One-Stop Shopping In a Lovely Place, For Your Gorgeous Body And Your Beautiful Face (John Bell & Croyden)

Pharmacists by Royal Appointment, with a pedigree going back more than 200 years, John Bell & Croyden held a launch party earlier this week to celebrate the 16 new lines they’ve brought into the store. I love a bit of history: although JB&C moved to their current premises in 1912, they’ve been meeting the medicinal and beauty needs of Londoners since 1798. And, they’re so good at what they do that they were granted a Royal Warrant in 1909, and have been accredited as Pharmacists to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II since 1958.

Founder Jacob Bell counted Dickens and Thackery amongst his friends. I would bet my eye-teeth that Thackery envisaged Becky Sharpe visiting Jacob Bell’s shop to purchase products to enhance her feminine wiles. In homage to Becky, I wore a Vivienne Westwood jacket with a swaggering cut to make my visit to JB&C – I felt that the ‘push-up bra and heart-shaped beauty spot stencilled on upper curve of left breast’ combo suggested by A Handsome Rugged Male friend of great perception was just a tad de trop for a day-time event. So: I knew they were posh. I knew they had provenance – what, though, of the products?

Despite 16 new brands showing what they’re made of, the event never felt crowded or uncomfortable. John Bell & Croyden is a BIG shop, and it needs to be, as it stocks medicinal products, and has treatment areas to support the numerous clinics that run in store. You’ll find skin and haircare products to the left at the front of the shop. A subsequent engagement with another Handsome Male meant that I had limited time, so I chose to focus on just a couple of new brands, in order to have enough time for a good nose around the regular lines.

The dermaviduals® stand was a must-see, and I was fortunate enough to get an appointment to have a cream made up to suit my skin’s specific needs. John Bell & Croyden are the only West End outlet that offer dermaviduals® bespoke service, and I would always recommend that anyone with skin concerns visit a pharmacist rather than a department store or boutique for advice.

This dermaviduals® Blending Bar (photo to the left) is where the magic happens.You can read all about my experience at their skilled hands by clicking here. But to summarise, it was fascinating, enjoyable, didn’t take long to do, and I skipped away with the product tucked safely in my bag and a new resolve to start treating my skin with a little more respect.

The other brand I was very keen to see was Inner Me. I’d found this provider of perfectly packaged vitamins and minerals online and was intrigued by both the interesting and inspiring story of how the brand came to be, and by the very enticing packaging. Please read all about the Inner Me range and my take on it by clicking here.

Having met with my must-see brands, I was free to explore the rest of the shop, and I was longing to. I LOVE a good pharmacist. Wherever you go in France, there will be a pharmacist that you can lose yourself in for hours – but in London? Er, not so much. Happily, John Bell & Croyden really hit the spot. I have an obsession with hard soaps at the moment, so I made straight for bathing products, and was delighted to find not only all the prettily packaged hard soap I could wish for, but also a good stock of Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, which I love because it reminds me of the joy that is beauty shopping in NYC.

When I found the Queen Theatrical Cleansing Cream, I thought I might expire with desire. I have never seen it anywhere else. There are so many treasures at John Bell & Croyden that choosing images for this post is close to impossible – I am planning to revisit  as soon as I can! I’d known of the shop for years, but was misled by the classy Marylebone address into thinking that it was a bit off the beaten track. It’s not. You hop, skip and jump through St Christopher’s Place, emerge onto Wigmore Street, turn your head a little to the right, and there it is, just across the road. It is in the perfect location, being very accessible yet mercifully apart from Oxford Street. No trip to the West End is complete without a visit.

It took a while for me to realise that whilst John Bell & Croyden is a Cave of Wonders that you can lose yourself in for hours, it doesn’t really go in for cosmetics – at least not yet. Consider it instead, THE place to go to get your canvas right. They have the expertise to get your hair and skin in tip-top condition, and all their products are chosen with this goal in mind. So, flit round the big beauty halls to get your colour, but visit John Bell & Croyden first to ensure that the base you’re applying it to is as perfect as can be.

Find John Bell & Croyden at 50-54 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2AU.