwork for blending is necessary.

Combination No. 1: Creamy Eyes E104 + Milky Eyes E207

This is a slightly smokey look with the rust-coloured E207 all over the lid and the dark brown E104 blended in on the outer corner for depth. I used the half-dried shadow of E104 to line the eyes (the lining of the lower lash line is more noticeable in the photos).


Combination No. 2: Creamy Eyes E103 + Milky Eyes E207

Here, the E207 gives the lid an all-over rust orange colour and the black E103 is used as an eyeliner. I have two looks here with some subtle differences. I couldn’t decide which one to show, so here are both.

(a) The rust-coloured E207 has been layered on on the outer corner. With a clean finger, I quickly ‘pulled’ a little bit of colour over to the inner corner. The end effect is a tinge of colouring on the inner corner and the colour gradually intensifying towards the outer corner.

The eyelining for this look is perhaps different from the norm. The black of E103 here is bold and thick. It begins at the inner 2/3 section of the lid and gradually thickens towards the outer corner. The end is stumpy but it ends precisely where my eyelid fold ends on the outer corner. This gives the eye a different kind of depth. Since I haven’t got deep-set eyes, this ‘weird’ eyelining is hardly noticeable when my eyes are fully open. You will only see it as the eyelid starts to close.


(b) This second variation is similar but I’ve used a lighter hand with the rust colouring. The eyelining is more even, less bold and is wing-ed ever so slightly.


Combination No. 3: Creamy Eyes E103 + Creamy Eyes E104 + Milky Eyes E207

This is an amalgamation of Combinations No. 1 and No. 2.

The brown of E104 on the outer corner, followed by the rust-coloured E207 for the rest of the eyelid. The black of E103 is again used to line the eyes. The end is wing-ed for this one.


I used my fingers to apply the lid colours and for blending. The other products used for these looks were:

• an angled eyeliner brush
• an eyelash curler
• Maybelline Volum' Express Turbo Boost (waterproof) mascara.

That's it for now. If I come up with any other inspirations with these colours, I’ll be sure to share them with you again.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Rituals: Design Tea Box


This tea box isn’t a name given to a makeup palette, so this isn’t going to be a post about a beauty product per se.

I just wanted to share with you this tea box that we bought recently from Rituals. If you’ve never heard of Rituals, it’s a Dutch brand offering a whole plethora of products for the home and the body. This is how they’ve described themselves: The first brand in the world to combine Home & Body cosmetics. Inspiring products for the care of your body and home. And they mean it! At Rituals, you can find body lotions, scented candles, makeup, bathrobes, facial cleansers and even dishwashing liquids and tea.

I wrote about Rituals many moons ago and sadly, I’ve been neglecting this brand on my blog since then. It’s time to put that right but funnily enough, I’m kickstarting it with a post about its tea box, of all things! We bought another tea box for my mother-in-law and look at how nicely it’s been wrapped by Rituals.

The handmade wooden tea box measures 15" / 38cm long and has five compartments. The one that we’ve got came with twenty pyramid bags. I’m not too sure, but I think the box is also available for sale without the teabags. The box, at first glance, exudes an air of stylish simplicity but on closer inspection, one would think that the finishing on the rim could have been better, as you would be able to notice in the images. That's what you'd sometimes get with something handmade, I suppose. [shrug]


There are four teabags each in the following flavours:

• Jasmine Delight – tea flavoured with jasmine blossoms
• Keemun Lime – black Keemun tea with bits of lime
• Cape Delight – rooibos tea
• Earl’s Secret – Earl Grey tea
• Emperor’s Dream – herbal tea with mint, fennel seed and spirea


Opening the box each time is a delight for the senses as the air fills with a potpourri of aroma from the different teas. I can’t decide which of the teas is my favourite but I would admit that I find the full-bodied Emperor’s Dream to be the least pleasing.

Come, have a cuppa with me! It's Jasmine Delight.



