The British Are Coming! The British are Coming!

In 1776 when this cry was first heard in Boston, it was a warning. I herald it as a celebration. I am devoting my first post on Beauty Hub to British cosmetics and skincare products that can be found in Boston. Being an anglophile, I love anything British. Lately I've been on a kick to try British products, in an effort to live vicariously through the English models, movie and television stars, and the average girls on the street who can pop into shops in Chelsea, Mayfair, Covent Garden, and other areas of London and come away with funky, fabulous beauty products (because watching hours on end of BBC America just isn't enough). As London in the Sixties was at the forefront of young, irreverant fashion, today it boasts a number of independent, funky beauty lines that give established American lines a run for the money; lines like Estee Lauder and, well, all of the other major US lines seem to be owned by Estee Lauder. These British lines definitely aren't your mother's makeup.

Pixi Beauty – Pixi Beauty was started in London in 1999 by the Sisters Strand – Petra, Sofia, and Sara – who are, in fact, Swedish. But their line is definitely British in feel. Bright colors, dual-purpose products, and practical solutions for common beauty problems underscore this cheery line. One of their most popular items is the Hydrotint Duo, which Pixi calls "a tinted moisturizer, lip & cheek tint, sunscreen and antioxidant day cream all in one." It's a tube of tinted moisturizer with a rollerball of lip and cheek tint at the other end. Perfect for those who don't like to wear a lot of makeup, or for when you don't want to pack a lot of makeup for traveling. My favorite product is their Sheer Cheek Color powder blush. The colors, even the bright ones, are clear and subtle. Pixi Beauty can be found at the Sephora in the Prudential Center, or at sephora.com. Their website, www.pixibeauty.com, is based in Britain. The prices are in pounds sterling, but you can place an international order. In particular, their skincare line is available from their website, and I haven't seen their skincare products for sale where I've seen their makeup.

Pop Beauty – a younger sister line of Pixi, literally. This is Sara Strand's line, started when she was only 22 years old. And Pop is definitely younger in feel. Unlike Pixi, Pop's emphasis is mostly on color for eyes, cheeks, lips, and nails, with lots of glitter. Their Lip Jams ($10) are small tubes of jelly-like lip gloss, perfect for carrying in a purse or pocket for instant touch-ups. Their Pop Up blushes ($19) are tubes of solid gel that give a subtle, just-came-in-from-the-outdoors flush to the skin. Their eye and cheek colors come in tins of striated multi-colored cakes of powder that can be used individually or blended together. And their prices are reasonable, perfect for teenaged budgets. Also available at Sephora, you can check out the complete line at sephora.com, or Pop's UK website, www.popbeauty.co.uk

Ren – Since 1999, Ren skincare has been providing clean, all-natural skincare products to those seeking products free from petrochemicals, artificial colors, and genetically modified ingredients and synthetic ingredients. Already boasting a devoted cult following among the glamourous and beautiful of Britain (Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, and Sadie Frost among them), Ren is now available in the United States. I first discovered the line at the C.O. Bigelow store in the Copley Square Mall. I received a sample of the Rose Centifolia face wash. It was silky and non-drying, and my face felt so comfortable after I used it. When I went back to purchase the full-sized bottle, it was sold out and there was a waiting list. That made me want it even more. When I went back a second time, it was still sold out. I finally managed to get a bottle, and purchased the companion Rose Complex moisturizer. I've been on an all-natural skincare kick lately, and Ren combines clean ingredients with cutting edge technology, definitely more sophisticated than some of the seemingly home made natural products on the market. Ren also makes a line of body products. Ren can be found at the C.O. Bigelow stores in the Copley Square Mall and the Northshore Mall in Peabody, as well as Barney's New York at the Copley Square Mall. Online, you can purchase their products from www.amazon.com, , or from their website at Ren Skincare, as an international order.

Cowshed Spa – Another all-natural skincare line, Cowshed Spa products are made and sold at the Babington House spa in Somerset, England, where they grow all of the botanical ingredients they use in their products. They can also be found at select spas and hotels in the U.K. as well as at the Soho House spa in New York City. Their formulations for face and body are creamy and nourishing. But this noble pedigree and limited availability belies a typical British sense of humor. All of the product names reference cows, such as Cheeky Cow moisturizer, Grubby Cow cleansing milk, and Cow Pat hand cream. They even make a line of products for babies, and a line of skincare for men. I purchased the Grubby Cow cleansing milk at Louis Boston (234 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116), but you can order online from their US website, Cowshed Spa the products being shipped from the Soho House spa in New York.

And last, but not least, there's Lush, the handmade cosmetics chain that came to the United States three years ago after practically taking over the rest of the world. Since 1995, originally from Poole, in England, Lush invented the bath fizzies that have spawned countless imitations. They opened their first shop in America in San Francisco in 2003, followed quickly by their second shop, in Boston (woo hoo!). Their products often contain fresh fruit or flowers, and their handmade soaps, bath melts, and bath bombs can turn an ordinary bath into a blissful bathing experience. Continually experimenting with ways to minimize the need for preservatives in liquid products, they've pioneered the solid shampoo bar, solid bubble bath bars, and solid facial cleansers. If you order from the U.S. website www.lush.com, you will receive your products from their Canadian factory in Vancouver (and with the exchange rate being favorable to the U.S., you save some money on the prices of the products, but end up paying more for shipping). Or, you could just visit their Boston-area shops, at 133 Newbury Street, or just off of Harvard Square on JFK Boulevard. I feel like a kid in a candy store whenever I visit their shops.

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