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Gone are the days of high-pressure, harshly lit department stores; beauty shopping in 2019 is an immersive experience guaranteed to tempt you away from risky (and regrettable) online makeup purchases.
It’s not just the endless rows of swatchable eyeshadows that give in-store shopping the edge. Complimentary add-ons and high-tech innovations, like virtual ‘try-on’ apps, will transform the way you find your next beauty essential. And, with dedicated boutiques for some of the hottest beauty brands on Instagram, Westfield Stratford City is east London’s ultimate destination to experience it all.
Not sure where to start? We’ve planned the perfect beauty day out. If you're looking to visit all the stores in one day, we recommend following the order below. Make some space in your makeup bag, we’re going shopping…
Start the day at this high street hero. Better known for its aisles of multivitamins and toothpaste, Boots have seriously stepped up their beauty offering, rolling out some of the most covetable new lines including Rihanna’s makeup mega brand, Fenty Beauty.
The sprawling beauty area is also home to IT Cosmetics, Smashbox, bareMinerals and Dior - with most offering one-to-one tutorials and mini makeovers.
But, before you hit those makeup counters, book in for some brow maintenance with the authority on perfect arches, Benefit. An ideal pre-holiday pit stop, they offer walk-up and pre-booked appointments for waxing, tweezing and tinting for pool-proof lashes and brows.
Head to the Ground Floor for a mega mix of beauty brand boutiques, including the biggest NYX flagship store in Europe. A favourite among professional makeup artists, you’ll find the entire Insta-hyped (and cruelty-free) range inside this huge store.
The affordable price point and knowledgeable team make NYX the ideal destination if you’re feeling experimental. Grab a glitter eyeshadow or daring lipstick shade and get some insider tips from one of the friendly makeup artists.
KIKO is a veritable beauty playground, always bustling with makeup lovers looking for budget-friendly options for eyes, lips, face and nails.
Not sure where to start? KIKO offer short makeup sessions, perfect for touch ups or to master the finer details of application, from contouring to lip lining. Although walk-ups are welcome, sessions are best booked ahead and only available on weekdays.
The first of just a handful of locations in the UK, head to Morphe Westfield Stratford City to swatch products made famous by American beauty YouTubers.
Let the in-store team choose you a ‘capsule wardrobe’ of their iconic vegan brushes and beauty tools, and show you how to get the best from your existing makeup collection. In a hurry? Morphe offer free ‘quickie’ makeovers every day, alongside longer makeovers that can be booked by phone or in-store.
Create your very own custom palette from hundreds of options for face, eyes and lips. Select shades (warning: this may take some time among the rows of mesmerising glitters and shimmers) and drop them into the magnetised palette.
Inglot also offer makeovers that carry a small fee, but entitle you to 20% off anything you decide to buy - and you’ll leave feeling like your most glamorous self. Head in store or phone ahead to book your slot.
If you’re partial to kitsch packaging and tongue-in-cheek product names, make a beeline for this super-sweet import from the USA. Too Faced nail the novelty-factor while still packing serious makeup credentials, with products that regularly top the beauty rankings.
Get shade matched with their bestselling Born This Way foundation or pick up a sweetly scented Chocolate Soleil Bronzer.
A backstage favourite, MAC is a must-visit for every beauty fan. Get happily lost among their much-loved range or book in for an appointment only session. In 30 minutes or more, you can learn a new technique or plan out your dream wedding look.
Once you’ve refreshed your makeup bag, don’t forget the environmentally friendly ‘Back to MAC’ recycling scheme. Take six empty MAC products back to the store and swap them for a free lipstick of your choice.
The skilled artists in this sleek boutique offer one-to-one makeup lessons and specialise in creating beautiful makeup. If you have a challenging complexion you’ll love these intimate, confidence-boosting sessions. The team will help you select your perfect products and offer application tips for disguising hyperpigmentation, blemishes and dark circles.
NARS also run regular workshops to help you nail catwalk trends in a way that works for the office. Walk-ins are welcome every day, but call ahead to guarantee your space.
For a truly immersive beauty experience, visit Urban Decay, where wall-to-wall displays give you all the makeup inspiration you could need. Looking for a new go-to lipstick? Let technology give you a helping hand; the augmented reality Vice Lipstick App lets you scroll through and ‘try on’ hundreds of shades to find your perfect match.
Selfies are positively encouraged here, with phone chargers at each of the twelve makeup stations and a permanent ring light to capture the perfect snap of your finished look. Makeovers are available every day, but call ahead or pop in-store to book to guarantee your glam.
For a final stop, swing by John Lewis’ glossy makeup department. Packed with luxe makeup brands, including Charlotte Tilbury and Tom Ford, you’ll also find a Blink Brow Bar if threading is your preferred route of brow taming.
If you’re planning a wedding (or just can’t quite master that smoky eye), book in for a personalised makeup lesson at the Bobbi Brown counter. Short enough to fit into your lunch break, pro makeup artists will show you the finer details of makeup application.
Shopping with a teen? Treat them to the ‘My First Makeup Bag’ session; a John Lewis exclusive to help those new to makeup choose the perfect products and make the most of their natural beauty. Sessions are available daily, bookable in-store or on the Bobbi Brown website, and the small fee is fully redeemable against product.