If you ever find yourself in need of make up and skin care products in Italy, there are not many places where to go, especially if you are in a small town far away from the biggest cities.
Your best chance to find these products are supermarkets. Any kind of supermarkets (Esselunga, Coop, etc.) of any dimension will have some kind of beauty aisle.
Most likely you'll find cosmetics product near the personal care or personal hygiene items.
In the biggest supermarkets (i.e. Ipercoop, Auchan, Esselunga), you'll probably find half an aisle dedicated to cosmetics, ranging from make up to skin care products.
Since in Italy there is not a clear equivalent of drugstore kind of places, you'll find several international drugstore brands in supermarkets, such as Maybelline and Rimmel, L'oreal, together with other "local", less famous brands (i.e. Deborah).
Be careful, do not expect to find the whole range of make up in the supermarket aisles: many brands choose to keep only a few items in supermarkets. For example, my local supermarket (a pretty big Esselunga store) only has the mascara line from Maybelline.
What it is certain is that if you need an emergency mascara or any other make up item without having any preference about brands, supermarkets are your best shot.
Peculiar and notable things:
- Italy only gets two Neutrogena products, the classic hand cream and the hand and nail cream - and you don't find Neutrogena products outside of supermarkets.
- The Esselunga chain of supermarkets (mostly present in northern Italy has a own brand make up and skin care line: I can vouch for the skin care (the cleansing milk and toner water are ok and have a fair price); I never tried any products from the make up line (my supermarket does not carry this line), but it ranges from foundation to mascaras and general opinion online is that the products are average quality, but with a great price.
- some supermarkets may have a separate counter with a register to pay for beauty products (located near the beauty aisle; usually for make up but not for skin care products): pay for your beauty purchase, and the shop assistant will put and close your purchase in a little transparent bag and staple the receipt to the bag. You are supposed to put your little bag in your trolley with the rest of your shopping and then show it to the cashier when you are paying for everything else.
- Even supermarkets belonging to the same chain will not stock the same products: so it may take a little bit of luck to find some products.
- The Garnier Waterproof make up remover is a sham. You have to shake it really hard and long and the two liquids never complete mix, and removing waterproof mascara with this products is a drawn out affair.
- Some supermarkets have an online service where you can online shop: the online cosmetics/beauty section may have more products that your same-name local supermarket.
- In small towns you'll find very small stores that works as supermarkets: the make up items will be probably stored in a closed make up case. You'll have to ask an employee to retrieve the item you want for you. Be sure to check the expiration date on the products, they may have been in that glass case for a long time!
For skin care products the choices are not as limited as for make up, because usually supermarkets have both international, their own and italian/local brands.
Some speciality supermarkets, for example organic product-only supermarkets, carry full lines of natural/organic skin care products, i.e. Weleda, Dr. Hauschka, which otherwise will find somewhere else.
Discover other places where to shop for cosmetics in Italy next week!