When was the last time you bought a beauty product in a physical store (that wasn't your local Ulta or Sephora)? We figured as much. But don't worry, it's not just you. Personally, I blame the internet. See, the web makes everything so convenient that we often forget there's a physical world out there worth exploring. Think about it: We get our beauty inspiration from the internet, thanks to YouTube and sites like yours truly. Then we buy our products online and share images of the results on social media. Where's the sense of adventure in that?
At Byrdie, we are definitely guilty of spending too much of our lives on the internet. But when we come up for air, one of our favorite things to do is explore the many indie beauty shops our fair country has to offer. Yes, we're talking brick-and-mortar boutiques that are gorgeously designed and well-stocked with under-the-radar products that you might not find all in one place online. When you find yourself in one of these places, you remember how much fun the real world can be.
We editors have explored some of the USA's coolest indie beauty shops, and in our opinion, these six are the best. Keep scrolling for your road map through the country's must-visit beauty shops!
The details: Ayla Beauty will forever hold a place in the heart of Byrdie editorial director Faith Xue for being the reason she discovered her holy grail acne product, Medik8's BetaGel. (See what exploring the real world can do?)
"It's not your average indie beauty store," Faith says. Here, the products are all top-quality, nontoxic, and mostly from other countries. "If you're curious about what your like-minded counterparts over the pond are slathering on their faces, Ayla is for you," she says. That means everything from under-the-radar French finds (see the product that French women apparently use to combat smoker's skin) to magical face oils from Uganda.
The location: 1825 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94109
The details: The first time I ever visited CAP Beauty in Manhattan's West Village, it was the middle of July, I'd just walked 30 blocks with a 15-pound backpack, and I was looking worse for wear. The place is like an oasis, a breath of fresh air amid the grimy city. Its gleaming shelves offer natural products from small-batch ranges like Captain Blankenship, Jiva-Apoha, and In Fiore, as well as better-known organic brands like Tata Harper and RMS. The place is only about two years old, but it has already developed a committed clientele of wellness-minded New Yorkers. When you visit, be sure to pick up a bottle of CAP's delightfully floral CAPtivator face mist ($46).
The location: 238 W. 10th St., New York, NY 10014
The details: This natural beauty boutique caters to the Bay Area's eco-friendly, ethical, and hip-conscious mentality. Within its unmistakable teal exterior, you'll find a carefully curated selection of skincare, makeup, and hair care from virtually every organic beauty brand on the market. Canadian skincare range Province Apothecary? Yes. Los Angeles natural makeup line Rituel de Fille? Certainly. Gwyneth Paltrow skincare collaboration Goop by Juice Beauty? Obvi. It's a natural beauty junkie's mecca.
The location: 2136 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115
The details: Beauty shops in Los Angeles are not difficult to find, but we consider this green-beauty boutique a rare gem. Packed wall to wall with natural and organic products for your face, body, home, and life, the shop doesn't waste an inch of its cozy white-and-wood space. Combing through its extensive array of beauty and wellness products could take days. Highlights include probiotic supplements from The Beauty Chef, hair essentials from Byrdie-favorite Rahua, and gorgeously packaged makeup from Kjaer Weis. I'd go on, but I'm getting verklempt. We adore The Detox Market.
The location: 8380 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048
The details: If you're situated toward the middle of the country, make your way to this mystical indie shop. The bohemian, tapestry-laden interiors simply beg for an Instagram, as does the store's wide selection of beauty, apparel, and home goods. Though the shop isn't dedicated exclusively to beauty, its apothecary section is the stuff of daydreams, offering impossible-to-find beauty novelties, like campfire-scented soap made in Marfa, Texas, and magical incense hand-rolled in Oaxaca.
The location: 215 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704
The details: If our list of indie shops were a group of friends, Shen Beauty would be the well-dressed cool girl. In fact, the shop's founder, Jessica Richards, has been termed a "cool-hunter" for her ability to scout the raddest makeup, skincare, hair care, and wellness brands and group them together in one impossibly chic collection. At Shen, you'll find everything from natural brands, like Cowshed, to dermatologist-recommended lines like EltaMD, to super-luxe products from NIOD and By Terry.
The location: 315 Court St., Brooklyn, NY 11231
What's your favorite place to shop for beauty products? Let us know in the comments below!