When I first started the blog, I myself was still learning about green beauty and trying to figure out the best places to educate myself and, let’s be honest, buy beautiful products. Today, green beauty is everywhere and we could, frankly, do with a little less educating (at least of the fear-mongering variety). On the other hand, there are so many more beautiful places to buy so many more beautiful things! I am going to try my best to list all of the clean beauty retailers worth mentioning, but since many of you have asked, I will also provide the resources for my favorite wellness and beauty destinations in NYC. Do note that a number of retailers listed also provide facials and other beauty services – those will be listed separately.
One of the best things about using indie beauty and makeup is the joy of discovering cool new products and the absolute pleasure that can be derived from dealing with the awesome, kind, passionate green beauty retailers. Most of the retailers with brick and mortar outposts host frequent events, helping to educate their consumers and introduce them to the makers behind the brands and following them on Instagram is a great way to discover new products.
Brick & Mortar
Today’s green beauty consumer (especially those on the coasts) don’t have to resign themselves to buying products sight unseen and hoping that a lipstick color would actually match their skin tone. More and more stores are popping up with brick and mortar locations, making beauty shopping easier and more fun. Nearly all of these have an e-commerce platform as well.
Aillea Beauty. Gone are the days when the only green or indie beauty stores could be found in New York or San Francisco. The beautiful and thoughtfully curated Aillea Beauty brings the best of green beauty, plus in-store events, beauty services and more to the South (Charlotte, Charleston, Atlanta and Raleigh) and Denver. They combine Southern graciousness and charm with the diverse and thoughtful curation that would please even the most discerning beauty junkie. Aillea has become a regional powerhouse and I am very much looking forward to visiting one if its beautiful shops one day soon.
Aurum Rose Beauty might be pretty and girly, but it also has serious beauty cred. I adore the sweet and spunky owner, Marissa and she is serious about curating the most luxurious and highest performing brands around. Aurum Rose has a brick and mortar location on Long Island and the space is just as gorgeous as the products it carries.
CAP Beauty. Blessed with a plethora of enviable press, including mentions in such august publications as W Magazine and the New York Times’ T Magazine and co-founded by the uber-cool owner of New York’s beloved Castor & Pollux Kerrilynn Pamer and super-stylist Cindy DiPrima, this jewel box of a store with its gorgeously stylish website quickly become a natural beauty superstar. Yet, it’s not the great publicity or the cool antecedents that make this store a gem: rather, it’s the focus on inner, as well as outer, beauty and health. CAP espouses a “beauty from the inside-out” credo and beauty products share its shelf space with such wellness heroes as Sun Potion, the Beauty Chef and Moon Juice, niche treasures like Dark Horse, Wonder Valley and Activist, as well as their own range of products. I am also in awe of their impeccable design aesthetic and huge fan of the founders, who are not only incredibly cool, but who radiate kindness and care.
Citrine Beauty with its Phoenix location, Citrine is an exception to the coastal clustering of green beauty boutiques. It has an unabashedly girly aesthetic and its resident makeup artists are a great resource for when you are looking to replicate that Instagram makeup look with natural products.
Credo Beauty. Founded by a former Sephora executive, Credo was created as the green alternative to that global beauty behemoth. It currently has 9 locations in New York, California, Chicago and Texas. Unlike Sephora’s all-black, nightclubby vibe, Credo stores are open, airy and inviting and bursting at the seams with a staggering selection of brands. In fact, I think Credo might well have the broadest brand selection around. I do wish there were a bit more of an editorial voice on their website (especially considering the sheer number of brands, which could be intimidating to a novice), though I do love their fun Founder Videos.
The Detox Market is the OG green beauty store. What first started in LA in 2006 as an off-beat project, has grown and blossomed into an international chain (there are locations in California, NYC andCanada and they aren’t done expanding). It carries a fabulous selection of brands (some of which I haven’t seen anywhere else) and offers frequent specials. Detox is especially focused on education and events – its gorgeous NYC store even has a dedicated event space – and it’s the perfect place to meet your favorite brands and their founders. It’s the epitome of LA cool with a New York business savvy and French style.
Flow. This little gem of a shop is part of Sacred Space: the rather remarkable wellness, beauty, food and event experience in Miami’s Design District. Sacred Space offers some of the most interest class offerings in town and serves some of the most exquisite vegan food I’ve ever had in its Plant Miami restaurant. Flow, meanwhile, carries a beautiful selection of beauty, wellness and even mindfully crafted jewelry. The Sacred Space is worth a visit just to see the remarkably large and beautiful crystal that holds pride of place in the green and airy grounds, but it’s a must if you happen to run out of your De Mamiel or Josh Rosebrook SPF during your stay on the beach.
