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The City Guide: London


I’m from Croydon, like Kate Moss except without her model looks! I moved to the coast, just along from Brighton when I was two and moved back to London to carve out a career as a beauty journalist after leaving Southampton Solent University with a journalism degree. I’ve lived here for six years now. I still find London exciting, but I try to leave once or twice a month to preserve my sanity and to relax a little – being a Londoner is very hectic!

I love looking to small niche brands and unusual trends here in London because it’s such a creative place and there is so much originality. We have the East London brands like Wah and Bleach London making their mark on the world, then the fun-yet-clever brands like Soap & Glory and Nails Inc to luxe brands such as Jo Malone and Green & Spring. British beauty is so intelligent but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, whether niche, luxe or mass market. It’s a real joy to consume beauty products here.




I love Spa Illuminata on South Audley Street. It’s close to the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street but it feels a million miles away. You enter through a luxe shop and head downstairs into a cosy spa where Decleor, Carita and Environ treatments take place. When you’re down there you feel like you’re sitting in one of the best kept secrets in the city - it’s always so peaceful.  I had one of the best facials I’ve ever experienced there, the Decleor Aroma Expert Purify.



For full-on luxury you can’t beat the Aman Spa at the 5-star Connaught Hotel, Mount Street. It’s Asian-inspired, from its décor to its treatments and product range, and is an absolute joy to visit.





I discovered a brand called Radical earlier and it’s changed my skin. I met the founder Liz Edlich when she was over from Malibu earlier this year. She was lucky enough to have the funds to create a no-expense-spared line of products for her friends; they made such a difference to everyone’s skin that she decided to sell them. They contain extremely high levels of antioxidants and within a week of using them my skin was smoother, dewier and clearer to both look at and touch. I was completely blown away. I have to say the Peptide Infused Antioxidant Serum, the Age-Defying Pads and the Restorative Moisturiser are brilliant.





I love Floris for fragrance, I think it can sometimes be forgotten behind the bigger British fragrance brands like Jo Malone and Penhaligon’s but it has such heritage. Since its launch in 1730 it’s scented the rich and famous including the Royal family, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale and Marilyn Monroe. I wear Fleur, which smells beautiful. I’m also a big fan ofCowshed products which are born out of Babington House’s spa in Somerset; I particularly like the Moody Cow range. I’m not sure what that says about me!





I love a good nose in Space NK – Nikki Kinnaird is such a genius, the stores are always packed with so many new and exciting products you can just while away the hours in there. Liberty is also a firm favourite, the beauty hall recently expanded and it has some interesting niche brands like StrangeBeautiful (nameless nail colours that are sold in volumes of eight shades each). The fragrance section is also filled with different scents that you’re not likely to smell on most high streets.




Su-Man (Anne Hathaway’s facialist) is a genius. I went to see her when she worked out of her north London home but she now splits her time between there and the Away Spa at the W Hotel. She uses technology with traditional Eastern methods. It's not necessarily the most relaxing experience I've ever had - there were deep-down extractions and a very firm Shiatsu massage - but she gets results.

I see dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting, who has really fixed my complexion since I started seeing her last October. I suffered with adult acne after moving to London which is not ideal when you’re a beauty journalist! It was the combination of the city pollution and grime with the constant and varied application of products that just led to my skin to giving up. Within a few months of taking antibiotics and slathering on prescription creams my complexion was back to itself again.



I’m a real social butterfly when it comes to my hair, I have no loyalties! I love Headmasters because it doesn’t matter who I see or for what, I always leave happy. I think Adam Reed at Percy & Reed is an absolute genius when it comes to styling. He is Diane Kruger and Sophie Dahl’s mane man. I love that all his hairstyles look effortlessly beautiful, a little disheveled and undone. My favourite colourist in the whole of London is the British Colourist of the Year Christel Lundqvist, she’s the Global Technical Creative Director at Tigi and she’s is an absolute genius when it comes to hair colouring, especially blondes. I’ve been trying to get the perfect blonde for over 10 years and she got me there in just one visit.




Head to Cowshed, off Carnaby Street for a manicure; have a coffee and a muffin and just chill out. It’s such a lovely place just to while away the time – you would never believe you were a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus.

Written By Amy Lawrenson

As told to Komal Basith

Amy Lawrenson image copyright Stephanie Sian Smith.


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