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London may not have Sephora (anyone knows why?) but there is no shortage of stores for beauty lovers (like me) feel at home. After an ‘extensive’ research and a few shopping trips, I narrowed down my top places in the city.
Liberty: as a department store that doesn’t feel like one, it is a great place to wander between rooms, without the intrusion of sales assistants offering to try the latest fragrances. It has an incredible selection of cult brands like Surrat, Chantecaille, Dr. Sebagh, Egyptian Magic, Embryolisse, Pixi, Aurelia and Byredo.
Selfridges: forget the busy and noisy main hall (although there’s Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury, Illamasqua and even a Clarins mini spa) and go straight to the side aisle, where you can try a bunch of products without a till blocking your way! Aesop, Dermalogica, Eve Lom, Stila and Perricone MD are some of them. Keep an eye on the pop ups as well. During Christmas time, for example, Birchbox and NIOD were there, whilst until the end of January you can try Dr. Frances Prenna Jones skincare line.
Peter Jones: the John Lewis at Sloane Square is perfect to calmly search for new products. On the 1st floor, besides the classical names (Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Clinique…), you will find a till-free corner with a great selection of skincare, makeup, hair, nails and bath brands. Mavala, OPI, Percy & Reed, Phillip Kingsley, Philosophy, Benefit, Crabtree & Evelyn and Darphin are a few of them.
Fortnum & Mason: go up one floor for an amazing selection of fragrances and a quiet and cosy corner for beauty. REN, Aromatherapy Associates, This Works, Chantecaille, Delilah, Oribe, Christophe Robin, Sisley, Ilia, Ellis Faas, Guerlain and Deborah Lippmann, besides some French soap brands, are the chosen ones.
Burlington and Piccadilly Arcade: close to Fortnum, both arcades have small shops with luxury labels. On the former, you find Chanel, Penhaligons, By Killian and Frederic Malle, whilst on the latter there is Santa Maria Novella.
Covent Garden Market: Burberry, Chanel and Dior have their beauty-only spaces there. L’Occitane, Kiehl’s and Miller Harris are close whilst around the Market you have Bobbi Brown, Clinique (where every time I go, I can’t help myself!) and Aveda.
John Bell & Croyden: if you miss the vibe of a French pharmacy, you’ve found the right place! From the well-known French staples (Avene, La Roche, Vichy, Bioderma and Roger & Gallet) to SkinCeuticals, Korres, Alpha H and Oskia, a wide range of organic names and all sorts of vitamins and supplements, you’ll feel in beauty heaven!
Space NK and Boots (various locations): for an upscale and personal experience, head to one of many Space NK, where you’ll get most of the brands named above. On larger Boots (Oxford St., Green Park etc.) the mix of high end and drugstore products is fantastic, worth a good hour of browsing.
Illustrations by Alessandra Olanow