This is a question I get asked a lot. On the Isle of Wight we are so limited with beauty outlets. With the exception of Boots, Superdrug and a few other places dotted about (Tesco/Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer and Liz Earle) we have no opportunity to try-before-you-buy and barely any high-end brands. Boots/Superdrug also water down their collections on the Island, so we don’t have what other shops have; our Boots has no NYX counter for example. Also, I don’t know if other shops elsewhere have the same problem, but Superdrug especially, has a real problem with all of the stock being open/used/squidged in to the display – generally disgusting looking. I don’t buy anything that has been opened – obviously – and try where possible to only buy something that has the plastic seal on it.
So, with the limited options available, I’m forced to go online. As I spoke about a few posts ago – I research almost every product I buy. I Google colours, shades, reviews, photos, watch YouTube videos featuring the products: this way I rarely make a mistake with buying something I don’t then like or can’t use. It does happen occasionally though – especially when websites don’t show ingredients lists or their colour examples are dire and bear no colour resemblance to the actual product (Boots – this is you!). Quite often I spend ages perusing the aisles of Boots/Superdrug/M&S testing out colours and taking photos products I want/like – then I make a note of them and then go research and then purchase it online. The best thing about buying online is that everything is sealed and unused and a lot of the more high end brands do refunds too. I think 99% of the time, you can find things (beauty/skin care/perfume) cheaper online.
So, here are my first ports of call…
http://www.escentual.com/ – Really good for French skincare (Vichy, La Roche Posay, Bioderma, Caudalie, Nuxe and Clarins). The have brilliant money off discounts on French skincare about every 3/4 months so I always wait until they come up. It is free delivery over £30 and delivery usually takes about 3 days. You get a free nail file with every order. They do great discounts on perfumes too. They don’t normally have the up-to-date make up releases from Clarins, but you can buy staples from Clarins for decent prices (cheaper than the Clarins website).
http://www.lookfantastic.com/home.dept – This site also sells the French Skincare brands as well as the more mainstream brands like Clinique, Estee Lauder and Lancome. They usually have a discount code (sign up for emails as they send them out all the time). I buy all my Aveda, Elemis, Moroccan Oil and Kerastase products from here and I’ve bought REN products from here too. They regularly have offers on GHD’s – if you’re in the market for new straighteners (I think these are buy far the best ever). In terms of make up, I have purchased NARS and Benefit make up and Real Techniques brushes from here. They currently have a loaf of 3 for 2 offers on skincare. Delivery is free and takes about 3-4 days. At the time of writing, there is 15% off with the code LF15, plus a free gift with orders over £55.
http://www.beautybay.com/ – This is the home of Zoeva (for fabulous make up palettes and brushes), and where I get my OPI nail polishes from too. Make up wise, I’ve bought Stila products, Kevyn Aucoin, Beauty Blender and all of my Urban Decay Naked palettes. For skincare, BB is the home of Mario Badescu, Antipodes, the Yes to range, First Aid Beauty and Alpha H – I’ve purchased all of these brands from this site. Two day delivery is free over £15 or £1.95 under that. It is really speedy and well packed. You also get to pick a free gift/sample with every order.
http://www.hqhair.com/home.dept – Owned by the same people as Lookfantastic, so similar set up/prices/offers to them. I buy similar stuff on this site too.
http://www.superdrug.com/ – Same as the high street store, but much more selection. Free delivery over £10 and all my orders have arrive pretty quickly. I purchase all of the usual high street brands from here (L’Oreal, Bourjois etc.) but also MUA, Makeup Revolution (posts coming soon about amazing quality budget stuff from MUA and MR!), GOSH and Sleek (not available in our Superdrug on the IOW). Superdrug’s own skincare line B. is also very good and there are some real gems in the collection (Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser is a MUCH cheaper -and better IMO – alternative to Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish). They also stock Maunka Doctor skincare and a much bigger selection of the Good Things range. Definitely worth perusing the Superdrug website – if only to receive sealed, unused products!
