If we asked you to name the top beauty retailers in the country, one or two names might spring to mind. We’re going to go ahead and assume Urban Outfitters wouldn’t be one of them—but that might just change in the very near future. If you’ve stepped into a UO store lately, you’ll notice an expanding beauty section featuring a colorful collection of indie and mainstream beauty brands; cutely packaged skin savers from Korea; and wondrous, magical products with names like Unicorn Oil (more on that later). In fact, on a recent outing I took to the perpetually festival-ready clothing store, I was surprised to see some of my favorite beauty products proudly on display near the checkout line—products I’m used to seeing at luxe independent retailers like Space NK or Net-a-Porter, and also some products I’ve never seen before in my life. Ten minutes later, I was glued to the same spot, swiping, dabbing, and marveling over how good the selection of beauty products was before me.
“UO Beauty carries a wide range of products, from prestige brands to cult pharmacy finds,” senior beauty buyer Laura Zaccaria explains. “Currently, we carry over 150 brands, with 100 more new and exciting ones on the horizon.” That’s right—150. That’s on par with beauty giant Sephora, which—according to its Wikipedia page—carries over 100 brands. So, what sets Urban Outfitters apart from the pack? How does someone like Zaccaria select the brands and products this fashion retailer carries? And, most importantly, what little-known beauty products should we have on our radar right now? All of these questions and more will be answered ahead—keep scrolling to school yourself on this blossoming beauty hot spot.
So, let’s just get this out of the way—there are a ton of beauty retailers out there already, all claiming that their selections are more carefully curated than the rest. What makes Urban Outfitters different, other than the fact that its stores are mainly known for fringed, flowy clothing? “We make sure that everything we bring in is effective and unique,” Zaccaria says. “It’s important for us to pick products that our customer will have an emotional connection with. We want to be the destination our girl comes back to for inspiration, newness, and for the essential products she will use every day.” A lofty goal, yes, but so far, it seems like UO is on the right track: The beauty section of its site perfectly melds heavy hitters like Stila Cosmetics and Bliss with smaller, niche brands like Soul Sunday and Korea-based Mizon. Speaking of Korean brands, that’s another unique facet of Urban Outfitters’ selection: Its wide array of K-beauty products, usually only found in Korean beauty–specific retailers, like Peach & Lily. “Korean beauty has raised the bar in beauty innovation, which really excites us,” Zaccaria says. “We were initially intrigued by their inventive, effective formulas and ingredients, and we love being able to make these stellar finds easily accessible for our customer. The cute packaging is an added bonus!”
And finally, as for where beauty buyers like Zaccaria find the whimsical products the retailer carries, her answer is simple: everywhere. “New discoveries stem from everyday life,” she says. “I’m constantly looking for new ideas, and see beauty in everything and everyone. I can be inspired by a friend’s makeup bag, a local grocery store, or from trends overseas. Beauty is about the lifestyle, not just the individual product.” Whatever lifestyle it’s selling with its beauty selection, we’re buying it.
Keep scrolling to see some of Zaccaria’s favorite products of the moment!