big January sales, Shu Uemura, and Paris department stores


When I heard that Shu Uemura was having a sale of 40% off on all of their products, I rushed over to Galeries Lafayette department store after work. 

Twice a year, in January and in June, there are monster sales in this country. That’s when I buy most of my clothing, bed linens, cosmetics, and other things normally beyond my budget. For those who don’t know, Shu Uemura is a (fabulous) Japanese cosmetic and skincare products line. You should try their products at least once, some are iconic, like their cleansing oil. Described as “an extraordinary cleansing experience”, the newest Anti-Oxi oil removes micro impurities and stubborn make-up in one full swoop. It all comes off, eye makeup and lipstick included. And it’s not oily.

Their individual eye shadows come in a breathtaking range of hues and colors, as well as their lipsticks. All in all, it’s a great brand.

Later, while wandering around Heyraud shoe store in search of flat black ankle boots, I found these, also at 40% off. Made in Portugal. (Another reason to visit Portugal: gorgeous leather goods.)


Paris’s two department stores, Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps, have changed dramatically since I first started shopping there in the 1990s. Today, you will find Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking hostesses positioned at each entry point and standing on every floor at the top of each escalator. The entire shopping experience has been calibrated to serve the Chinese/Asian shopper.

Only three days ago, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled New Wave of Chinese Shoppers Splurges on Luxury Goods, by Matthew Dalton. Here’s an excerpt:

On a recent morning in the Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette, Meng Xin from Beijing was at the Céline boutique to buy a €1,250 handbag. With demand reviving, Galeries Lafayette has opened a store across the street from its main location in central Paris to serve tour buses filled with Chinese shoppers. All signs are in Chinese and French. The new outlet is meant to free up Galeries Lafayette’s main store for more discerning Chinese customers.

“China has become extremely dynamic,” said Bernard Arnault, chief executive and controlling shareholder of LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

On Thursday, the luxury conglomerate and industry bellwether reported record annual revenue and profits, led by a surge in Chinese sales. Revenue for 2017 was €42.6 billion, up 13%, while profits rose 29%.

It’s true that sometimes the ordinary shopper feels a little bit pushed out. For those who haven’t read my 2015 post entitled Department stores, Chinese shoppers, and searching for a frying pan, here it is here –

YSL Touche Éclat


Here’s a marvellous discovery I made while wandering the aisles and perfume counters of Au Printemps department store on the boulevard Haussmann in central Paris. Accosted by a ravishing sales rep promoting Yves Saint Laurent products, I was asked if I’d like to try the new Touche Éclat – they were offering a 20% discount.  I said “sure.” Or rather, “bien sûr !”

I wasn’t really in the market for foundation because I was quite happy with my Diorskin Nude.  However, after the sales rep had finished with my face, I walked away with a new bottle of Touche Éclat creamy foundation at 44 euros ($59CAD/$58US/£37GPB) minus the discount and I haven’t touched the Diorskin since. It appears that a lot of women worldwide – and some men, too – are raving about this product. Yes, it’s more expensive than other foundations, but I’d say it’s worth the investment.  

So what makes this French product stand out from the crowd?  Firstly, it goes without saying that Yves Saint Laurent is a valued and luxurious cosmetic brand. Secondly, as you apply the foundation to your skin you notice it has a lovely delicate scent which is a pleasant thing to acknowledge as you stand bleary-eyed in front of the bathroom mirror early in the morning. Thirdly, it blends easily into the skin with an almost-moisturizing texture because it’s gel and not water-based like other foundations. Fourthly, it has a super-lightweight consistency (what YSL calls “weightless”) which is great for summer and it has a built-in sunscreen of SPF 20.

Oh, and did I mention it comes in 22 different shades segmented into three complexion groups of pinks, yellows and beiges?

This is an illuminating foundation which means it’s light reflective, hence the name éclat which means Radiant. Bright. Luminosity.

What’s really special about this product, as if the above features aren’t enough, is that it’s a long-awaited follow-up to – and has the same properties of – the iconic Touche éclat stick which came out in the 1980s and caused a sensation among makeup artists and models.  A lot of people, however, don’t know how to properly use this stick.  I’ve had several over the decades and was initially baffled by it.  The stick is called a complexion highlighter and claims to illuminate your skin and make dark circles, lines and signs of fatigue disappear with a few strategic strokes.  It is also light reflective.  All this interested me because I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was 6; as a result, I think I’ve tried every concealer and highlighter on the market.

Here’s a video of a French makeup artist (looking quite pleased with himself) using the two above products on a model who looks like she’s walked straight out of The Stepford Wives. Only a Frenchman would say “long strokes that caress the skin”, and I’m guessing that the YSL brush he’s using costs more than the foundation itself (why are those brushes so expensive?)  

But the video serves as a tutorial on how to correctly apply skin foundation, as well as that Touche Eclat stick.  I found it informative and maybe you will too.  Applying foundation to your face with a quality brush seems like a good idea.  One last thing – at the beginning of the video he explains how to select the right shade for your skin.  You shouldn’t be doing this (because we always get it wrong.)  YSL sales reps are trained to select the right shade for you.