When I was packing for my year abroad in Florence, I didn’t bring all my makeup. It takes up a whole drawer in the bathroom, so there was no way I could fit all of it into one makeup bag.
It wasn’t a big deal because it wasn’t like I was going into the wilderness. I was excited to see what I could find in Florence, but because I have limited money and can’t work for visa reasons, it needed to be cheap. There are a fair amount of makeup stores in Florence, but they are mostly places like M.A.C and Sephora -- really expensive, and makeup I can get at home, so why spend money on it?
Instead, I looked for the places I could get cheap, different makeup and I think I did a pretty good job.
The 99-Cent Store
The 99-cent store in Florence, or "the dollar store” as my friends and I call it, is amazing. I’ve been to a fair amount of dollar stores in the states and they always felt kind of skeezy, and I worried about what I was buying. In Italy, however, my friends and I buy almost everything from here. I’ve gotten a giant pack of tissues, notebooks, pens, candy, and yes, makeup, all for the low, low price of 99 cents each.
Buying eyeliner from the dollar store wasn’t my idea. My friend Nisa came into school one day with gold liner, and it looked great, so of course I asked her where she got it. When she said that it was from the dollar store, I was excited. I could buy three eyeliners for 3 euro. Score!
I already had a lot of gold eyeshadow so I bought some different colors by a brand called Lady Venezia: green, purple and a brownish red.
I normally stick to black eyeliner because that’s what I know, but these eyeliners were pretty, and since they were so cheap I didn’t mind trying them out.
The green eyeliner was really bright -- I’d wear it again, but maybe I’ll save it for St. Patrick's day.
I was worried about the brown eyeliner. It looked pretty red to me, and putting red around my eyes makes it look like I’m crying. However, there was enough brown in the red that it looked more natural and pretty.
The purple eyeliner was my favorite. It was dark enough so it didn’t wash me out and it was a nice change from black, but not crazy like the green one.
KIKO makeup stores are everywhere, they have some great makeup and it's not too expensive. They have a lot of different colors of eyeshadow and mascara, and their eyeshadow can be used with water.
I bought a lipstick and an eyeshadow from KIKO and together it was about $11. I only bought one lipstick, but KIKO has a huge selection and I’m probably going to go back for more.
The Double Touch lipstick is dual-ended and long-wear, featuring a side with the color and a side that seals the color in. I thought it would be super-drying on my lips because stuff that stays on for all day is usually pretty bad for your skin, but this lipstick is great; I didn’t even feel it, and when I took it off, my lips weren’t dry.
I also love the Water Eyeshadow. I don’t wear a lot of pink on my eyes, but this color was my favorite in the store. It’s very summery and bright, so I can wear it with eyeliner or by itself. Initially I thought it would be too light to show up on my skin but it worked great.
The Beauty Beat store is about a block away from my homestay, which is a problem, because I go there all the time. The store has a mix of Italian and American brands, as well as perfume, soaps and hair accessories.
I bought the Acqua Distillata Alle Rose water because it said "made in Firenze" on the bottle. Maybe it was a tourist gimmick, but I really like it. I use it on my face and as perfume; it smells good and it doesn’t make me break out.
The lipstick is also an Italian brand, Deborah Milano. The display said it was matte, and I love my Ruby Woo, but it was also about $4 -- so a lot cheaper than M.A.C.
Beauty Beat has a pretty good selection of non-Italian brands as well, like Rimmel, L’Oreal, YSL, and Shiseido. If I’m ever missing my L’Oreal eyeliner, I know where to go.
I had a lot of fun going around Italy and finding cute, cheap makeup. The products I found I really like, and I can’t wait to find more.
Can you recommend other places in Italy to shop for makeup? What's been your favorite international beauty find?