Best Beauty & Skincare Buys in England: A London Shopping Tour
Chelsea: Kings Road & BeyondStart with the original Liz Earle skincare shop on Duke of York Square on the Kings Road. The beauty of this line is that it offers simple, natural skincare solutions from head to toe. Also on Kings Road is The Shop at Bluebird. You’ll be tempted by the clothes, but be sure to stock up on products from Kai, Malin+Goetz and Ole Henricksen. And if you have time (and the need), book an appointment at the Blink Brow Bar. For perfumes, candles, and other scent-driven products, check out Les Scenteurs on Elizabeth Street. Their fragrances can’t be beat, and they're a bit hard to find back in the States See more Chelsea shopping
Kensington High StreetA hotspot for natural beauty lovers is the giant Whole Foods Market on Kensington High Street. You’ll find many upscale yet natural and organic brands not available at the chain's U.S. stores, such as the new new Snowberry range from New Zealand and Nude Skincare, which is packed with probiotics. See more South Kensington shopping.
Mayfair: Regent Street & BeyondJust off shopping-centric Regent Street, The Organic Pharmacy is worth dropping into if you love natural beauty products, and it’s directly across Great Marlborough Street from the Liberty department store. Don't miss their fabulous beauty hall where you can find chic brands like Ellis Faas makeup, luxurious ReVive skincare and the Hungarian line, Omorovicza, which features mineral-rich spring water. Nearby on Regent Street is Molton Brown, which has been getting better and better as of late. It's worth a stop for beautifully packaged soaps, body lotions, and home fragrances. Elsewhere in elegant Mayfair, head to the Miller Harris shop on Bruton Street for great fragrance-oriented gifts for loved ones back home. See more Mayfair shopping.
Primrose HillInstead of the tourist-packed Camden markets, head to nearby Primrose Hill to shop like a true London lady. Pop into Lost in Beauty where you’ll find gems like Phyto, Environ, Shu Uemura, Becca makeup, Butter London nail polish and an amazing selection of vintage jewelry.
Soho: Carnaby StreetOn pedestrian-only Carnaby Street, you’ll find POP Beauty on Flouberts Place, which is one of Britain’s most popular makeup brands. The line features unique products and fun shades for eyes, nails, and beyond. Also on this stretch is the new Make Up Store, which is like a Swedish version of M.A.C. See more Soho shopping.
Multiple London LocationsAnd of course no trip to London is complete without a stop at the big Boots on Oxford Street near the Bond Street tube station (or one of the 100 other locations around the city). Target carries some of their star products in the U.S., but the London mega-pharmacies carry much more plus other. At this location, you’ll find affordable brands like Nip & Fab, a new line from the founders of Rodial, and Soap & Glory from Marcia Kilgore, the woman who started Bliss spas. When you come across one of the 10 Topshop locations in London, check out their new makeup if you can make it past the on-trend yet affordable clothes. And while your exploring the city, keep an eye out for hot British brands like Balance Me, Saaf, Pai, Jo Wood, Medik8, and Neal’s Yard. These have yet to take off in the United States, so I recommend stocking up, or you’ll find yourself booking another trip to London!
Plan Your London Trip
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When the subject is Travel + Boots, I must humbly contribute with my personal experience: Keep your non-UK credit cards away from Boots,
I Love London.
I Love shopping in London.
I Love shopping clothes and cosmetics in London.
And I have done marathons of it.
Therefore I thought I should share an important word of advice to fellow personal care shoppers holding a foreign credit or debit card: Keep it away from Boots.
Boots is one of the UK most widespread personal care products shops. Cosmetics, pharmacy, body care... you'll find quite a lot there (not everything though).
During a shopping trip to London in October 2011, I returned two Boots products at the same spot & time I had bought them: they had been put on the "wrong shelf" and the actual price was much higher and I became aware of it first when I had paid for the whole lot. I was asked by the cashier if it was OK he credited the amount back into my non-UK debit card. I said yes to the friendly attendant. Big Mistake. HUGE.
Though I got a receipt stating that the amount had been automatically and immediately refunded, the money never got back to my bank account.
During the first half of 2012, I spent more than a dozen mails replying requests of copies of bank statements, home address and other data from Boots customer services, from whom I several times received promises that the funds would be returned… never happened. I even got someone calling me on phone (finally!) two months ago apologizing for the grotesque processing of my claim and saying they would round the amount up to £20 as a compensation and process it within a work-week. NEVER happened. Till today, I never got my refund. It would have cost me less time and trouble keeping the overpriced products they had put on the "wrong shelf".
One feels twice a complete idiot, by:
- Not having demanded one's money back in cash at the counter instead (ALWAYS do so if ever returning goods at a Boots)
- Spending an incredible amount of time writing & responding to mails of 12 different people and providing personal bank account data to at least half of them (God forbids my loss gets even worse) for absolutely no good.
Boots “Customer Service” can only be reached through toll-free numbers that cannot be connected from outside the UK & Ireland. Therefore, foreign customers can forget all about calling them up and talking to someone in charge.
So if you are a tourist from outside the UK, good luck with your cosmetics shopping during the 2012 Olympic Games. But I would stay clear of Boots and instead go to Sephora or any other more professional pharmacy/ retailer.
Wow! Thanks for sharing these treasure troves. I'd be sure to tag along my bessy. She'd surely be thrilled!
No LUSH? I've been stopping in there since there was only the Covent Garden shop--wonderful skin and hair care!
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