This might be obvious, but I really love shopping. Shocker. Over the past five years, my makeup buying habits have evolved quite a lot – while some things have remained the same (like my enduring love for a good bargain). Now that I work full time, I find myself wanting to buy fewer things and invest more in products that I’m actually going to use up – spending primarily on really worthwhile items. I’ve also become far more accustomed to online shopping, although it’s still tricky to choose makeup and skincare over the internet without swatching and trying them on in person…
With all of these ever-changing habits and factors in mind, and a good few years of shopping experience under my belt, I wanted to talk about my favourite places to pick up beauty bits, and put together a guide of sorts that covers all price ranges, both in-store and online.
I used to exclusively be a Boots girl (and I do still love them – the Advantage Card is fantastic), but over the past couple of years Superdrug have totally stepped their game up and overtaken Boots as my drugstore shop of choice. Yes, the stores aren’t quite as shiny, and there’s no high-end counters to peruse, but they really pull it out of the bag when it comes to stocking loads of great (and often exclusive) brands at excellent prices. Makeup Revolution have their only UK store presence in Superdrug, as do many YouTuber brands. They also have their own killer brand that covers several skincare ranges, such as one for sensitive skin, another for radiance, and one for oily/blemished complexions. They also sell online – the website is OK, but not particularly well-designed. This is fine though, because they offer free (!!!) shipping with no minimum spend – something that Boots just don’t have.
Also bringing it on the budget end of the scale are (surprisingly) supermarkets – my top picks being Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Where else can you pick up a new moisturiser or lipstick with your potatoes? I really enjoy picking up new drugstore finds while I’m grocery shopping, as it’s far more peaceful than hitting the high street, and the larger stores have a huge selection of brands.
Yes! ASOS sell makeup and skincare too! I’m addicted to ordering clothes from there anyway, but they also stock loads of awesome beauty brands, as well as their own label – recent additions to the site include MAC, Bobbi Brown and Too Faced, and the list is always being updated. If you’re an ASOS junkie like me, then the annual Premier pass for next-day delivery is a must (and only £10 for the whole year). Good to know that if your favourite NARS concealer gets too low, you can have a new one delivered to your door tomorrow.
Another online-only favourite of mine (I used to shop on Beauty Bay, but their selection, website and delivery options are just not up to scratch), I’ve mainly fallen in love with Feelunique thanks to their genius Pick ‘n’ Mix service. They offer a range of beauty samples – skincare, haircare, makeup and perfume – and each month you can pick five to receive. You pay £3.95 for shipping, and then receive a £3.95 voucher code to redeem on the website. Pretty neat, huh? Feelunique also stock a ton of fantastic brands with loads of excellent deals and sales on all the time.
Cult Beauty has the most beautiful website – they’ve really nailed the simple but gorgeously edited vibe (and the site itself actually functions properly!). Aside from the odd one, such as NYX, the brands featured on CB are exclusively high-end (unlike Feelunique) and include a diverse range of skincare and makeup that otherwise would only be available in the US and Korea. I particularly like the edits and blog posts featured on the website, as well as the influencer-created boxes that allow you to buy a selection of products for less than the total RRP.
Selfridges do have a decent online presence, but I really love going their in person – it might be my favourite department store in London (sorry Harvey Nicks). The room filled with beauty counters is truly a sight to behold (hello Louboutin makeup), but the best part is the adjacent space – the Beauty Workshop. It’s a real beauty-lover’s dream. There’s dozens of displays filled with skincare brands, including niche Korean and American favourites (like Dr Jart and First Aid Beauty), as well as nik-nakd from Beauty Blender and My Kit Co. My top spot in this delightful jungle is the Zoeva counter – their only physical presence in the UK, as far as I’m aware. Not only are their brushes beyond gorgeous (and some of the best at that price point), but the eyeshadows and face products that the brand offers are also incredible quality and value. Well worth a snoop – and you get an iconic yellow Selfridges bag to tote around…
Honorable mention – brand websites!
Just a quick aside – I also shop directly on the websites of certain brands, where they might not be available elsewhere, or where there’s a good discount code. My two favourites are Glossier – excellent online store, and really great shopping options (cute stickers and samples with every purchase!) – and Ciate, who make some fantastic face products and always have good discounts.