The Duty Free Shop: A Makeup Melting Pot

Published in: Beauty Tips, Makeup

Hiya, ladies! Now here’s something I didn’t expect to find: a HUGE range of travel exclusives, and by range I mean drugstore brands to high end, all sitting beside each other in perfect harmony on their shelves. Duty Free stores are like makeup melting pots, with row after row of discontinued/limited release products like travel exclusives, and they can make that trip to pick up your cousin from the international terminal well worth your time.


L’Oreal travel exclusives sold alongside brands like Guerlain, Dior and Chanel? Weird, huh?

Prices vary WILDLY! There are deals to be had, but not everything’s a bargain, that’s for sure. In this case the L’Oreal products are substantially more than they would be back home, but some of the higher end stuff looks inexpensive, relatively speaking. Of course, many of the products are things I’ve never seen before, so it’s hard to say what some of the shrink wrapped boxes actually contain.

Today €49.50 works out to about $66.60, I think.


Eh, I left empty handed… Math hurts my brain today.

I hope your Tuesday got off to a good start. 🙂 Be seeing you soon!

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. mill says:

    my mum has the matte morphose and its like the dream matte mousse from maybelline. its pretty good for oily skin.

  2. marisol says:

    One of the best things about traveling internationally is duty free shopping. I always get some fragrances because they seem to be cheaper there than in the US.

  3. Amber says:

    It’s funny, to me the shrink-wrapping makes everything look like the stuff you can buy at Chinatown discount stores, where you never know what you’re really getting!
    Amber recently posted … Smoothie of the week- dragonfruit and guava

  4. I love duty free shops! And yes, I am one of those who likes using the testers to replenish the moisture in my dry, airplane skin. =) I know the sales assistants hate people like me…..hehehe.

    Did you pick up anything?
    Kajal Couture recently posted … Have you gotten your Illamasqua on

  5. Tessa says:

    In europe, make up is more expensive anyway, I think. I read that in the usa, you pay 13 euros for a mac blush, while here you pay 18!
    And i think it sounds cheap, but it isnt, because you think in dollars.

  6. Christine says:

    Airport shopping rocks! I was at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok last night on my way home to Manila and got the Nars Plein Eté Mini Multiple Set and a Dior Cannage Color Collection Eye Palette. From now on, I will make sure I have plenty of time to go airport makeup shopping during trips abroad! 🙂
    Christine recently posted … Nissan Sentra Print Ad

  7. Christy O says:

    I’m heading to Iceland/Scotland/Sweden next week, and my heart is already half broken as I know I won’t be able to purchase even 10% of any good cosmetics/skincare I find due to weight restrictions. Ohhhh, the troubles of the makeup aficionado.
    Glad the trip went well, hope you were able to pick up some Pupa and Collistar, my favourite brands.

    • NeenaJ says:

      get a bunch of tyvek or bubble wrap large envelopes before you go and print out address labels with your home address.

      when you finish making your purchases, wrap them in the local newspaper and take a trip to the local post office & mail them back to yourself.

      it’s what i did when i traveled overseas for work.

      • Christy Ordonez says:

        Y’know, I did something similar many years ago (except I had to ship actual boxes, I’d bought so much), BUT I sent it to my family in Spain (so only a few countries away, not crossing any oceans).
        It’s an excellent suggestion, I think I may just try that. My only concern is the price of shipping all the back to the US!
        I think I need to develop a more discerning eye, as well, and not give in to every temptation. My last big trip overseas I purchased … 52 bottles of product. I didn’t even realise it until I unpacked at home.
        Thanks again!

  8. I always wondered about duty free shops. Only once did I have a chane to visit one but it was only for ten minutes because I was about to board a plane back to the U.S. (I did pick up some travel bottles of rum and hot sauce–I was coming back from Jamaica.) Can one visit a duty store at the airport if you don’t have to catch a flight?
    BrooklynShoeBabe recently posted … The Big Fall Round Up

    • marisol says:

      You have to be traveling internationally in order to purchase items at the duty free shops. They check your passport & boarding pass when you are paying for your purchase. Such a bummer!

  9. Nancy says:

    I love duty free exclusives! I did a post on that Guerlain palette on my blog but it only costs $52 at SFO! I bought it having just seen the shrink wrapped box, no swatch or even a chance to see the insides. I love it though! Here it is if anyone’s interested:

    It’s so interesting that L’Oreal seems like a high end brand next to all those products! I know in Asia they actually sell L’Oreal at counters with testers and everything.
    Nancy recently posted … Revlon Crazy

  10. Jaime says:

    Haha…When I first glance at the last bottle of EL perfume, I thought it read “Basil Dream” instead of “Brasil Dream.” I was thinking….errr….that must be different!

  11. Sonja says:

    Oh I love duty free shops!!! At least two products…each way. I know, I know, it’s not that much cheeper, but, between nothing to do and being excited about my new destination/going home- I never seem to control myself.

    It helps if you take the duty free catalog, so you don’t really shop mindless, and know the prices&how much are you planning to spent. Some bigger airport have it online too!

  12. Nina says:

    Those LOreal travel exclusive palettes are pretty! That Matte Harmony powder also looks interesting.

