The ultimate beauty shopping guide to Edinburgh
Harvey Nichols bag

Of course Scotland’s capital city was bound to have plenty of shopping destinations for fans of makeup, skincare and all things beauty, but where to start?

Makeup mogul Alison MacLean shares her top tips and hidden gems in this definitive guide to Edinburgh’s best beauty destinations.

Beauty halls and multi-stockists

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For the sheer volume of product on offer, the Harvey Nichols beauty hall in St Andrew Square feels surprisingly intimate, with well-manned counters featuring high end makeup brands like MAC, Laura Mercier and Chanel. Between their Beyond Medispa and the Space NK concession, your deluxe­ but more niche­ brands are pretty much covered.

If you like the beauty hall vibe, John Lewis in the St James Centre is especially good for British brands, while both J​enners​ and Debenhams on Princes Street offer atmospherically stunning surroundings while you browse.

When you think of Boots, a sophisticated product range may not be what immediately springs to mind, but after the Princes Street branch’s recent refurb, this shop offers everything a budding beauty guru could ever need. From tried and tested high street makeup and bodycare brands, to a well curated selection of French pharmacy and higher end offerings, you’ll have a satisfying experience here, whether you’re picking up a single lipbalm or overhauling your whole skincare regime.

An Aladdin’s cave of makeup, beauty, bath and body and every beauty aficionados dream come true, the stock list at Space NK on George Street is a wonder to behold. The clean, ­if somewhat clinical­, space is stacked high with luxury and specialist temptations that will ensure you leave with significantly lighter pockets.

And we can’t forget All About Eve salon ​in Bruntsfield, whose small attached shop has some delightful brands on its shelves including Miller Harris, Neom, REN and Glamglow.

Individual boutiques

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Even the most world weary beauty junkie can’t help but get excited when faced with the endless displays of fun bath and body treats at Lush.​ An afternoon there spent pottering about and filling your pockets with all manner of fizzing, popping, surprise bath treats is undoubtedly an afternoon well spent. Their new-ish Princes Street premises has a spa downstairs for those feeling decadent or adventurous.

L’Occitane​ on Frederick Street is a hidden gem, selling the entire range of the Provence based company’s wares including our personal favourite – their dreamy gift sets.

Up on George Street, heritage American pharmacy brand Kiehl’s offers good choices for those in need of a pamper session. Neal’s Yard Remedies also have a shop near by, with the stalwart of all luxury hotel bathrooms Molton Brown just around the corner.

The city’s two main perfume boutiques both happen to be located a stone’s throw away on George Street. Penhaligon’s – a brand steeped in tradition – will please even the most discerning customer. Stepping inside their charming premises is like going back in time, with the added bonus of great customer service. The delectable selection of glass bottles here would make a welcome addition to any dressing table.

Similarly, a gift purchased from Jo Malone will put you in anyone’s good books. Ever-popular purveyors of classic, yet unfailingly modern scents, even the candles here are totally luxurious.


Global Panorama /Flickr / CC

Known mainly for its fashion, the large Topshop branch on Princes Street has a few beauty tricks up its sleeve and their makeup is well worth a look.

For more basic (and some might say less glamorous) grooming tasks, Sally’s Beauty Supply – of which there are several in the city – is the place to go. Whether it’s nail polish, hair dye or preening tools you’re after, this ‘stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ establishment never goes amiss on a beauty pilgrimage.

Finally, Paton & Finlay Pharmacy on Bruntsfield Place is an unexpected addition far off the beaten track, but well worth a look if you’re in the area. This chemist might not look like a beauty haven, but Burt’s Bees skincare and Roger & Gallet on the shelves it was only a matter of time before their secret came out.

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Main image: Getty Images