An American's Guide To Shopping UK Drugstore Beauty

As we become more & more globally connected, you might think that drugstore beauty brands are the same in every country, but that’s far from true. Product lines are released at different times, under different names, or sometimes not at all, so my head was totally spinning the first time I walked into Boots. For the most part, we have reasonable access to the same products and brands, with a few key differences. After spending six months in England, my time roaming the aisles of Boots and Superdrug to find what was new, different, interesting, and exciting is finally being put to good use.

Although you may be able to find the products I’ve recommended online (often at exorbitant markups), I haven’t included any products that can often be found in retail stores, like Rimmel (most drugstores), Makeup Revolution (Ulta), Soap & Glory (Ulta, Walgreens), and No 7 (Ulta, Walgreens). In the UK you won’t find drugstore mainstays like Cover Girl, Neutrogena, Milani, or Wet N Wild, but you can find Aussie, Garnier, Simple, Sally Hansen, elf, and NYX with ease.

Similar to Walgreens (and also owned by the same company), Boots carries French pharmacy brands like Avene, La Roche Posay, Nuxe, and Bioderma, with the assortment varying by the store size & location. Prices are much cheaper in the UK than we see here in the States, but more than you’d pay in Paris, as you might expect.

I’ve photographed & reviewed my favorite products in the gallery below, but there are a few products that I no longer have on hand or would highly recommend that didn’t quite ascend to the main stage.

Honorable mentions:

  • Lulu Guinness x Vaseline anything & everything – the packaging is too adorable to pass up
  • Our favorite L’Oreal foundations come with a pump! As a result, I rediscovered True Match and picked up a backup Pro Matte. I would have also grabbed a Pro Glow, but it hadn’t been released yet. Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless is also available in a handy squeeze tube!
  • Max Factor is readily available and although there are many products that are step-in-step with Cover Girl, many classics remain, including full coverage foundations and cream blushes.
  • Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet lipsticks feel like a liquified Maybelline matte lipstick or one of the L’Oreal Pro Matte Glosses with slightly less pigmentation. The formula is thin & it’s pleasant to wear, so if a color strikes your fancy, go for it! My favorite is shade #10, a pinky purple nude.
  • Nivea Pearl & Beauty Roll-On Deodorant – I’ve never had as strong of an affinity for a deodorant as I have for Nivea’s Pearl & Beauty range. My very sensitive underarms riot when exposed to almost any product, but this alcohol-free formula managed to keep up with me. It’s not the most bulletproof formula, but it worked well in England’s cool climate and I consider buying it in bulk off Amazon at least once a week.

If I’ve missed one of your favorite products or if you have a suggestion for my next trip, please let me know in the comments below. Now, onto the recommendations!

1Bourjois Healthy Mix Collection

If you were watching YouTube beauty videos in the heyday of the UK beauty guru, you might have longed to try the Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation. It was hailed as a holy grail by everyone from EssieButton, aka Estee Lalonde, to Fleur de Force. Although they still occasionally mention a product here or there, finding the Healthy Mix collection in Superdrug was my top priority.

Most surprisingly, I loved the Healthy Mix Serum Foundation more than the original Healthy Mix Foundation. Both claim to offer 16-hour wear, which I found to be mostly true, although it is surprising to find a serum foundation that can (almost) live up to the claims. The Serum Foundation has solid medium coverage, while the original Healthy Mix is more medium/buildable. I find the finish of the original formula to be pretty unremarkable by today’s drugstore landscape, however, I like it exponentially more when mixed with the gel texture of the Serum Foundation. In fact, I like almost any foundation more, including L’Oreal True Match, when mixed with the Serum Foundation. For reference, I wear shade #52 Vanille in both foundations and it’s a decent match but a tad yellow.

As for the Healthy Mix Concealer, it feels most similar in texture to the Serum Foundation and the coverage is about the same. If you’re looking for a lighter concealer, this isn’t a bad option. I have shade #1 Light and similarly to the foundation, it runs more yellow than I would prefer. It also doesn’t brighten under my eyes as much as I would like, but I don’t remember finding a lighter shade anywhere.

The real hidden gem is the Healthy Balance pressed powder. It doesn’t claim to do anything wild other than mattify the skin and give a “healthy glow”, which I agree with. It has a beautiful finish that I used to set my makeup in England almost every day, demonstrated by the visible pan in the photo above. In predictable fashion, I bought shade 52 Vanille and it’s almost too yellow for me, but I do remember seeing one shade lighter available.

Sadly, like the very best things on this list, I can’t find a link to a reputable retailer so you can try the powder for yourself, so beg your friends and fill your suitcases.

Sarah Conley is a veteran content creator and marketing consultant from Fayetteville, Arkansas. After publishing her first blog, Style It, for over 10 years, she launched Rascal Honey in early 2018 to offer a fresh perspective on style. Her writing has appeared on Time, Teen Vogue, The Huffington Post, Glamour, and Lucky. She's also appeared in tv interviews on CNBC, Fox News, Great Day Washington, The Huffington Post Live, and People Now. She's worked as a social media consultant for the past nine years, helping fashion & beauty brands like MAC Cosmetics, NARS, Prescriptives, Origins, David Yurman, ELOQUII, ellos, Nine West, Clé de Peau Beauté, Diane von Furstenberg, and many more create meaningful communities online. When she's not writing about style or shopping for makeup at Sephora, she's cheering on the Arkansas Razorbacks and perfecting her guacamole recipe.

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