French apothecary in the heart of Hong Kong
My first encounter with Officine Universelle Buly was when it popped up as a recommendation from French style icon Inès de la Fressange. I had gone into the Uniqlo store in Paris on a whim and when browsing, came across stores that brand ambassadors would recommend in the neighbourhood. Seeing that it was only around 10-15mins walk away, I decided to pay it a visit.
My venture to this store was paid off once I arrived at its doorstep, packed from floor to ceiling were wooden shelves, marble counters and glass cabinets of beauty toners, jars of oils, lotions, creams, combs. The products are attractively labeled and displayed in artistic vignettes. It felt like I had stepped into a potions chamber from the world of Harry Potter. Whiffing and dabbing oils, taking in the lovely mixed aromas, rubbing on lotions was a sheer delight. The buzz had not left me even after I had purchased their Huile Antique Lichen and the box was beautifully calligraphed by one of their sales assistants. Apparently all their staff had calligraphy training!
To my surprise and delight, Officine Universelle Buly recently setup shop in Hong Kong. Thanks to Kapok owner Arnault Castel who has partnered with husband-wife duo Ramdane Touhami and Victoire de Taillac in running the operations side of the store. Having already successfully opened stores in Taipei and Seoul, I would have thought it wouldn't need much convincing! You may question why the name has 1803 and this is because Officine Universelle Buly taps into the legacy of famed Parisian perfumer Jean-Vincent Bully who sold a skin tonic called Vinaigre de Bully in the early 1800s. Imagined in Paris and formulated in a French laboratory, the current product range benefits from having the advancement of modern day cosmetics while being faithful to age-old recipes, on the plus side, they contain neither parables nor silicone.
Located in the heart of Central, the Hong Kong store is just a few minutes walk from Central MTR station and Lan Kwai Fong. I was once again transported into a Potter-esque world and it retains all the aesthetics and charm of the Parisian store.
Shopping here is such a euphoric sensation, this was shared by a fellow Buly fan, Anna whom I had the pleasure to meet at the Central store. She had flown in from the Philippines just to buy her Buly faves as it was "closer than Paris". Enough said.
Elaine's top Buly faves (so far):
1) Eau Superfine Facial Lotion / Toner – This gorgeous 200ml ceramic bottle and metallic capped toner has a delicate whiff of rose floral water and I use it twice a day after washing my face and taking a bath. It instantly soothes my skin and I notice that my skin tone is brightened after a few days of use. The Eau Superfine also serves double duty as part of my makeup removal routine to help remove the toughest eye liner and mascara off my face.
2) Copaiba oil – This 50ml oil was recommended by the sales lady once she knew I had eczema. Extracted from the Amazon rainforest, it's a great remedy for very dry skin as it's high in Vitamin E and assists with cell turnover and healing. After taking a bath I'll massage this into my skin before putting on moisturiser. This is often out-of stock as I went back a month later and they informed me I'll have to wait for an indefinite time. Argh!
3) Huile Antique Scottish Lichen – Housed in the same bottle as Eau Superfine Facial Lotion, this 200ml fragrant body oil is scented with Buly's signature lichen. It's a luxurious oil (I can't have enough oils!) and lingers on my skin for hours. I put this on during the day to keep moisturised.
3) Scented matches - I admit this is rather luxurious in terms of matches, who needs scented matches, really? However once I realised it could diffuse the ahem, odour of a toilet then it all makes sense. These can also be used to light candles of course, now I wonder which Buly candle I should add to my growing candle collection?