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.

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Everyone raves about Boots’ own line, No.7, and their range of high-quality cosmetics, moisturizers and cleansers. The makeup is pretty great, as is the selection of daytime and nighttime moisturizers. Also, check out their illuminator, which gives a subtle pearly glow.

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This Works

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.

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Indeed Labs

Indeed makes some pretty high-tech products. Snoxin promises to reduce lines and wrinkles in seven days while Nanoblur goes even further, professing to make your skin look airbrushed in seconds. Meanwhile, Peptalash promises longer and thicker lashes.

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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.

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Soap & Glory

A very pop and playful brand of British-made products. We like their stuff for serious firming and exfoliating – Flakeaway for smooth arms and legs, and Slimwear for bathing suit preparedness.

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Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy

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.

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Tiger Balm

A topical cure-all balm for muscle aches and pains.

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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.

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Mavala and Orly Nail Polish

Both Mavala and Orly make these mini nail polishes, which are ideal for travel. We also love the idea of buying colors in small quantities as color trends change so quickly.

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Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Wipes and Spot Wand

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.

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Little Me Organics

A sweet organic line that has no synthetic fragrances, makes it good for pregnant moms and small children. The line is oriented toward kids with some great lavender-infused cream, hair and body wash, and bath milk, ideal for nighttime bathing.

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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.

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Toni & Guy Hair Oil

This is great for frizzy hair and for giving a slightly piecey, shiny and textured look.

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Lee Stafford Argan Oil Collection

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.

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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.

Yardley and Woods of Windsor

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.

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A very traditional English perfumer that also makes products for your bathroom cupboard, including some very fancy Rose mouthwash…

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A grooming brand that’s been around since 1777, these are handmade high-quality brushes. They’re pricey but it’s a lifetime investment.

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An “embrocation.” In other words, an ointment for bumps and scratches.

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Philip Kingsley Travel Pack

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.

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Grether’s Pastilles

I love these soothing black-currant sweets and I always have a box on my desk.

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