Kat Clark from beauty blog Tales of a Pale Face has been looking at the changing landscape of Covent Garden, and sniffing out bargains in the new stores.
Covent Garden. The tourist hotspot that’s home to Shake Shack, Ladurée and those ever-present silver street performers who manage to freeze in one position for hours on end. But recently the area has begun attracting more than your standard tourist, as beauty enthusiasts from all over the world flock to London’s latest 'IT' location.
There’s no longer a need to trek across town to the makeup mecca that is Selfridges — which quite frankly is a relief. Oxford Street is one of those places that usually leaves the strongest-willed of us in need of a stiff drink, or otherwise a face plant in the store’s famed bakery section, simply to take the edge off. Brands previously found in those hallowed halls are now breaking out and setting up their own standalone stores — many of them in Covent Garden. Want two floors of Burberry makeup? Covent Garden. A whole load of Bobbi Brown? Covent Garden.
If you’re in the area and are something of a makeup magpie, make sure you visit the new Urban Decay shop on King Street. It’s their first ever solo store outside of the USA and offers free mini makeovers with no minimum product spend — simply choose one from the in-store menu. And if you're to buy one thing to get that mini-makeover, we recommend one of the the Naked eyeshadow palettes.
Chanel, Burberry and Dior form something of a dangerous threesome; it’s easy to stumble out of one, and straight into another, and while you’re sure to walk away feeling incredibly happy, you’ll also be significantly poorer. Try out one of the new Burberry Kisses lipsticks — sheer, buildable colour in easily wearable shades, and if you can, book yourself in for a shape and paint at Chanel. It’s a free service and a great way to try out one of their many shades of nail polish.
For skincare enthusiasts, Clinique’s Great Skin Lab sits on the edges of the piazza. This new concept store allows you to discover more about your skin, receive product recommendations and even walk away with a free trial size of a recommended moisturiser to test out at home. The shop has a vaguely space-aged feel to it — a bit like the toilets at Sketch.
Around the square you’ll also spot L’Occitane and Crabtree & Evelyn, which are must-visits for hand creams, body lotions and some of the best-smelling bath products around. And let’s not forget Aesop for their wide range of anti-oxidant packed skincare.
If you head slightly out of the main piazza area and work your way down towards Neal Street, there’s a whole other world to explore. Starting with two MAC stores (pop in on Thursdays if you’re looking for the limited edition collection releases), followed by Shu Uemura (best lash curlers ever), a Bare Minerals and American Apparel, who do surprisingly good nail polish.
If you fancy giving your bank balance a rest, try Boots on James Street for some high street favourites. TK Maxx on Long Acre is also a savvy option for budget beauty buys — while the stock changes regularly, you’ll often find pricier brands such as Rodial, OPI, Ciate, Elizabeth Arden and Stila at massively reduced prices.
Sadly the Lush store in Covent Garden has now closed. It seems as though the trend for higher end shops is over taking some of the more affordable favourites — a phenomenon also reflected at St Pancras station, where The Body Shop recently closed and an Aspinal of London shop popped up in its place.
As for Covent Garden, we're intrigued to see which brand pops up next. Secretly we're hoping an YSL — although our credit card says otherwise.