Makeup is not going to be one of the primary things that most people think about when it comes to Black Friday, largely because it’s less common to see footage of folk leaving a shop in the early hours of the morning with a decent lipstick than it is to see people with widescreen TVs. Even so, Black Friday is a chance to get some real bargains from some of the biggest brands on the market, with many hoping that someone will use the chance to get something cheap to buy a brand that they’ve never used before and then be won over.
Of course, knowing that you’ll be able to pick up some bargains isn’t the same as having a sense of where to actually go to find them. On top of that, not everyone will have a clue what the biggest and best brands are, which is why it is good to be able to read a guide that will help to point you in the right direction. Whether you’re the sort of person that only uses a little bit of makeup to being out your eyes or you’re someone that knowingly likes to pile it on, this guide will have you looking in the right places.
Shops With Makeup Offers
Where to Find Black Friday Deals on Makeup & Skin Care
Even someone living in a cave is likely to have heard of L’Oréal, Benefit and MAC when it comes to the top makeup brands, but the likes of NARS, Urban Decay and Charlotte Tilbury could have passed you by. Equally, it’s easy to think of foundation, lip gloss and eyeliner when you’re considering what makeup to buy and forget about something such as nail polish. Yet Black Friday will often see brands such as Nails Inc, Rimmel London and No. 7 cut the costs of their best products for your enjoyment.
British makeup artist, Charlotte Tilbury, is the daughter of artist, Lance Tilbury, and production manager, Patsy Dodd, who spent her formative years living in Ibiza before returning to England to go to boarding school. She launched her own beauty brand in 2013 and within two years had opened a store in Covent Garden. She has been a British Vogue Contributing Beauty Editor and Global Ambassador for Women for Women International, as well as racking up nearly one million YouTube followers for her makeup tutorials.
Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Ltd launched at Selferidges’ London store in 2013, hitting the shelves with a wealth of skincare and makeup. If there was any question about the sense of such a launch then it was quickly answered, with the brand becoming the biggest-ever beauty launch in terms of turnover. Pretty soon, Charlotte Tilbury’s products were available in many other top stores, with the likes of Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Fenwick’s all moving to stock her beauty products in the months and years that followed.
After opening a flagship store in Covent Garden in 2015, the Charlotte Tilbury brand saw shops opened in the likes of Dubai, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. There’s even a two-floor ‘beauty wonderland’ in Kuwait. In 2020, the Spanish fashion and fragrance giant Puig agreed to take a majority stake in Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Ltd, with Tilbury herself remaining in place as Chairman, President and Chief Creative Officer. Based on the Stand in London, the company has won more than 300 global awards since it was launched.
As you might imagine, Charlotte Tilbury’s makeup is on the ‘luxury’ side of the aisle. Those that enjoy what she has to offer tend to absolutely fall in love with it, with the following being a selection of some of the company’s best-selling products:
- Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder
- Charlotte’s Magic Cream
- Pillow Talk Push-Up Lashes Mascara
Look Fantastic offer customers more than 22,000 products to choose from, working with over 600 premium brands in order to do so. As a result of Look Fantastic’s impressive work online, the company has become one of the go-to operators for the likes of MAC, Yves Saint Laurent and Kérastase to work with. The launch of more than 30 localised sites helped the company to attract over ten million visitors every month in 2017, whilst the desire to constantly develop ensures that people keep coming back for more.
The Crown’s Salon Group was a Sussex-based business that started trading in 1978, becoming well-respected in the hair industry on account of its specialist training centres for hairdressers and its traditional salons. Daniel Crown was the son of the owner but never really felt any passion for cutting hair, so instead he took on an internship at a web-design firm. Whilst there, he got to grips with the idea of operating online and was offered a job at the fast-growing firm. Soon, however, it was spreading itself too thinly and needed to cut back.
In 1998, the company that Crown worked for was looking to make cutbacks and he offered to leave on the proviso that he was allowed to take lookfanstastic.com with him. It was initially launched as a hair products retailer, but Crown figured that a new e-commerce platform specifically aimed at makeup would help it to creep up the search engine rankings. Consequently, he raised £10,000 in sponsorship and launched the new site in January of 1999, making use of his father’s contacts to source a large number of products.
Since being sold to Hut Group for £19 million in 2010, Look Fantastic has gone from strength to strength. The number of different beauty companies that sell their products via Look Fantastic seemingly grows every day, meaning that the most popular things you can buy on the site reads like a who’s who of makeup experts. You can buy the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex Synchronized Recovery on the site, for example, as well as the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm.
