To my recent surprise, the best thing about Walgreens is not the advertisements which feature the friendly, familiar, good-guy (too good for Carrie it turned out) voice of Sex And The City’s “Aiden” informing you that Walgreens can be found at the corner of happy and healthy.
The best thing about Walgreens is actually the beauty products available within the new “Upscale” stores that have been sprouting locations in Chicago since the first opened in Wicker Park in 2012. Rahm Emanuel told the crowd at it’s opening “This is not your grandmother’s Walgreens!” And I agree, although I suspect he was referring to the crowd-pleaser fro-yo machines, the beer and wine section, and the sushi bar; not the stable of cherished foreign beauty brands. Rahm does have a nice complexion though.
The “upscale” store model as well as “flagship” locations for Walgreens and Duane Read contain a specialized apothecary section that the company calls its “LOOK Boutique”. The first thing you’ll notice is a mini salon which offers brow and manicure services. This portion of the concept strikes me as a strategy overreach. People tend to be loyal to their existing expert aestheticians and courting that trust will be hard for Walgreens.
What is impressive to me about LOOK is the assortment of dozens of prestige and niche cosmetic, skincare and haircare brands not typically found in drugstores in the US. Nuxe and Avéne used to be skincare brands whose cherished products I’d reserve space for in my luggage back from Paris. My Klorane chamomile shampoo for blondes and and oat milk dry shampoo I’d have to order online. The La Roche Posay Anthelios sunscreen, an imperative part of my daily regimen, I’d also hunt down on the web. Now, they’re all conveniently available at my local corner of happy and healthy.
Other standout brands I’d recommend you explore: LOOK sells the British line Rodial (whose tanning mist I reviewed here and have relied on this winter); Talika, a French skincare line best known for their “Lipocils” lash and eyebrow conditioners (which are prostaglandin-free, I should add); and Les Couvent des Minimes, an all-natural French skincare and fragrance line based on the original recipes of 17th Century botanist monks. I personally love Minimes’ vanilla-scented Eau de Missions Cologne (if you forget the name just look for the one in the blue packaging). It’s described as a “scented water” so it works nicely as a light after-shower mist. Also available at LOOK is the skincare line No 7 by England’s drugstore Boots. Demand for the line’s anti-aging serums has been known to clear shelves in the UK ever since independent scientific studies suggested the products really do work. I haven’t personally used any of the No.7 skincare, but with my 31st birthday fast approaching, now might be the time.
Lastly, among the premium makeup brands offered, I think Cargo is the hit. Don’t sleep on it – their eyeshadow shades are just right. And, the nail polish selection is impressive (and daunting to the indecisive-minded). They sell Essie, Pop, Nailtini and Opi.
A quick search online will locate your nearest LOOK boutique.
Happy, healthy… and dangerous to product junkies. Enjoy!