Follain. With the opening of its NYC and Seattle locations, New England’s favorite Follain has joined the ranks of serious green beauty chains. My favorite thing about Follain, however, isn’t its relative ubiquity, nor even its fabulous brand selection and gorgeous and elegant branding and design, both in-store and online. What I value the most is their commitment to education. The stores arrange products by category (i.e. “Moisturizers”, “Cleansers”, “Masks”, etc) rather than brand, which makes them an ideal starting point for someone who is new to green beauty and is looking to create a comprehensive and personalized regimen. The tight (and discerning) curation means that there is no product overwhelm and the staff are trained to create targeted routines to help customers make the transition to clean products.
Lemon Laine. An offbeat Southern charmer doesn’t sell its products online, but I am dying to visit either of its two locations (Nashville and Houston) to check out the wares, play at the custom Oil Bar and maybe even get a makeup session with my sweet and very talented friend Sammie.
Onda Beauty. I used to describe Onda Beauty as the ultimate Tribeca shop: beautiful, impeccably put-together, effortlessly chic and decidedly high-end. Of course, now that it has outposts in Sydney, London and an annual summer location in the Hamptons, that moniker seems rather limited, so I will just call it a delight. Founded by a trio of very chic friends (one of whom happens to be Naomi Watson), Onda is the kind of shop you want to live in: it has the perfect light, it smells like heaven and they always have giant pitchers of water infused with Beauty Chef boosters for mid-shopping refreshment. I also love their curation: since two of the founders are Australian, they carry a lot of hard to find Aussie brands, as well as European and American indie gems. Their spa (which I will talk about in more detail below) is absolutely divine.
Shen Beauty located in Carroll Gardens, one of Brooklyn’s chicest neighborhoods, is an elegant and gorgeous, lavender and pink-colored playground, filled to the brim with unusual, niche brands. Shen’s founder, Jessica Richards, has an editors discerning eye and a beauty buyer’s talent for seeking out the most exciting new products and brands, with Shen serving as a launchpad for several indie beauty stars. Although definitely focused on green beauty, the store does feature quite a few products that, while wonderful, are not exactly clean. This is intermediate green shopping: you’ll find some unique treats, but you may need to read your ingredients. Shen also carries a few “good enough” brands, which, while not properly clean, are the best alternatives to the 100% clean products (e.g. the cult Elta MD sunscreen) for those who struggle with going completely clean.
Strange Invisible might be my favorite purveyor of exquisite and intoxicating natural perfume, but their gorgeous store in Venice (LA – not Italy) also carries a thoughtfully curated selection of the best of Green Beauty, featuring both established superstar brands and lesser known cult favorites.
Takamichi Beauty Room. A true jewel box of a store that carries a most exquisite selection of beauty, perfume and home brands, for many of which it’s the sole US retailer. So delicious are its wares, that I find it impossible to leave without making a purchase. Not everything they sell is available online, so it’;s definitely worth a visit if you live in or are visiting New York.
Now let’s get real, most people still don’t have access to the green beauty destinations listed above. Thankfully, there are plenty of amazing online-only shops out there, many of which offer sample programs or consultations to make beauty shopping a breeze.
Ayla Beauty is the nerd-chic, cerebral San Francisco counterpart to The Detox Market’s laid back LA style. This is the place to come if you are looking for high-performing, science backed skincare and if you don’t think that “chemical” is a dirty word. Some of the products carried on the site won’t pass the strictest green beauty muster, but they are all sufficiently clean by my standards. Ayla also carries some truly chic, innovative and active lines and products from across the globe, including elegant French and Swiss lines. Ayla’s blog features advice from top dermatologists and other skincare gurus and insiders. Ayla also has a San Francisco studio, where customers can meet brand creators, schedule consultations and test products. Though not strictly a shop, it’s an excellent resource and worth checking out if you are local or visiting SF.
Beauty Habit has been in the beauty game the longest by far: I remember browsing and drooling over its virtual shelves back during the Internet boom that gave us Pets.com (anyone remember that dog mascot or did I just totally age myself? Moving on). Beauty Habit carries a truly staggering selection of products, focusing on the niche and the unique. Thankfully, they have a separate “Natural & Organic” section of the store, which should help you navigate their selection of goodies, though you will still need to read the ingredients: they use the term “natural” in the way that the mainstream beauty industry does, meaning that a couple of the products billed as “natural” would not pass a green beauty’s muster (though those are in a distinct minority). One issue with having an inventory that large is that sometimes you might end up receiving a product perilously close to its expiration date: not ideal for buying green products that already have a shorter shelf life.
Green Jungle Beauty Shop. This delightful Canadian shop has quickly become one of my favorite online destinations. It has a gorgeous selection of brands, many of which I haven’t seen anywhere else. The founder is a true beauty fanatic and puts her personal touch on everything to do with the shop – including its charming, custom wrapping paper. French chic, Canadian kindness and easy worldwide shipping: this is a true gem.
