The past two years of business school have afforded many perks. One of the best has been the opportunity to study abroad again—but, in true “grown up” fashion—only for a week, and over spring break vacation. I chose Russia for my trip, and boy am I glad that I did! I could write more than a few posts on our fascinating company treks and adventures, but I know you don’t come to the Naturalchemyst for econ…so let’s talk Russian beauty instead!
The first opportunity I had—I asked some Russian knock-outs from St. Petersburg’s School of General Management where they buy beauty products. So excited for great Russian products to bring home and try, I literally skipped through the subways and streets on my way to these stores.
Much to my dismay, none of my trips revealed any Russian brands whatsoever! Take a look at the below pics to get an idea of the Russian beauty retail scene. It’s strikingly similar to ours. They have their Sephora (Ile de Beaute) and L’Etoile, which are also found in malls. They also have PNB Row, which is located in high foot traffic street level spaces, and carries both the high (Bliss, Clarins, etc.), low (L’Oreal, etc.), and a single healthy-ish Greek line called Fresh (no apparent relation to the American Fresh). The only large, notable difference was in the haircare section.
While I recognized many of the Western European skincare brands, nearly all of the haircare lines were from the East. Literally. Every shampoo I picked up was Asian, and that’s a big difference from home! Of course I had to try some of these products. Stay tuned for a later post on what the hype might be all about…
Suffice it to say, I was quite disappointed by my store excursions. With such a young business infrastructure (outside of energy of course), I don’t know why I had such high expectations, but still…nothing Russian and absolutely NOTHING healthy?!?! Who knows…maybe I checked the wrong places. I did to retreat back to the Russian beauties with two more questions:
1) Had they heard of, or used any healthy or natural skincare products? Answer: They make healthy skincare products in their kitchens—oftentimes at gatherings with friends! Now THAT sounds like my kind of party!
2) All Asian haircare products? Answer: Who knew! That’s what they’re used to, and never really thought twice about the difference!
So, key take-aways on the Russian beauty scene:
1) It’s in serious need of truly healthy brands
2) The retail infrastructure is extremely familiar
3) D-I-Y healthy skincare parties are trending
4) All Asian haircare, all the time.
5) All above=great opportunity for U.S. skincare manufacturers to bring over their products. This was confirmed on a trip to the U.S. Consulate.
Great experience overall! If you have any questions about the trip, do let me know!
Sephora in Russia:
L'Etoile. Wasn't so easy to read the store signs in this country!
All Japanese haircare all the time.
They had some good attempts at natural at Stenders.
Another good attempt by Natura Siberica: