Beauty Apothecaries That Should Be On Your Radar

We love an afternoon spent at Ulta, Sephora, or any other mecca of a beauty store, browsing the aisles with the best of them. But sometimes, doesn't it feel a tad magical to stumble on an outlet that's totally new and undiscovered?

Allow us to introduce you to these beauty apothecaries — a breed of exclusive emporiums that offer a carefully crafted menu of hard-to-find brands, niche natural products, and specialty (read: pampering) services. The unique shops value quality over quantity, and some of them even sell their own in-house creations.

Sound like your cup of tea? We've rounded up some of our favorites from across the country.
1 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Sabia.
Where: Sabia, Austin, TX

The Story
In 1994, a couple fascinated by natural healing and aromatherapy opened Sabia, a small-town shop that sold everything from bath soaps to crystals.

"They were a little ahead of their time...kind of pioneers in their day," says Jessica Slutsky, who took over the business 11 years ago. Since then, Slutsky has spiced things up by adding spa services like lash extensions, facials, and even makeup lessons. "I wanted our beliefs to be more experiential," she says. "We love to have fun and teach people about those things so they can walk out, if not with a product, with an experience."

What It Offers
Lash extensions and makeup aside, Sabia houses a variety of hand-picked products that Slutsky truly believes in, from bigger names like RMS and Aesop to local brands. Inventive Eco-Organics is a cult-favorite, Austin-based skin-care brand the store uses in many of its treatments.

Slutsky notes how important it is to really know every brand she chooses to sell. "We're all about arming people with tools and information for their own life — if we really understand the brand and know about it, it's easier to sell it," she says. But Slutsky says Sabia isn't all about making sales. "I'd rather see people leave with five samples than with one and regret it — I think people appreciate our honesty."

The Experience
What you won't be getting: employees breathing down your neck and shoving coupons at you. What you will: a lighthearted, welcoming atmosphere with a clean, open aesthetic filled with intricate apothecary bottles and other historical objects.

"We play music, we talk, we love for the store to smell good," says Slutsky. "We want the clients to touch, smell,'s an envelopment of all your senses."
2 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Farmaesthetics.
Where: Farmaesthetics, Portsmouth, RI

The Story
Owner Brenda Brock grew up in what she calls "kitchen culture." She's originally from a farming family in Texas, and her great aunts and grandmothers taught her how to create herbal concoctions for health and beauty purposes — which eventually became her lifelong passion.

"I wanted to build a small-town American apothecary, similar to the one I knew growing up in Texas," says Brock. "So when an old, empty space that had originally been an 1850s hotel lobby in Newport became available, I knew it was the perfect palette for the experience I wanted to recreate."

With the help of her fam, the space is now totally renovated, complete with a New Orleans-style courtyard in the back where the store hosts evening events with clients, neighbors, and friends.

What It Offers
Unlike some apothecaries, which sell smaller batches of select brands, Farmaesthetics offers its own personal concoctions only. "Our formulations utilize whole, natural ingredients in combinations to create a benefit delivery based on the whole, rather than relying on one isolated, latest, greatest, star cosmetic ingredient," explains Brock. "We are truly, strictly, and unwaveringly 100% natural American herbal formulations."

Her products have even been acknowledged as a luxury treatment line and compared in effectiveness to top pharmaceutical skin-care lines. "The heartbeat of our line is our Fine Herbal Cleanser, Sweet Milk Facial Exfoliates, Herbal Hydration Complex Mask, and Complexion Conserve Serum," says Brock. In addition to skin care, Brock and Co. offer treatments such as facials, massages, and saltwater soaks.

The Experience
When you walk into Farmaesthetics, Brock wants you to feel as if you were transported to a space that activates all of your senses. "It's an alive space where the herbs, flowers, infusions, and formulas emanate from the shelves," she says. "And people are actually drawn to the products they might need!"

As for the interior setup, the charming shop features hardwood floors, natural light, and a reconstructed wood-and-sea-glass fireplace — the vibe is homey, welcoming, and the pale color palette allows the products to pop.
3 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of The Detox Market.
Where: The Detox Market, Los Angeles, CA

The Story
It all started with two friends who had a passion for high-quality, green beauty products. Romain Gaillard and Valérie Grandury started their own organic skin-care company called Odacité, but due to their clients' requests for even more natural product reccs, they decided to test a ton, find their favorites, and get the word out. Thus, the birth of The Detox Market.

"The first store opened as a pop-up in Venice in 2010, and was originally meant to be a two-month-long project to educate people of toxicity in cosmetics," she says. "We focused on showcasing the best in organic beauty from around the globe, with a goal to prove that natural products can be both elegant and effective." Turns out, the pop-up was a major hit, and eventually led to a permanent store in West Hollywood and two more in Toronto.

