A Beauty & Fragrance Lover’s Guide to New York City
Hi everyone! It’s been a minute since the last time I put up a blog post (I swear I’m trying to be better about that) but we were in New York City last week with some friends and it was a little bit of a whirlwind. Joseph had a tattoo appointment to work on his sleeve, so while he was doing that I finally got the opportunity to run around town and work on a post I’ve been pondering on for a while.
You’ll be 100% unsurprised to learn that every time I go to a new city, finding the best places to shop for beauty stuff is high on my list of internet research. Most of the beauty-related city guides I found for NYC were all about salons, facials and brow microblading so this time I decided to make my own. Be the change you want to see & all that jazz. Obviously I couldn’t visit every single cosmetics & perfume shop in Manhattan – not that I wouldn’t love to try! But for this round I mostly stuck to some of my favorite stores and the more unique shopping experiences. I fall in love with NYC a little more every time I visit, so I do plan to go back when I can and expand on this list some more!
I made a little google maps list of everything right here, or you can scroll to the bottom of the post to see the map.
433 W Broadway
Go for: makeup, skincare & hair care
While I’m not a Birchbox subscriber anymore – sorry, I just like to pick out my own stuff – visiting the subscription box company’s SoHo store is pretty neat. They have a good stock of full size products, and you can build your own Birchbox out of all the available samples for the month. They also have pre-made curated boxes, and beauty services on the lower level.
Bite Lip Lab
174 Prince St
Go for: makeup
I actually visited the Bite Lip Lab on my very first trip to New York. I didn’t get back there this time, but you can read all about the experience here. The prices have gone up significantly since then (it’s now $150 for two bespoke colors) but it’s still worth doing if you want to splurge a bit on something completely custom.
62 Wooster St
Go for: fragrance, home fragrance, skincare & leather accessories
I’ve been in love with Byredo fragrances lately, so I just had to stop by their flagship in NYC. Not only do they have their full fragrance line, you can also check out their leather goods & accessories. Pro tip: if you don’t want to deal with toting stuff home they’ll ship it for you, and there’s no sales tax if it’s going outside of New York.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to grab any photos of the inside of the store because my phone battery died inexplicably and I didn’t have my power pack with me. Luckily I did manage to make it back to our AirBNB without getting too hopelessly lost!
9 Prince St
Go for: makeup, skincare, hair care & fragrance
First off – I don’t buy into the whole clean-beauty, natural-is-safer, your-skincare-is-toxic trend, so I wasn’t sure if I’d include Credo in this guide because ‘clean beauty’ is at the core of their mission statement. But their website focuses more on proven safety, and acknowledges sometimes synthetics are a better option. The staff at the shop also didn’t harp on the whole chemical fear angle while I was there either, so I decided I feel ok recommending them.
So with that said – if you’re into natural beauty products, this is a must-visit. They have a wide range range of makeup, skincare and fragrance that will satisfy just about any ingredient requirements. In fact, they even publish a prohibited list that all their brand partners have to adhere to. They also have a lot of vegan options, since the only animal products they allow are responsibly-sourced bee byproducts, lanolin and carmine.
242 Mott St
Go for: Fragrance, skincare & home fragrance
I’ve gotten a little bit hooked on Diptyque, and naturally I had to stop by one of their stores to pick up the New York exclusive city candle (which I’ll go into more detail about at a later date). The Mott St boutique was just as nice as the ones I visited in Paris and London, with testers galore and incredibly friendly staff.
640 5th Ave
Go for: hair care
This doesn’t really qualify as a beauty store and definitely wasn’t on my pre-planned list of stops, but when we passed by the Dyson demo store on our way to Uniqlo I couldn’t resist going in to check out their hair dryer. They had demo units out along with all the attachments, and I was surprised at how much it seems to live up to the hype. It really is light and well-balanced even with the diffuser, and much quieter than my old school Conair. My hair wasn’t wet at the time so I can’t speak to how fast it dries, but I really want one now.
