I absolutely love that Sephora is starting a natural beauty section in their stores, but did you know that there are entire stores dedicated to clean beauty?! New York City, the most unnatural of environments, might seem like an unusual place for a clean beauty boom, but stores like Shen and Credo Beauty are enticing even the choosiest of New Yorkers to clean up their beauty routines with shelves full of sleek packaging and luxurious formulas.
Curious to see for myself, I ventured out to NYC to visit some of its best natural beauty emporiums and to check out the Indie Beauty Expo, where for two days only, a collection of niche beauty brands display their passion projects at Pier 36 in Manhattan. Needless to say, my suitcase just about doubled in weight.
Keep scrolling for a virtual tour through New York's best natural beauty destinations.
Credo, the first stop on my beauty pilgrimage had me SHOOK. I didn’t even get a good photo of the store. All of the brands you’ve read about… Kypris, Indie Lee, Rituel de Fille…are at your fingertips. You can slather yourself in oil serums or one of the dewy sales reps will treat you to a mini makeover. Skincare is the clear focus at Credo beauty, but of all of the stores I visited, they seemed to have the most extensive selection of color cosmetics. While I was trying on the buildable cream foundation from Kjaer Weiss (an ethereal revelation), I noticed that despite the buzz of SoHo that surrounded the store, there was a sense of kinship amongst the shoppers, like we were all coming on-board the clean beauty mothership at the same exciting time.
The following night, the store would be hosting their very own “Shark Tank” event with a few select vendors from the Indie Beauty Show, but Superiority Burger was calling my name… food vs. skincare: the perpetual toss up.
If serum swatching leaves you parched, head a block or two east and try the vanilla almond matcha latté from MatchaBar with macadamia milk!
Next stop, Shen: a veritable shrine to clean beauty. I was in paradise. Shen also appeared to have the largest breadth of brands and products of all the stores I was able to visit, featuring brands like Sturm, Vintner's Daughter, Suntegrity, and like 5 different kinds of body brush. Remember the first time you walked into Sephora and felt like you were having a stroke, but like, in a good way? It was kind of like that, but instead of an aggressive cloud of Burberry Brit wearing a dystopian smock, I was assisted by a sweet Brooklyn angel, who gently and sincerely guided me through her favorites at the store. I kind of wanted her to think I was cool, but mostly, I was impressed by her knowledge and the sheer magnitude of products I had never even heard of.
I was hoping to peruse this niche fragrance shop before hopping the train back to Manhattan, but my dreams of finding the an obscure signature scent were dashed when I got there and it was randomly shuttered. *Sobs softly.*
THE GREAT EROS
Right around the corner, the boutique lingerie brand, The Great Eros had opened a pop-up shop, and to my delight, I spotted a bottle of Für bikini oil in their window! A few hours earlier, Shen had ben sold out of the product, so I left the shop with a large bottle to test out and a renewed desire to wear nothing but silky minimalist unmentionables.
After some transcendent baked vegan brie at Délice & Sarrisen, I ventured over to CAP Beauty, tucked between The Organic Pharmacy (Next trip!) and Aesop, in Manhattan’s West Village. This jewel box boutique was brimming with products that looked like they had been chosen with great care and I was definitely taking interior decor notes, but there’s a distinct vibe like you have accidentally wandered into the cool girl’s section of the locker room. Undeterred, I sprayed ALL of the facial mists and dared to inquire about the wall of Sun Potion, Goop Wellness, and other ingestibles. After a bit of prying and some classic midwestern self-deprecation, the sales rep begrudgingly shared a few tips on how I could create my own beauty tonic at home. CAP Beauty is definitely worth checking out for the aesthetic factor and quick skin quench, but most of the products that they carry can be found elsewhere, so I’d recommend keeping your wallet zipped and your chin held high.
It's definitely more challenging to keep to a list of clean ingredients when most of the packaging is written in Kanji, but Oom35 is a delight nonetheless. Come for the hundreds of sheet mask options, rose quartz Gua Sha Tools, and the cutest face washing headbands you can imagine. They also have a nice selection of lashes, especially for those who have a hard time finding a size delicate enough for their eye shape and size.
Aedes Perfumery, AKA Aedes de Venustas, meaning ‘Temple of Beauty,’ is where fragrance lovers go to worship. Outside, the storefront is unassuming, but past the door buzzer are some deliciously Baroque, Pronkstilleven vibes; think velvet curtains, bell jars, and overflowing bouquets of silk flowers. You are welcome to browse the obscure fragrances at your leisure, but for the genuinely curious, trust Robert to steer you in the right direction. I told him about my affinity for Chanel Coromandel, champaca, gardenia, and tobacco and within minutes, he introduced me to a whole new realm of fragrances that I would have otherwise never heard of.
Pro tip: if you don’t have the luxury of waltzing over to the shop or springing for a full-sized bottle, you can get a sample of pretty much any perfume that you’d like for just a few dollars from their website. The fragrance I chose had to be special ordered from France, but as Robert graciously filled one of their signature gold-embossed shopping bags with samples, I got distracted by their extensive collection of Diptyque candles… and yes, I caved and bought one because they had a limited edition John Galliano candle that should be smoldering during an erotic encounter in an ancient library.