As someone who loves both a) sunshine and b) shopping ‘til I pass out, I'm lucky enough to get to fly over every so often to the Sunshine State of Florida (my boyfriend's parents have a beautiful house there, I’m not going to lie -- I’m totally smug right now). Whenever I set foot into one of the many incredible shopping malls -- the air con! The food courts! - something chemical happens. It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. I turn into Sephora’s bitch.
Every single time, I budget carefully. I have stern words with myself – “Natalie, don’t be a bloody idiot. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you need this time, NOTHING AT ALL. Think of your overdraft. You spend most of the month eating Pot Noodles. Do not buy anything this time.”
Then I go completely batshit mental and spunk all my dollars on OPI for Sephora polishes -- OPI costs around £12 a pop here in the UK!! Oh and PHILOSOPHY! I love their stuff. Surely I can treat myself to another bottle of Amazing Grace? And maybe that Field of Flowers set I saw discounted? NARS is so much cheaper!!!!!!!! You catch my drift. My eyes glaze over. My debit card welds itself to my hand. I go into battle-mode. Elbows out. GAME ON. I turn into a shopping psychopath.
That's me in action. Can you see the concentration on my face?! It’s terrifying.
I spend as long as I can get away with (before my boyfriend dies of boredom/starvation) poking my fingers into the myriad of pots and jars, running from display to display smearing crème blush onto my already made-up face like a child after too many e-numbers, wiping lip gloss off my lips onto the back of my now multi-colored hand. So many offers. I'll never get this as cheap at home. Don’t even get me started on THE BRUSHES! Swirling the kabuki brushes through my fingertips, I feel at home. This is home.
So I return back to England with a suitcase full of beauty goodies, an empty bank account and a slight feeling of guilt. But let’s not forget about that warm glow you can only get after serious retail therapy! Opening the bags, freeing the lipsticks from their cardboard tubes and twisting them up, marveling at the rich pigments, the textures, the PRICES.
SEE, it's all worth it! It's FINE! I LOVE eating baked beans on toast for the rest of the month!
But what about if you turn the tables? I don’t need to be going completely apeshit every time I go abroad. Under my nose is a wealth of great British brands -- and we're really having our moment. So what should you be picking up when you come over here? Or be begging your cousins in London to send you? I've comprised a list of Brit brands you should totally be packing in your case.
Seriously, buy one of these and feel rich, forever. The ultimate in luxury hair care, these boar bristle and nylon brushes glide through your hair and are an absolute TREAT to look at. They do them in a variety of sizes so you can pick up a child's size for your handbag for around $50 instead of the full whack of $190ish you'll pay for the full size version. I know it's steep, but every time you pull it out of your bag you'll feel like aristocracy, I promise.
The ultimate in fast fashion, party make-up in bright, juicy shades and cheap-as-you-like. Their Wink eyeliner pen is a make-up bag staple and doesn't budge even after spending all night sweating in a basement club. But the real draw here is the Nail Paint collection. Pick up one (or 10) of their shades (Glitter! Neon! Pastels! Nudes!) in-store at Superdrug for around $4.50.
Soap and Glory's kitsch packaging had me at Hello. Luckily, the stuff inside the pots lives up to the fab branding, and their once small line now includes make-up -- the now iconic Sexy Mother-Pucker lip gloss is amazing and really does create a Bardot-esque bee-stung pout. Definitely pick up a tub of their Breakfast Scrub, it's a brilliant exfoliating scrub that also smells of maple syrup and caramel and makes people want to lick you. You can find it in high street chemist Boots. You can thank me later.
OK so this is a little trickier, but worth the effort. You've probably heard of Jo Malone; she creates the most insanely divine perfumes in combinations you would have never thought to have tried, like my favorite Lime Basil and Mandarin. She's now sold her company and the name to cosmetic giant Estee Lauder and has set up a new company -- still doing equally as delicious smelling products -- called Jo Loves. It's available exclusively online in the UK at the moment, but if you have a family member or friend living here, get them to order you the Pomelo fragrance. Utterly heavenly.
Such classy, elegant bottles. Swoon.
I could go on forever (honestly I could), but I will leave you with that little lot to fawn over in the meantime.
What Brit brands have you bought before? What do you covet from the UK? And have you managed to beat your shopping-mentalist demons? Let me know in the comments.
Natalie is manically posting links to what she’s just bought over on Twitter - @Natalie_KateM