Recommending Products and Tourist Shopping: the Conundrum

I am lucky to have houseguests right now; two family members are visiting us here in Japan from the U.S. One has been here before, and one has not. For any of you who have hosted houseguests from another city (probably everyone?), you know what it’s like to try and remember what it’s like to be new in your city so you can show your guests the best it has to offer in the limited amount of time they have. This was a truism in Alaska, and it definitely is here in Japan. Recommending products, when friends ask, reminds me a lot of this process.

Does this seem weird? Maybe. It’s true though. When I have guests come to town, I try and tailor activity ideas to not just what I consider the “best” my home has to offer, but to their interests and abilities. Also, I know how expensive travel can get, and I always try hard to not break the bank on the activities and restaurants we do. Recommending products is much the same. I try hard to evaluate the friend asking’s lifestyle and skin type, how comfortable they are wearing cosmetics if it’s a makeup question, and also price.

Price is a big thing for me personally when recommending products. For instance, I am a huge fan of SK-II’s essence. It’s made from fermented sake (pitera) and is a galactomyces product, and it does amazing things for my skin. In Japan, it costs around $60 for a reasonable sized bottle (I always buy the intro packs that have a bunch of high end deluxe-sized samples of the rest of their line thrown in for free. I’m cheap, er, thrifty like that). That’s a lot, right? Well, in the states, that same bottle runs you $165. That’s a lot of cheddar. I’m not Oprah, so I would never pay that. I have a hard time even recommending it at $60 even though I love this product. It’s just so much money.

recommending products
The set on the right is available year-round from Aeon. The one on the left I believe was a mothers day set from san A last year and came with an insulated bag as well (why? I don’t know).

If you’re in the states and want to try this product, many people swear by Missha’s first treatment essence as a dupe, or even a better product. I can neither confirm nor deny this, as it’s only about $10 less than SK-II is here in Japan (and doesn’t come with all of the free whiz bangs), so it’s never been worth it for me to try.

The other thing with skincare is, like with makeup, I like to take into account how much fuss my friend is into. For me, I like putting on makeup (it’s a daily paint by numbers!) and I find my skincare routine relaxing, but I know that’s not the case with a lot of people. When someone asks for product recommendations, honestly my first question is always, do you wear sunblock everyday? If you do, I know you’re already fairly serious about taking care of your skin. If you don’t (most people, honestly) … there’s no point in spending a bunch of time and money on products if you’re frying yourself into wrinkles, age spots and cancer everyday when, with one super simple and inexpensive step, you could avoid it all.

With makeup, a big thing I consider as well with product recommendations is how comfortable the person is wearing makeup. I don’t wear a lot of heavy makeup, but I am comfortable wearing noticeable color makeup (not foundation), if that makes sense. Many women are not. And again, a couple extra steps are added fun for me, but are a hassle that will end up with a product collecting dust in a drawer for others.

This summer, reach for Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+. Now at NORDSTROM.

What’s your experience recommending products to friends (beauty or non-beauty related)? Is it hard for you? Easy? Is there one thing that you love that everybody you know that’s tried loves, too? Let me know in the comments!

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