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 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.


Agnes said...

I laughed when I read 'Pour Vous:
Pronounced the French way' :P I've been to Douglas today to look at pretty KOH polishes, but I didn't know DA sells OPI nail polishes :) wish I lived near Amsterdam to get myself a few of those!

r3Daily said...

I love your reviews. I have never been to Amsterdam and would love to go there. If I did I would certainly hit up the parfumeries. This made me feel like I was there virtually. Thank you! Now I think I might take a blog break and go look at plane tickets. :)

DistantDreamer said...

I love this series! It is very interesting to learn about where makeup is found in the Netherlands. Great post!

Marisa Álvarez said...

Hi!!! We do not have Urban Decay and Stila in Spain I wish I could test their products before buy them... There's a lot of places in the Neterlands to go shopping cosmetics. Thank you for this second part!! :-)

Content Director - Strong Female Leaders said...

The only one I recognize is Sephora. But of course, who wouldn't?

andpinkysays said...

Thanks for sharing all of these stores with us! Aside from Sephora, I can say that I ignorantly have not heard of anything else...but I think I'd definitely enjoy wondering around all of these stores! :)

Shop N' Chomp said...

What? No Urban Decay and Stila? Blasphemy! ;)

Thank you for another great introduction to the stores there.

bowsnhearts said...

The beauty stores in Netherlands look so professional and pretty! The ones we have in Aust are like...drugstores? The normal drugstores actually sell both makeup and perfumes.

After that, we get the high end cosmetics like MAC, Chanel and such in a big shopping centre. Very boring!!

Romika said...

Hey that's a great idea showing the dutch stores!! Very nice post you made :-)

Unknown said...

Great post!
Lovely to read how and when all this started.

You've done good! Again... ;)

twinsouls888 said...

Everything looks so pretty...Oooh I'd love to visit your country someday yay ^_^.

Mz. More said...

Wow... you guys have a great selection. I would love to visit Amsterdam one day! :)

Witoxicity said...

@Beauty Vibes
Heh heh! I thought it better to leave it at that with Pour Vous. :D About OPI, I think the DA in question was an exception as this store really stocks many beauty brands. Perhaps you can try online sites and Mooi or Sephora.

I'm pleased you like such posts! Got your ticket yet? ;D

Thank you! It was a real pleasure writing this article. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. :)

You're most welcome! Yeah, I know what you mean about being able to test or swatch a product first before committing to purchase. :)

Ha ha! You're so right! Sephora is such a recognised name in beauty world. :)

My pleasure! I'm sure you would have a lovely time checking out these stores. But then again, I'm sure you have many super-cool mega beauty stores where you are! :)

@Shop N' Chomp
You're welcome! Heh heh! Scandalous, I know! :)

Hey, surely beauty shopping is not that boring in Austraia! You do have Mecca Cosmetica. :)

Thank you! I'm glad you like this post. I certainly enjoyed writing it. :)

Awww, thank you. It's good to know that you found this interesting. I too find the origins of some of these stores fascinating! :)

Come on over then! :D

Witoxicity said...

@Mz. More
Hmmm, it may seem like we have a great selection here but I believe you've got much easier access in the US to many many brands which we can't even sniff here. And at lower prices too! :D

Cynthia Z said...

Great post. It will help me for whenever I visit the Netherlands :) (One day!)
Nice stores...or parfumerie. They all look very "French" LOL yr Sephora doesn't have UD. Our Debenhams doesn't have UD either. Grrrr!

Gail said...

This is such a cool series, so interesting and fun seeing how the other side lives xxxx You seem to have a great selection!

Anonymous said...

So neat! Thanks for sharing!
Over here, we have the equivalent of Shoppers Drug Mart that has both drugstore and high-end beauty products. Seems like over on your end you have more places to go to!

DinaXYYan said...

Love this post! I will surely write this down if i happen to visit Netherland one day :D.
Btw, thanks for your congrats :)

Arie said...

omg so nice post sniff, I miss Douglas!! :(

Witoxicity said...

Oh, so you have a similar 'problem' with UD too! UD, are you reading this?!

Thanks! It's always good to know that you find this series interesting. :)

My pleasure. Yes, I often read about Shoppers Drug Mart on blogs. I'd love to visit the store one day. :)

I'm glad you like this post. Well, you never know when you might come by! :D

Aww, don't be sad. I'm sure you have much more exciting stores where you are. :)

Marisa Álvarez said...

Hi again! I just wanted you to know that yesterday I went to Sephora and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Urban Decay counter. Good news! I hope it arrives to the Netherlands soon!

Witoxicity said...

Oh great! That's indeed good news! So, maybe there is hope after all for us here. Thanks for letting me know, guapa! :D