20 September 2013

How to Live in Moscow: Beauty Edition

So, one thing I would like this blog to be is a resource, for not only expats, but for expats living in Moscow. Since I am listed on a couple expat blog websites, I really would like to devote more time to making little guides to living in Moscow, as it can be a tough city to navigate around (especially if you don't speak much Russian).

Now listen, I'm no expert by any means, but I have lived here for about eight months now (?!?!?!?) and I have picked up a thing or two. Maybe I might be of help to someone feeling a little lost in this city.

Okay, so I thought the first instillation would be about beauty products, where to find them, and (if you can't read Russian) what to look for on labels. It took me a long time to find the products I have now and I know I would have appreciated something like this. I also got quite a few questions on the products I use (which is understandable--I'm always curious what works for other people), so I thought I'd make one big post.

Also, not all of these products are exclusive to Russia (many of them can be found in Europe, a few in America I believe), so hopefully everyone can take something away.

Without further adieu...

My skin, hair, and body care products!

Okay, so these are my hair products.

First up, we have my shampoo and conditioner. Before I left for Russia, I had been using sulfate free shampoos (I believe the brand was called Nature's Way) and I really liked those. But when I got to Moscow, I couldn't really find any organic shampoos in the super markets, so I just stuck to Dove products because it was a brand I recognized. However, I was in the аптека (pharmacy) the other day and I noticed they had an awesome selection of organic hair and body products, so I picked these up and so far so good. My hair feels light and fluffy, but I'll probably keep experimenting until I find a brand I love. Check out your local аптека for organic/sulfate free products. 

Second, to the left, I have an argan oil detangler. I normally used Moroccan oil, but when I ran out here, I couldn't find a replacement. So, I went to Tsvetnoy and browsed until I found an after-shower leave in product. I like my hair to look natural, but tamed, so if that's what you're going for, I recommend H. Air. Spa Detangler. And it smells like heaven. 

And my third product, my deep conditioner, is Nordic and it's just okay. I don't know if I'd recommend it, I don't really notice much of a difference when I use it, but I also found it at Tsvetnoy. They have lots of other hair care options there as well, so it's definitely a place to shop for your hair needs. 

Okay, body stuff. 

So we actually just ran out of our Trader Joe's body wash stock, so I went to l'etual and picked up some Korres body washes for Ben and I. It's a Greek brand (I'm bringing some to Amsterdam for you, Mom!) and I adore it. Everything smells like Mount Olympus and you feel like an angel's booty after. 

Let me just say something about l'etual and getting the most bang for your buck in Moscow. 
I'm not gonna lie, Moscow is literally the most expensive city in the world and every time you go to a cash register, it's gonna hurt. So here's a cheat for you: get yourself a l'etual card (they'll offer you one every time you go in) and build up those points. After awhile, you'll start to get better and better discount cards (I'm at 15%, inching up on 20%) and the prices won't seem so crazy. Or, if you're hanging out with Russian chicks, they are bound to have the beautiful gold 25% card and they might let you borrow it. L'etual also has pretty great deals and sales every now and then, and you can stock up on make-up, perfume, whatever. I like it better than the other cosmetic stores. 

I also use that body exfoliant, but it's nothing special. I bought it for like, 250 rubles or something at a подружка (which has the most amazing Korean face masks as well) and I use it when I take baths. I'll probably replace it next time I make a stop at Lush, but it's fine for now.

Oh man, this is taking longer than I thought. 

Those are my face products. 

The green one is a light soap, I use it in the mornings. It's pretty standard. You can find them at your local grocery store. 
The white one is for clogged pores, I believe. I like the little exfoliating pad, but it can dry your skin out quickly, especially if you're like me and are prone to dry skin. I only use it on nights when I went out or days when I wore a lot of make-up or something. 

Then I have my wrinkle cream because I am insane and paranoid about wrinkles. It's just a cheap Olay wrinkle cream and the box was in English. I bought it at l'etaul, but they sell them everywhere. I put it on in the mornings and night. 

