I spent two months in Berlin from February to April this year. It's truly an amazing city. There is evidence of the varied history of the place everywhere you turn, from the incredible museums to the sobering memorials.
Berlin is also the most relaxed, edifying city I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. The attitude is laid-back, and while some hipper areas can come across as a bit serious, there's an air of acceptance of difference that pervades every neighborhood. Berlin might not be as pretty as London or Paris, but it has so much to offer any tourist.
But I know why you guys are here: you want to know the best spots for a beauty tourist in Berlin. You will not be disappointed!
Here are my pick of must-see shops and department stores if you're ever lucky enough to find yourself in this amazing city.
The department store: KaDeWe
KaDeWe is Berlin's most iconic department store. It's not located where you might expect — the Gallerie Lafayette of Paris fame is closer to the top tourist attractions like Checkpoint Charlie — but it's certainly worth a trip.
Opened in 1907, it has a dark stone facade that looks a little intimidating, but go inside and you'll be rewarded with a truly glorious beauty hall. Decked out in mirrors and dark glass, the ground floor is home to major luxury brands such as Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, and Yves Saint Laurent. I was particularly taken with the bouclé-covered chairs in the Chanel boutique. Skincare is represented by Dr Hauschka, By Terry, and Aesop. Even more exciting is the perfume selection, which runs from Maison Martin Margeila's Replica collection to Serge Lutens, from Jo Malone to Christian Dior, from Terry de Guzman to Escentric Molecules.
I was particularly impressed with the range of shades they carried by Berlin-based brand Uslu Airlines, and with a friendly counter staff who were not at all pushy.
The tourist attraction: Das Nivea Haus
Located on Unter den Linden, which ends at the Brandenburg Gate, the Nivea flagship store is both amazing and kind of hilarious. It's extraordinary how Nivea has managed to elevate such a classic, basic product into what is essentially a mini theme park.
You can get anything you want here, as long as it's a Nivea product. Classic Nivea tin with your face printed on it? You got it. Shorts and tights infused with Nivea Q10 cream? Of course. Nivea Eau de Toilette? Buy five!
The store itself looks great, with hundreds of those classic blue and white tins displayed in special arrangements everywhere. They also have a spa on site, and a counter with some of Nivea's more sophisticated skincare offerings. I came away sorely wishing I had the courage to go in the photo booth on my own and get one of the tins with my face on it.
The independent boutique: MDC Cosmetic
MDC Cosmetic is located in Prenzlauer Berg, a district known for its boutiques, cafes and galleries. If you're looking for a quiet place to wander in Berlin, you can't go wrong here. The shop itself is small and beautifully laid out; on the afternoon I visited, the staff were super-friendly and happy to indulge my questions. They carry an impressive range of perfume and skincare, and a smaller but still excellent selection of makeup.
I chatted with one of the sales assistants about the Und Gretel makeup range, which is a home-grown German brand that uses natural and organic ingredients to create products with modern colors.
The packaging on these products is beautiful. The lipstick I bought comes in a beautiful white metal case that makes a satisfying snap when it closes. I went for the shade Apricot and you guys — the formula is great. It's moisturizing, long-wearing, and fades beautifully. I've never loved a lipstick in this shade until now.
Literally every pharmacy and drugstore in Berlin is probably worth a visit. There are lots of independent pharmacies all over the city that stock French brands like La Roche-Posay and Vichy, as well as classic German products from Weleda and Kneipp.
You should also make time to visit DM and Rossman, two drugstore chains that are always packed to the rafters with affordable skincare and makeup. The in house ranges at both stores are worth a try.
- Have you ever visited Berlin? Are you a native Berliner? Let me know what I've missed!
- Which city is your favorite beauty tourist spot?