Whether you’re after something like a La Roche-Posay Anthelios sun cream or the Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara, Look Fantastic can operate as something of a one-stop shop for all of your makeup needs. They even do a beauty box subscription service, meaning that you can receive regular deliveries of beauty products for a set monthly fee. Aftershaves, perfumes, foundation and oil diffusers are all the sorts of things that Look Fantastic offer to their customers, to say nothing of lipsticks and concealer.
John Lewis & Partners
Few companies have a name that suggests ‘quality’ quite like John Lewis & Partners, but the high street store has been promising people exactly that for decades. It is also one of the shops that knows exactly how to appeal to people in the correct way, regularly putting its makeup area right by the door as you enter the shop. It is little wonder that John Lewis & Partners is one of the go-to places for people that want to get themselves some makeup and know that they’re not going to have any problems with it when they get home.
Ask anyone in Liverpool about John Lewis & Partners and they will be convinced that the company launched as George Henry Lee in the city. The truth, however, is that John Lewis opened its first shop on London’s Oxford Street in 1864, with George Henry Lee being folded into that group in 1940. It has boasted a Royal Warrant since 2008, which is remarkably impressive for a company that started life as a drapery shop.
The company is owned by a trust that operates on behalf of all of its employees, which is where the ‘partners’ comes from in ‘John Lewis & Partners’. As a result, the employees receive a share of the profits and so work even harder to ensure that it is as good as it can be. John Lewis & Partners have produced Christmas adverts since 2007 that are often much-anticipated, meaning that only someone living on the moon won’t have heard of them.
Whilst it has become more common for John Lewis to have its own-brand items on offer, the truth is that the company is best-known for selling wares of others. That means that the likes of Clinique and Clarins can all be found in-store, to name just some of the top brands that John Lewis works with. It is fair to say that that list is far from exhaustive, however, and brands like Benefit and NARS are also to be found there.
Whether you’re looking for a gift set from Benefit, a top-selling mascara from Lancôme or you want to get your hands on the latest creation from the Charlotte Tilbury stable, John Lewis’s makeup counter will be the place to head. Not only do they sell all of that stuff, but the people working there will offer you the best help and advice that they can, knowing that doing well will see them earn some profit at the end of the year.
In terms of well-known high street stores, Debenhams used to rival John Lewis before it made the decision to move online. Having been founded in 1778 by William Clark and then rebranding as Clark & Debenham in 1813, it was thought of as being one of the most reliable stores in the United Kingdom before it entered administration in 2019. It continues to operate online, promising that same level of quality and reliability.
The Debenhams that you’ll shop at nowadays is really only linked to the Debenhams of old courtesy of its name. The company’s brand and website was bought by online retailer Boohoo for £55 million in January of 2021. A few months later and it had launched under Boohoo’s own brand of Debenhams Online Limited, with the high street stores having closed their doors permanently at a loss of 12,000 jobs.
There is certainly an argument that Debenhams Online Limited is a more suitable version of the shop for the 21st century, given the extent to which people have generally moved their shopping online anyway. The original company enjoyed 243 years in business but is now set up to deal with the ever-changing nature of the British shopping mentality, ensuring that it is future-proofed in a way that not all brands are.
Debenhams offer a range of makeup, featuring all of the brands that you’d expect, like Benefit and Urban Decay, and some others that you might not be quite so familiar with. Whether you’re after some eyeshadow palette choices or want to get a nice new lipstick, all of the top categories are covered. You can even pick up a bundle of stuff if that’s what you fancy.
One of the high street’s best known brands, Marks & Spencer has been in operation for nearly 140 years. The company boasts close to 1,000 stores across the United Kingdom, with an excellent online shop that allows you to get the benefits of what they offer without even needing to leave the house.
Founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer, the Leeds-based company grew out of a penny bazaar into one of the country’s most-loved shops. Marks and Sparks, as most people refer to it as, began earning a strong reputation in the 20th century by promising to only sell British-made goods, which was a policy that remained in place right up until the 1990s.
M&S has always boasted an emphasis on quality, which has shone through over the years and allowed the company to ensure that it could go from strength to strength. That includes the launch of Marks & Spencer shops internationally, which helped the company gain name recognition around the world.
There is certainly an extent to which Marks & Spencers is seen by some as being a store for ‘more mature’ customers, which is perhaps reflected in the names of the companies that have their products sold in the shops. The likes of Emma Hardie, MenoGlow and Formula are the ones that you’ll see in M&S’s online store for beauty and makeup, for example.
