• packing to move to india1

American Moving to India Packing List Part 1: Beauty & Hair

When you make the decision to move permanently to India you’ll have a lot to do but the most time consuming is trying to think of American (and other Western) items that you won’t be able to get once you live in India… and will sorely miss.

I wish before I left I could have found a list online of what I might want to consider taking that I won’t be able to find. In Bombay, Delhi, and Bangalore you’ll be able to find quite a bit as well as airports, but in Goa or Kerala, you’ll have less shopping options once you arrive.

I’m compiling a packing list of products and brands for an American moving to India. It is three parts. I warn you these aren’t things you need to live, but it’s just my personal list of what I know I’ll miss from home. You’ll have to personalize it to fit your own needs. I’m literally going to use this list when I go home for a month to help me pack up for my next year in India. My American moving to India packing list part 1 will include all things hair and beauty.

Headed to the UK soon? Here's my perfect little London packing list for women! This is all I'm bringing with me on my trip this summer/fall.

*Disclaimer: You can get anything in India thanks to world shipping but it will cost a lot more and take longer. It’s best to stock up on what you know you use most.

If you’re moving to India, make sure to check out my checklist of what to do before you move abroad. I also have a post on what luggage to take when you move abroad.

PART 1: Beauty and Hair

packing to move to india1all photo credits on 

Western Hair Products in India

India has: Herbal Essence, Pantene, and other drugstore brands. Occasionally Biolage, and Toni & Guy are available online. I hadn’t heard of Toni & Guy prior to moving but it’s apparently very popular in Australia and England. I love the Toni&Guy Sea Salt Texturising Spray and it’s almost equal with B&B.

I bring: Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray (until I learn to make my own… hello one billionth Pinterest project) and Aussie hairspray, which I’m aware, is terrible for your hair, from the U.S.

women packing list india beachthese are some of the items I pack while traveling within india: all but the acne cream and comb were bought in india. 

Western Lotion & Face Washes in India

India has: All the drugstore lotions and most face washes with Garnier, Nivea, and L’Oreal being most popular. I occasionally find a Neutrogena product, including sunscreen. I have switched to L’Oreal Paris HydraFresh Toner which I like a lot. Luckily they have Dove soap and shower gel, and Venus razors, which is what I used in the U.S.

I bring: From Bioré I bring warming face scrub (although I have made a homemade lemon one), pore strips, and Biore Pore Perfect Ice Cleanser, which is my favorite face wash of all time. I use Clinique Moisture Surge lotion, Clinique Overnight Mask and Clinique Moisture Surge Spray, which I have only found at the airport and for much higher prices than Sephora.

Make-up Brands Available in India

India has: Brands like L’Oreal, Revlon, and Maybelline on Flipkart or Amazon India. In store, they have make-up but not all the color options. I really miss Sephora! I don’t buy much makeup here but have been sampling to see what I can replace with a similar drugstore brand. If you use drugstore brands already, you’ll be fine. You can easily find BB and CC creams.  I can get MAC lipsticks and Clinique “almost lipsticks” and chubby sticks in Delhi or at the airport. I also buy my Burberry Brit perfume at the airport. In general, just bring your favorite makeup from home.

women packing list india beachI have approximately 200x this amount of make up but these are my weekend getaway items of which I brought all from home. Some are available in India but at higher prices. 

I bring:  Nars, Smashbox, Benefit, Urban Decay… ok basically ALL my makeup is name brand from Sephora that I can’t get here. I buy in in the U.S. and bring what I need for that year. Bronzer should be brought from home as well as any tanning lotions. It’s all about skin whitening here. My most important items that I bring two of: Boscia B.B. Cream, NARS Concealer, Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Pout, Laura Mercier Lip Glace, Smashbox Cosmetics Under Eye Brightener (haven’t come close to finding something like this here), Christian Dior Addict Lip Glow, Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, and of COURSE NARS The Multiple.

**Keep in mind make-up melts in India! My lovely back up of Boscia under eye brightening basically dissolved and my Smashbox lipsticks look very sad.

Lastly for this list, Nail Polish

packing to move to india1

I haven’t once found Essie or O.P.I, although an Indian beauty shop will ship Essie to you at about 20 bucks a bottle. I’ve found that Lakme’s 9-5 isn’t a bad nail polish option, but brought quite a collection from home. I suggest getting a mini-kit. They are easy to travel with, will be used up before they go bad, and will give you a better rate overall. The only negative is the brush is smaller too and makes it a little harder to paint your nails. I love the Opi Take Ten Mini Kit which includes my three favorites: ‘bubble bath’, ‘lincoln park after dark’ and ‘you don’t know Jaques’.

Up next is Part two: food, electronics, misc to pack when moving to India. After writing that one, I realized I should write in more detail about clothing as I get so many emails about it, so please check out Clothing to pack when moving to India. Make sure you have affairs in order before you move abroad- here’s an expat checklist to help.

Update: After almost three years in India, I wrote this article which may be of use to you: Indian Replacements for American & UK Beauty Products.


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Veena April 9, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply


    I’m loving all your packing lists for India! As someone who lived there for 4 years, I can definitely relate. Although I was lucky and lived in Bangalore and Bombay, so most of these things were more readily available than they probably are in Goa!

    I would add that products from The Body Shop – especially their cleansers, face wipes, and face washes – are great products, and there are retail shops in all the big cities. I started using their tea tree oil face wash while I lived in Bangalore, and now I order it to my home in Memphis. I find that they’re pretty reasonably priced, and they last me months on end.

    Looking forward to reading part 2 of your packing list!

    Veena xx

    • Rachel Jones April 10, 2014 at 7:28 am - Reply

      Great to hear because I was wanting to try the tea tree oil. My bf’s mom uses it he said and likes it. So maybe I’ll give it a go!

  2. J in Beijing April 10, 2014 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Firstly, how I wish my hair was as long and lovely as those photos. My hair is so poker straight! Secondly, this is a great list. I’m not American or moving to Goa but I would have loved to find this if I was. I have been meaning to do the same for Beijing- I couldn’t find any list like this when I moved. I went to Bangkok a few months ago and was so jealous that people there get to shop in Boots. It’s a huge beauty product store/pharmacy from the UK and they have them in Thailand with all the same products as back home! If only they had one in Beijing…But we do have Sephora here! We don’t have that in the UK so I’ hadn’t really clocked onto it until now. I’ll have to go now!

    • Rachel Jones April 10, 2014 at 7:31 am - Reply

      Umm me too, the longer mine gets the thinner the ends are! Boo. You should def do one for beijing. I was hunting for lists like these before I moved and found nothing :(

  3. The Guy April 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Rachel, very exciting on the move to India and you have certainly been thinking extensively with your planning.

    You are correct in that Toni & Guy is very popular here in the UK, definitely an upmarket brand.

    From my experiences of India, you really need to be in the very large cities to have access to anything close to Western shopping. Import duties may also prove prohibitive. You never know though, when the stock you bring with you runs out you might discover some exciting local brands.

    • Rachel Jones April 28, 2014 at 12:46 am - Reply

      Yeah actually, now it’s been about 1.5 years since I moved & I’ve started to find “dupes” as they call them. Basically knock-offs of a fancy product. I plan on writing a post about them!

  4. Rachael May 7, 2015 at 12:10 am - Reply

    This is awesome! I’m so so happy I found your page! I’ve been to India before but I’m moving there next year and I’m freaking out! You are my lifesaver!!!! <3

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