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I love luxury hair and skincare brands… I’m a firm believer that mostly – not always – you get what you pay for. Although I am always delighted when I find a cheap brand that offers good quality, most of my favourites (which I must get around to writing about on Ciao sometime, it’s just not the kind of thing I normally review!) tend to be in the pricey end of the market I’m afraid.
Part of it is the shopping experience – because I work at home, it’s a treat for me when I go up to town for a meeting and have a few minutes to wander around a good department store… testing, sniffing, blagging samples and generally enjoying the level of customer service and attention that goes with snobby brands! (Part of the enjoyment is definitely imagining how these same helpful ladies would react if they saw me on a normal, i.e. at home, working day, in trackies and no make up, but never mind!) It feels so grown-up to be recommended to try things and invited to be made-up etc.
Sadly though, time being what it is, this a rare treat. But this means that when I run out of a favourite, such as my Aveda shampoo, I am really stuck – none of the usual hair and beauty online stores seem to stock ranges like this, which is why (after some convoluted searching) I was delighted to discover HQHair.com.
Hair care ranges on offer include salon favourites like Paul Mitchell, Kerastase, Phytologie, KMS and Redken, as well as my beloved Aveda. They also have trendy styling ranges like BedHead, Bumble and Bumble and Fudge (having recently gone ‘short’ again after a number of years mid-length I haven’t got the right gear any more!)
As well as hair they do some great beauty ranges too, including Oscar and Dehn, Barielle and Bloom – as well as many I’ve never heard of but the products sound fantastic! I did succumb to a Tony and Tina eye pencil with glittery bits that I love – it’s actually a lot less tacky than it sounds, quite subtle, and a DuWop product called Lip Venom, which is a very tingly lip gloss: think Blisteze cubed, it actually makes your lips puff up briefly. Not cheap but cheaper than collagen, and feels rather nice!
They also do St Tropez fake tan, which I have never seen on-line before, as well as various ranges of accessories, hair styling gear, and even a little ‘shave and groom’ section presumably aimed at any fellas straying on to this site. [I won’t bother recommending it to my other half who thinks Superdrug can be a bit overpriced when all he wants is a bit of gel. So he nicks my BedHead instead, it’s OK to for things to cost a lot if someone else is buying! Actually to be fair he has absolutely no idea, I hit the roof once when I found him using large squirts of my Aveda Shampure as substitute baby bubble bath!]
In addition to the main store they also offer and ‘outlet store’ with what they frankly state are over-runs, end-of-lines, damaged packaging etc – some great bargains to be had and just like rummaging around a good sale without anybody’s elbows to contend with…
Other areas of the site offer good contact and staff information, a ‘discoveries’ page to showcase their latest hot products, and even a hair ‘Agony Aunt’! You can ‘Ask Jayne’ about any of your beauty dilemmas, which can of course all be solved with a product from their site, but the Q and As displayed do add interest and value. At least you get the feeling this is a real service run by real, knowledgeable and interested people. They also promote their Queensway based salon (which looks lovely… I do need to get my highlights re-done soon so may consider treating myself to a visit!)
Ordering is straightforward and uses SSL encryption. P&P is £2:50 for the first item then 50p for each additional one. This is one thing I would change actually, I think it would be better psychologically to set a maximum limit on this – if you are placing a large order you feel this should be rewarded/acknowledged, and the aim should be to get you to add one more thing whilst you’re ordering anyway.
Delivery was very impressive: Order placed Sunday night, arrived with first post Tuesday morning. I had felt sceptical reading that they aimed for 24-48 hour delivery in the UK but they certainly came good on that. Everything was well packaged too, with shampoo caps individually taped down and liberal use of bubble and jiffy – you couldn’t have taken more care of your carrier bag coming home on the tube!
Returning to the customer service area of the site, I sent a polite thank you and a query about other brands, and was pleased to receive a polite response within a couple of hours [explaining that Molton Brown is on it’s way: Yippee! I never need to go up to town again now!] from a named individual answering my questions fully – made me feel valued as a customer.
Navigation around the site is very straightforward, and all products are illustrated – some are very small packshots, and there is no larger image stored behind the thumbnail, I guess this is a compromise on file size as the pages do load quickly despite the visual impact. I find the ‘are you sure?’ pop-up when anything is added to your basket a little odd, but it works (and might stop you going over the top!)
All in all I am very happy to add this discovery to my list of on-line shops… it appears to have filled a niche the other hair and beauty websites I have used (wellbeing, pharmacy2u, thinknatural etc) weren’t addressing by offering top-end designer products. In addition to my ‘personal use’ (honestly officer!) purchases I can imagine coming back here often for gifts, there is lots here that would go down very well with discerning family and friends!
Go on, take a look, and maybe even treat yourself to something… cash in your Ciao account (yeah right!) and blow it all on one lippy!
I discovered this site recently too though have not ordered anything yet. After a recent trip to London where I purchased a rather fab Tony and Tina lip gloss I was looking for somewhere in the uk that sold the brand online and this (and QVC) were the only ones I could find. Am very tempted to treat myself to some Aveda shampoo too! Amy :o)
mumagain 06.08.2002 22:03
A very well written review, everything I could possibly want to know and more, sounds like a lovely way to have a treat once in a while, enjoy your products, thanks and take care Chele Xx
scraggly 03.08.2002 10:59
Oooooh, sounds lovely! I'm just off to have a browse. Cheers, Shelley