With more than 2,500 stores across the UK and Ireland, Boots is one of the area’s largest retailers in terms of revenue. The range of shops shifts between small pharmacy type locations to large megastores. On top of that, Boots also operates an impressive online store, where you can buy most of the things you’d buy in the shops.
John Boot established Boots in 1849, having helped his mum run the family’s herbal medicine shop for ten years in the wake of his dad’s death. Boots was initially sold to the American United Drug Company before being sold back to British hands in 1933. Interestingly, each Boots store used to have a small lending library, known as Boots Book-Lovers’ Library, until 1966.
For a time, Boots worked in the research and manufacturing of drugs area of medicine, but had sold its interest in this by 2006. In 1987, the company formed Boots Opticians Ltd, showing that it cared very much about the overall health and well-being of its varied customer base.
It would be untrue to refer to Boots as a fashionable store, instead aiming itself squarely at people that want to buy from a trusted source. As a result, you’ll see the likes of No7, Olay and Morphe adorn the shelves of the shops. Names, such as Clinique, Maybelline and La Roche-Posay, are the ones that Boots tend to work with.
As a company, Beauty Expert considers itself more of a curator of beauty products than an outright shop. Their idea is that they will test and try makeups and products from different companies before being willing to sell them, thereby offering their ‘seal of approval’ that their customers know that they can trust.
One of the youngest companies on our list, Beauty Expert launched in 2003 when it sold a selection of spa and beauty products. It has grown and grown since then, earning a reputation as a well-respected collator of makeup and skincare products. In 2010, the company was bought by the Hut Group, joining the likes of Look Fantastic.
Beauty Expert’s policy is to ensure that they offer something for everyone, meaning that marine and plant-based products rub shoulders with big brands such as Eve Lom, Omorovicza and Erno Laszlo on their website. The products that they opt to sell are based around efficiency and luxury.
Despite what the name might indicate, HQhair isn’t just about selling hair products. Obviously you can get some of the best hair products on the market on the site, but they have divested their interest over the years to ensure that they can now be considered one of the top beauty and makeup companies around.
Launched by hairstylist Henry Goldenberg in 1997 as a hair and beauty salon, the company made the move online with both HQhair and HQman. Though there was some initial success, HQhair went into administration in 2011 and was bought by the Hut Group, becoming another name in the ever-growing empire of THG.
HQhair looks to work with the best of the best in terms of brands, so the likes of Elemis and Eve Lom head up the list of skincare brands on their website. You can buy makeup tools from Real Techniques, have a look at what NYX have to offer or opt for the high-performing makeup promised by Illamasqua, depending on what it is that you’re looking for.
It is virtually impossible to live in a world in which Amazon isn’t all-encompassing, so there is little-to-nothing that we’d be able to tell you about the company that you don’t already know. The key selling point about Amazon is that they make buying things online easy, which is what makes them so popular.
Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 and went public three years later, selling music and videos from 1998 onwards. That was the same year that it started working in the United Kingdom and Germany, growing in size and market strength with every passing year. The launch of Fulfilment by Amazon in 2006 meant that it even delivered its own stock.
Amazon is an online shopping behemoth, hoovering up virtually everything in its path. There are few companies that either don’t work with Amazon or else haven’t sold out to it, meaning that it is very much a one-stop-shop for everything that you could possibly need, up to and including watching TV shows, movies and Premier League football.
It would obviously be misleading to suggest that Amazon is a store specifically aimed at selling makeup and beauty products, but at the same time the sheer size of the company means that it is impossible to ignore. Whether you want to buy products by Garnier or Revlon, Fancil or MSQ, Amazon should be one of the first places that you look to see what they’re offering.
Shopping Online for Makeup & Skincare
Knowing where to shop for makeup and other beauty products online is all well and good, but knowing how to do it is a different matter. Obviously one of the chief things that most people will want to do, especially when it comes to make up, is try it on but that isn’t possible when you’re predominantly doing your shopping on the internet. As a result, one of the best places to turn is to reviews of the site, where you can glean all sorts of information about how good their products are and what you should expect.
The development of technology means that you can also turn to some sites to use a skin match finder, which can be hugely helpful. As an example, there is one provided by Look Fantastic that asks you to choose five foundation samples that you’ll be sent free of charge, with only the shipping needing to be paid for before being credited back into your account to be redeemed against a future purchase. Then you create a colour charge using AI technology and you’ll find the products that you match with within 30 seconds.
