This post is in response to a request from a commenter, Nina, who wants to send her daughter to London armed with a bit of a shopping list of interesting but not too expensive things to pick up. I heartily approve of child labour (Miss London is still too young to make me tea, apparently) so I'm happy to oblige.
The big Boots on Oxford Street (half way between Oxford Street and Bond Street Tube Stations) is the first spot to hit.
As well as the basics like Sudocrem and the Vaseline tins, you can also get my favourite cuticle treatment, Flexitol Cuticle & Nail Cream (Flexitol do a good balm for very dry heels too) and Lanolips Ointment.
Cosmetics wise, the Boots sells Models Own (the nail polishes get a lot of love) and Orly mini polishes, Bourjois and their organic sister-line Une, Soap & Glory and Max Factor (the fabled Fantasy Fire nail polish should be back in stock now, and they have some other nice multi-chromes in the line - I like Meteorite.)
Superdrug (I like the one in the Bond Street Tube Station shopping complex) is also worth a visit. As well as Sleek, they sell Bloom Cosmetics and Gosh (the long wear Velvet Touch Eyeliners are very good indeed). The Optimum range of anti-ageing skincare gets good reviews, although I can't remember reading any by anyone who has used it for any length of time, and I'm somewhat sceptical of magazine and newspaper skincare rave write-ups.
The Garden Pharmacy (Covent Garden tube). Sells Art Deco cosmetics (the eye primer is good, but smells oddly of washing up liquid). Also sells a good range of La Roche Posay skincare and suncare, including my favourite spot treatment, Effaclar A.I., Klorane haircare and Kneipp bath products.
Charles Fox (Covent Garden, other side of the plaza from the tube) sells theatrical make-up. Worth a visit for the Kryolan alone.
Top Shop (Oxford Square tube) be warned, this place is usually heaving by 11am. The make up is well worth a look though.
Are there any other gems I've missed?