Review of Beauty Stores in Canada

This post is dedicated to everyone who likes to get the most out of their beauty (as in skin care, make-up, hair care, etc.) shopping! I will be focusing on some beauty stores in Canada but please note that it is not applicable to all cities. Also note that my reviews are based on the stores I’ve visited in Vancouver, BC.

What I want:

  • discounts
  • deals
  • monetary or gift rewards

Shoppers Drug Mart: BeautyBoutique

I used to go to Shoppers for all my beauty needs, even for my snacks and breakfast groceries. Until 2009 or 2010, it had been really easy to earn Optimum points for $10+ discounts very quickly. Nowadays, I generally shop at London Drugs but not without checking prices at Shoppers first. You never know when Shoppers is having a deal on certain products!

Pros:

  • Reward cards: Shoppers Optimum (earn points for a $10+ discount) as well as an RBC SDM credit card
  • Optimum Days – These are days when you can earn double or more points on certain products, many of which are also on sale.
  • Some good deals – Since I like to compare prices, I generally compare product prices at the Shoppers and London Drugs on Granville St in Downtown Vancouver. I check Shoppers first and work my way up to LD. If the deal was better at Shopper’s, I just have to walk a few blocks down!
  • Newer or renovated Shoppers have BeautyBoutiques, very similar to Murale (see below)
  • Good 30-day return policy

Cons:

  • Generally, products are more expensive than at LD
  • Now harder to earn points

London Drugs

I didn’t realise that London Drugs was originally from Vancouver. In fact, there are LD stores in Western Canada only: BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This has been my favourite place to shop since 2010. There are constantly deals on just about everything!

Pros:

  • Reward cards:
    • Vichy points card – Get a stamp every time you spend $25+ on Vichy products. 10 (?) stamps gets you a free Vichy gift.
    • La Roche-Posay points card – Get a stamp every time you spend $25+ on La Roche-Posay  products. 10 (?) stamps gets you a $20 (?) discount on your next RP product.
    • Lancome points card – Get a stamp every time you spend $50/75? on Lancome products.
  • Generally, good deals (reg. priced)
  • Plenty of deals every week (sale)
  • Price match guarantee (if you see something cheaper at another store, LD will offer the item for the same price or even lower)
  • 30-day refund policy with receipt

Cons:

  • No reward card for general purchases. Do you know how many points I’d accumulate? Oh well, still worth shopping here! 😉

Sephora

Sephora is supposed to be the ultimate beauty store for women and men. You’ll find make-up, skin care, hair care, fragrances, nail lacquers, and beauty tools.

Pros:

  • Reward card: BeautyInsider – earn points on every purchase for sample-sized presents, get a free birthday present (sample/travel-sized)
  • Receive samples on every purchase (e.g. perfume packet) – usually
  • 60-day refund policy. The product didn’t work for you? No problem; get your money back (even if you’ve tossed the packaging or you’ve already opened and used the product).
  • Beauty stations for you to do your own make-up or be assisted by make-up artists
  • Very knowledgeable staff who have plenty of brand/product recommendations
  • Have a make-up artist test products on you (e.g. foundation), teach you how to use products, or even do a make-over (need an appt and costs $)
  • Colour IQ to get the best foundation shade for your skin – send an email to yourself with a list of brands and shades for you.
  • Has its own cheaper but good quality brand of make-up & beauty tools

Cons:

  • Prices are standard
  • No promotions – no beauty bags from certain brands that have promotions (e.g. Lancome, Estee Lauder, etc.)
  • Doesn’t always have the latest products available
  • Very busy – not easy to have one-on-one consultation

Murale (by Shoppers Drug Mart)

This summer, I resorted to Murale in Oakridge Centre because Sephora was far too busy. I was delighted to find far more brands available, many of which are exclusively sold by Murale, such as Eve Lom and Cargo.

Pros:

  • Reward card – Shoppers Optimum (earn points for a discount) as well as an RBC SDM credit card
  • Exclusive brands that can’t be found anywhere else
  • Beauty stations for doing your own make-up & nails
  • Make-up artists for specific brands (e.g. Bobbi Brown)
  • Get a make-over & your eyebrows fixed for a fee
  • Very knowledgeable staff
  • Similar benefits as SDM

Cons:

  • Not much really except that some other stores are cheaper.

The Bay

The Bay’s cosmetics floor (main) is expanding and will be bringing in more brands.

Pros:

  • Reward card: Hudson’s Bay Rewards Card (earn points for a discount) as well as a credit card
  • Exclusively sold at the Bay: Butter LONDON (also at CurliQue and various small boutiques), Illamasqua (now at Sephora too), Ciate (now at Sephora too), etc.
  • 30+-day refund policy
  • Individual beauty stations for every brand
  • Regular gift with purchase promotions for different brands
  • Generally less busy so more attention on customers

Cons:

  • Staff can be a bit pushy sometimes to try to get you to buy a product right away. They’ll word everything as if you’re about to make the purchase too.

Holt Renfrew

Unless all of the above-mentioned stores do not have a particular product or brand that HR also carries, I very rarely shop here.

Pros:

  • Exclusive brands such as Jo Malone is sold here
  • Reward card (I think there is one but it’s not really promoted and they don’t seem to ask you if you’d like one) as well as a credit card.
  • Quieter (at least in Vancouver and more so than the Bay) so more attention on customers

Cons:

  • As mentioned earlier, I think there is a rewards card but they don’t seem to promote it so there isn’t really anything encouraging you to shop here…

Winners

You never know what you’ll find at Winners. Some Winners will carry more name brands and bring in new products every week. The Winners on Robson & Granville in Vancouver, for instance, restocks every Tuesday (or Monday). I was once able to find a Lancome Hypnose mascara for $19.99!

Pros:

  • Best deals (many are 50+% off)
  • High-end brands at discount prices
  • Discontinued (but still good) products sold here
  • You’ll find quite a few brands that you’ve never heard of here

Cons:

  • Some opened & tested products (rude customers!). These are usually products from brands like Physicians Formula, Stilla, and OPI.
  • Not all products have the best deals. Some are $2 cheaper and some products are cheaper at London Drugs.
  • No testers – Some perfume purchases are a tad risky. Not sure what the refund policy is for those.
  • 14-day refund policy unless you have a Winners TJX loyalty card (30-day)

I hope that was helpful! Feel free to ask any questions or let me know what you think. 🙂