That is the sort of thing that you can look out for in order to ensure that you get the very best products available to you. As technology improves even further, more and more such initiatives will be launched to make it even easier for customers to find ways of getting the most appropriate makeups from online retailers. If all else fails, though, you can always turn back to those trusty reviews and try to ask questions of other shoppers to get a sense of which products will be right for you.
Unfortunately, ordering something online will always mean that a product might need to be returned for some reason or another. When you spend a lot of money on something, you want to be able to make sure that it is the best thing for you and if it’s not then you’re better off returning it and spending your money on something else. The question is, what is the returns policy of each company that we’ve mentioned?
You can return either unused or ‘gently used’ items for free within 30 days of purchase.
John Lewis & Partners
John Lewis & Partners do not allow the return of ‘beauty products’ for hygiene reasons, though it isn’t stated whether this includes unopened products.
As with John Lewis & Partners, Debenhams use ‘hygiene reasons’ as the excuse for not accepting returns on cosmetics, including beauty products.
Marks and Spencer will offer a full refund on products that are returned unused and in the original packaging. In the case of beauty products, this will only be allowed if they are unopened and the ‘hygiene seal’ is still intact.
In July of 2020, Boots launched their Make Up Exchange Promise, which said that customers could return opened beauty items if they were the wrong item for some reason, given that in-store testers were no longer available.
You need to contact Beauty Expert before returning any items and ensure that they are unopened.
Unless the item is the incorrect one or is damaged in some way, HQhair follows the same returns police as Beauty Expert, insomuch as you can’t return an item if it’s been opened.
Amazon’s refund policy is generally a bit more generous than other companies and you are allowed to return things if you’ve opened them. Obviously in the case of makeup, this will only be on the condition that you haven’t used most of it.
The issue with shopping online is that you need firms to send the items that you’ve ordered out to you. Between Brexit and the global health crisis, that can take a bit longer than it used to depending on where the company that you’re ordering from is based. Here’s a quick look at the shipping info for each of the companies we’ve been looking at:
Standard delivery can take between two and five days, with express delivery available. This will come by the following day if you order it before 6pm Monday to Thursday or within one to two days over the weekend.
John Lewis & Partners
As long as you don’t order something for delivery to a non-UK mainland location, you can expect smaller items to be delivered within five working days. You can also get next day delivery if you’re willing to pay for it.
Next day delivery is possible if you order before 11pm, depending on what day it is and what you’ve ordered. If you’re in Northern Ireland then standard delivery will take up to five working days, which is the same as for mainland UK delivery.
Marks & Sparks offer you the choice of picking up your items from their store from 12pm on your chosen date, or within three to five working days if that doesn’t suit you. You can also opt for a nominated day or next day delivery.
Order online before 8pm and you will be able to pick up most items in-store the following day. You can choose named day, next day or standard delivery, with the latter taking a few days.
You can get Beauty Expert orders delivered to Inpost lockers or you can wait between two and three days for standard home delivery. Click and Collect and next day delivery are also available.
Whether you get your items sent to Inpost lockers or to your home address, it will take between two and three days to receive it. Only paying for next day delivery will speed that process up.
If you’re a Prime member then you can often get things delivered the following day. If not, the amount of time that it takes to receive your item will differ depending on what you order.
Popular Makeup Brands
There are unquestionably some makeup brands that are better-known and more popular than others. Here’s a look at each of them and what you can expect:
The Charlotte Tilbury brand offers all sorts of foundations, concealers and powders to get you looking your absolute best. The Glowing Skin Kit, for example, will see you sent a liquid concealer, a hydrating tint and Charlotte’s Magic Cream, with the only thing you need to worry about being the shade.
MAC declares itself to be the ‘world’s leading professional makeup authority’, which is obviously a confident statement in a busy arena. Even so, it’s one that stands up to testing when you consider that ‘all races, ages and genders’ are covered and it is sold in more than 150 countries.
The French company NARS has been offering makeup and skin care products since being established by François Nars in 1994. The bestsellers include extreme mascara, eyeshadow palettes and bronzing powders in addition to the likes of tinted moisturiser and creamy concealer.
Benefit tends to opt for the wow factor with its makeup products, which is why you get names such as POWmade Brow Pomade and They’re Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara. The key thing to bear in mind when looking through their makeup selections is that all of the products tell you exactly what they do on the tin.
