Finland might not be the hottest destination on the cosmetics map of the world. However, Helsinki has much more to offer than you might have guessed.
Helsinki’s main attractions are of course its stunning Aalto architecture, rich cultural program and beautiful Nordic nature that surrounds the town. However, those of you who (much like me) love to explore the cosmetics world and search for undiscovered beauty gems would be surprised as Helsinki has a great selection of multi-brand stores and eco-markets.
The first thing that comes to mind when you hear words “beauty” and “Finland” together is Lumene. Even though I still remember it as one of those mass market brands that was popular among my girlfriends when I was 12, they do have some great price worthy products you can stock up on while you’re in Helsinki.
I haven’t tried anything from Lumene in years, but I recently caught up with an amazing Swedish blogger Little Miss Consumer and we made you a short shopping list of three Maria approved Lumene products:
- Time Freeze CC Anti-Age Color Correcting Cream: long-wear, air light formula that perfectly evens out the skin tone and covers imperfections.
- Waterproof Eye Make Up Remover: liquid eye makeup remover that gently but effectively cleanses waterproof and even the most stubborn eye makeup.
- Beauty Base Eyeshadow Primer: makes sure that your eyeshadows stay on your lids all day long.
You can find the entire Lumene range on the ground floor in Stockmann (Aleksanterinkatu 52, 00100 Helsinki). While you’re there, wonder around luxury beauty counters, like La Mer (if you have tons of money you’re dying to spend on yourself) or Giorgio Armani (in case you’re looking for a new foundation, I recommend
Luminous Silk Foundation or, maybe you want to try their cool liquid blush Blushing Fabric). By the way, don’t forget MAC! The one in Stockmann sells some stuff from PRO Collection that might be hard to find elsewhere.
In case you come with a cruise boat and only have a few hours to explore the entire city, I recommend you head over to Stockmann directly: it’s centrally located, it has most of the brands we know and love and even some obscure ones for the curious among you. It’s so big that you could probably spend the whole day just going around cosmetics counters. However, if you’re in a hurry, don’t miss: Bliss, REN, Dermalogica and the extensive hair section.
If all the above mentioned brands are no news to you, you are probably lucky (or unlucky) enough to live in some big city that has a couple of department stores. If this is the case, your choice would be to skip Stockmann and check out smaller shops with a more special selection of beauty products. If you come from anywhere else but Sweden one of the KICKS might be of interest. You could say it’s a Swedish alternative to Sephora. Don’t expect anything extraordinary, because the KICKS I’ve been to in Helsinki is rather small, but they sell some Swedish brands you might not find elsewhere, for example ecological skin- and bodycare from Estelle & Thild and Emma S. made by Swedish super model Emma Wiklund. KICKS at shopping mall Forum (Mannerheimintie 20, 00100 Helsinki) also has a little range of Burt’s Bees and dry shampoo brand Batiste.
In Forum you can also find another Swedish cosmetics legend – Make Up Store. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, think MAC. Yeah, it’s pretty much a rip off, even the packaging is similar, but the products are good, in case you want to try something new.
There is another store that sells professional make-up products called Inglot. You can find their corner at Kluuvi (9 Aleksanterrinkatu, 00100 Helsinki). I actually have never heard of them before (shame on me I guess, but in my defence, my forte is more skin care then make-up), but they seem to have some cool stuff, like: magnetic palettes that you can assemble yourself with whichever colours you like (and believe me, they have tons of shades), body pigment powders, millions of lipsticks and just as many nail polishes. It’s a make-up paradise and the staff is very friendly.
As we’re on the topic of friendly and knowledgeable staff, I just want to give a huge shout out to L’Occitane shop (Mannerheimintie 5, 00100 Helsinki). I just went in there to look around and show some hand creams to my friend, but as I started talking to a shop assistant, we were discussing various natural and organic cosmetics and out of curiosity I asked if there were any Finnish ones. To my surprise she could name a few and even was kind enough to give me the directions to a big eco market, where I could find pretty much all of them.
The name of the place is unpronounceable for the most of us and I have no clue what “Ruohonjuuri” (Salomonkatu 5, 00100 Helsinki) might mean, but in case you’re as much of an eco-freak as myself, then this is the place for you. I tend to go to organic shops wherever I am, so I’ve visited quite a few including some in New York, Paris and London. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Ruohonjuuri is one of the best I’ve been to. It has an organic grocery department with lots of fresh produce, great selection of herbal teas from Clipper, Pukka and Dr. Stuarts. You can even buy organic food for your pets here! However, the most fun is in the beauty department. There’s a big focus on local brands like: Flow, Am and Frantsila. But you can also find almost the whole range of Lavera, Weleda and some other international brands. I couldn’t resist purchasing some products from all the Finnish brands and I must say I’m very pleased with all of them. The hair mask from Am is my favorite, despite the packaging that looks quite amateur, the product itself is very much worth the price of 17€. It’s an instant treatment made of clay and carrageenan that you just put in you hair after shampooing and rinse off. My hair gets as soft and non-frizzy as after using Aesop hair mask, but I don’t need to wait 30 minutes for it to activate. Also, Shampoo Soap Bar from Flow is a nice choice for frequent flyers, because you can have it in your carry-on luggage and it won’t leak. There are plenty of options for different colors and types of hair. Definitely worth a try!
For a little bit more high-end ecological brands head over to Eteritique Helsinki in Galleria Esplanad (Pohjoisesplanadi 33, 00130 Helsinki) to shop for Neal’s Yard Remedies or visit a small design store Pino (Fredrikinkatu 22, 00120 Helsinki), where you can find L:a Bruket. They have skin care, hair-, shower- and bath products that smell very lovely and look like a million dollars.
I hope that I’ve covered most of the beauty shopping spots in Helsinki, but if you know some other hidden gems, please don’t be shy, share in the comments below.
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