http://www.boots.com/ – Oh Boots, how I love thee! I could live in Boots quite happily. I wish our IOW stores stocked a wider range, but they don’t – so the website is perfect for this. You can order online and select a day to collect in store for free – regardless of how much you spend. Or free delivery on orders over £45 – I tend to just go in and pick it up from Boots to be honest. They can also deliver to any Boots (even the little ones, like Bembridge/Shanklin). So, Boots I tend to use when there is a 3for2 offer on, or I have Advantage Points. Online, they stock NYX – a really great budget brand. Boots is great for Soap&Glory bath, body and makeup; Barry M, Collection, Seventeen, No7, Essie. They also stock some of the much more premium brands like, Clarins, Chanel, Smashbox, YSL, Dior, Benefit, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Lancome etc. However, these higher brands do tend to be as expensive in Boots as they are on their own sites – so it is worth Googling and shopping around. Of course, the advantage of shopping on Boots.com is that you can pick up points. I do tend to leave Boots for the more budget makeup/skincare/haircare though. One thing to note is that Boots stock OGX – the amazing hair care range that I harp on about all the time.
http://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/ – We’re in high end beauty now. Cult Beauty is brilliant for some of the more exclusive and pricey brands. I’ve purchased Sunday Riley (Ceramic Slip Cleanser), Alpha H (Liquid Gold and Balancing Cleanser), Emma Hardie (Amazing Face Cleansing Balm), Oskia (Renaissance Cleansing Gel), Pixi (Glow Tonic, Refining Primer), Tata Harper (Purifying Cleanser), Peter Thomas Roth (Pumpkin Enzyme Mask) and Zelens (SPF 30) from this site. I tend to only buy skincare from here as their make up range I don’t find to be as impressive – although they do stock Stila (go and buy the wonderful In The Light eyeshadow palette!), Kevyn Aucoin and BECCA here. Standard delivery is free over £50 or £3.95 under. They always give free samples with every order too – nice quality ones as well. This is the place where a lot of blogger-hyped products are sold – hence the ‘cult’ beauty.
http://uk.spacenk.com/en_GB/women/ – SpaceNK I wish you had a store on the IOW! This is like a high-end Boots. I could literally spend thousands on this site – I really have to restrain myself! This is high end luxury. I usually wait for an offer code or a discount email (again, sign up to them!) – I’ve just had one sent to me today (£10 off when you spend £40). The randomly do free delivery offers (there was one on for pretty much all of November) and you get 4 free samples with very order. I use SpaceNK for skincare products that I cannot get on Cult Beauty. There is also a points collect card with money off when you buy stuff (I’ve accumulated about £20 I think). I’ve purchased lots from here, including: Malin & Goetz Vitamin E Moisturiser; Aurelia Skincare; Institute Esthederm Suncare; Laura Mercier Primer/Silk Cream foundation/highlighter/Secret Camouflage concealer; Lipstick Queen lipsticks (the green and blue ones); NARS Blushers. I have the Radical Perfecting Moisturiser in my ‘virtual’ shopping bag on SpaceNK (it is always full of something in this shop! A point worth noting – SpaceNK do great January sales – especially on make up, Christmas gift sets and gorgeous candles. I always check them out and get some amazing deals.
http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/Beauty+cosmetic+skincare+products/01,default,sc.html – House of Fraser is brilliant for make up and skincare. They have some fabulous deals on at the moment in the wake of Black Friday/Cyber Weekend – I’ve picked up some excellent deals on Chanel skincare and Origins skincare sets. On a normal day, I use HoF for MAC make up as they tend to be a tad cheaper than the MAC website. They stock the usual suspects as well as some other lux brands: Bobbi Brown, Burberry, Jo Malone, Tom Ford (must.resist. lipsticks….), Giorgio Armani etc. If you budget allows (not mine!) and you’re a millionaire, then La Mer and La Prairie are also stocked! Delivery is very very good and fast – free over £50 or £3.50 under. I will mainly be using HoF for repeat purchases of MAC products, or other MAC products that I get to test/swatch/try at a MAC store – or Chanel skincare as it is slightly cheaper than elsewhere. Of course John Lewis (http://www.johnlewis.com/beauty/c50000296?rdr=1) , Debehams (http://www.debenhams.com/beauty) and HoF are one and the same, so everything available on one is on the other. I buy wherever is cheapest and wherever has an offer.