More information can be found on my old posts about Rituals Cosmetics, my review on the Rituals Hammam body care range and the Rituals website.

Winners of Giveaway: Let's KOH Away!



The day has finally come to announce the winners of Let's KOH Away!. I’d like to thank all the ladies who have so enthousiastically participated. The response was overwhelming which [sigh] means that I would be leaving many of you disappointed. It ain't nice but well, five pairs are all that I have to give away!

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. The Mummy Number Generator has given these numbers in the following sequence: 141, 29, 113, 298 and 187. All entries including re-posts have been arranged in chronological order and so, these are the winners with the abovementioned corresponding numbers:


Pair No. 1: KOH Purple Rain and Glamorous Green
Winner: Musicalhouses of "Of Faces and Fingers"



Pair No. 2: KOH Brilliant Red and Burnished Red
Winner: The Diva's Polish



Pair No. 3: KOH Vintage Pink and Black Stars
Winner: Brooke of Babbling Brooke



Pair No. 4: KOH Rain Forest and Firebrick
Winner: g.avery



Pair No. 5: KOH Red and Sophisticated Purple
Winner: Trinca-Espinhas of All About My Nails


Congratulations, ladies! My email will be coming to you real soon. Please respond to the email with your details within 72 hours. Otherwise, another winner will be chosen.

My thanks also go out to KOH Cosmetics for generously providing the prizes for this giveaway. To my other readers, please don’t be disheartened. Keep your eyes peeled for other little giveaways that may be coming your way later.

Finally, to my readers who are ushering in the Year of the Tiger: Happy Chinese New Year! I wish you good health, good luck and a mountain of golden ingots!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Adorned Nails: KOH Purple Rain & Herôme W.I.C. Freetown


Yes, it’s purple yet again! However, to spice things up, I decided to do a colour inversion for two of my nails.


I’ve had KOH Purple Rain for quite a few months now. In the bottle, you can tell that it’s one shade lighter than KOH Purple Darkness. On the nails, it’s more difficult to tell the difference though.

For some reason, Purple Rain was easier to paint than with Purple Darkness. What you see in the images is with two coats. One may be enough, actually, if you can paint it evenly. With one coat, the purple is obvious. With two, it looks almost black.

The stamped design is from the Essence Nail Art Stampy Set: 01 Be Creative!, which is still the only stamping set that I own. For the stamping on the Purple Rain nails, I had to use an old, thick white nail polish that I have. It’s from the Bourjois French Manicure Kit.
L: In daylight
R: In daylight, in the shade


For the colour inversion, I used KOH’s sister brand, Herôme W.I.C. (World Inspired Colours). I bought Freetown last weekend and it is a pearly beige shade. Phew, this was a five-coater! I do like how it looks though. I used Purple Rain for the stamping and I’m pleased that the colour showed up well on the nails (although, I know, I know, my stamping skills could still be improved!).

Here are the products used:

L-R: KOH Purple Rain, Herôme W.I.C. Freetown, Bourjois French Manicure Blanc Raffiné, KOH Top Coat Bamboo

By the way, I promise it won't be another purple nail polish the next time!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Beauty Shopping In The Netherlands: Drugstores


Having spent the past months writing about beauty and makeup products to which I have access here, I thought it would be good to put things into perspective for you with a series on Beauty Shopping in the Netherlands. Well, you never know when you might swing by this country and when you do, you just might find this series useful. To my fellow Dutch readers, you would probably find this series boring as this is like me talking about what’s in your backyard. However, if you do read this, feel free to chip in if I’ve missed out anything here as these are just the stores that I am aware of.

I will start off this series with the budget-friendly category: The Drugstores.

1. Kruidvat
Pronounced krowd-vaat
With more than 700 stores, this is by far the most commonly found drugstore in the Netherlands. It owes its Dutch roots to the de Rijcke family which started this chain in the 1970s. However, it is now owned by the health and beauty retail giant, A.S. Watson Group, which falls under the umbrella of the Hong Kong-based multinational conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa. Some of you may recognise those names, of course, as the group has a wide retail presence in many countries all over the world. And that includes Superdrug in the UK too.