    Ive asked my sister to visit the MAC DFS counter @ LAX to grab me a tube of the MAC BB Cream. I dont know if she will. 😀

    Safe flight back, Karen!~ 🙂

  13. Taffy says:

    I don’t travel out of the country often and I usually don’t pick up anything at duty free when I do. But I was in Barbados last June and my cousin took me to a $2 store and they had tons of Boots makeup. So I bought a boatload of stuff since after the exchange, it worked out to $1 per item. Score!
    Taffy recently posted … Lovely Lilac By Sally Hansen &amp Emerald City By Revlon

  14. knownever says:

    Ugh I try to stay as far away from those stores as possible for obvious reasons. Also, what is wrong with the model on the L’Oreal box…?

  15. Faye says:

    Don’t worry I’ve been in Germany 7 months now and I still don’t understand the EURO. People claim the dollar is hurting but it’s so much more expensive here than home in the U.S. I hope you had some fun though.
    Faye recently posted … Dior Smoky Eye Shadow

  16. Caitlin says:

    Interesting products! Gotta love seeing the different products that are available in other countries. I know what you mean about a lot (if not most) of the cosmetics at the duty free shops being the same price or even more expensive than regular stores. Hope you had fun in Italy and I hope to see some hauls of the stuff you bought! Have a good flight home Karen!
    Caitlin recently posted … Fab or Drab Volume 1

  17. Kim says:

    Hey! A Duty Free! I heard that 1 Million was the best selling fragrance there. 😉

    I’ve been dying to tell you that I’m rocking the disco peacock today, sort of. UD Jackpot on the upper lash line and Electric on the lower. One of my boys told me I had “clown eyes” this AM. He meant it as a compliment. No one else has given me any looks, so Day 1 with Color has been a success so far. 🙂

    PS It’s my first Faux Cils day too and I think it beats Hypnose on length, hands down. I’m on the fence about volume though. I’ll have to give it more time (and get used to the wand) before my final opinion. The Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is getting a thumbs up too, so far. I’m so overwhelmed with new make-up; I don’t know how you do it!!!!

  18. Basak says:

    Duty free shopping is cheaper when you leave in some countries where cosmetic prices are almost double of what you pay in the US. The prices are pretty consistent across different airports. Of course exclusive products have their typical charm.

  19. Trisha says:

    I bet I’d be overwhelmed walking in there. So much to look at! And yes, far too much math.
    Trisha recently posted … Urban Decay Urbanglow Cream Highlight for Holiday Season 2010

  20. gio says:

    I love duty-free shops, they have some amazing exclusive sets. Although I try to stay away from them or I’d end up spnding way too much lol. Makeup in Europe is more expensive than the US. And the prices of L’Oreal in Italy are outrageous and way too high for a drugstore brand.

    Have a safe flight back home!
    gio recently posted … Product Review- Pupa Lasting Color Nail Polish n900

  21. Vonvon says:

    Yep, duty free shop is always a heaven for makeup. But too bad, I always have too short a layover time to have enough time to shop at the duty free shops. Besides, shopping at duty free shops mean less time to spend at the airline lounges. 😉
    Vonvon recently posted … Greetings From The UK First Fall EOTD Hauls From Boots et al Window Shopping

  22. AP says:

    I live on a border town in Canada and I have to say I love shopping for skin care and make-up at the Duty Free. Our tax here is quite high so even if I can save a little on the tax it helps.

  23. Lydia Joy says:

    This has nothing to do with duty-free shops, specifically.. But all I can think of after seeing this post is how much I love airports. I know it’s strange, but there’s something about them that I cannot resist. If I had the money, I would blow it just to hit all the airports dining and shopping (weird? Meh!). This also makes me kind of sad. The summer before last I saw so many stores and so many airports around the country and Europe, and every time I found myself a little sad because I was in too much of a rush to even stop and look.

    Clearly I need some longer layovers. (;


  24. Rachael says:

    The last duty free store I was in, my dive partner had to literally pull me away from the Chanel wallets. Good thing for my wallet. I feel slightly discriminated against by the L’oreal color harmony though. What about us red heads!? lol
    Rachael recently posted … Time for Cuteness

  25. emmi says:

    speaking of prices here, i live in finland and prices are crazy high here! for example, low end mascaras are like $20 (in us dollars), even 25, whereas high end ones like lancome or dior are around $45.. i could complain about this forever lol

  26. regina says:

    I am such a sucker for travel exclusives. You have a lot more willpower than I do – can you share with me? : )

  27. Amanda says:

    Hawaii has a duty free shop in Waikiki and I love browsing through there at all the LE items. 🙂

  28. Maya says:

    Actually, here in Israel there are Dior, Chanel and Guerlain next to L’Oreal. We just don’t have the more exclusive stores, so they mix the brands together. It’s really quite nice that there are discounts on every single brand, though it is more expensive here than in the US.

  29. Nikolas says:

    It’s really interesting to see how much things cost in other countries. Koren (EnKoreMakeup) was talking about all of the makeup he saw on his trip to Australia just recently, and I found it to be amazing how expensive things are over there. NARS Sheer Glow is $100!!!! And it’s only like $42 here. And at first, I thought THAT was expensive lol. I’m glad I live here 🙂

  30. Nikolas says:

    If I lived in a country where makeup was super expensive, I’d totally buy it on eBay… The S&H costs would be worth paying if makeup is really as expensive as I hear it is in other places…

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