How have I not covered this before? I love shopping and I love beauty products. Nothing makes me happier than prowling round a beauty hall nosing into everything, sniffing perfume, drawing eyeliners on the back of my hand and chatting to the staff about what's new.
I know many people are intimidated by beauty counters and I can see why. The assistants can be a little pouncey in their quest to sell but the best advice I can offer is to talk to them a little. If that seems too much effort, tell them you just wanted to have a look. If they still mither on at you then go to another counter.
Beauty halls have upped their game in the last few years. It's no longer enough to have Clarins, Clinique, Mac and Bobbi Brown. Now you have to stock all the quirky brands, have great lighting, feel luxurious and somehow feel different to the competing beauty hall next door.
I have been to all the central London department store beauty halls. None of them are bad. Some of them are heavenly. One of my favourites is Fenwick.
This was revamped last year to include a massive Charlotte Tilbury concession. If you want to avoid crowds, this is the shop to visit. The tourists haven't clocked on to Fenwick in the same way they crowd into Selfridges. It feels like the department store for the London insider. I've always loved the whole shop. The top floor has the best denim choice in London. The bathrooms up there are worth a visit in themselves. The beauty hall has all the usual suspects but it's delightfully laid out, feels spacious and like I say, isn't madly busy.
Selfridges is always a must. It's very big and busy but that's all part of the fun. It feels like a party. It has all the counters you expect (including Jo Malone and Origins) and also round the corner is the best bit. All the independent, harder to find brands. Aesop for example. Candles galore. Hidden hair products you never thought you needed. The Tom Ford counter is also a must-visit. It takes a heart of stone and iron resolve to come out of Selfridges without a yellow bag.
If I had to pick a favourite though, it would be Liberty. I was in there last week and it's better than ever. All the seats have been decked in Liberty fabric. It has bathtubs filled up with one product (Pixi Glow Tonic on Friday), it has a whole Diptyque section, it is simply divine. The staff are very friendly and helpful. And the perfumery. Oh, the perfumery. I could spend hours there alone.
Liberty is a beautiful shop and walking into it always makes me happy. It does get busy but it's worth it.
I know people rave about Harrods. I've not been for a very long time. I believe it probably is fabulous but I can't really be doing with Harrods, it's so touristy. However, please report back if you feel I should get over my London snobbery and check it out again.