A Kruidvat shopping experience would vary from store to store. Presentation is average at best, but it can also be messy in some stores. By that, I mean having to squeeze between cardboard boxes in the aisles and tolerating eyesores like untidy product presentation. To be fair, in the past year, Kruidvat has been working hard at improving its image with a rollout of a new ‘store formula’ complete with a new logo. I have noticed a slight improvement.

Customer service is my other gripe. In general, it’s tolerable but I’ve come across sloppy staff who were less than polite and those who were simply clueless about the store’s product offering! Yes, I’ve been left dumbfounded before by their responses. Personnel training, Kruidvat, personnel training!


Still, we overlook all that and continue to frequent our beloved Kruidvats as there are often great deals to be had. Moreover, it has its own house-brand range of body care products. Women visit Kruidvat to get their beauty care products from brands too many to name (but they are the usual suspects), fragrances, makeup from Maybelline, L'Oréal, Rimmel London, Max Factor and nail care products from Sally Hansen and Herôme to name a few.

There are also makeup products from several European brands that are easy on the budget like Essence, Catrice, Manhattan, 2b and 2true. Most importantly, Kruidvat is the only place to go to for GOSH makeup!

However, beware. Not every Kruidvat stocks all the makeup brands mentioned. Only the larger stores would have the full range of brands.

Kruidvat also has a retail presence in Belgium.

2. Etos
Pronounced ay-tos
Etos has its beginnings in 1918 when the employees of electronics giant Philips established a co-operative with a grocery and drugstore. Over the decades, the drugstore division evolved into the Etos that we know now. With 500 stores currently, Etos is the second most common drugstore you will find in the Netherlands. Etos retains its Dutch-ness to this day and is now owned by the Ahold Group which also runs the Albert Heijn supermarket chain in the Netherlands.

I love shopping at Etos. Though standards may vary, the interior of Etos stores are in general more spacious and have a neat and tidy presentation. Shopping at Etos promises a pleasant experience. One can certainly notice that Etos invests a lot in their staff as they are not only better dressed but customer service there is of a high standard.

Just like at Kruidvat, you can also buy at Etos all sorts of beauty care products and fragrances and makeup from Maybelline, L'Oréal, Max Factor, Rimmel London and nail care products from Sally Hansen and Herôme. However, Etos also sells Bourjois, Revlon, Miss Sporty, Collistar and nail polishes from Herôme (although brand offering varies from store to store).


Most noteworthy is the body care and makeup range from its house brand. The Etos makeup brand offering covers the whole range from foundations to lipsticks and nail polishes. These are decent makeup products at decent prices. One such product that I reviewed recently was this makeup kit.

Etos also has a retail presence in Sweden.

3. Trekpleister
Pronounced trek-plaees-ter
This is a much smaller player on the market as there are only about 130 Trekpleister stores in the country. They are mostly found in the suburbs targeted as neighbourhood drugstores. Trekpleister is actually a sister store of Kruidvat as it is also owned by A.S. Watson Group. Owing to this connection, the standards of the Trekpleister stores are about the same as those of Kruidvat.

Here, you will find some of the common beauty care products and drugstore makeup brands plus one of two of the budget-friendly European brands mentioned above.

4. Boots
This name needs no introduction, I’m sure, especially to those in the UK. Boots made a foray into the Netherlands in the late 1990s but eventually pulled out of the market when the management realised that its retail format which included pharmacy did not fit the local consumer market then. During its absence, its house brands like No7 and Botanics found a home in Etos.

Well, Boots made a cautious return to our shores last year and to-date, has opened five stores. The retail format has been retained, which means that not only its house-brand body care products and No7 makeup products are available, but it’s also a pharmacy as well, just like in the UK.

The entire Beauty Shopping In The Netherlands series can be found here.