Mustafa Centre VS Ocean Cosmetics VS Swanston: Are They Cheaper Than NTUC FairPrice?

Mustafa Centre VS Ocean Cosmetics VS Swanston: Are They Cheaper Than NTUC FairPrice?

profileRebecca Liew

We all know that one person (y’know, apart from your mum/grandma) who’s obsessed with supermarket deals; specifically, NTUC FairPrice deals.

Sure, we’ve got Sheng Siong and Giant Singapore – even online supermarkets like RedMart – but there’s something intimate about getting up-close with your favourite household brands, and sashaying off to checkout knowing you scored a better deal than most shoppers.

Here’s What The Price Of Kiasu-ness Looks Like

To lay out the playing field in the fairest possible way, I painstakingly combed Mustafa Centre, Ocean Cosmetics and Swanston – in 2.5 hours flat! – for household essentials, from toothpaste and mouthwash to facial foam and floor cleaners.

Which One Wins The Game of ‘Cheapest Household Essentials’?

This comparison chart will satisfy your inner-aunty.* If you’d rather jump straight to reading ’bout each of the stores (and where they’re located), scroll right on down.

*Please write me if it doesn’t.

Mustafa Centre VS Ocean Cosmetics VS Swanston

CategoryHousehold ItemNTUC FairPriceMustafaSwanstonOcean Cosmetics
FaceGarnier Men Turbo Light Cooling Foam (100ml)$7.60$3.40; 3 for $9.60$3.20$2.70
Bioderma Makeup-Removing Micelle Solution (500ml)$41.90$19.90; 2 for $35.80--
Senka Perfect Whip Facial Foam (120g)$7.90 (before 25% discount, at time of writing)-$5.60$5.90
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser $17.60 (500ml)$13.90 (500ml); min. 2 pcs$13.50 (500ml)$20.50 (473ml)
HairL'Oreal Excellence Creme Hair Dye$18.85$13.90$9.70; 2 for $19 -
L'Oreal Kids Shampoo in Sunny Orange (250ml)$5.90$3.40$4.20$4.20
Sunsilk Shampoo (320ml) $6.70$2.50$2.90; 2 for $5-
TRESemme Shampoo $13.90 (670ml)$5.50 (900ml)$4.90 (900ml)$4.90 (900ml)
Dove Shampoo (680ml)$11.50$7.50--
Revlon Colorsilk Hair Dye$6.90 to $10.90$6.90; 2 for $8.90$3.30 -
BodyPalmolive Shower Gel Bundle (750ml) + extra 250ml free-$5.90$5.70$5.90
Kirei Kirei Anti-Bacterial Foaming Body Wash (900ml)$9.95-$10.80$10.90
Dove Body Wash (1l)$9.70$5.50$4.80-
NIVEA Intensive Moisture Body Milk (400ml)$6.70$5.50; 3 for $15.75$3.90-
NIVEA Irresistibly Smooth (400ml)-$6; 3 for $17.25$4.50-
Dettol Original Handwash (bundle pack of three)$6.90$5.85-$5.50
Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly (50ml)$3.95 (106g)$1.50-$1.70
For HerLaurier Relax Night Sanitary Pads (35cm) --$3.60 (16pcs)$2.30 (12pcs)
Dental CareColgate Total Clean Mint (150g)$9.95 for twin pack (2 x 150g)$7.50 for twin pack (2 x 150g) $3 for one$3 for one
Darlie Double Action Original (180g)$7.65 for three (3 x 180g)$3.90 for one --
Sensodyne Fresh Mint $7.20 for one (100g)$3.90 for twin pack (2x100g)$3.50 for twin pack (2x100g)$3.50 for twin pack (2x100g)
Neutrogena Rainbath $17.90 (473ml) $9.90 (473ml); 2 for $15$17.90 for 946ml-
Colgate Plax Mouthwash (750ml)$11.50 for twin pack$6.70 to $7.50 $6.40 to $6.90$6.60
Listerine Mouthwash (1l)$8.45; $14.95 onwards for twin pack$7.90$7.80$7.90
LaundryComfort Ultra Pure Fabric Conditioner (1.8l)$9.90-$6.90$7.80
Household Cleaning AgentsMagiclean Floor Wash (2l)$5-$4.20$5.90
Mr Muscle Mold & Mildew Foaming Bleach (500ml))$5.10-$4.20$4.60

