Beauty Products in Kampala

Beauty Products in Kampala

So you’ve been here for a few months and you’re starting to notice your dwindling make-up reserves, your roots are showing and your ends have gotten scraggly. You want to look your best, but where to go? With make-up, dyes, and salons for lighter-skinned ladies few and far between, it can feel like a maze of half-hearted options. Yet, do not fear! We are here for you and your grooming needs.

One of the hardest things to find is foundation or tinted moisturizer. With most colors aimed at darker ladies, we find ourselves relying on friends coming and going from the West to supply us with even toned skin. Honestly, the goods here are scarce, but there are a few options. Eve & Nico on the bottom floor of Garden City have a decent makeup selection. Although, the lighter shades often run out quickly. Pioneer Mall and Forest Mall also have cosmetic shops with a selection of lighter foundation, but be prepared to shell out some cash, as you’ll likely pay double what you would in the West for half the quality.

One trick that works well for a lot of women is buying a color that is 3-4 shades darker than your normal skin tone and then buying one a shade lighter than you are now. With all the sun, you’re likely to shift colors and making your own perfect blend will not only extend the life of your makeup but keep you from having to buy a new bottle every time you lay out in the sun. Cutting it with a light moisturizer will also help extend the life of the product (and get you some SPF protection while you’re at it).

For other cosmetics like eyeliner, lipstick, eye shadow, and mascara, Sleek products are often available and have a decent level of pigmentation. Cosmetics stores in Forest Mall, Pioneer Mall and Garden City Mall all carry these products. MAC ‘products’ are also widely sold, but be aware that many of these are knock-offs and while you can most likely use them without issue, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to avoid these.

Charms Ultimate Cosmetic Shoppe on Kampala Rd. is a good option if you are prone to breakouts or have issues with some ingredients in moisturizers. They have a large selection of facial washes, scrubs, and creams to soothe even the most finicky skin. Their make-up selection is somewhat minimal, but they have a good array of cosmetic accessories and hair dye.

When it comes to hair dye, you’ll have a fairly easy go of it here. Nakumatt and Shopright both have a decent selection of well-known brands. These can be expensive, but a few smaller stores (which you’d never think of selling beauty products) carry a surprisingly large selection. Checkers in Kisimenti is a good example, with an entire shelf devoted to hair, skin, and makeup (and the prices aren’t half bad either). Highlighting kits by brands like L’oreal and Feria are also often available. For those who aren’t confident dying their hair at home, upper-scale salons, such as 5 Senses in Bukoto at Cayenne, can be trusted to change your hue.

For hair removal, a number of places offer waxing, but be cautious as to where you go. Overheated wax can cause serious burns and if the waxing is done incorrectly, it can lead to rash and irritation. If you want to DIY, many Indian-run supermarkets sell wax pots and strips. Waxing at home is a fairly straightforward process. Just put the small pot in a larger metal soup pan. Pour in boiling water and wait until the wax becomes pliable. Apply with a spatula or a tongue depressor in the direction of hair growth, stick the strip on, and quickly pull (back and not up) removing the strip. Always remember to test the heat of the wax on your inner wrist before applying to large areas.

For a more painless options, Veet hair removal cream and razors are widely available at supermarkets. Bic razors are plentiful, but those will generally leave your skin raw and won’t do a very good job anyway. A nicer selection of razors, most commonly marketed to men, are usually available close to the check-out counter.

Haircuts can be a little bit trickier. Even those who understand the ‘slippery’ aspect of mzungu hair often haven’t been trained in layering or fringes. Here we can again recommend 5 Senses in Cayenne. Other good options are Ayesha Salon in Kisimenti and Mira’s Salon at Kabira Country Club. There are also a number of expats who know how to cut hair (but came here for more altruistic reasons), that can be easily sourced through forums on Living in Kampala or Facebook groups like Expats in Uganda. Other services such as threading, manicures and pedicures can be easily found at a Sparkles near you – a quick and cheap option that’s popular with Ugandans and expats alike.

Regardless of how you choose to make yourself up, whether you prefer a full face of makeup or a more natural feel, you can find what you need here. It is occasionally a hassle, but with a little bit of searching, and a pocket full of money, you can get a version of your usual cosmetic products you use back home. And of course, if all else fails, there’s always bribing visiting friends or parents into bringing over your favorite brands.

Have a good tip on where to find the best make-up or haircut in town? Please share it in the comments section below and on our forum!

About Lizabeth Paulat

Hi, I’m Lizabeth, a freelance writer whose been stomping around Kampala for the better part of two years. I came here while pursuing a story and decided never to leave. I’m originally from Seattle and have found refuge in both the sun and the culture of Kampalans (plus I still get the rain when I’m feeling homesick).I’m always trying to unearth new and interesting stories about Kampala’s culture and development and am so exited to have an amazing platform to explore the city with. I hope to bring a bit of know-how and a bit of fun to Living in Kampala. Feel free to contact me any time at