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Beauty is currently one of Asia’s most talked about exports. From Daily Mail articles on the horrors of donkey milk and horse oil to the current obsession of beauty bloggers with panda face masks and confusion over whitening cream – it’s an intriguing part of Asian culture, as something that’s so different from our own.
The Taipei Exchange was a five-day trip powered by SUITCASE, The WW Club and The W Taipei. It was dedicated to exploring the city with five influential women from the US and UK, each with different focuses based on their professional interests. My partner in crime was Madeline Poole, nail artist extraordinaire (check out her 129k followers on Instagram)and founder of MP nails. She travels the world as global colour ambassador for Sally Hansen and I was confident that together we’d return home as experts on the weird and wonderful side of Asian beauty.
From day one, the fun, playful side to beauty in Asia revealed itself – and we were hooked. Brightly coloured cartoons selling lipstick popped out of window displays and animal face masks were sold at the local 7/11. We spent hours in Watsons, the local equivalent of CVS or Boots, trawling its four storeys of cosmetics and skincare, searching for the cutest packaging and the funniest characters (the stonker donker condoms with a sporty ‘member’ playing BBall won).
Intrigued by the Taiwanese women’s flawless skin, we tested whitening masks and snail secretion gels with anti-ageing benefits. Shocked to find that Taiwanese women often use contact lenses to enhance their eyes, we found lenses shaped as hearts and Hello Kitty. Impressed by their nail art, Madeline opted for a manicure of panda sumo wrestlers which took two and a half hours to complete.
But as we discovered the weird and wonderful side to beauty in Asia, we also became aware of the culture of holistic treatments that take care of both body and mind – from reflexology foot massages and shampooing to soaking in the hot springs in the mountainous district of Beitou.
Taipei Beauty Checklist
Sculptor Barber Hangover shampoo
We all know the favourite part of any haircut is the wash and head massage, which is why shampooing has become such a common treatment in Taipei. There are specialist salons all throughout the city offering different treatments – we opted for the Hangover treatment at Sculptor Barber. This is one of the trendiest salons in the city, minimal in design with three plants, old school barber chairs and smeg fridges filled with Heineken.
- +886 2 2737 5832
- Go to Website
Grand View Resort Hot springs
There’s nothing like unwinding after a long flight in the hot springs of Beitou, which is exactly what we did when we arrived. The mineral rich sulphur water of the hot springs is said to increase blood flow, circulation, metabolism and increase absorption of essential minerals. The hot springs can be found in Beitou, a mountainous district around 45 minutes from the centre. In this area there are a number of resorts and communal hot spring pools. While most outdoor hot springs have a no-clothes policy, we skipped the naked pow wow and headed to the Grand View Resort in Beitou where there are both nude communal pools and private indoor and outdoor rooms.
LashLab Lashes and nails
Taiwanese ladies take their lash extensions and nail art extremely seriously and this is a cool spot in the city to get it done. Madeline was treated as a celebrity here with a huge flat screen TV and movies on demand. Luckily so, as her cute panda nails took two and a half hours. Totally worth it.
- +886 227 720 100
- Go to Website
Relaxing Trip Foot massage
Foot massages are an essential part of daily life and you’ll never be more than a few feet away from a parlour. The feet have 64 reflex zones which are directly linked to bodily organs and the somewhat painful massage is used to reveal and heal different ailments using pressure points. After a long day exploring the city we headed to Relaxing Trip, one of the chicest parlours in the city.
- +886 227 275 000
- Go to Website
This is your first port of call for cool beauty products in Taipei. Watsons is like your local CVS or Boots and can be found on nearly every street corner. If you want the ultimate experience head to the four-storey centre in Ximending where each floor has a speciality. You’ll find everything here – from amusing face masks to crazy heart shaped and hello kitty themed contact lenses. We even fell in love with the condoms here, with Madeline buying the Stonker Donkers featuring a sporty male member playing basketball.
For Beloved One
For a more tailored experience head to For Beloved One, one of the more well-known Taiwanese drugstore skin care brands, inside the famous Taipei 101 mall. The melasleep whitening collection is popular amongst the Taiwanese ladies, but we’d go for the active anti-wrinkle or extreme hydrating.
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