I’m recently home from America, where, as always, I spent too much money on beauty products I don’t need. “It’s my job – my hands are tied,” I tell myself as I wait in line with intriguing bottles of afro shampoo, 12 types of Ardell lashes and tubs of face cream shaped like granny smiths (really).
There’s no doubt that shopping for products overseas has become less exciting recently, though, as well as more inclusive. British companies such as BeautyMart and Cult Beauty travel the world so you don’t have to, researching, curating and selling the best foreign products: for instance, Scott Barnes Body Bling (£27), the most convincing bronzer I’ve ever used on my blue-white legs. It tempers the heady thrill of Stateside shopping, but it’s pleasing for me to be able to recommend some gems you can actually get your hands on.
My favourite find on this trip was Tarte’s Maracuja Creaseless Concealer, now available here (complete with a very good brush) for £22.50 via QVC. It’s an extremely thick but moist full-coverage concealer that quickly and deftly hides dark under-eye circles, spots and other discolouration. Brilliant stuff.
Always at the top of my list are Neutrogena’s affordable sun and facial skincare lines, which, infuriatingly, are excluded from the UK high-street offering. You can buy its impressive retinol anti-ageing products from beauty importers via Amazon UK (where you’ll also find Maybelline’s excellent Full ’n Soft, a US-only, natural-looking mascara).
Sephora, a huge chain of luxury beauty stores, opened in a few unfathomably selected British locations over a decade ago, then inevitably failed. The industry wrongly concluded that British women demand a department store counter experience, so we’re unlikely ever to see it return. At last, Sephora has compromised by offering UK shipping for a very respectable £6 flat rate. I use it to stock up on AmorePacific’s Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact (£40 for a two-pack), a superlative skin tone-evening CC cream compact; and Dr Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel pads (£10 for five), which is peerless in quickly brightening dull, flaky skin before moisturising.
Finally, I must mention that my favourite beauty shop (perhaps place) in the world, Ricky’s of Broadway, now ships to the UK. Here you will find everything from cult Korean kitsch and US drugstore staples to high luxury and professional supplies. Go wild in the virtual aisles.