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Souvenir Shopping: A Beauty Writer’s 5 Finds From Berlin

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Berlin souvenirs including a pair of shoes, haribo gummies, a vintage kimono, and drugstore beauty items. Photo: Alex Ulreich

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Berlin is a well-known avant-garde fashion haven, and during my first visit to the city last month, I was excited to shop.

I had dreams of coming home with a chic, minimalist garment or some clunky shoes. (Stereotypical? Perhaps. But Germany is the home of the Birkenstock.)

I plotted out a few shopping destinations before the trip, and everything I read pointed me in the direction of Mitte, a neighborhood that’s home to a number of indie concept stores and boutiques like Baerck.

While I spent a lovely day in Mitte, I didn’t find anything to buy until I decided to hit up Bikini Berlin, a self-described "concept shopping mall" in Berlin’s more touristy neighborhood of City West. The shops were a bit more mainstream, but this was ultimately where I had some luck dropping some euros into the local economy.

Any time I visit another country I hit up a drugstore to find the local cheap beauty treasures; I also pop into any beauty boutiques I can find. Germany was at the forefront of the so-called "natural" beauty movement (brands like Weleda and Dr. Hauschka originated there) so I knew the beauty game would be strong.

Here’s what I found:

Haribo gummies and collagen enriched beauty gummies. Photo: Alex Ulreich

Gummies, from $5.99: Gummi Bear aficionados insist that Haribo gummies made and purchased in Germany taste different than the ones you can get in the US. I didn’t do a side-by-side comparison, but I certainly consumed a bunch while I was there. I also bought some beauty gummies loaded with collagen. There’s no clear evidence that edible collagen actually reaches your face, but the pull to eat candy that might also make my skin luminous was too strong to resist. Tegel Airport, 13405 Berlin

Vintage kimono, $140: There was a store in Bikini called simply Pop-Up Fashion on the second floor, and it was the best shop in the mall. In addition to hand-painted graphic tees and cool, geometric jewelry there was a rack of gorgeous vintage kimonos against one wall. The proprietor was unsure if the kimonos themselves or just the fabric was vintage, but I love the green and silver pattern of the one I went home with. Pop-Up Fashion, Budapester Str. 38-50, 10787 Berlin

Slip-on clunky shoes with a tassle Photo: Alex Ulreich

Slip-on shoes, $200: OK, so Sartore is a French shoe brand, but I found this pair in a shop called Riccardo Cartillone (there are a few shops throughout the city, including one in Bikini) that was a clunky shoe girl’s dream. I’ve given up on heels and I never met a tassel on a shoe I didn’t like, so obviously I had to have these. Riccardo Cartillone, Budapester Str. 38-50, 10787 Berlin

Douglas beauty buys, from $3.50: Douglas is the Sephora of Germany, and you can find many international beauty brands there as well as homegrown makeup companies like Art Deco (I bought a custom concealer palette from the brand, not shown.) I also picked up some house label sunscreen (because everyone knows European sunscreen is awesome) and a totally gimmicky cheek color stick that was too cute to pass up. Douglas, multiple locations

Beauty products from a drugstore in Berlin, including oil capsules and face wipes. Photo: Alex Ulreich

Drugstore beauty buys, from $2.25: I hit up Rossmann, a drugstore you can find everywhere in Berlin, to scope the cheap beauty buys. I picked up some makeup remover wipes from Isana, and a few packets of skin care capsules, a concept that seems to be super popular in Germany at least if the skin care aisle was any indication. They’re single-use capsules that you pop open to squeeze out the potion. (The version by Rival de Loop, a brand that also makes makeup, was insanely inexpensive.) Rossmann, multiple locations