Where To Discover Indie Beauty And Wellness Brands In London
London is home to some of the world’s most legendary retailers, so it’s no surprise that England’s capital city offers beauty lovers several stellar shopping stops. Even if beauty consumers never enter the hallowed halls of Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Liberty London, there’s plenty of beauty products to discover at an abundance of big and small stores both old and new.
This year has been an especially exciting one for the London beauty scene. New York City spa and shop Onda unveiled a London outpost, the breathtaking spa/cafe/apothecary concept Linnaean opened last month, and iconic department store Harrods pulled back the curtains on its glittering beauty halls, the result of sweeping renovations that will ultimately lead to a 53,000-square-foot beauty haven. But what are the leading spots in London for emerging brands? With Indie Beauty Expo London traveling to The Old Truman Brewery from Oct. 23 to 24 for its sophomore edition, Beauty Independent decided to explore retailers in the city with extensive collections of independent beauty and wellness brands. Here are five that shouldn’t be missed.
Content Beauty & Wellbeing: Content Beauty & Wellbeing is the crown jewel of London’s clean beauty shopping scene. Josh Rosebrook, Vintner’s Daughter, Kjaer Weis and Innersense are all present at the pioneering store. Launched in 2008, it moved into a larger space this year to evolve into a lifestyle concept. Founder Imelda Burke shares that Content has added new categories such as apparel and books, including texts on feminism, environmental issues, health, wellness and natural beauty, and expanding its range of zero-waste items. Burke, who left the fashion industry to start Content, explains the sustainable clothing sold at her store shares a similar ethos with the beauty brands it carries. She says, “Many people often don’t know about the environmental concerns associated with clothing such as dyes, fabrications and the ethics of manufacturing.” While color cosmetics and skincare are perennial strong performers at Content, Burke has been delighted that new categories like books have been well-received. She says, “Lingerie, what people wear closest to their skin, is [another] standout category.”
Planet Organic: Planet Organic resembles a petite Whole Foods—and the resemblance is not a coincidence. Mississippi native Renée Elliott was inspired to open Planet Organic, which has eight units across London, after visiting a Boston Bread & Circus, an organic supermarket now owned by Whole Foods. Planet Organic’s beauty and wellbeing section is packed with accessible clean brands from around the world. Ere Perez, Monk Oil, Evolve and Antipodes is carried at the natural grocer; no skincare SKU at Planet Organic exceeds 55 pounds. The retailer is notable for prioritizing feminine hygiene and sexual wellness. Shoppers can find almost 100 products in the subcategory, ranging from Womanology intimate area elixirs and Smile Makers vibrators to Fair Squared Intimate Wash and a plethora of period cups. One of the most expensive items found in the Tottenham Court location is the Intimina KegelSmart Pelvic Floor Personal Trainer for 69.95 pounds.
Boots Covent Garden: Independent beauty and wellness gets its fair share of floor space at Boots refurbished 28,000-square-foot store in Covent Garden. Opened in June, the store carries over 300 brands. When customers buy their products, Boots won’t offer single-use plastic bags to them to tote home. The retailer reports its switch to paper bags in Covent Garden and its 52 other stores across the nation will remove more than 900 tons of plastic from its business. In Boots’ first floor Beauty Hall, there’s a lineup of big-name brands like Benefit, Dior and Fenty Beauty, which arrived at the chain in May. The Covent Garden store boasts Boots’ largest wellness assortment, with 32 brands spanning sustainable toiletries, eco-friendly feminine hygiene options and CBD products. Independent brands for sale in the store include customization specialist Emulsion, clean skincare range Skyn Iceland and millennial-created range Bybi Beauty. “Our new Covent Garden starts a journey of reinventing Boots for the future,” says Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, which is under the umbrella of Walgreens Boots Alliance, the largest retail pharmacy company spanning Europe and the United States. “The store is full of exciting beauty brands, ideas for living well and services, all with the great care that Boots colleagues give. We will learn what people love and want from this shop [to] help us shape a blueprint for our whole 2,500-store estate.”
The Shop at Bluebird: If you happen to love fashion and beauty, get ready to spend serious money if you visit any of The Shop at Bluebird’s three stunning and spacious London locations. Technically a designer clothing store carrying an impressive mix of cool girl-coveted designers like Raquel Allegra, Marni and Stine Goya, its team has has turned its expert curatorial eyes to the beauty category as well. Shoppers in the market for a Marni dress can also grab their favorite products from indie beauty brands like Amly Botanicals, Verdant Alchemy, Grown Alchemist, Roads Perfume, Bon Parfumer and Ouai.
John Bell & Croyden: No discussion of the London beauty shopping scene would be complete without mentioning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second’s pharmacist since 1958. Established in 1798, John Bell & Croyden has amassed an inventory of over 12,000 products, becoming so much more than a pharmacy. Alexander Johnston, general manager of John Bell & Croyden, reveals it carries more than 300 beauty and wellness brands—and the number is constantly increasing. “We are always on the lookout for new and innovative skincare and wellness products that we can introduce to our customers,” he says, reporting that active skincare is the biggest beauty category for John Bell & Croyden, where doctor-led brands have been gaining traction. “Dr. Barbara Sturm and Dr. Irena Eris have grown in popularity over the last 12 months. Our customers are looking for active ingredients like retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid that give almost instant and long term results,” says Johnston. “This trend is reflected in the facials our customers are choosing in our beauty room.” Facials from Skinceuticals and Dermalogica, popular brands at John Bell & Croyden, are available in its treatment rooms. Johnston adds, “Niche brands like GQ’s Breakthough Brand of the Year Winner at the 2020 GQ Grooming Awards, Skin Design London, have seen huge following growth over the last two years.”