It’s suffice to say NTUC FairPrice loses out on practically all fronts. Heck, some products easily cost a fraction of the price at its lower-end counterparts. The question then comes to this: how far would you travel to save a couple of dollars?

On that, certain essentials were omitted from the list, and instead included below.

Mustafa Centre

Mustafa Centre Facade

Much has been said about the treasure trove of equally useful and useless things Mustafa Centre holds within its fortress.

But if you’re there just for household essentials, you’ll find most of what you need on Level 1: there’s multi-vitamins, milk powder, soaps and shampoos, a decent-ish selection of makeup spanning the likes of L’Oreal and Revlon, moisturisers and shavers…you get the gist.

If you’ve the time, stretch your exploration of Mustafa Centre, which spans six floors, including a supermarket on Level 2 that’s complete with dairy products and dry goods. My personal favourite’s the bottom-most floor (B2); there’re some seriously creepy and crappy toys in there that make for good laughs post-supper.

Best Buy: Oral-B Pro Deep Clean Toothbrushes
Mustafa Centre Oral B Toothbrushes

I mean$2.30 for three toothbrushes? Oral hygiene never seemed so fun. (Ha, ha, ha.)

Address: Mustafa Centre, 145 Syed Alwi Rd. Open 24/7. 


Swanston Chinatown Facade 2

This fabled household essentials store – my mum’s favourite – is kind of an open secret. You’ll relish discounts on everything from cotton pads and laundry detergent to toilet cleaners. They’ve also got crazy cheap toothbrushes that are comparable in price to those in Malaysia.

Best Buy: Colgate Twister Toothbrushes (yep, again)

Swanston Best Buy Toothbrushes

If it isn’t obvious enough, I’m borderline obsessed with cheap toothbrushes. These are going at S$4.90 for five pieces; that’s under a dollar per pop.

Address: Swanston, 32 New Market Rd, #02-1004/7. Mon – Sat, 10am – 9pm; Sun, 10am – 7pm. 

Ocean Cosmetics

Ocean Cosmetics Facade
Located right above Swanston is the admittedly quieter competitor to Swanston: Ocean Cosmetics. Still, browsing never hurt anyone – and we all know saving a couple of cents will ultimately amount to bigger savings, so don’t you scoff at bargain hunters!

Best Buy: Colgate Optic White Toothpaste (Sparkling White), 100g

Ocean Cosmetics Colgate

Man, staying clean really doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – cost a damn liver. It’s just S$1.70* to keep your teeth ‘sparkling white’, if the description is to be believed.

*PSA: The same toothpaste costs S$8.50 on NTUC FairPrice’s online store, FairPrice On. 

Address: Ocean Cosmetics Singapore, 32 New Market Rd, #03-1058/1060. Daily 11.30am – 9pm. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, is it really more about the convenience than price? I fall in this camp; as much as I get a thrill from buying lip balm or toothpaste for cheap, going the literal distance for essentials can be cumbersome.

Plus, NTUC FairPrice does have a pretty neat loyalty programme, which you can read about here.

My moral of the story is, I’ll only travel the extra mile from now on for cheap toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Do you shop at Swanston, Ocean Cosmetics or Mustafa Centre? Or are you Team NTUC FairPrice? Tell us on our Seedly Personal Finance Community on Facebook!

About Rebecca Liew
Lactose-intolerant, but also BS-intolerant. Having written for the likes of Marina Bay Sands and Time Out, I now spend my days saving up for my stationery shop retirement dream.
You can contribute your thoughts like Rebecca Liew here.

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