We love London Pharmacies – John Bell & Croyden and Zen Healthcare are two of the best

LONDON is a beautiful city, but for much of the year, Londoners live under gloomy skies and steady rainfall. So the neon glow of a Green Cross, signifying a well-lit, warm pharmacy in which to shelter, browse and restore one’s equilibrium, is always a sight to make the heart lift.


Zen Healthcare pharmacy exteriorZen, Beauchamp Place, London

When and why did we Londoners begin to say pharmacy? We always used to call these shops chemists. This writer believes that this linguistic change is down to independent beauty retailers BeautyMART: the first store in London to stock Bioderma Micellar Water and Embryolisse Lait-Crème, the two products whose successful reception took the French Pharmacy trend to every high street in the country. And now it is no longer necessary to cross the channel for sought-after European lines – all the major brands and many of the niche are almost certainly now on the shelves in your local pharmacist.

Two of Glass’s favourite London pharmacies – John Bell & Croyden in Marylebone and Zen in Knightsbridge – exemplify the best that the Green Cross has to offer.


John Bell & Croyden exteriorJohn Bell & Croyden, Wigmore Street, London

London’s oldest pharmacy: John Bell & Croyden, has been in business since 1798, moving to its current premises in Wigmore Street in 1912. This beloved grande dame of pharmacies has recently undergone an extensive re-fit. The new space is bright and glamorous – and with 12,500 square feet of newly marbled floor to play with, home to a dizzying array of brands.

John Bell & Croyden interiorJohn Bell & Croyden beauty

John Bell & Croyden carry all the best-known French pharmacy lines. Their Skincare From Around The World collection is extensive and interesting, and the Best of British selection includes the full line of Dr Jackson skincare. If you fancy adding a little colour to your face – or simply adding to your collection of beautifully packaged lipbalms – John Bell & Croyden also stock Korres cosmetics and Jane Iredale make up.

John Bell & Croyden now feels like a big and beautiful luxury beauty hall – and you will need their camp little golden shopping trollies to cart around the products that you just can’t resist – but they are a pharmacy and healthcare specialist. They offer clinics that cover every part of the body from hair to feet, and it’s well worth having a consultation if you have specific concerns.


John Bell & Croyden shelvesGlobal brands at John Bell & Croyden

Sometimes, we want infinite choice and hours of browsing; at other times, we want tight curation. We might be choosing from a smaller range of products, but confident in the knowledge that every product offered has fought off stiff competition to win its place on the shelf. And so, from a pharmacy that opened more than two centuries ago, to one that opened only a few months ago: Zen in Knightsbridge.


Zen Pharmacy interiorA display at Zen

If John Bell & Croyden has the size and sparkle of a diamond as big as the Ritz, Zen can be considered a luminous, lustrous pearl. Situated in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, Zen occupies a space that is just 100 square metres but accommodates a dispensary, a retail area and rooms for consultation and treatment. White, light, calm and peaceful, Zen is welcoming and inviting. and you can cross the shop-floor in a few measured paces.


Zen Healthcare pharmacyShop floor at Zen

When the retail space is bijou, stock must be chosen with the utmost care. Zen carries an edit that tempts, surprises and delights: niche brands and timeless staples spanning organic to cosmaceutical. Glass favourites Aurelia Skincare, Grown Alchemist and Klorane sit alongside lesser known brands such as Flowers of Bach and the baby-care line Butterfly.


Zen Healthcare pharmacyDetail of the beauty selection at Zen

Glass attended Zen’s launch last autumn and met the multi-disciplinary team that specialise in anti-ageing. We’ve returned many times to Zen since then, drawn not just by the tempting shopping opportunities, but by the friendly, informal events they host on different aspects of anti-ageing healthcare. Zen offer a wide range of treatments including beautifying facials, vitamin infusions, vampire facelifts and Botox. Glass has been trialing cosmetic acupuncture with Zen, and will be reporting on this soon.

It strikes us that French pharmacies are a cornerstone of that famed French chic. Seek out a pharmacy that reflects your taste in beauty products and has staff and practitioners that you feel comfortable chatting to, and you will develop a relationship that bridges cosmetic and health concerns.

Your pharmacist can advise you as to whether changing your skincare will pep you up, or if you should be looking at switching up your supplements, booking a treatment, or seeing a doctor. For head-to-toe well-being, a good pharmacy has beauty halls and boutiques beat – find a pharmacy you love to visit, and look forward to a lifetime of looking and feeling your best.

by Rachel McCormack

Find more information on John Bell & Croyden here

Find more information on Zen here

All imagery courtesy of John Bell & Croyden and Zen