Integrity Botanicals overhauled their website and while at its inception the store was more “earnest mid-range”, it’s now full-on “elegant and upmarket”. They still carry a lot of the reasonably priced product lines, as well as some wonderful, niche brands that are a bit hard to find elsewhere, but they also added some fabulous luxury brands like La Bella Figura, Laurel Organics and Strange Invisible Perfumes. They also have preternaturally fast shipping (at least to New York) and run cool specials. You might have read my post on IB and my interview with its fabulous founder Terri. If you have, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of this store and its ethos and product selection.
Instagram Style Mavens
The online green beauty marketplace is crowded with excellent retailers. From the powerhouses listed above, to the mom-and-pop operations, a discerning green beauty consumer has an abundance of choice, so it takes something extra-special to capture attention. The shops listed below stand out from the crowd both by featuring brilliantly curated selections of chic, often little-known and niche brands and by having some of the coolest, prettiest and most drool-worthy websites and Instagram feeds around.
Carbon Beauty has one of the most fascinating product selections I have ever come across. As someone obsessed with discovering new brands, it’s incredibly unusual for me to come across one or two unfamiliar name when scrolling through a shop’s list of featured brands. With Carbon Beauty, I always find new to me names (though, to be fair, not all of them are beauty brands, with Carbon carrying home goods, wellness products and supplements and even jewelry and workout clothes). This is what I love about green beauty: there is the joy and possibility of constant discovery and one can find unusual and cool products at every end of the price point spectrum. Oh, and Carbon’s IG is lovely – colorful, pretty and enticing.
LeVert Beauty is, to continue the influencer theme, the girly, pretty counterpart to The Stell’s NYC cool chick. Their equally drool-worthy IG is full of peonies, pink and languid lounging and the product selection on the site is a lovely mix of popular favorites, a few niche brands and charming selections for babies.
The Stell is like that globe-trotting, minimalist too-chic-for-school influencer who makes us long for expensive simplicity and white marble surfaces everywhere. I am lowkey obsessed with their Instagram feed, but once you get on the actual site, there is plenty to pull at your purse strings, from chic, all natural candles and soaps, to cult (and design) favorite brands like Grown Alchemist, Herbivore Botanicals, Palermo Body and Little Barn Apothecary.
Content Beauty (British), Clementine Fields (Canadian), Amazingy (German), Alice and White (Swedish), Reina Organics (Netherlands), I Am Natural (Australian) are my favorite foreigners. All carry amazing brands (some not available in the US), and Content and Clementine Fields also offer free shipping over a certain amount. Note for American shoppers: because of exchange rates and the way VAT works in Europe, it can sometimes be cheaper to buy products from these foreign sites – especially when it comes to local brands. Content Beauty also has a charming brick and mortar shop in London.
When it comes to beauty and wellness, New Yorkers are spoilt for choice. From superstar hairstylists and aestheticians whose services cost hundreds of dollars and are still impossible to get, to Chinatown massage parlors offering efficient and dirt cheap massages and, of course, the ubiquitous nail salons, there is something for everyone. Rather than making a comprehensive list, I will only mention the places I have used and enjoyed myself. This section will be updated periodically.
CAP Beauty. CAP’s facial protocol was initially created by the iconic aesthetician Kristina Holey and it creates incredible results, while being fabulously gentle. With their focus on massage, the CAP facial creates an age-erasing lift and preternatural glow. CAP also offers wellness appointments with their resident herbalist, the delightful Rachelle.
Onda Beauty. This might well be one of my favorite facials in town. Onda facials combine the best of natural skincare, hand-on manipulation and high-tech gadgets for facials that produce truly spectacular results. They also have one of the most aesthetically pleasing and calming treatment rooms in town. Aside from facials, they also offer bliss-inducing massages, intuitive readings and treatments from visiting healers.
Paul Labreque. This isn’t a green beauty spa, but it’s one of the two places in New York to get a Biologique Recherche facial (the other is the iconic Rescue Spa). If you are into high-tech and high-science skincare, it’s hard to do better. Ask for Andrew Kelly: he will create a custom regiment based on your skin’s needs that will leave you with a crazy glow.
Treatments by Lanshin. One of the OG clean beauty spas and still one of the best. Based on TCM and guided by the brilliant founder Sandra Lanshin, they offer facials, acupuncture (both general and facial), TCM dermatology and more. Sandra Lanshin is a pioneer of using Gua Sha, which is incorporated into their treatments, and her YouTube videos are a great way to learn the practice.
Clean Market. A true wellness playground, Clean Market services include cryotherapy, infrared sauna, vitamin IV drips, plus a delightful clean beauty and wellness shop and a cafe. None of it is cheap, but Clean Market offers memberships and packages that make treatments more accessible.
FICS. Started by a mountain climbing marathon runner, FICS is dedicated to athletic recovery, but it’s just as fun for a wellness-minded couch potato. Aside from the more traditional infrared sauna and cryotherapy, FICS also offers dry flotation (i.e. all of the meditative benefits without having to get wet or worrying about claustrophobia), light therapy bed (awesome for recovery), compression therapy and cryocontouring. It’s a one-stop destination for the wellness obsessive.