Mexico is a diverse place and the Yucatán is its own special, isolated pocket due to its geographic location. Mérida has a rich Mayan heritage and the town is filled with Catholic cathedrals and colonial homes. It’s s such an interesting city with a resilient culture. It’s a wonderful place and we plan on returning soon.
I’d love to talk more about my trip but for the sake of this blog, I’ll keep it focused on beauty.
I stayed in San Juan in Centró, a historical district and as you can guess, it’s the center of the city. The north of town has very large shopping malls and big box stores. I didn’t visit these but I’m told that many of the brands like MAC, Estee Lauder, Revlon, etc. can be found there. When I travel, I obviously like to buy things I can’t easily find in the US so I stuck with the smaller stores. Where I stayed, I didn’t notice any skincare stores. In fact, I’m so happy that I brought everything I needed because even sunscreen is sold behind glass at pharmacies. And the options for sunscreen were like Banana Boat. However, there are many affordable makeup stores. These stores sort of remind me of Ricky’s NYC or beauty supply stores because they carry many of the brands are the same (like LA Girl, NYX) and they sell things for hair, nails and face.
I can only comment on what I observed in the glorious little pocket of the Yucatán. Many women are dedicated to makeup. They’ll wear it in the 90º+ and high humidity and look stunning. And it’s a timeless, elegant look of black eyeliner and red lipstick. There were obviously other “looks” but this was this classic look was one that I kept seeing. As far as fragrance, I sniffed a lot of the same new release designer stuff that I sniff on people in New Jersey. The issue is that it’s so hot and humid that everything disappears in 45 minutes. So, if I’m smelling something on someone, it was because they just applied it. I did notice a lot of orange blossom aromas because so much functional fragrance from soaps to mosquito repellent are orange blossom/neroli scented. This means that functional fragrances smell amazing in Mexico. I wish more than anything I could have taken home laundry powders and dish soap. We can get great Mexican cleaning products in the US, but we don’t get all the good stuff.
Here’s my haul. I apologize for the crummy pictures. I always take the pics while I’m there and condense it all in my luggage for travel:
Grocery Store Haul
Maja Fragrance Mist in Flor de Azahar – I didn’t even know this product was a thing!
Maja Talcum Powder in Flor de Azahar – I figured I could use this as a hair powder. I’m a big fan of the soap in this scent.
Teatrical Crema – This is a rose scented body cream that I sometimes see in the US but I haven’t seen it in ages!
The Maja was behind glass in a small cabinet by the register and I had to use my pitiful Spanish language skills to ask for it. The cashier was so happy that I was buying Maja because the love of Maja is universal.
Bissú has its own freestanding stores like MAC or Inglot but you can also find this brand in other beauty stores. The makeup is inexpensive and of really great quality. They have everything and there’s so many shades!
Eyeshadow Quad 10 (plums and taupes)
Eyeshadow Quad 35 (oranges and warm browns)
Blush 19 Malva – It’s so hard to find a shade this perfect. I’ve been babying a Kryolan one like this for years now in fear I’d never see a color like this again.
Powder Makeup 04 Sand – I’d compare this to MAC Studio Fix powder.
Waterproof Eyeliner Tono 23 (lime green) – I bought it because the makeup artist was wearing it. It looks better on her.
Colores de mi Tierra Oaxaca (bright candy shades)
Colores de mi Tierra Veracruz (warm shades and red)
Colores de mi Tierra Estada de México (khaki, yellow and red) – I regret not buying every single one of these makeup palettes inspired by various Mexican states. They are adorable.
I regret not buying more at Bissú but I was with my spouse, my cousin and her wife. Word of advice – don’t go makeup shopping with people that don’t care about makeup.
Beauty Store Hauls
The beauty stores are as I mentioned above. They are stores that sell everything from shears to pedicure supplies to wigs to color cosmetics. They’re a lot like Ricky’s NYC in that it looks like they also cater to pros and/or performers as well as your general makeup wearer.
Adara Eyeshadow Palette 02 Love in London (taupes)
Adara Eyeshadow Palette 06 Love in Bucharest (teals)
IM Natural Avocado Mascara
IN Natural Avocado Liquid Eyeliner
IM Natural Mamey Mascara
IM Natural Mamey Mascara/Liner Set
Maravilla Avocado Mascara
Maravilla Just Kejel Liner
Apparently if you go to Mexico and you can only buy one thing, buy the mamey mascara…this is what I’ve been told. All of the Mexican mascaras are infused with oils like avocado, almond and mamey (and retail for less than $2). There are so many different types! You’ll also see a lot of Middle Eastern style eye makeup products which I think may be something to do with the region’s Lebanese immigrants? Or maybe it’s just because Middle Eastern eye makeup is the best. It’s so difficult to find traditional kohl in the US but in Mexico, it’s everywhere. There’s a lot of imported Middle Eastern eye makeup and also “Middle Eastern inspired” made in Mexico.
Coqui Coqui Haul
Coqui Coqui is a high-end luxury hotel and parfumerie owned by expats/immigrants. In comparison to everything else, it’s very expensive but on the skewed scale of “niche perfume” that I know, it’s a bargain. The boutique is absolutely gorgeous but I must admit there is some sort of colonialist vibe going on that is off-putting. Honestly, this may have to do with the contrast of this store with its surroundings or the fact that it was so expensive in comparison to everything else (and the fact that I can find anything to complain about). Anyway, this location is restored to perfection. You can also find this brand at Luckyscent. But, it’s better in México, right?
Mini Set for Damas – 7 mini bottles of the “feminines”
Mini Set for Caballeros – 7 mini bottles of the “masculines”
I like their orange blossom scents the best. The bath products are great but I figured I’d order the oil when I was back home.
Choco Story Mayan Chocolate Bar Soap – I bought this at a gift shop at Chichen Itza. This is my totally tourist soap and it smells great.
Non-beauty related things included folk art purchased from a gallery (more of David’s purchase than mine) and luchador toys for nephews. And I have a bad habit visiting any convenience store to buy flavored chips. If I weren’t writing a perfume blog, I’d be reviewing gross flavors of chips.
Most of the products I saw, I could get at drugstores and beauty supply stores in Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn/Jersey City. I tried to buy things I haven’t seen in person. My biggest regret is not buying all the Bissú.
If you haven’t noticed, I didn’t buy any lip products and there were plenty of lip products to buy. I think it was so hot that I got paranoid that it would all melt by the time we’d get back to the house. There’s that and the fact that I already own more lipstick than any one person should ever own (as if that’s ever stopped me!).
There are also these chemist stores or booths (sometimes inside grocery stores or supermarkets) that mix generics of your favorite designer perfumes for dirt cheap (like $1-$2). I saw this same business model in Istanbul but also knew these shops are very popular in larger Mexican cities. I didn’t order any mainly because my language skills are lacking. When I did get the nerve, the shop I passed was closed for the evening. Oh, well.
We had a wonderful time and fell in love with the city and the people of Mérida. The energy and hospitality of the city will bring us back. It’s magnetic like that.
*All these awful pics are mine.