An Insider’s Guide to Makeup Shopping in Italy

Published in: Guest Post, Just For Fun, KIKO Milano, Makeup, Travel

Italian Beauty Products

I don’t know about you, but being the beauty lover that I am, whenever I travel to a foreign country I’m always on the hunt for makeup products I can’t find back home. No fridge magnets for me; lipsticks are my favorite souvenirs! 😉


Follow me today on a little virtual shopping spree of Bologna, so that the next time you visit Italy, you’ll be perfectly capable of finding your way through the Italian beauty jungle on your own.

Let’s go to the old town then, shall we? Since there’s a lot of variety in terms of stores, it’s definitely the best place for shopping, and we can do a bit of sightseeing too… I’ll see you by the Neptune Fountain, Bologna’s most popular meeting point.

Neptune Fountain Bologna Italy

Neptune Fountain and Piazza Maggiore, the main square, in the background

If you’re interested in high-end cosmetics, we should go to a profumeria (beauty store). Most profumerie belong to big retail chains, like Sephora, Limoni or Douglas, but quite a few independent stores still survive. Some of these are called bioprofumerie and only carry natural and organic products. Would you like to check one out?

Limoni Beauty Store Bologna Italy

This Limoni beauty store used to be a church, and it was built in the 18th century. Can you see the décor inside? Pretty cool, eh?

Limoni Beauty Store Bologna Italy

Another Limoni store right next to a fishmonger. There are lots of amazing independent food stores in this area. Would you like to have a look around?

Tortellini Pasta Bologna Italy

Tortellini on display, one of Bologna’s many specialties

Oh, you’re saying you’d rather go to a makeup counter? Well, actually, here we don’t really have makeup counters. Our department stores are usually smaller than those in the US, and most of the time their beauty departments only have self-service aisles instead of counters.


Coin, AKA the Italian Macy’s

If you’re looking for what you’d call ‘drugstore makeup’, we can’t go to a drugstore.

Why, you ask me? Well, because our drugstores (farmacie) are very different from American ones and don’t sell much else other than medicines. The only beauty products you can find there are French pharmacy skincare (Bioderma, La Roche Posay, Avène, and the like), so if you’re interested in Maybelline or similar Italian brands, we should go to a supermarket instead.

Here, all supermarkets have a beauty corner where you can find products in the drugstore price range. The same types of products can also be found at Acqua & Sapone or Tigotà, two retail chains that specialize in cleaning supplies and personal care items.

I don’t know if you have something similar in the US, but they kinda remind me of drugstores, minus the drugs!

Italian Drugstore Bologna

A farmacia (drugstore) on a pedestrian street in Bologna’s old town

KIKO Store Bologna Italy

In the old town there are nearly 25 miles of porticoes, which will keep us sheltered from any kind of weather

Of course we’re going to KIKO! Being an Italian company, their stores here are literally EVERYWHERE. There are also a few other standalone stores of similar brands you may want to check out. One I personally know and like is WYCON, but the other day I set foot in a Flormar for the first time and saw they had this big selection of colorful nail polishes you might also enjoy… Total eye candy!

Wycon Store Bologna Italy

Flormar Store Bologna Italy

Perusing Flormar’s display for the first time

If you’re tired from all the walking and shopping (it’s a hard life, I know), we can stop for a little lunch whenever you want. May I treat you to a nice selection of local cheese and cold cuts?

Italian Cold Cuts

OK, friend, now that our stomach is full, I think we can call it a day. I hope you enjoyed our little beauty tour of Bologna. Let’s do it again sometime!

Carolina Braina

Hey, ladies (and gents), it’s Carolina here, reporting live from Bologna, Italy, to bring you the latest and greatest in beauty from the good ol’ continent! For an extra dose of that timeless Italian glam with a touch of humor and self-irony (because, you know, laughter is the best makeup), come say hi at and Instagram.


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So far, 76 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Anna Oh says:

    One of my DREAMS is to go to Italy! Thank you for the awesome insight 🙂

  2. Tatiana says:

    Thank you! This was wonderful. I want to visit Italy very much. My lucky daughter has been to Italy twice on school trips and has returned with wonderful stories of food, friends and laughter and an overstuffed suitcase from shopping.

  3. Susan says:

    Hi Carolina! Great post! I went on a family tour last year and we made several stops in Italy – Bolzano, Venice, Tuscany (San Gimignano), Rome. I looked for Kiko, but our time was limited and it was hard to find shopping time at all. Hope to get back there some day in the not too distant future!

