The English Pharmacy
One of the many exciting things about living in England for a good part of the year is the perpetual discovery. I am constantly delighting in what might be very ordinary for people who are native to this land. An example would be the regular old English pharmacy, which is stocked with a variety of amazing affordable products, many of which are not available outside of the UK. We hit up the French Pharmacy a few months ago, and now we have compiled a list of the some of our faves here in England in case you find yourself on these fair shores. And if you already live here, well, you know what I mean.
The Local Pharmacy
The English pharmacy Boots is almost as ubiquitous as the pub here in England. Popular for a reason, there’s some great stuff to be found…
Charlotte Tilbury, the famous makeup artist who has worked with people like Kate Moss, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lopez and more, worked for years with the MyFace creative team to develop cosmetics that were affordable but good enough to use on her clients. My makeup artist, Emma Lovell, who trained with Charlotte got me into MyFace’s foundation, which she uses for me at events like the Venice Film Festival. Love the cleverly packaged blush too, which comes in a sleek mirrored box. Makeup artist Kabuki now works with MyFace to continue developing products.
A British brand that mixes in natural, high-quality ingredients into all of its formulas. Their No Wrinkles Get Started is a little anti-ageing starter pack, with a super moisturizer and an active anti-wrinkle serum. They also make a lavender-infused relaxing bath gel that I love, an excellent oil for dry legs, and a super-rich moisturizer, which I use.
Cowshed products were originally developed in England in the spa at Babington House. All of them feature essential oils grown right at the Victorian walled garden at the original Cowshed Spa. The products, which you can find at all Soho House establishments, are natural and paraben free. Here’s a taster pack for a take-away mini spa.
In the early 20th century, Dr. Edward Bach developed a healing system derived from plants that allegedly alleviates negative emotions, which according to him are the source of many illnesses. You can easily find Bach’s Rescue Remedy for Stress and other plant extracts for different emotional imbalances today. There’s mustard for sudden depression, chicory for being less critical, mimulus for fears. I always have Rescue Remedy with me in my purse in case one of my kids falls or is just having a tough day.
Vaseline’s lip balms are available all over the place, but in England they come in these small metal containers, either plain or infused with aloe, rose and almond oil, or cocoa butter. They’re the perfect size to drop in a purse or a tote bag.
The Spot Wand gets rid of imperfections gently and without over-drying your skin. The wipes are an equally gentle and easy daily cleanser that utilizes tea tree’s antiseptic qualities.
Boots has its own line of natural products, many of them organic, that are particularly effective in the face and body wash department, with toners, make up removers, scrubs and more. Each product has one key ingredient like olive oil for moisturizing, or rosewater toning.
Lee Stafford’s products have a bit of a younger, punk rock appeal (hair sprays in every color imaginable). His most recent collection of hair care products is based on argan oil, the Moroccan ingredient famously used for shine and moisture.
The Old-Fashioned English Pharmacy
At the more traditional pharmacies, like John Bell & Croyden (proud holders of the Royal Warrant as pharmacists to Her Majesty The Queen), you’ll find the old-school brands you might expect in such an upscale (and wonderful) English establishment.
Soaps, talcum powders, bath oils, eau de toilette, fragranced sachets… all that good stuff that you might bring your grandmother as a special gift from the UK.
A grooming brand that’s been around since 1777, these are handmade high-quality brushes. They’re pricey but it’s a lifetime investment.
Seriously, such great shampoo and hair products. Philip Kingsley is a “trichologist” which means that he looks at hair health from the roots through the tips. This little travel pack is a great introduction to his line, which leaves hair incredibly soft and healthy feeling. You can find Philip Kingsley products at another old faithful, John Lewis.
I'm a huge fan of Judith Jones (Julia Childs' longtime editor) and adore her cookbook, The Pleasures of Cooking for One. When my kids were little and my husband was working, I got in the habit of cooking myself a real dinner for one.