Cosmetics From Poland: What's Worth Buying Or Ordering?

I loved the Top-10 display in Helfy, Krakow

During my trip to Poland (which I was erratically documenting on my instagram) I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of amazing cosmetics just about everywhere. A couple of years back I had to look for a tiny natural food store in a back alley just to get my hands on a Sylveco moisturiser, this time shelves of regular stores were chock-full of beautifully-packaged natural cosmetics, oils, soaps, and everything I could possibly wish for. Here is a brief primer on what is worth buying, plus how to shop if you don't speak polish.

First, if you don't like anywhere near Poland, I have seen at least Sylveco and Vianek online on Notino.

The best one-stop place to go in Poland to is the Pigment Drogerie, almost every big city has a branch. A similar assortment is to be found at the Kosmyk. Then most cities have a kind of store called a Mydlarnia which translates as the soapery, they specialise in soaps, as well as clays and oils. Finally, most places will have natural food stores which have an organic cosmetic section, search on google maps for "sklep ekologiczny".

Most younger employees do speak english, and are pretty knowledgeable about the products they carry. However they might not know all the english names of the herbs and the ingredients, so it's worth having a translation app.

What to buy:

Interestingly many polish brands don't carry an organic certificate like Ecocert (probably because these are very expensive). So I usually checked the website of the manufacturers to see if the product was organic.

Divide by 4 to get the approximate price in Euro.

Sylveco is the mother-brand of polish cosmetics, and is based on birch extracts. The products that contain the healing betuin (birch extract) have a heavier consistency, which may not suit everyone. The products without this ingredient are labeled as "lekkie" (light). 
Sylveco is amazing for those with anyone that suffers from serious skin problems such as dermatitis, acne, highly sensitive skin, dandruff etc. Most product are unscented. They can be used on skin that is irritated, or damaged in some way (look for the "Hypoallergic" label on them).
Sylveco carries a really good alcohol-free micellar cleanser. Their cleansing milk is based on the oil-cleansing principle and doesn't contain detergents. Their moisturiser (lekki krem brzozowy) is a great choice if you are looking for a light day cream.
Vianek and Biolaven are both daughter-brands of Sylveco. All three have really great ingredients, are free from animal-testing.

Biolaven is based on Lavender oil and Grapeseed oil. Their products are formulated to work with most kinds of skin, so if you want to make someone a gift you should pick this brand.
Vianek carries several lines for different types of skin: orange is nourishing, red is firming and anti-aging, blue is moisturising, green is cleansing, dark pink is soothing and relaxing, violet is strengthening and calming.

If you want a good alcohol-free natural micellar cleanser, you'll be spoilt for choice. If you wear waterproof makeup go for the one from Biolaven, for dry skin the blue Vianek, for sensitive skin the Sylveco linden (lipa) is perfect. Finally the orange Vianek has a 2in1 micellar solution and toner -- it contains a lot of nourishing ingredients like Calendula extract and almond oil and sea-buckthorn oil.

Make Me Bio is probably one of the best organic brands I have ever tried, their moisturising creams are legendary.

A very interesting brand that caught my eye is Orientana. Both the ingredients and scents are heavily inspired by South-East Asian as well as middle-eastern beauty. A lot of their hair care are based on Ayurveda and traditional Indian herbs, with the advantage of being free from mineral oils and generally up to organic cosmetic standards.
All the Orientana skin and body products smell amazing, with scents like mango, sandalwood. A very interesting produc is the enzymatic peeling based on enzymes from Papaya: Naturalny kremowy peeling do twarzy Papaja i żeń - szeń indyjski.

The Pigment drogerie has an entire cupboard with quite an impressive selection of cosmetic ingredients from ZrobSobieKrem. Here you can choose from several different kinds of hyaluron, a couple of different hydrolates, clays and active ingredients -- all for very low prices. The containers are pretty small which makes them perfect for the traveler. However if you are more serious about DIY cosmetics, it might be worth ordering from the website, also because of the exhaustive product descriptions.

Most of the Mydlarnia store that I saw carried all of the Wardi-shan soaps which are my favourite cleaning soap; as well as a very good selection of Aleppo soaps, African soaps, and more.

Clays is also something always worth picking up, as they are inexpensive and don't expire. White or blue or pink are gentler, green is the most cleansing one. The blue one looks really otherworldly.

The Polny Warkocz products draw upon Poland's Slavic traditions both in their aesthetics and their ingredients.
 If you are looking for something very moisturising and soothing or if you have problems with visible capillaries, the Mazidlo z Skrzypu (horsetail cream) from Polny Warkocz might be a good fit.

A must buy is at least one of the big array of oils from Your Natural Side. You can find just about everything from Argan oil (in a small affordable size!) to oils I haven't heard of before. It's worth to do a bit of research beforehand since the packaging doesn't say much about the properties of the oil. The same goes for the amazing array of hydrolates. I always stock up on hydrolates since it's normally really hard to find anything other than rosewater. Here I could pick between salvia, cystus, jasmine, chamomille and many more.

For the hair most places carried Khadi Henna as well as Orientana Henna, so there was a huge choice of available colours. Then there is the plant-based(ish) Tints Of Nature hair colour. You can find a selection of original Indian hair shampoos and oils as well as organic quality ones from Orientana and Khadi. Both brands also offer colourless Henna which gives the hair volume and lustre.

Dermacol originally developed their products for stage makeup.

From coloured cosmetics, the small Dermacol foundation tubes make really amazing concealer that is extremely high-coverage and doesn't budge. For highly-pigmented eyeshadow you can't beat Nabla. If you find a place that carries the Danish brand Gosh, you might want to pick up their concealer.

Also really worth a glance is the selection of natural toothpaste. I have heard that the charcoal ones are really good for whitening.

Helfy carries a really interesting collection of oriental perfumes. I was especially fascinated by the solid ones in little jars (you can see them on the lowest shelf in the photo above). If you are interested in organic perfume, the brand Acorelle is worth a sniff. They also have a very interesting selection of herbal teas, I got one with Soapwort which I plan to experiment with as a cleaners, as well as a traditional Slavic tea. If you are looking for something for hair or nails I can recommend Nettle (pokrzywa), Horsetail (skrzyp), for skin problems cystus (czystek).

Apart from Polish cosmetics, there are a lot of imported products that are worth a look. First, you can find quite a bit of German brands such as Weleda, Dr Hauschka and Eco Cosmetics, then the amazing (but pricey) Madara, whose Sun Flower / Moon Flower moisturiser I'm a huge fan of. Then the Bania Agafii products from Russia, which are a tad tricky for me because I can't read Cyrillic.
Finally I spotted the beautifully packaged Whamisa Organic Flowers  which is an organic Korean brand which are based on fermentation -- I'd really love to try this buy my budget was already strained and this brand isn't exactly cheap.

I have to say I ware really really tempted to move to Poland just to have access to all those goodies. I shopped quite a bit, so expect to see my favourite products in future reviews.

I know I have some readers from Poland, let me know what your favourite products are! What do I absolutely have to try when I'm there again?

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