More beauty for fewer $$: Israeli discount cosmetic chains

Ladies - do you remember buying drugstore-brand makeup in the old country? Cosmetics of decent (and even better) quality that didn't cost a king's ransom, so you didn't feel too guilty buying a variety of products to supplement your makeup kit?

Well, the cosmetics in the local drugstores (even with coupons) are still on the expensive side. But in the past few years, some really good, local alternatives have sprung up to expensive brand-name makeup, cosmetic products and toiletries. And unlike discount products purchased online from abroad, you don't even have to wait a month for them to arrive in the mail, because they're available at storefronts all over Israel.

One of the nicer byproducts of the 2011 uproar about the high cost of living here in Israel is that the public, as well as some entrepreneurs, really took the main message of the protest to heart. Thus, while housing costs have, regrettably, not gone down, at least we have cheaper coffee (Cofix and similar stores), cheaper cellphone plans, cheaper public transport, and similarly - cheap, but just as good, cosmetics and toiletries which are certainly no worse, and sometimes better, than the big brand names in the drugstores. While most of these companies were around long before the 2011 protest, their market share (and commensurately, the number and distribution of their stores) has grown in the past few years.

While you can get cheap knockoffs of brand-name makeup (e.g, MAC) from China on your own, I would avoid buying anything from there which goes on or in my body (especially near my eyes and mouth). While many, if not all, of the companies mentioned below also produce their merchandise in the far east, they have the Health Ministry's seal of approval, so there's a good chance you're not slowly giving yourself heavy metal poisoning while primping. Many of the products go even further and are eligible for the European standards for cosmetic products as well.

If that doesn't convince you to give these products a test run, you might be interested to know that even big names in the local beauty industry, such as makeup artist
Yarin Shachaf (Hebrew video, no subtitles, sorry), have endorsed low-cost cosmetics as being a good addition to one's makeup/beauty repertoire.

So let's have a look at what's out there:

Beautycare is the oldest low-cost beauty chain, having been around for "a few decades" according to their website. Originating in Ashdod, the chain now maintains over 20 stores all over the country, many of which were set up only in the past 5 years or so. The products are made mostly in Taiwan, and the huge variety of cheap but good-quality products, along with the ability to keep abreast of trends in the local beauty scene, have made them a leader in the industry.

Personal favorites of mine: Moisture lipsticks (NIS 4.50 each), specialty nail polishes (holographic, glitters, etc.), makeup brushes, and the makeup sponge pictured above, which is the company's answer to the Beauty Blender (NIS 9.90/7.50, depending on the size).

Wow is another longtimer, having been around since 2005. They, too, have a large presence with stores all over the country (though, oddly enough, not in our capital). Their products are slightly higher-priced than Beautycare's, for the most part, but you can find a huge variety of colors and shades which may make up for the extra few Shekels you'll be spending.

Personal favorites - nail polishes, eyeshadow, concealer, multi-sided nail files, hand cream (their prices are not listed on the website and I don't remember the exact prices, hence they're not mentioned).

Sacara is a relative newcomer on the scene, owned by Moshe Golbary, also the owner of the Golbary fashion chain for women. In contrast to the other companies mentioned, Golbary started the chain in late 2013 as a direct response to the 2011 cost-of-living protests, similar to the Cofix revolution. His stated goal was to bring cosmetics to Israel "at their real price" - without the huge markups caused by the brand name and expensive-looking packaging. Apparently this is a message which resonates with more than a few Israelis, as evidenced by the many branches of Sacara scattered around the country.

I admit to being less familiar with this store than with the others mentioned above. Still, I sought out the one closest to me because I was charmed by the idea of their Odem Shabbat (Shabbat lipstick), pictured above - a long-lasting lipstick (not 24-hour long, though) that changes color once you apply it. It currently costs NIS 9.90, is quite moisturizing, and all the shades color your lips a lovely shade of pink which intensifies the more layers you apply. An added bonus is the lip balm in the colored upper part of the cap.

Another recent addition to the makeup and nail care scene (a bit over a year) that can actually be found in a drugstore - namely, stands at Super Pharms and New Pharms across the country - is the Essence brand. While mainly geared toward teens and younger women, there is much to appeal to the older customer as well, and for very reasonable prices. Don't forget to check them out next time you're in a large drugstore!

While I have even less experience with the following brand, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Flormar. They, too, arrived on the scene in 2013 with a flagship store in the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv. The brand's Facebook page claims it was founded in Milan, though I seem to remember the talk at the time was that the brand's products were made in Turkey. They now have 3 shops - the one in Azrieli, in Kanyon HaZahav in Rishon LeTzion, and in the Kiryon in Kiryat Bialik. Their products are not quite as cheap as the other stores mentioned, though they tend to be cheaper than many other brands found in drugstores, and can also be found online at Guilty.

So remember - while the snob appeal of wearing a brand name is understandable, with cosmetics, once it's on your face, lips or nails - no one will know the how much your getup cost unless you choose to tell them. They'll only know whether the makeup is in a flattering color for you, whether it's expertly applied or not, and whether your beauty potions in general are working by the glow of your skin. And you don't need to spend a king's ransom for that!


  1. Hi Save -

    I went to the Beautycare in BeerSheba yesterday to look for the Beauty Blender sponge you like. Apparently it's a big hit because they were all sold out. But they hope to get a new shipment soon.

    Thank you for this post - I really learned a lot from this and many others.

  2. Too bad you didn't check out Sacara more in depth! The store is amazing. I'm a makeup junkie + I find their products to be excellent quality + so affordable. I highly recommend their matte lip glosses,liquid eyeliner pens + tubes (equal to or better than many high end ones I've tried),mascaras (great color options) + their foundations + powders are good as well. Bought their version of the beauty blender sponge for about ₪12 + it's amazing. Essense does great lipsticks + affordable skincare products for teens like acne cleansers + moisturizers, but I prefer Sacaras makeup over Essense in general. Also like that the staff at the Sacara stores I've been to in Jerusalem are knowledgeable and helpful.

    1. Thanks for this additional information! There's no Sacara where I live so I know less about it, but you've definitely given me a hankering to go again.