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Finding Makeup and Beauty Supplies in Ecuador

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

Before we moved to Ecuador, I didn’t know if I would be able to find my favorite brands of makeup.

As it turns out, the common brands are easy to find. Beauty supply stores are common in the major cities. Finding the shades you need may be difficult.


Finding Makeup and Beauty Supplies in Ecuador

Burbujas is a chain that we have seen in Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca. They carry common brands like Revlon, CoverGirl and Almay. They also carry other brands that may be familiar to you, like Sally Hansen, Pantene and Clairol.

There are a number of locations in each city so it’s not hard to find a Burbujas.


There is another chain that sells some of the pricier brands like Clinique. It’s called Las Fragancias Perfumeria this chain is not as common, there is only one location in Cuenca.

You can also find some of the more common brands at the grocery stores like SuperMaxi and Coral.

The Problem With Makeup in Ecuador

The difficulty comes in when you are looking for a particular shade of foundation.

You may find it and then go back to repurchase only to find that they are out of stock. There are problems with importation which make it difficult for the shops to stay stocked.

This has happened to me many times forcing me to switch brands. We all know what a pain that is!


Stock Up and Bring it With You

To avoid this problem you could try switching to a local brand or stock up when you are out of the country. You could also have family and friends bring you your favorite brands and colors when they visit.

Keep in mind that it’s much easier to order what you want (in the color you want) and have it shipped to your family/friends home. Asking someone to go out and shop for your makeup could be a hassle for them, and they may not get exactly what you “ordered.”

I have seen Avon magazines on the counters in some of the stores, so that is an option as well. Although I can’t say how well it would work (in terms of availability) because I’ve never tried it.

Be Careful About Ordering Makeup Online!

Don’t make the mistake I made and think that you can just order your favorite brand online and have it shipped to you here in Ecuador.

When I tried that, my shipment was confiscated and we had to pay to have it shipped back out of the country. I ordered 3 containers of the same product in the same color. The government felt that I was going to be selling it rather than using it for personal use.


I had to go before a notary and sign a paper saying that I would never do that again. So that was the end of that “easy solution” to my makeup problems.

Have you had problems finding makeup? How do you stay stocked up on your favorite brands? Please share with us by commenting on this post.

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

15 comments… add one
  • Karla Sep 14, 2017, 5:01 pm

    Hi Dena, I’m so glad I came across this article! I have been to Ecuador 4 times now (only 2 that I remember since I went when I was smaller) and I can confirm how hard it is to find good makeup that you are used to in the U.S. Last time I went to Ecuador… specifically Duran, I had to pack basically almost all my makeup and bring it with me! There’s not a lot of makeup or beauty stores in Duran, but there are some in Guayaquil that I’ve gone to. I have another tip to add: If you plan to go to Ecuador and stay for longer than 1-2 months, buy your products in the U.S. ahead of time so that you don’t spend every last cent at the last minute! So far, I’ve bought eyeshadows to create my own palette – this way, I don’t have to bring tons of shades just to use 3-5 of them! I’ve bought tinted moisturizers because I found that foundation would wear off quicker due to the warm weather. Most importantly, don’t open your products to test it out since, as soon as you open the product, the expiration date starts running. Now for mascaras… my dear loves, do NOT bring old and expired mascaras or those that are ready to expire… the bacteria will eat them up and could cause an infection – the warm weather makes products last less than in room temperature. Buy new mascaras that you know you love and don’t open them!!! It’s easier to stock up when the products are in room temperature or colder. I would suggest, however, to buy the mascaras a week or so before your planned trip. For those who have never been to Ecuador or similar countries, if you can buy anything waterproof and sweatproof, DO IT! Otherwise, you’ll find the makeup washes off with so much heat. Since my grandfather’s house didn’t have any air conditioning, I barely wore makeup unless it was to go to a social event. I made the mistake of wearing makeup while walking around Guayaquil and not even 2 hours later, through the patting down sweat, my makeup was almost entirely gone. As for mirrors, bring them with you in your personal bag because I made the mistake of putting mine in the suitcase (last minute packing up) and on the return from Ecuador, I came home to find my handheld mirror broken. I hope this helps anyone who has visited or is going to visit Ecuador for the first time. Most of the tips are useful for anyone visiting abroad in countries like Ecuador where there is not much Westernized products. Oh, and be careful with bringing tamales back to the states… they poked holes in all of them because they thought we had hidden drugs in there lol!

