Skin Care

By Jan Lee

Although we hate to admit it, so much so that we’ve added a French disguise to its pronunciation, sometimes we shop at Target (and we can’t wait to see who’s the next Go line designer). There are the low prices and then there’s the recent foray into more upscale beauty brands. With the rise of luxury beauty awareness in their consumers, aka beauty junkies on a budget, mass retailers have started to collaborate with exclusive or high-end lines. Target was the first U.S. retailer to carry British sensation Boots No. 9.

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Source: Walmartopia.com

But with the invasion, or, uh, rise of the Targets and Wal-Marts, we might be slowly losing connection with Mom and Pop stores around the corner in our neighborhoods. One might be mistaken to believe that in the near future, the only place you will be able to get your skincare essentials will be these humungo chain stores.

Stepping up to the plate, CVS/pharmacy (150 E. 42nd St., www.cvs.com), America’s largest retail pharmacy, opened its the newest, biggest and beauteous Manhattan store in Murray Hill this past October. “We like to say that we’re going beyond just selling beauty to ‘reinventing’ the way women experience beauty at the drugstore”, says Deb Armstrong of CVS. The beauty section is highly visible upon entering the store, which can be attributed to the illuminated shelving similar to department and boutique stores and there are knowledgeable beauty consultants roaming the area, ready with suggestions and armed with expertise. The store is open 24 hours and (coincidentally) exclusively stocks the 24.7 Skincare line– a new collection of high-tech skincare products that work “quickly to deliver instantaneous and visible results every day, every hour, every minute, all day long” at prices ranging $19.99-$39.99. This type of product, dubbed “masstige” (a combination of “mass” and “prestige”) by beauty critics, gives consumers “high-tech, low hassle” products.

Then there are the coveted brands that make us squeal with delight when we pull them out of our shopping bags that started out as the Mom and Pop around the corner way back when.

Kiehl’s (109 Third Avenue, www. Kiehls.com) began as The Brunswick Apotheke in 1851, serving “the citizens of the burgeoning Lower East Side medicinal herbs, unguents and concoctions mixed to family recipes as a small apothecary.” Kiehl’s sells strictly its own brand, but for the varietal sort, another old school apothecary that still carries its original moniker is C. O. Bigelow Chemists (414 6th Avenue, www.Bigelowchemists.com). The 168-year old West Village apothecary sells upscale skin, hair and fragrance products, “items that have stood the test of time, items that are designed to amuse, and some that are just plain good for you”. Its most popular brands being Diptyque, Geo F. Trumper and Kneipp to name a few, in addition its own very popular house brand. Only a NY store would makes a Lip Shine that gives you minty fresh breath after that “everything” bagel!

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Source: Kiehls.com

And now for Mom and Pop’s “Mom and Pop” –the real neighborhood beauty destinations that have stood the test of time. That have stared down the big chains and said, “We offer something different.”

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Source: Citysearch.com

Clyde’s On Madison (926 Madison Avenue, www. Clydesonline.com) has been serving the UES with a skincare shopping experience that they just can’t resist once experienced. “We have very loyal clientele,” says Diana Garcia, skincare specialist and beauty consultant of Clyde’s. According to Garcia, the top three reasons people shop there are 1) the salespersons are not pushy like department stores salespeople, 2) the privacy and 3) the individual attention you receive as a customer. If you want to go where everyone knows your name, they are open 365 days of the year. They carry a lot of high end spa lines from all over the world, suiting the international set. They are the only supplier of Carita in the U.S. and also sell the lines of local skincare specialists, such as Alaur Skin Solutions by Dr. Albert Lefkovits.

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For you Chelsea Girls (and Boys), stop by New London Pharmacy (246 8th Avenue, Newlondonpharmacy.com). “Beauty.Luxury.Wellness.” is the motto at this apothecary that sells skincare products, including cosmaceuticals, and beyond. The pharmacists, including husband and wife owners Abby Mouzakitis-Fazio, R.Ph., and John Fazio, R.Ph., have a combined 83 years of clinical experience and a staff of well trained specialists who can assist you in over 8 languages.

Savon Orange Verte, their own unique soap, is hand crafted by one of the oldest French soap factories in the heart of Provence “using family methods of manufacture that have been handed down since the nineteenth century.” The lovely soap is “triple milled twice” and contains no artificial colorings or preservatives. You can also find Bioderma, Elnett, Embryolisse, Blue Drops or any other hard to find, but can’t live without products (and we hear if they don’t have it they will try to get it for you).

So we’re just a bunch of lucky spoiled girls who can have our pick, according to our mood or lifestyle. We can now go to the big retailer for that exclusive, but wallet friendly line, or have Mama Pharmacist search for that unknown little indie brand that we must must have! It comes down to the experience we want to leave with. Maybe we’ll share our beauty finds with our BFF or maybe we won’t!

Originally published February 2008
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