http://www.allbeauty.com/ – This site is great for certain things. It seems to be a bit hit and miss with some products and might not stock everything in the range, but there are some bargains to be had! This site is really good for discounted perfumes with quite a bit of money off. They also stock a lot of Clarins products at really great prices (but not all the range). Clinique, Decleor, Elemis, YSL and Elizabeth Arden are all on here among others – I’d suggest making this site your first port of call if you’re in the market for beauty products (make up, skincare, hair, perfume) as it is worth checking just in case. It seems to have the stock level of a discount warehouse type place – but it is all genuine. I’ve purchased from here before – Clarins skincare and Estee Lauder skincare. Delivery is free over £15 and pretty quick.
http://www.asos.com/women/beauty/ – ASOS is obviously know more of clothes, but the beauty section is pretty good and they also do a great January Sale. They stock NARS, Benefit, Stila, REN, This Works, Elemis and are one of the only places to stock Illamasqua make up. Shipping is great and standard is free over £20 and £3 under.
http://www.qvcuk.com/ – This is a slightly odd one because usually QVC have quite pricey delivery options, BUT – their USP is that you can try a product for up to 30 days (open it, try it, use it all up if you want!) and return it within the 30 days for a full refund if it isn’t for you. So, I only use this service when there is something quite pricey that I want to try out first. You do have to pay to return it, so it isn’t wise to use it all the time, but this service is excellent if you are nervous about paying a lot of money for something that might be crap. I bought a skincare set from Gatineau and used it for about 3 weeks – didn’t like it – and returned it for a full refund (minus P&P). They do great bundle deals at QVC, and they have a Beauty Pick of the Month (currently Bare Minerals Delux Mineral veil Matte Glow) that is an excellent price for the product and free P&P. They also occasionally have beauty TSVs (Today’s Special Value) – this month these are the ones coming up: L’Occitane on the 5th, Lulu’s Time Bomb on 9th, Bare Minerals on the 13th, Nails Inc. on the 17th. QVC is home to loads of amazing beauty brands – and exclusively in the UK, the home to Tarte (their Amazonian Clay Blushers are amazing) -this brand sells out so quickly!
http://www.marksandspencer.com/c/beauty – This is quite a new beauty outlet and I think I did a little dance when it appeared in the M&S on the IOW! Brands such as REN, NUXE, L’Occitane, Pixi, Stila, Leighton Denny, and Nails Inc. These brands are the same price in M&S as they are on their own website, but they are great to swatch/test and then go and find cheaper somewhere else. Occasionally they have a 3for2 offer or a free gift offer though and sometimes M&S Sparks card will give discounts on beauty.
http://www.feelunique.com/ – I love FU. I first shopped on here years and years ago when it was a tiny little website with only a few brands – now it is massive! The stock all of the big names you’d expect, including The Balm and most recently, Chanel. They also stock the high street brands like Bourjois and Rimmel too. Delivery is a tad longer as it comes from the Channel Islands, but considering it is free delivery over £10 that isn’t really a problem. FU is your one-stop-shop for skincare, makeup, hair care, baby stuff, natural products, sunscreen and nails. I love it and can’t recommend it highly enough.
https://www.lovelula.com/ – This is a great website for those who want to shop Organic skincare. There are vegan skincare products on here, as well as lots of info about different certifications (Fairtrade, BUAV etc.). I’ve purchased some Trilogy and Nourish skincare from here and really love them. Delivery is free and you can get 15% off your first order if you’re a new customer.
Individual Brand Websites that are good/have discounts and offers/free samples:
http://www.clarins.co.uk/ – brilliant samples and always an offer on.
http://www.bobbibrown.co.uk/– always free gifts with every order.
http://www.origins.co.uk/ – great offers and free samples.
Ok- I hope that was helpful and answers some of those ‘where to buy’ questions!