  • Lorraine Runyan Mar 13, 2017, 5:51 pm

    In regards to you saying: “Be Careful About Ordering Makeup Online!
    I ordered 3 containers of the same product in the same color. The government felt that I was going to be selling it rather than using it for personal use….I had to go before a notary and sign a paper saying that I would never do that again. So that was the end of that “easy solution” to my makeup problems.” —
    My daughter is in Quito (Mariscal). She is very fair skinned. She took as much makeup with her as she could but its been long enough she has run out and can’t find makeup her color. The cost is way too much for me to send from the U.S. to be worth it. Have you found a solution to ordering makeup and shipped to Ecuador? Is there a good website that works for Ecuador? Your information has been so helpful.

  • Dotti Merritt May 23, 2016, 1:21 am

    This has been very interesting site for me! I’m a make-up wh—!! So I was stocking up, then I found on YouTube and two gals called Moda Mob! These girls show you how to make everything in cosmetics & then some! Also on YouTube is a diy to turn bottle caps into little pots to put them in!
    So maybe some of you would like to try there hand at this! I have & it’s not only thrifty it’s fun!

  • tamar Nov 1, 2014, 8:51 am

    Hallo! Thank you for this article. Now i know to put a few foundations on my packing list.

    One question though: i dye my hair with Henna – 100% natural powder.. I was wondering whether i could buy Henna
    in Ecuador or whether I will need to bring it into the country.
    Thanks a lot and many greetings from Germany!

    • Dena Haines Dec 8, 2014, 4:53 pm

      Hi Tamar,

      I’m not sure about Henna. I’ve never used it and haven’t looked for it.

      A friend of mine used to use it and she had it shipped here, so you might have problems finding it, or at least finding the color you want. It would probably be best to bring it with you.

  • Kathleen Oct 6, 2014, 4:33 am

    Do they sell Spam?? Cant Live with out it

  • Melita Vega Oct 5, 2014, 10:38 pm

    Thanks for this post, Dena! This is definitely something you don’t often see on blogs for us gals!

    As a makeup junkie who usually spent hours cruising the makeup counters in my hometown of Toronto, you could say I got pretty spoiled at having places like Sephora (or Ulta, in the U.S.) right outside my doorstep – which let you try on anything without feeling pressure to buy on the spot. After moving to Cuenca, one of the things I find so annoying beside the limited supply of mid-range brand name makeup (MAC, NARS, Urban Decay, etc.), is the fact that most stores here will NOT let you try the makeup on or give you samples to test out for yourself before you buy, much less accept returns if you make a mistake colour-wise. Mind you, the same goes for products sold in drugstores in the U.S. and Canada. However, places like Las Fragancia, which DO have testers for brands like Clinique, Lancome, Biotherm, etc, will look at you like you’re crazy if you ask them to give you a sample of foundation to take home and try in natural light.

    Another good place to go is Distribuidora de Cosmeticos Gil (they have locations on Calle Larga and Remigio Crespo), which carries drugstore make up like Almay and Revlon. If you ask really nicely and promise to buy, they will let you test a drop of foundation before you purchase. (for those brands that come in an easy to open bottle)

    Sadly, the supply of good eye makeup removers at Supermaxi is also pretty scant (because of importation restrictions, they no longer carry my go-to eye make up remover by Neutrogena), but I’ve found success purchasing these kinds of products from catalogues like Oriflame (a Swedish brand I’ve used happily since my college days), Avon and L’Bel – these catalogues are pretty abundant all over the city. The makeup shades are pretty limited to lighter-toned skin types, but I’ve found the creams, makeup removers and mascaras to be very good quality.

    I definitely agree with Dena that stocking up while on a trip to North America is a must for makeup lovers like myself. Another idea is to test shades and other beauty products with girlfriends from the catalogues and see if you can find a new favourite product. I do this often with my friends and family members and have always found success, particularly with lipsticks. It’s also another reason to get together. 🙂

    • Dena Haines Dec 8, 2014, 5:01 pm

      Thanks for the great comment Melita!