  4. Nati says:

    What a lovely and detailed post! I love Bologna, I’ve been there 20 times and my dream would be to live there. From the morning coffee, to the delicious food, from the charming old city to the people kindness, everything is right for me! It is an ancient city with a young heart ♥ But, for the time being, there are no jobs for us. I could find a job, but my hubby couldn’t 🙁
    Maybe some day!
    Nati recently posted … Cuccio Naturalé extraordinary butters

  5. Anne Marie says:

    Ciao! Whenever I go to Italy I always go makeup shopping and I always go to Coin! I also go to the farmacia to find cool stuff! That’s where I discovered Berocca!
    Nice to have you while Karen is “busy”!
    Anne Marie

  6. Jen Clark says:

    I loved this Carolina! If I ever make it to Bologna we will have to meet up and go shopping together! 🙂
    Jen Clark recently posted … All About Eyeshadow Palettes

  7. Mary says:

    Love this post!! All of it, not just about the makeup! Thank you and I am looking forward to reading more.

  8. Chelsea says:

    Fun read! I’ve never been to Italy, but I love shopping for cosmetics in Europe as an American! (Typically France, since I speak that)

  9. Michelle ComesLast says:

    thank you! Oh I miss Italy! I was stationed in Aviano from 89-91. I have never recovered from shrinking an emerald green wool Benetton (remember them!) sweater when I came home. It would fit Barbie. My mom had thrown the wash in the dryer for me, and that was that. I could never find much in the way of makeup, but now I know why. The food and clothes at the time, so worth it! I miss the weekly Mercato! The fun of finding awesome clothes and the challenge of trying to try them on in the back of a van (with 4 other women also using said van, it’s too short to stand up, and no dividers). Easier when you are 20 ad limber. I was figuring out where the really awesome stuff was when I left.

  10. Jessica says:

    Í love reading about Italy. <3
    Jessica recently posted … Mad Rain

  11. Christine says:

    “…laughter is the best makeup.” I LOVE THIS! #sotrue

  12. Anna says:

    What a wonderful guest post! I enjoyed every bit, including the non-makeup photos. I have actually visited Bologna and all of those makeup shops. Thank you for bringing back fond memories!

  13. Lola AM says:

    This was very helpful! I was in Italy in 2013 and didn’t know where to begin to search. I kept hearing about Kiko, but never saw a store. I plan to return soon, so this will point me in the right direction.

  14. Maisha Haque says:

    Did a study abroad there for a few months, and love your post. I love seeing the city and the neat tidbits about beauty. When I went I didn’t research ahead of time, so I missed out on the “drugstore” make up in Italy. But I think I bought out all of the Kiko shop in Verona 😛 Great post and keep it up!

  15. Holly says:

    A beautiful virtual tour; thank you for taking the time to show us around! I visited Spain a decade ago & have longed to return. I also have an expat classmate in Rome; you’ve definitely triggered my wanderlust!

  16. Fancie says:

    I would so love to go to Italy! Everything seems so different but it makes sense and the street shops look so cool. Bologna seems like a beautiful place to visit and I certainly have to add a visit to my bucket list. I haven’t tried too many European beauty brands but I’m definitely looking forward to trying some things as I’ve heard such great things about them. Especially Kiko. Thanks for the lovely read Carolina!
    Fancie recently posted … NARS x Steven Klein Despair Cheek Palette Review

  17. Gee says:

    I dream of traveling to Italy. Thank you for the sight see.

  18. Rachel says:

    Interesting! I always wonder how day to day life (like shopping for makeup) is different in other countries!

  19. Isabella says:

    Ah, Italy! I have only passed by Bologna twice by train, but the next time I’ll make sure to visit!

  20. Teresa Luong says:

    Wow I loved this so much! It felt like I was actually walking around and being there! This was a very fun and enjoyable post; such lovely pictures and atmosphere! I look forward to seeing more cool posts from you~~!

  21. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for this, it’s bringing back so many memories of my 6 month stay in Bologna. Such a beautiful city!

    I can’t wait until I get another opportunity to go back there!

  22. Shopping in Italy sounds similar to shopping in Germany as far as the design of the shops is concerned. If I ever get to Bologna, I will keep that guide at hand and maybe ask for a personal shopping tour with my favorite Italian blogger!
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer – The downsides of traveling

  23. I really enjoyed your post,thanks Carolina! Maybe another post specifically on Kiko, please?
    TravelingBlush recently posted … MAC Ellie Goulding Halcyon Palette: Review and Swatches

  24. Lauren says:

    Welcome Carolina! Great post, beautiful pics! This is a helpful post…I’m newly living overseas from the US and Canada and nearly fainted when I discovered there was no Sephora!! I have discovered KIKO though! Fun to see new parts of the world…and food! 😉

  25. Kim says:

    Thanks for the great tour, Carolina! I love Italy but have only been to Bologna once, briefly. Your post definitely makes me want to return and explore more. 🙂

  26. Renee says:

    Very enjoyable read!

