Must-visit countries for cult beauty products, locales and services: Glossier L.A., Mexican cactus massages, and more
Ready, jet set...
The many advantages of the Internet are known to us all. If there's one thing us beauty enthusiasts remain most grateful about, it is the establishing of borderless shopping that grants us access to beauty brands and products once made unattainable due to distance. Godsends such as Net-a-Porter and Asos allow us to (gleefully) own cult, new, and up-and-coming beauty offerings without having to trek mountains and cross rivers.
There are, however, exceptions that stay stubbornly out of reach despite our heightened interconnectivity. We're talking certain cult beauty products, services, and experiences that are limited to their countries of origin — from gorgeous concept stores to many a label that have yet to include worldwide shipping (boo). To rectify this, we have gathered a list of must-visit cities for beauty fiends, all of which provide a one-of-a-kind time worth the hours of travel. Get those passports ready.
Glossier, Los Angeles
What: Established in 2010, beauty juggernaut Glossier is known for their minimalist, efficacious formulas that quickly amassed a cult-like following with the philosophy that "less is more." Think sheer, barely-there blushes, lipsticks, and mascaras that serve to enhance features rather than conceal.
Why go: Visiting the brand's physical retail space is on the bucket list of many a beauty enthusiast. Reason being? Its highly Instagram-worthy interiors bearing millennial pink everything, from bathroom fixtures to window grilles. The full range of skincare and makeup is available there, too, an experience often unfounded online when attempting to purchase from various third-party sources (because, nope, the official site does not ship to SG). Their flagship store in New York City is equally as impressive, though we'd recommend L.A. purely for the Instagram purposes.
Sauna Gondola, Finland
What: Located at The Sport Resort in Ÿllas, Finland, the Sauna Gondola is exactly as it sounds: a literal steam room located within a gondola suspended up in the sky. Apparently, there are numerous benefits as to sweatin' it out in said steam room, though the key ones include soothing general body aches, pains, and deep-cleansing the skin as bacteria and skin debris are thoroughly rinsed out of sweat ducts.
Why go: Beginning from the top of mountain Ÿllas, visitors are encouraged to enter the gondola, strip off their clothes, and enjoy a leisurely sauna experience with a view as it descends towards the base of the mountain. Each cabin accommodates up to 12 people and each trip lasts 20 minutes each. Upon reaching the base, visitors can continue enjoying another sauna on solid ground and or slip into a hot tub. Ahh, bliss.
Tamburins flagship store, Seoul
What: The beauty arm to fashion label, Gentle Monsters, Tamburins catapulted into the spotlight for its arsenal of essential, no-frills skincare. Notable products include their iconic Nude H And Cream - which comes fitted with adorable chain link straps so it serves as literal arm candy — as well as their newly launched Tiger Leaf Serum.
Why go: You can scoop up Tamburins products via Amazon or third-party sites — but their flagship outlet delivers on a one-of-a-kind experience that makes it well-worth the air ticket. Picture a sprawling gallery filled with quirky art pieces, 3D installations, and completely unexpected fixtures that work to display their key products, all of which provide a stunning visual experience that are sure to add some serious street cred to your Instagram feed. The fact that it is the only outlet in the world also cements its must-visit status.
Bite Beauty lip lab, New York City
What: Specialising in all things lip, Bite Beauty goes a step further with their Lip Lab, a laboratory that allows for visitors to create their very own lipstick — in just seven minutes. Well, provided you're not all too fussed about shade and scent selection, that is. With 200+ lip pigments and flavouring options available, it's safe to say that visitors will be well spoilt for choice.
Why go: Colour artists will be on hand to help you throughout the process, from shade, scent, to finish selection. Visitors are encouraged to look through and play with all possible pigments until the perfect shade is created. Upon trying and deeming it suitable, visitors can then choose from a variety of scents and flavourings, from cherry to citrus mango. Once everything's been decided, the colour artists will then pour the mixture into molds, and voila: your one-of-a-kind lipstick. Do note, however, that they do not accept cash payment (credit only) and that making an appointment is highly recommended.
Hakali cactus massage, Mexico
Who: A treatment exclusive to Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico, this massage utilises an actual cactus leaf that is rubbed, massaged and kneaded into skin, with the soothing motions and formulation helping rejuvenate tired complexions as well as cleanse the body of toxins. Those fearing an acupuncture-like experience can rest easy knowing that needles are removed from the cactus prior to the treatment. Phew.
What: Cactus leaves are first dabbed in a mixture of blossom oils and — believe it or not —tequila. They are then split into half and massaged into skin, with reviewers claiming that it absorbs into skin close to instantaneously, leaving soft, supple skin in its wake.
L'Occitane Factory, Provence
Who: Those fascinated by how makeup is made is sure to delight in this guided tour of illustrious French brand, L'Occitane. Witness the magic behind the crafting of their iconic formulas, find out their various sources of inspiration, and learn more about the rich history of the brand that spans from 1976.
What: Located in the birthplace of the brand, the guided tour is packed with activities that beauty enthusiasts are sure to delight in. Visitors will be able to get an inside look at the many processes that go behind creating L'Occitane products, for one — from sampling the raw ingredients utilised in the formulations to understanding how a cosmetic production line works. They can also request to visit the connecting museums and garden as well, though further bookings (and fees) do apply.
Connemara seaweed baths, Ireland
Who: There are seaweed wraps and masks abound within the beauty industry — a saltwater seaweed bath, though? Not so much. Offered by the Leenane Hotel, the inclusion of saltwater apparently makes for a world of a difference where it helps release the essential skin-nourishing minerals and nutrients found in seaweed for it to really work its magic on skin. We're talking moisturising intensely dry, flaky skin as well as relaxing tired, achy muscles.
What: The procedure begins in a steam room so as to open up the skin's pores to allow for maximum efficacy when it comes to the treatment. Visitors will then submerse themselves in bathtubs filled with the unique concoction for however long they desire, with the last step being to douse themselves in ice cold spring water — delivered via a pulley system located by the tub — so as to close pores and seal in the wondrous effects of said bath.