I have a friend who is a flight attendant for American Airlines on their New York to London route, and about 12 years ago she gave me my first products from Boots, the pharmacy chain that is ubiquitous in the UK. In the bag of goodies she handed me were a bottle of sublimely smelling brazil nut and vanilla bath cream (the Brits refer to these as "smellies"), a tube of lovely body cream and a deep burgundy lipstick. The bath cream and lotion both sported the blue and white Boots logo, and the lipstick was from their popular line of cosmetics, No7. I did not realize at the time, when I gratefully accepted these gifts from my friend, that Boots is as important a part of life for British citizens as Duane Reade is for New Yorkers. Founded in 1849 as an herbal medicine shop in Nottingham, Boots is now a global presence since the American drug store retailer Walgreens acquired a 45 percent stake in the company in 2012. Between 2006 and 2010, I lived in the UK off and on, and I became deeply familiar with Boots and all their wonderful products.
While in England, I lived in an apartment complex on the Thames River with a perfect view of Windsor Castle. Each day I would walk across the Windsor Bridge to have lunch in the High Street, under the watchful bronze stare of Queen Victoria, designed and executed by Sir Edgar Boehm and erected in 1887. The city of Windsor, surrounding the castle, is a marvelous layout of mostly pedestrian streets with cobblestones and a perfect mix of Tudor, Stuart, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Situated in the shadow of the great castle is a spot that I frequented on an almost daily basis when in residence in Eton, Boots Pharmacy.
As any traveller to the UK knows, Boots is a stalwart in most airports there. I always stopped into a Boots to stock up on essentials like toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen and lip balm and other sundries before heading to my departure gate. But my favorite pastime, at any Boots, whether I was in Liverpool, Brighton, London or Ambleside, was to spend time lingering amidst the huge selection of makeup and beauty products Boots has on offer. Boots stocks every important line, from Cover Girl to Revlon, but, as an American, I was not interested in any of that. I was much more fascinated by the exotic and new lines I encountered, glittery shadows from Rimmel, with their Kate Moss ad campaign, and even better, the No7 line of cosmetics that were a revelation for me. I loved the Boots Botanics Corrective stick and the Boots No7 Dual Action Tinted Moisturizer. And of course, those beautiful rich lip colors that I had fallen in love with when my friend gave me my first tube so many years ago. I still have a few of the wonderful cosmetic bags that I would receive as gifts with purchase.
I stopped traveling to the UK as often back in 2011, and one of the things I missed the most, in addition to so much about British life and culture, like the pubs, was my daily Boots visits and access to the No7 cosmetics. I loved how natural the products always made my skin look and feel, never like I had too much on. The foundations were always so light and the price was so affordable, I could buy a variety of them and see what I liked best. I loved them all! I really missed No7's Protect and Perfect Protection and Perfection intense Serum. This miracle fluid with Pro Retinol (Vitamin A), works to boost the skin's production of collagen and elastin for a more youthful complexion and firmer and smoother skin. I was hooked on it, and just as satisfying was the price. It retails for around $20.00 for 30ml.
Boots products became available at Target stores shortly after I stopped traveling so often to the UK, but the stock was very limited compared with what I was used to seeing at Boots locations in England. Also, my "local" Target is way uptown, close to the FDR Drive, and it takes about 2 trains to get there. Yes, I could always purchase online, but it isn't the same as going through all the wonderful products in person. Browsing and sampling is all part of the fun of buying makeup. I got used to living without my No7 fix and the rest of the delightful Boots products I had gotten accustomed to, until last month when I was shopping with my friend at my local Duane Reade. This friend is a freelance makeup artist, and his kit had gotten stolen the night before. We were upstairs at the huge Duane Reade on 72nd Street and Broadway so he could quickly restock with the basics for an important shoot the next day. That's when I saw the huge Boots display and massive selection of all the wonderful Boots and No7 products I missed so much from my days in England. The lovely body creams, a vast selection of No7 moisturizers and rows and rows of makeup! The No 7 serum I so loved. I was overjoyed as I dragged my friend over to the displays and gushed to him that he had to buy these products for his new kit. Now I can once again indulge my addiction for all things No7, and better yet, I can do so within 2 blocks of my apartment.
Over the past few years, the cosmetics department at Duane Reade stores have taken on an almost Sephora like quality. That mecca for all things beauty is definitely seeing some competition from Duane Reade when it comes to layout, quantity and ease of shopping. Not too many years ago, Duane Reade's cosmetics section was sort of drab, but those days are long gone. Now, the cosmetics departments at Duane Reade offer a plethora of beauty products for men and women, and there are also trained beauty advisers and makeup artists on hand to help with any need. The flagship store, located at 40 Wall Street, is a veritable modernist cathedral to all things cosmetic on their second floor. They offer salon services, a nail salon, and even Virtual Makeover kiosks that allow you to sample every cosmetic in the department. Boots arranged for one of their beauty advisers to make over a model for this story, and the step by step process can be viewed in the slide show that accompanies this article. The look we were going for was a perfect finish for a natural summer glow.
To achieve this, Lauren, our beauty adviser, used the following: for our model's face: No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Water, No7 Photo Fix, No7 Dual Action Tinted moisturizer, and Botanics Corrective Concealer Stick. For cheeks, No7 Perfectly Bronzed Mosaic Bronzer. Eyes, No7 Radiant Glow Concealer, No7 Stay Perfect Smoothing Eye Shadow in Bronze, No7 Beautiful Brows Pencil, No7 Maximum Volume Mascara in Black, Botanics Felt Tip Liquid Eye Liner in Black and Botanics Eye Shadow Quad in Golden Brown. For the lips, Lips, No7 Precision Lip Pencil in Nude, Botanics Lip Colour in Geranium.
40 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005
212 742 8454