123 Lafayette St
Go for: makeup & skincare
My first visit to the Glossier store last year was awesome, since it was my first opportunity to try out most of their makeup & skincare products firsthand. Their Cloud Paint blush has since become a staple in my ‘too tired to do anything’ makeup routine. People must be way more aware of it now though, because when I visited this year the showroom was completely packed to the point that you could hardly move. By the time I got there I was exhausted, hangry and my feet were killing me, so I only stayed long enough to grab a couple of photos. I was sad that I didn’t get to check out the new Cloud Paint colors & LidStars, but at the time I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. I’d recommend stopping by earlier in the day to avoid the crowds.
233 Elizabeth St
Go for: fragrance, home fragrance & skincare
Like the one in Paris, the Le Labo boutique in NYC was really well laid-out, with very low-pressure staff. Like Diptyque, the main draw of visiting the boutique vs just purchasing their line through department stores is their city exclusive fragrance. In this case, Tubereuse 40. Like Paris’ Vanille 44, it wasn’t completely dominated by its title note, and was more complex than I expected. Still, tuberose isn’t one of my favorite fragrances so I didn’t feel the need to pay the slightly exorbitant city exclusive prices for this one. Though in retrospect, I should have picked up another lip balm from them because I love it and mine is running low.
13 E 16th St, 6th floor
Go for: skincare & makeup
Our visit to the Onomie showroom was a really fun one – my friend Kara went too. I received a few products from them to test out a while back (gifted) and love them, so I jumped at the chance to check out the rest. They don’t have an expansive product range and don’t have the entire floor to themselves, so it wasn’t the same type of hectic carnival atmosphere that I ran into at Glossier. Instead, visits are by appointment and we got a personal overview of the combo skincare/makeup line from Karenine, the showroom manager. One of the other big perks of going there in person is you get 15% off your purchase. I used the opportunity to swatch the full product line, so stay tuned for more on that coming up.
81 Mott St, 2nd floor
Go for: skincare & makeup
As I mentioned in my instagram post about it, it took me a minute to find this store because it’s up a short flight of stairs and anything above my eye level may as well not exist. Even though the shop is small, they have the best collection of Asian beauty brands I’ve seen under one roof in the US. A lot of the packaging doesn’t have any English on it, but the woman working in the store was very helpful. With my purchase she also gave me an adorable reusable tote that folds up to look like a strawberry, which I think is just the cutest thing ever.
155 Lafayette St
Go for: fragrance & home fragrance
This fragrance shop was another surprise visit. I didn’t know it existed at all, and just noticed it across the street while I was on my way to Glossier. I almost didn’t go in, but I’m so glad I did! While they’ve got the standard personal and home fragrances out to sniff, they also do wine-tasting-esque discovery experiences and have a rotating selection of mystery fragrances. The selection is awesome too, with brands like Room 1015 and Zoologist that you don’t exactly see everywhere.
360 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
Go for: fragrance & home fragrance
Twisted Lily is another niche fragrance shop that I’ve bought from online several times. I’ve been wanting to visit in person for a while, but this was the first trip where I had enough time to make it over to Brooklyn. Time well spent for the fragrance lover! It’s another small storefront that’s stuffed chock full of good products and staff who know their stuff. In fact, the perfumer from Parfums Quartana stopped by to talk to the owner while I was there and it sounds like they’ve got some exciting new stuff coming up. Two pro tips for this store: they use their vertical space, so if you’re vertically challenged like me and can’t reach a tester, just ask. Can’t decide? They offer 3 complimentary samples, and additional ones are $4/each. They also carry a nice selection of discovery sets (that’s what I went home with). Bonus: they have a dog named Winnie (or Wendy, maybe?) and she’s adorable.
That’s it for this edition of the NYC beauty shopping guide! Obviously it’s missing a ton of stuff like all the department stores, brand flagships, etc, but I’m hoping to get back up there to do a volume two. For those of you who spend a lot of time in the area – what are your best shopping recommendations for people visiting New York?