Okay, so this is my night cream. The word in white is the word for 'night' in Russian. I highly recommend this night cream to anyone (but especially if you have dry skin-it's like a milkshake for your face), but if you don't like the L'Oreal brand, that's the word you need to find yourself something else.

Oh my gosh. This stuff. 

So, I'd heard about Bioderma products from YouTube beauty bloggers before, but you can only get it in French pharmacies, so I didn't pay much attention. Well, the other day I was walking past an аптека and it occurred to me that they might have it because pharmacies here carry a slew of very expensive European face products. And whatdya know.

So I use this on days when my skin is feeling really dry, or I didn't wear much make up. It basically just removes everything from your skin and leaves it feeling really fresh and clean. It never dries you out and you don't have to wash your face after. It's amazing. 

If you have dry, sensitive skin and don't mind spending a lot of money of good face products, I recommend buying this one off Amazon. Or just come to Moscow!

And now my extras. 

Quickly, because this is getting so long. Deodorant. Kind of tricky here. You are not gonna be able to find your stick deodorant, I can tell you that. I searched everywhere, but I could only ever find non-scented ones and I finally caved and bought this Dove roller. It's fine, though I'm having my mom bring me stick deodorant when I see her in Decemeber. You can buy the one above at L'etauls or подружка. 

I also have a little bottle of lavender oil (лабанда in Russian) that I wear at night. You can get those anywhere in the banya section. It's probably by the dried leaves. 

Aaaaand, my nailpolish. Ben just bought me this one for our anniversary and I'm obsessed. It's the Rouge Noir color and it's perfect for fall (though I'm sure you can find cheaper alternatives--Revlon and O.P.I. are great and also everywhere). 

This is my perfume. It's men's cologne from Scotch & Soda. It has a woody, oriental smell and I just love it. I picked it up in Munich.

Oh my goodness, everyone get off your computer and buy yourself this hand cream. It's perfect and amazing. The flavor is honey (мед) and it literally makes your hands feel like you had them roasting in candle wax for hours. Highly recommend.

Some other tips...
1. This might seem obvious, but don't buy your razors from a street vendor (they're everywhere). I tried to save money and bought a pack of Venus razors and they were shit. I don't know who would spend their time making knock-off Venus razors, but someone did. Just go to a real store. 
2. Again, подружка has the most amazing face masks. Look for the ones in Korean- I don't know what's in them, but they smooth out your skin like nothing else. 
3. The water is very hard in Moscow (which, if you are living here, you should know and not drink it), so I use purified water to wash my face. You can buy a large jug of water at the store for 50 rubles and just keep refilling it with filtered water. 
4. Manicures are pretty inexpensive here and almost all Russian women will have their nails done. If you're feeling kinda blue about how much money you just spent on junk for your face, why not treat yourself to a mani ;)

I hope that helps!


  1. I've seen the same thing here in Ukraine, street vendors selling name-brand razor blades on tables near the metro. And for discounted prices too, of course. Never thought much about it but now I wonder if they're selling knock-offs like the ones you found, hmm...

    If they're not selling disposable razors than they're selling name-brand hair dyes, but now I'm thinking maybe it should be amended to "so-called name-brand" dye :p Craziness!

  2. kosmetichka.livejournal.com is an amazing resource for looking up brands. People actually try out stuff and post reviews about their experiences which is invaluable.

  3. Do they sell a number of Japanese skincare brands in Moscow? I've been using brands from Japan for years. I've had bad experience with a few Western brands that had ruined my skin (acne scars, scarred pores) in my early teens. Then, I was introduced to Japanese products and it was my saviour, I've never strayed since then. I'm going to continue my studies in Moscow around late 2018, next year. But, I've always worried about this skin care problem. Do they also have online websites for authentic Asian skincare in Russia?

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