The Difference Between US Drugstores vs UK Pharmacies

Difference between US drugstores vs UK pharmacies

Reading beauty blogs over the years has taught me a lot – from how to fill in my eyebrows without looking like a caterpillar, to the joy that MAC’s Ruby Woo can bring. One other thing that crops up a lot in UK blogs is the mythical American ‘drugstore’. From what to buy in the States to holiday hauls, drugstores are considered to be far to superior to the likes of humble old Boots.

I refuse to call Boots and Superdrug ‘drugstores’ (they’re pharmacies, ok?) but now I live in the land of Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, and I’ve noticed a lot of differences between US drugstores and British pharmacies. Some are good, some are bad, and some are downright distressing – here are a few of the most noticeable differences…

New brands to try – CoverGirl, Wet ’n’ Wild, NYX… there are so many brands to try that aren’t available in UK pharmacies.
American drugstores don’t have testers – this is my number one bugbear, especially when it comes to trying out concealers or foundation. Tester sections in the UK can get pretty grim pretty quickly (I’m picturing the make-up aisles of Superdrug on a Saturday afternoon) but it’s nice to have to option of colour matching if you want to.
Dupes for the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders – the Milani baked blushes are so good and a fraction of the price of the Hourglass ones.
Dry shampoo is hard to find – forget Batiste and the like, dry shampoo seems to be really hard to track down in drugstores over here. I’ll definitely be stocking up when I’m back in the UK.
Cheaper cosmetics – mascara for five dollars? Don’t mind if I do…
There’s no Boujours stand – ‘nuff said.
I can get a side of sushi with my skincare – most drugstores are more like large convenience stores and many of the larger ones sell as much fresh food and coffee as they do make-up and medicine, which kind of blows that £3 Boots meal deal out of the water.
Lack of premium brands – in the UK you can find Benefit, Clarins and even Chanel in some corners of Boots. In the US, drugstores cater for beauty on a budget, while higher-end brands stick to selling in the likes of Sephora.

Now it’s over to you – regardless of which side of the pond you’re on, are there any differences you’ve noticed between US drugstores vs UK pharmacies? And, if you had to choose, are you a drugstore or pharmacy kinda gal (or guy)?

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  1. May 15, 2015 / 6:17 am

    I am itching to raid as USA drugstore just for the brands we don’t get here!

    • SJ
      May 29, 2015 / 6:49 pm

      There are some good ‘uns over here! Milani is my fave but I’ve heard great things about CoverGirl and Wet ‘n’ Wild, too :)

  2. Vanessa
    May 20, 2015 / 5:56 am

    No testers in US pharmacies because you can return unwanted products you have open and used.
    Amazing stuff.

    • SJ
      May 29, 2015 / 6:50 pm

      I also heard that via Twitter – it’s so strange to me as that’s just not an option in the UK unless the product is faulty. I’ll have to remember that next time I buy a product that doesn’t quite suit me!

  3. May 31, 2015 / 8:29 pm

    No dry shampoo? HOW DO THEY LIVE? I’d be happy with Sephora.

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