Shopping for beauty products in Cairo is an exercise in hunting and gathering. In the absence of major department stores stocking every product imaginable, Cairenes are reduced to foraging at any number of different shops to locate the perfect face cream, a favourite perfume, or the right shade of makeup.

Icon is a beauty shop with two branches in Maadi, and probably the closest thing that Egypt has to a comprehensively stocked shop of imported beauty supplies from nail polish and perfume, to makeup and skincare products.

Icon’s spacious shop on Degla’s Road 233 is a welcoming, multilevel space with appealing displays of products by top beauty brands. Unlike many other beauty shops in Cairo, the staff at Icon keeps a respectful distance, but is on hand to answer questions and make suggestions when asked.

The shop’s selection of designer perfumes is respectable, with favourite brands like Chanel and Burberry represented. The selection is largely devoted to women’s perfumes although a few selections for men are also available. Prices are generally on par with those in other shops, beginning at about 250LE.

Icon’s makeup display is slightly less impressive. Although rarely found brands like Maybelline are available, stocks and colour options are limited, and prices are exorbitant, at nearly 200LE for a cream foundation. Rimmel products are also available, with a better selection and slightly more reasonable prices, such as a tube of foundation starting at about 150LE.

The standout products at this shop are definitely in the category of skin and hair care. Icon stocks imported Neutrogena and Vaseline products as well as Garnier and L’Oreal items, and a range of hairdryers and styling tools.

For some people, finding their favourite skincare product in Cairo is priceless and that’s a good thing, as a Neutrogena facial wash will set you back a good 85LE. Vaseline products are more reasonably priced, at about 25LE for a tub of body lotion, and imported L’Oreal hair dye without ammonia sells for around 100LE. OPI nail polish is seriously expensive at 100LE per bottle.

The wall of styling tools includes basic hairdryers as well as multi-functional tools, flatirons and facial steamers. Starting at 200LE, these appliances don’t come cheap, but could be a boon to diehard beauty product lovers.

A casual stop at Icon might leave those familiar with the stocked beauty counters of faraway lands disappointed; but beauty connoisseurs in Cairo just might find what they’re looking for on the shelves of this shop.