      I really appreciate your input, comments like this add to the blog and help other readers 🙂

  • Niki Widmayer Oct 5, 2014, 7:42 pm

    Solved that issue long ago by going “goop” free. WYSIWYG.

    • Dena Haines Dec 8, 2014, 5:04 pm

      Hi Niki,

      I’m not ready to get rid of the goop yet, but I have stopped dyeing my hair. That has saved a lot of time, money and hassle. Especially here where it can be hard to find the same brand and shade from one month to the next!

  • Eat Brautigan Oct 5, 2014, 9:16 am

    We will be living in Cuenca this winter for 3 months (Jan-March). I am an avid tennis player and need to find out if and where there are public tennis courts in Cuenca. How can I find players and are there leagues or times where players get together. Can I post messages some where to find player availability?

    • Bryan Haines Oct 5, 2014, 11:36 am

      There are public courts on Avenida 12 de abril y Avenida unidad nacional.

  • Rebecca Sterling Oct 5, 2014, 8:43 am

    You have created a very helpful website. I’ve read it for years, and I know most other current and future expats do, also. I had great expectations when I saw the title of the report about cosmetics; and it was very good, but I expected more. I learned of new places to find brands from my former home. But what have YOU found as a good substitute? What prices should we expect to pay? Are there any cosmetics that you know (or have read) are not good quality? Or some that are fine quality? What about moisture creams? What do you know about hair colors, especially those that cover gray? We’re told we are only about 1% of the population, but even that is a nice size market for the expat. And most of the women use hair color, if only to cover gray. Why are the hair colors more expensive here than in N.A.? And what brands here are ‘cheap’ yet acceptable? In the US, for instance, there was a brand, Mary Jane that was super cheap, but worthwhile as eyebrow colors and eye shadows. What have you found to be a good substitute in skin colors for foundation and powder? Perfumes seem to be appreciated here, but why are they, also so very expensive? All thoughts are appreciated. Thank you (and husband and daughter) for important contribution to our group.

    • Melita Vega Oct 6, 2014, 9:18 am

      Indeed, any make up lover coming to Ecuador will be shocked by the high price of drugstore cosmetics. An $8-12 tube of Maybelline mascara in the states will cost $15-17 here (actually, the same goes for Canada) – this is because of all the tariffs applied to imported goods. Perfumes are classified as a luxury item, and thus carry a hefty uxury tax. Quality makeup brushes are also hard, but not impossible to find. The pharmacy Fybeca carries the Eco Tools line of brushes which are cruelty-free.

      On the flip side, when it comes to hair colour, going to a good local salon will not break the bank and give you better results than a product purchased at the supermarket. I’ve had reddish streaks put in my hair to cover early grays (I have long, dark brown hair). As the dye is applied directly onto my hair without the need for a decolorant, the cost was only $35 and the results long lasting.

      Aside from striking gold when I found the right shade of foundation in the Revlon brand, I have yet to find a good substitute for my MAC pro longwear foundation, and thus, have family and friends bring me a bottle every year. That said, Burbujas carries the Max Factor line of cosmetics (which was pulled out of Canada in the early 1990s) and I’ve heard that the lipsticks and eyeshadows have good colour pay off and aren’t overly expensive.

      If your skin is on the lighter side, you may find success with catalogue-based Oriflame foundations and powders as they are excellent quality and affordable. My mom uses a $25 foundation for mature skin and I swear it takes years off her appearance!

  • Daphna Avnon-Amit Oct 5, 2014, 7:01 am

    Like you, I quickly realized that this may become by biggest problem, though I use minimal makeup. I have live in Ecuador for over 5 years, and I am fortunate that I travel to the US twice a year, and elsewhere a few more times, so I always stock up on my Clinique needs. Have never needed substitutions here. Friends visit, friends from here travel, and asking for makeup/medications is easy because there is no space/weight involved. So my bottom line: this is not a problem! Now missing Trader Joe’s is another matter…. 🙂

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