  27. Carolyn says:

    I used all my savings a few years ago to go to Italy for a few months. I rented an apartment in Rome and went all over the place on the weekends. The biggest regret of my life was coming back to Canada. I should’ve stayed in Italy and the second I have the chance to move there, I will without hesitation.

  28. Adia says:

    This is such a great post! Wish I had this info before I went to Italy in 2014, guess that means I’ll have to go back 🙂
    Adia recently posted … Goals | March 2016

  29. Kalli says:

    How cool! I went to Italy a few years ago and stopped in a Kiko in Taormina, Sicily. I’m still kicking myself for not buying a thing! But the store was so cool and the products looked great. I did end up going to another little shop and bought some perfume – Acqua di Taormina and a big bottle of jasmine single note cologne.
    Kalli recently posted … The Favorites: L’Oreal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup

  30. Wiebke says:

    Dear madmimimama, congratulation for your sweeeeet little daughter to you and your maddaddy, hope it was not too hurtful even though you must have forgotten the pain rigjt after the birth. It s the most wonderfully unregrettable happiest moment when the baby is born. And I wish you peaceful :-)) quiet days and nights as much as possible. Kisses and hugs from the baltic sea germany. Wiebke

  31. kellly says:

    I thought my shopping for beauty “souvineers” might be considered a little strange (since I’ve gotten the side-eye more than a few times about it) so I’m glad to see I’m not alone. I figure since I’m going to get something I can USE and enjoy, it’s nice to have a nice travel memory connected with my purchase. Never anyplace as exotic as Italy but I still enjoy my beauty purchase memories.

  32. Mary says:

    Hello from Switzerland, not very far away from Bologna 🙂
    I enjoy very much reading Caren’s blog but your today’s insight is fantastic, thanks a lot for this :-)! Beautiful pictures of food….che buoni! I’ve been to Bologna once, many years ago and enjoyed it very much, especially the food, ma che cucina buonissima e specialmente genuina! Seeing now this mouthwatering pictures makes we want to go there again…although we find nearly any italian speciality to buy here in Switzerland it not the same as when you it them in Italy (and i am not only talking about the prices we must pay here)…
    it’s the air, the water, the joy, the love and passion italians put in everything they do which is missing… 🙂
    The cosmetic stores in Italy are awesome…By the way… a new KIKO Shop opened in Switzerland….not too far away which is in Zurich Airport, about an hour drive by car…. As a make-up lover I’ve been there already and I must say:
    their nail polishes, lipsticks and lipliner are superbe, of such reasonable prices and good quality too! Wow, can recommend it to anyone. Ciao!

  33. Erin says:

    As controversial as it may be, I always bought my cosmetics in Italy at Conad. I know some people consider a big store like that an affront to Italian culture, but being American the one stop shop was nice! Of course I still bought most of my produce and meats from specialty dealers.
    Erin recently posted … Unsung Hero 2014 Shiraz

  34. Michaela says:

    Ciao, Carolina! Thank you for giving us a run down of where to shop. I don’t know if I’d be able to remember what stores are for what brands. I like that Italians enjoy having a snack after a “hard day” of shopping. Ha ha! I’ve been to Italy twice – to Roma, Venezia, Florencia, and Catania.

  35. Lulle says:

    Nice post! I’ll have a little more of the cold cuts, thank you very much!
    I’ve visited Italy a few times but I’ve never had a chance to stop in Bologna. From your pictures the old town looks so nice!
    Lulle recently posted … Maskology Vol I: an introduction to sheet masks.

  36. Sarah says:

    I have than exact same blue colistar nail varnish in the pic! You didn’t really talk about them as a brand, I thought their stuff was really nice, on a path with Estée Lauder type cosmetics. I got mine in Sardinia last year and you could find it in the main high end pharmacy in town.

    Will keep an eye out for more ideas, I’m only a few hours from Italy and in Sardinia most summers.

  37. Agata says:

    I love this little tour around Italy, a great first post on MBB, Carolina!

    Italy is a lot like Poland (where I used to live), except there is no Kiko there (unless something has changed in the last two years since my last trip there).
    Agata recently posted … My Concealing Weapons

  38. This is such a wonderful post! I have visited Bologna before but never shopped for any beauty products while I was there – what a mistake! Perhaps I will return to Bologna one day and thanks to you will know exactly where to get my make up fix.

  39. I hope to visit Italy one day. To buy all the things. And eat all the food. And of course to take in all of its beauty. 🙂
    Lisa @ Midwest Glam recently posted … March 2016 Wishlist

  40. Delia says:

    I agree with Bologna being a great place for shopping, I’ve gone once to centergoss (a huge wholesale place for the textile wholesale industry) and it was great. I have also used a buyer in Italy ( who helped me getting some cosmetics items to my country. Italy is a marvellous place for shopping, and so is all Europe to be fair, I love France and Spain as well.

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