Love makeup and want to get chic on one of the most fashionable places on the planet? Below London Top Sights guide for getting glam on the capital.
WARNING: Do not head here during rush hour in the evening unless you want to be held outside the station due to overcrowdingOne to save for quieter times, but there’s so much to see here. I’d suggest heading to the Topshop Beauty Section first which is a mash-up of their own brand stuff and BeautyMART, then drop down to Liberty which is probably my favourite place to shop full stop. Inside there’s a mix of prestige brands, a cosy perfume room and a corner that’s filled with kitsch stock that you won’t find anywhere else. The MAC Pro Store is just round the corner off Carnaby Street (drop by Ben’s Cookies on the way down) and then pop into KIKO on your way back to the station.
This walking tour takes in the big beauty boys and some of the more niche ones. Fenwicks is a great place to head for beauty and is usually a bit quieter than the others, so there’s time and space for serious mooching. Back up on Oxford Street is Selfridges which basically has every brand you could ever want when it comes to beauty; the Charlotte Tilbury counter and the Beauty Workshop bit (head towards the chocolate/stationery section – literally the three things I love all in one place) are the highlights. If you find your way up to Marylebone you’ll find the Fresh store (yes, we have one in the UK!) and Being Content which is a great place to find all things organic beauty.
Sometimes vloggers actually get it right, and that’s definitely the case with Charlotte Tilbury’s high-end make-up line. It’s been a couple of years since the celebrity make-up artist (she’s Kate Moss’s fave!) launched her beauty store and it’s one of the most hyped online. Known for her skincare and bombshell-worthy lipsticks and eye shadows, her products might be pricy but they’re the best in the biz.
This make-up shop has the feel of a high-end store like nearby Mac or Benefit, but the product prices rarely hit a tenner. There are big well-lit mirrors to play with shimmer eyeshadows, multicoloured lipsticks and everything else on offer (and take selfies after!) and the staff happily offer up advice. You can even book to get your eye make-up done for £15 of products.
If you’re looking for expert advice on what will be good for your skin type before you splash out £50 on a moisturiser, then Space NK is your go-to shop. Like a pharmacy but full of high-end make-up and skincare products, its expert sales assistants will talk you through the pros and cons of one brand vs another without trying to push you either way. It also looks like the future.
A leftfield choice, sure, but if you care as much about what’s in your products as how they make you look then nowhere beats this hipster supermarket’s beauty section. Organic, paraben-free, sulphate-free, vegan – you name it, it’s got it. The assistants know their stuff, and they stock everything from Jason shampoo for a fiver to pricier Neal’s Yard stuff. Oh, and you can pick up some organic veg while you’re there.
Xsandy’s Hair and Beauty
This south London beauty wholesaler is one of the few Afro-Caribbean hair specialist shops in London owned by an Afro-Caribbean woman. Sandra Brown Pinnock started the business as a hair extension company before developing her own product when she was disappointed by the quality of other brands. XSandy’s stocks super-reasonably priced and great-quality hair extensions, wigs and treatment products
If a great beauty shop equals department store luxe then Liberty offers both a beautiful environment and an unrivalled selection of beauty products. The people who work there always take the time to consult you. Plus, while you can pick up a £70 moisturiser there they also have more affordable cult products like Weleda skin food for £9 and Pixi Glow tonic for £18. (And they always have great deals on.)
The aesthetics of London’s beauty stores usually lands somewhere between ‘futuristic pharmacy’ and ‘glitter kingdom’. Beast is distinctly macho, though. Its ‘aim is to change the way men shop for beauty’ and it does that with stainless steel cabinets and four clearly labelled sections: ‘Body’, ‘Hair’, ‘Shave’, ‘Face’ and ‘Fragrance’. While that might sound like the changing rooms of a boxing gym, this is a strictly Lynx-free zone. Stocked products come from boutique luxury brands like Penhaligon’s, Bad Norwegian and DR Harris.
Want to indulge in a day of treatments? Harvey Nichols’s beauty lounge recently had a refurb and is now an ideal spot for every pamper sesh of your dreams (and others you haven’t even imagined yet). For example, why not have a facial using LED lights to brighten your complexion? Experimenters, welcome to heaven.
If you like your skincare fuss-free then Pearl Pharmacy is for you. While it might not look like much from the outside it stocks all the French brands you’ve stocked up on in Sephora on holiday: Nuxe, Vichy and Bioderma. It’s also now home to beauty salon Total Body Care which offers everything from fillers to lash tinting.
Over the past few years, Covent Garden’s quietly become London’s beauty destination. The latest top spot is the beauty store at H&M new Mercer Street shop. The clean white spaces is packed with bargain beauty treats, from brushes to nail varnish and prices start as low as £1.99.
If you’re the kind of beauty shopper who can’t wait the usual couple of years for cult US and Korean brands to land in the UK, Topshop Oxford Street should be your go-to. It’s beautyMART section is curated by former Vogue beauty director Anna Marie Solowij and Ruby & Mille founder Millie Kendall MBE, who’ve spent 25 years in the beauty industry. And let’s not forget edgy hair salon Bleach downstairs.