It takes something special to lure us away from the ease of online shopping and back onto the high street; endless aisles of shampoo and perfumes in locked cabinets are no longer reason enough to battle the Saturday shopping crowds (even if we do revel in an occasional trip to Space NK ) – we need something more if it’s to rival the glittering options of the likes of Cult Beauty and Net-a-Porter - think in-store treatments, luxurious surroundings and VIP service.
Luckily, the beauty world is sitting up and taking notice of our demands, with a whole host of new beauty destinations landing in London, tempting makeup and wellness addicts away from their computers with a combination of in-store treatments and products you can’t find elsewhere.
If you’re ready to take your beauty purchasing back into the real world, read on for the capital’s hottest destinations to pick up your beauty haul, and treat yourself to anything from a lash lift to a bespoke facial.
AFTERBeauty, Piccadilly Circus
Opening this month, Afterbeauty is a true beauty playground, stocking more than 140 brands across a five-floor townhouse – heaven! Brands include Beauty Blender , Butter London , Sachajuan , and international players such as Dermalogica , Elemental Herbology , Murad , SkinCeuticals and Stila .
“AfterBeauty was founded to bring fun and excitement back to the beauty industry,” says co-founder Zanelle Lim. "We wanted to create a destination for beauty-obsessives to lose themselves in a world of products, colour and creativity. Customers have a better understanding of products now than ever before, so we want them to throw out the rulebook and discover new things.”
Recognising the need to make shopping an experience, every staircase in the townhouse is selfie-worthy (the teddy bear lift has to be seen to be believed…), so your Instagram grid will be as amazing as your makeup table after a trip to this beauty wonderland.
“From the outset, we have aimed to create a warm, inclusive community for Londoners and globetrotters to enjoy together. We really wanted to boost the British high street with a space that feels personal, refreshing and contemporary. We know experience is everything – this has been a consideration for every floor,” adds fellow co-founder Jerry Taechaubol.
If all the excitement gets too much, there’s a meditation zone to kick back in on the lower ground floor, while treatments including body wraps, lash lifts, manicure and facials are on offer from the likes of Dermalogica and SkinCeuticals. These can be booked in-store, or online via Treatwell .
The White House, Knightsbridge
If you like your retail with a side of luxury, The White House is the place for you. Beauty meets hospitality in this five-floor haven, which was opened in September by Reena Hammer, the brains behind Urban Retreat; it boasts everything from holistic doctors to laser-treatments to a yoga and pilates studio.
“In a landscape where traditional retail layouts and store design are being challenged by the expectations of the evolving consumer, our new concept will focus on an experience-led approach,” says MD Reena Hammer. “Everyone will be welcomed to a warm and relaxed, yet luxurious place to spend time, where creating intimacy with our clients and anticipating their needs is key.”
In the retail space (which feels more like a private members club than anything else), guests are invited to get cosy at consultation tables beside the fireplace, while perusing products from innovative brands including Frédéric Fekkai , Kjaer Weiss , Albiva and Bastide .
The White House is also home to The Khere-Griggs Cleanse Clinic. Hailed by Sadie Frost as the perfect place to detox, the clinic offers colonics, manual lymphatic drainage face and body contouring, silhouette-slimming treatments and wraps, prescriptive pilates, yoga and meditation programmes.
With so much on offer, expect to emerge from The White House a whole new woman.
You’ll feel transported to South-East Asia at Koibird , a chic shopping destination stocking entirely Korean brands; the Asian hot spot boasts not only products from 40 different brands, but a vending machine which holds host to over 2000 different sheet masks – be still our beating hearts!
“The rise of Korean Beauty in the west is much welcomed and we are so excited to represent it in a meaningful and heavily curated way,” says Koibird’s founder Belma Gaudio. “We have created a ‘best of’ edit that showcases the hero product from each of the selected brands.”
This edit was selected by the team in consultation with Joyce Lee, the founder and CEO of beauty agency Talk to Her. “We partnered with KOIBIRD to curate a collection of products from skincare and makeup brands we trust,” explains Joyce. “From beloved staples and cult classics to clean beauty and natural products, we selected core items and best sellers from each brand for the London market.”
While you can’t indulge in treatments at Koibird, visitors are treated to an immersive experience, surrounded by art from Korea that transforms the space from functional to transcendental, with seats crafted from silk and nylon rope, and artwork by Seoul-based artists.
We came away from the store with an embarrassingly launch haul of products, including Huxley's Secret of Sahara Healing Mask and Klairs' Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask , among many, many others.
Fans of meditation need to have Re:Mind on their radar; this little hub of tranquillity is minutes away from one of the city’s busiest stations, but as soon as you step inside you’re transported a million miles from the stresses and strains of every day life (even your commute, if you can believe it).
"Through a selection of easily accessible meditation-based and teacher-led group sessions and a studio that's designed with sustainability and health in mind, we offer a space to recover, heal and transform from any stresses and complications of city life," says Emmeline Boyce, head of operations for the studio.
For us, the Re:Sound Crystal Bowls session is a real highlight from the timetable for a blissful hour out of your day.
Post-meditation, visitors can hit the eco-shop at the front of studio, which stocks ethical and sustainable products, all with minimal carbon footprint. From soy candles, to crystal-infused water bottles to eco-deodorant, everything in the shop is designed to help you prolong your feeling of zen, long after you’ve left your gong bath.
Boots Concept Store, Covent Garden
Our annual trips to Sephora are set to be a thing of the past, thanks to Boots ’ new concept store in Covent Garden, offering so much more than the latest beauty drops (although stocking Fenty Beauty certainly isn’t to be sniffed at).
The store holds host to Boots’ biggest ever wellness range (over 300 new lines, including sustainable toiletries, eco-friendly sanitary protection and CBD products), and is also home to a rehydration point for refilling water bottles, and an innocent bar to pick up snacks – shopping is hungry work, after all!
“Our new Covent Garden store starts a journey of reinventing Boots for the future,” says Sebastian James, Managing Director.
“The store is full of exciting beauty brands, ideas for living well and services to help you get better, all with the great care that Boots colleagues give.”
Even the pharmacy has had a snazzy revamp; gone are the days of sitting in uncomfy seats wishing you were anywhere else; the space is warmer and more inviting, and offers two new pharmacy treatments - UTI Test & Treat which allows pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics without the need to see a doctor and the new Skin Scanning Service, a first of its kind in the UK to help people understand and treat skin conditions.
Goop, Westbourne Grove
We know that Goop opened way back in September of 2018, but we couldn’t do a beauty and wellness round-up without a quick nod to Gwyneth’s baby.
The space embodies the laid-back Californian vibe of the brand, and we feel our shoulders relaxing as soon as we step through the front door. While some of the products still leave us baffled (a n ecklace vibrator isn’t necessary, surely?), there’s no denying that Goop offers a gorgeously zen approach to high street shopping, and as the UK stockist of Necessaire’s Sex Gel , we’ll always have a reason to visit.