Urban Decay’s key-selling point is that they offer ‘makeup for eyes, lips and face’. That doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot, but what you’re looking at when you visit their site are things that a bright and poppy and will ensure that your eyes are smoky, your lips look luscious and your face is as smooth as it can be.
The fact that L’Oréal declares itself to be a ‘world leader’ in makeup tells you everything that you need to know about the brand, which is globally recognised for its quality. They claim that they ‘invent the future of beauty’, so it would be entirely fair to expect forward-thinking products to be their go-to.
Popular Skincare Brands
Few areas of a person’s beauty regime are as important as their skin care. Your skin, after all, is one of your defining attributes and one of the things that people will see as soon as they look at you. Here’s a quick look at some of the leading brands on the market:
Clinique offer a skin care range for both men and women, putting moisture at the forefront of their offerings. The company is synonymous with taking a clinical approach to beauty, which is perhaps explained by the fact that it was launched in 1967 in the wake of an article in US Vogue entitled ‘Can Great Skin Be Created?’
La Roche-Posay is, according to the company’s own media, the ‘number one dermatologist recommended brand in the United Kingdom’, which goes some way to explaining what to expect from them. There are various different options on their site depending on what type of skin you have, allowing for a targeted approach to your skincare regime.
Lancōme’s main approach to skincare is to ‘regenerate, correct, hydrate and brighten’, which is why many of the products that you’ll see on their site promise to do at least one of those things. Whether you want to get ‘stronger, brighter, younger looking eyes’ or you’re keen to find an anti-stress moisturiser, you’re in safe hands with the French company.
Elemis might sound like a cockney child greeting their teacher, but in actual fact is an award-winning luxury skincare brand that looks to offer products that will treat both your face and your body. It is the latter part that will interest a lot of people, given that skin tends to cover more than just your face.
Popular Nail Polish Brands
Advancements in technology don’t just include the size of your TV, with nail polish brands looking to improve the manner in which their products work. You can now get nail polish gel, for example, which can last several weeks. The downside is that it needs to be put under a UV lamp and is slightly trickier to remove, though you can buy a kit to help you do so online.
That compares favourably to normal nail polish, which only lasts for about a week and will often start to chip before that. The good thing about regular polish is that you can remove it relatively easily using nail polish remover, meaning that it tends to be cheaper, in every sense, when compared to gel. Here’s a look at some of the brands that you might wish to use for your nail polishing needs:
One of the nicer brands on the market, not least because they have made it their job to specialise in nail polish whilst other firms tend to do it as an added extra to their makeup and skincare ranges. You can buy a range of tools and accessories to help you with the applying of your nail polish, as well as base and top coats. They even sell colour changing nail polish, or vegan nail polish if that’s the sort of thing you’re invested in.
Head to pretty much any nail salon around the United Kingdom and there’s a really good chance that they will be using nail polish from the O.P.I. stable. This is the gold standard in the world of nail polish, meaning that the quality is excellent. The ‘Infinite Shine’ nail polish is a way to add some glitz and glam to your makeup routine, whilst the Downtown LA collection promises something more urban and hip.
Another brand that you’ll likely bump into when heading to the nail salon is Essie, which is also quality but doesn’t tend to last quite as long. They do promise a wealth of nail care products, as well as the ability to add a base or topcoat to your nails before you jump into the nail polish itself. You can opt to go for their long-wear range, their enamel polish or their quick-dry product, depending on your needs.
No. 7 is a slightly cheaper option than the ones we’ve already told you about, with the products typically being available in Boots. The company offers a range of different products in addition to the nail polish, so it is entirely fair to say that they’re not nail polish specialists in the way that Nails Inc is. One of the interesting things that they offer is a gel finish top coat, perhaps promising the best of both worlds.
Rimmel London is a brand name that most people will have heard of, largely thanks to their constant television campaigns. Available in the likes of Boots and Superdrug, the quality is decent enough without being exceptional. Offering super gel top coats in addition to plant-based ones, the nail polish itself tends to opt for bold and bright colours to allow you to stand out from the crowd.
- Pillow Talk Lip Cheat
- Pillow Talk Luxury Palette
As you can see from that list, the Pillow Talk collection is immensely popular, with individual products within that standing out. The Magic Cream is the product that really helped to kick-start Charlotte Tilbury as a brand, but it remains in-demand nearly a decade later. It is something that boasts the ‘do it all’ moniker, on account of the fact that it can hydrate your skin at the same time that it smooths and brightens it, being part primer and part moisturiser. That is, in many ways, the perfect summary of the brand overall.