Walgreens may be your de facto “apothecary” of the moment—but that may be changing. (Or rather, it may be changing back.)
Herbalists and natural wellness practitioners have been mixing up herbal medicines and beauty products for centuries—though for the past 100 years or so, doctors and pharmacists have taken over that role. Traditional apothecaries, however, never disappeared entirely. And today, their age-old practices—occasionally scoffed at by proponents of modern Western medicine—are becoming more mainstream.
And now, apothecaries offering everything from customized natural skin-care products to individualized herbal blends are popping up across the country.
Here are some of the best modern apothecaries to get your old-school wellness fix.
(And P.S., we’d love to hear about amazing under-the-radar spots from your neighborhood—share them in the Comments section!)
While many people have been keeping the herbalist tradition alive over the decades, credit should be given to Los Angeles-based Moon Juice for really bringing the apothecary concept to the masses (or at least the green juice-loving, yoga mat-clutching, wellness-conscious public). Since opening its doors in 2012—with the online shop following in late-2014—Amanda Chantal Bacon‘s superherb-packed dusts in well-designed containers have become as much a staple to health-obsessed women as a head of a kale.
Moon Juice Venice, 507 Rose Ave., Venice, CA 90291, 310-399-2929
Moon Juice Silverlake, 2839 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, 213-908-5407
The Newport, RI-based skincare line Farmaesthetics was born out of founder Brenda Brock’s deep knowledge of plant-based formulation (she grew up on a farm, so it’s pretty much second nature). And while the line is stocked at retail stores across the country, the apothecary sells limited-edition, seasonally beneficial products you can’t find anywhere elsewhere. “Seasonality is so important to me in my line,” says Brock. “If I have a beautiful crop of calendula, I can make tinctures, treatments, and body scrubs in the shop that I wouldn’t be able to launch in a bigger way.”
The apothecary also has a spa where aestheticians customize both products and treatments to each client’s individual skincare needs (down to things as specific as that day’s weather forecast). As Brock says, “It’s our little nature incubator!”
144 Bellevue Ave., Newport, RI, 800-711-9194
The newly opened New York City outpost from well-known natural beauty brand Naturopathica is all about customization. “There is no single path to well-being, so we encourage people to create their own path through 21st century wellness,” says founder Barbara Close. The Remedy Bar, which Close refers to as Naturopathica’s “herbal dispensary,” offers a curated selection of loose leaf teas (from locations like China, India, Nepal, and Sumatra) as well as bulk herbs, herbal tinctures, and pure essential oils to stock up your natural medicine cabinet. Spa treatments are also customized based on each client’s needs from the various botanical oils available in each treatment room (arnica, lobelia, and cramp bark, to be specific).
And for those looking for a quick boost, the Vitality Bar offers herbal tonics, elixirs, and teas formulated to help with a variety of wellness needs. “Traditional herbal remedies are the people’s medicine,” explains Close. “With everyday concerns like chronic stress on the rise, people are looking for lifestyle changes to not only live longer, but also to live well. Herbal remedies and wellness rituals provide so many ways to achieve optimal mind and body health.”
127 W. 26th St., New York, NY, 646-979-3960
Earth Tu Face co-founders Sarah Buscho and Marina Storm opened their brick-and-mortar shop in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood in April 2015 as a way to help their customers interact more directly with medicinal plants. In the space, you’ll find dried flowers from their organic garden (think lavender and rose) strung across the ceiling and jars of dried herbs, fresh plants, and flowers lining the walls. “The apothecary is the place where many of the products are handcrafted,” explains Buscho. “We wanted to give our customers a sense of the process of making organic skin care by hand.”
In addition to the handmade beauty products and other goods on offer, the shop frequently hosts natural dye workshops, herbal elixir happy hours, and botanical beauty tutorials, too.
4609 Shatuck Ave, Oakland, CA,[email protected]
New York City’s first—and only—professional aromatherapy school, the Institute of Aromatherapy is both education center and herbal apothecary. “When I first started the institute, I just wanted to teach,” recalls founder Amy Galper, founder of natural beauty brand Buddha Nose. “But then people wanted to buy the hard-to-find, high-quality organic essential oils I taught with, so I began to sell them in our apothecary.”
Now, she peddles a whole array of oils out of her tiny East Village shop. Stop by anytime that there isn’t a class or workshop going on, and Galper herself will likely be around to advise on the best oils to cure pretty much anything that ails you.
530 E. 13th St., New York, NY, 347-690-0957
The brand-new Railyard apothecary in Burlington, VT, is the brainchild of Urban Moonshine founder Jovial King. “It’s our innovative, well-stocked workspace that serves as our research and development lab,” says King. “Its shelves are lined with bulk herbs, powders, house-made tinctures, and just about anything else an herbalist, alchemist, or mad scientist could dream of.”
In addition to serving as the brand’s lab, Railyard also hosts herbal formulation classes and workshops. “Plus, we share the space with the Burlington Herb Clinic,” notes King. “They use the apothecary to fill custom herbal formulations for their clients, who come from all over to meet with their professional herbalists for one-on-one health coaching.” Currently only open to professionals, the Railyard will have limited public hours starting this month (in the form of two workshops). King’s end goal? “To inspire a deeper relationship with herbal medicine and make it more accessible to the community.”
280 Battery St., Burlington, VT, [email protected]
This little shop in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood is all about offering tonics and juices to support wellness concerns, from anti-aging to detoxing. Owner Adriana Ayales, a Costa Rica native, used her background in tribal herbalism to build a menu of sips that are highly medicinal but also actually taste good. “From a young age, I learned to pair herbs with physical symptoms,” she says. “I set up Botica in a way that people can enjoy tonic herbalism in a demystified, everyday setting.”
When you go, be sure to chat with the on-site “baristas,” who are each trained to concoct custom formulas from the tonic bar (they keep pre-mixed tonic mixtures on tap) and the dry herb apothecary, which offers over 60 different herbs from around the world.
Botica, 607 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11222, 718-980-8088