That’s because most places expect that you’re doing the ingredient research on your own—or they don’t share your concern for what’s in your beauty products.
There are, however, a growing number of natural beauty stores across the country that take out all the guesswork and have added a heaping tablespoon of transparency and natural-beauty curation.
These shops, from Boston to Beverly Hills, are run by beauty gurus who are passionate about ingredient purity, and pride themselves on scouting and stocking totally natural—and super effective—beauty products.
Check them out now for your holiday shopping (or just the next time your moisturizer runs out). —Molly Gallagher
(Photos: Follain; Menagerie; The Detox Market; LurkShop)
Boston and Nantucket, MA
When Tara Foley, 29, was working at a New York City law firm a few years ago, she was leading a wellness-based life—you know, yoga, triathlons, farmers markets, and juice bars. But when she started to learn about the toxic chemicals in her beauty products—and the lack of beauty ingredient regulation in the U.S.—she couldn’t tolerate it.
“I started searching for healthy alternatives that were actually effective. This led to the launch of my blog, The Naturalchemyst, in 2009,” she says, which eventually led to apprenticeships on an organic lavender farm and at a skin-care company, then an MBA, and her very own natural beauty store, Follain, which opened in Boston in June 2013 and on Nantucket in July (which is open on a seasonal basis). She also has pop-up locations opening in Washington D.C. and Wellesley, MA.
Foley and her Director of Health and Safety vet all the ingredients of brands they consider selling, leading them to confidently stock lines like Earth Tu Face, Farmaesthetics, Josh Rosebrook, La Bella Figura, May Lindstrom, Rahua, Soapwalla, and Vapour Organic.
“Follain, is Gaelic for ‘healthy, wholesome, and sound,'” Foley says. “This is the first thing we tell a customer when they walk in.”
53 Dartmouth Street, Boston, and 9A South Beach Street, Nantucket, MA, www.shopfollain.com
(Photos: Cambria Grace; Follain)
When Sara Lamond and Blair Wagoner envisioned opening their natural beauty store, Fig & Flower, they wanted to help teach women about wellness, not just what they’re putting on their face.
The shop, which opened in May, in Atlanta’s trendy Poncey Highland neighborhood, does just that by offering free yoga classes, seminars on topics like holistic childcare, and seasonal cooking demos, in addition to selling awesome beauty products. “[The store] allows us to create a dialogue with our community about creating balance for the whole system,” says Lamond.
Theirs is also the only store in Georgia carrying RMS Beauty, 100% Pure, and Vapour Beauty, says Lamond, and they also stock One Love Organics, Sally B’s Skin Yummies, and indie, women-owned brands like C & Co. Naturals out of Asheville, NC.
636 North Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, www.shopfigandflower.com
(Photo: Fig & Flower)
Los Angeles and Toronto
Romain Gaillard and Valerie Grandury first opened The Detox Market as a pop-up on Abbot Kinney in Venice in 2010, with hopes of educating Angelenos about the dangers of toxins in cosmetics—and people were immediately hooked on the luxe, natural skin-saving serums and creams.
“We focused on showcasing the best in organic beauty around the globe, proving that natural products can be both elegant and effective. The pop-up was an instant success,” says Gaillard, who also founded the popular natural skin-care line Odacité with Grandury.
Now, the duo has boutiques in Los Angeles and Toronto, which they stock with big-name natural brands like RMS Beauty, cool nail polishes by Treat Collection, and products like diamond dust-filled bronzers by Kide Ka.
And they take customer education seriously: “Our Toronto staff is made up of naturopathic doctors and certified nutritionists,” says Gaillard. So come with your smart questions. “We dedicate time each week for training about natural ingredients, formulations, and how to best use each product.”
8380 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, and 367 King St. West, Toronto, www.thedetoxmarket.com
(Photo: The Detox Market)
Sag Harbor, NY
Every visit to Anne Nelson Sanford’s shop in Sag Harbor, New York, is like having a mini beauty consultation with someone who lives, breathes, and sniffs naturals and organics. The perfumer is often in the shop and ready to answer questions about all of the brands she vets, carries, and personally loves—like Meow Meow Tweet, Shiva Rose, One Love Organics, and May Lindstrom. And this summer, natural sunscreens by Suntegrity flew off the shelves.
She’s super generous with samples, noting that she doesn’t feel comfortable with customers spending close to $100 on a product they’re not sure whether or not the like.
As for her own line of perfume, also called Lurk, Sanford just debuted an eau de toilette (her first) made with essential oils. And all her cool, small-batch fragrances are also made at a loft in town. It doesn’t get more local than that.
28 West Water Street, Sag Harbor, NY, www.lurkmade.com
Last year Stephanie De Gasperis, a fitness specialist and holistic nutritionist, opened Husk alongside a team of holistic nutritionists. “We saw a need for a reliable source for all things wellness…where consumers wouldn’t have to question ingredient lists,” says De Gasperis.
A cool aspect of Husk is that you can also schedule a skin or nutrition consultation in the store (for free!) where De Gasperis’ team of holistic nutritionists and aestheticians will help you figure out what’s right for you skin (and body), with products by local brands like Skin Essence and Parkdale Butter. They also stock superstars like May Lindstrom, Tata Harper, RMS Beauty, and Herbivore Botanicals.
“There is still a stigma around using oils to moisturize and treat skin conditions. Chemicals clog pores, not plants,” De Gasperis says.
96 Scollard Street, Toronto, www.lovehusk.com
Menagerie isn’t a traditional store—it’s a natural beauty emporium on wheels, housed in a 1979 renovated vintage Airstream (can they travel to our office?). Owners Casey Shagena and Lou Medel wanted to bring together their love of good design and good-for-you-products, when they started running the moveable shop this fall.
“We realized that one of the most unique things about Portland is its food cart scene,” says Shagena. Then the idea hit me, ‘wouldn’t it be amazing to house the boutique in a mobile setting instead of a brick and mortar store like everyone else?'”
The duo are all about selling cool, indie brands you’ll want to know if you don’t, like Meow Meow Tweet, Ursa Major, Blackbird, Isa’s Restoratives, Soul Sunday, Caru Skincare, Hudson Made, Kiyoko, Smoke Perfume, and Mullein & Sparrow.
They also have a pretty selection of jewelry and little potted flowers, which don’t exactly hurt curb appeal.
Tidbit Food, Farm & Garden, 2880 SE Division Street, Portland, OR, www.menagerie-shop.com
Beverly Hills, CA
In a city known for HD-ready skin (and all the procedures to get it that way), owner Jean Seo keeps a clean crowd of natural beauty and skin-care lines at her sweet boutique, EvoLue. And it’s in demand.
She sees lots from models and actresses looking to learn about natural beauty products, she says, as well as women turning to natural products to calm their chemical peels, for example, and patients of LA’s leading holistic doctors.
Seo stocks Arcona Skincare, Buly 1803, Grab Green cleaning products, Jane Iredale Makeup, Rare Elements Hair, RMS Beauty, Sheswai nail lacquer, and Tilth Skincare. She also has her own natural skin-care brand, Evolue Sensible Skincare, for which she carefully sources all of the ingredients to make products like jojoba oil body lotions and beeswax-filled creams.
357 1/2 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA, www.evoluebeauty.com
(Photos: Sharon Suh for EvoLue)