What It Offers
The Detox Market's team spends years meticulously testing and researching products before selling them — how many retailers can you say do that? Though the store carries over 70 brands from all around the world, they're all labels the owners truly love and care about. Among the plethora of faves are Moon Juice dusts, which give you an added boost of nutrients when you add them to any smoothie or drink, and Odacité's concentrated serums, which target pretty much every skin concern out there. Additionally, Detox Market offers a Clean Program, developed by a cardiologist and cleanse specialist, which features a myriad of products that detox and aid in healthy digestion.

The Experience
The foundation of The Detox Market was built around offering up trusted recommendations based on product testing — and that philosophy still stands strong today. You can expect to leave the shop with more knowledge about natural beauty than when you entered. "We love spending time with our clients to go over all their detoxing needs — whether it be changing over their makeup and skin care, or looking for a great supplement to take care of them from the inside out," says marketing manager Talita Taiti. "We aren't about 'fixing' people, but rather listening and sharing our knowledge." Additionally, the store has an in-house aesthetician and makeup artist to help guide you through the entire shopping process. Sounds pretty clutch, no?
4 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Lucia Apothecary.
Where: Lucia Apothecary, Cambria, CA

The Story
When owner Lisa Johnson founded Lucia Apothecary nearly a decade ago, she had one simple goal: to create a body product line that evoked the natural beauty of where she grew up. "Our collection is paraben- and sulfate-free and inspired by the beauty of coastal California — each scent is named after our favorite locations," says Johnson. Seven years later, she opened a second location in Morro Bay, CA.

What It Offers
Ten products. Yep, you read right — its line features just 10 core skin-care items. Granted, they come in an array of over 20 delicious-smelling scents, all named after California locations like Big Sur, Malibu, and the Pacific Coast Highway.

"They moisturize, soften, and scent all in one application," says Johnson. Since many of the apothecary's shoppers are out-of-state, it offers free shipping to the contiguous U.S., as well as the chance to join its Scrub Club, which will bag you two scrubs every three months.

The Experience
Lucia is located in the small coastal village of Cambria, and Johnson says it's the town's unique and natural beauty that draws people in (anyone else itching to book a plane ticket? ) The apothecary always aims to please. "Each client is treated to a complimentary hand scrub when they visit the apothecary," Johnson says. "Men love the treatment — the Big Sur Man scent is one of our most popular for men and women." Cheers for unisex options!

5 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Cold Spring Apothecary.
Where: Cold Spring Apothecary, Cold Spring, NY

The Story
Before starting Cold Spring Apothecary in 2010, Stacey Dugliss-Wesselman was riddled with allergies. Unable to use any products that contained harsh ingredients, she set out make her own.

"At the time, I was working as a hairstylist in Brooklyn and would mix oils and stuff for my clients and friends," she says. "It was with their encouragement that I started developing my own line." During this process, Dugliss-Wesselman was diligent about using only the highest quality, natural ingredients she could source. She dove into researching herbs, plant oils, butters, and other ingredients and taught herself to make her own herbal remedies and cosmetics.

What It Offers
Cold Spring's products come in small batches, and according to Dugliss-Wesselman, they are 90% medicinally focused. "Our best-sellers really switch up with the seasons; [we sell] out of our medicinal salves, bath salts, and Intense Moisture Hand Salves in the winter and our ever-popular Sea Salt Spray, Dry Shampoo, and Rosemary & Jojoba Moisture hair mask in the summer."

But the love for Cold Spring's facial oils, Clarity and Calm, endures year-round. Additionally, the apothecary has its own wellness house, which features dreamy spa treatments like the Clay Mask Hair and Scalp Treatment, Signature Facial, and Men's Facial.

The Experience
"Our focus on wellness is apparent from the moment you walk in the doors and are hit with natural scents and rows of herbs and tea," says Dugliss-Wesselman. The enchanting, light-filled boutique is clearly a place where customers come to find unique products and learn about how they work. "We are very customer service-focused — all our employees, from manufacturers to retail and even our practitioners, share in their love of naturals and feel passionate about the products we sell, often having a hand in their development, creation, and success," she says.
6 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Wild Ginger Apothecary.
Where: Wild Ginger Apothecary, Sarasota, FL

The Story
Owner Nicole Leffler had been working in natural health stores for nearly a decade before starting WGA, though she says it was a dream in the works the whole time. "I'd been planning to have a small retail business before I entered this industry and have always had a fierce entrepreneurial spirit," she says. "I quickly grew tired of limited customer service and inundating customers with far too many options, many of which I didn't believe in." Her solution? Creating a cozy, comfortable store that sells products she handpicks for their potency and purity. You go, girl.

What It Offers
"The product selection is streamlined to what I consider the very best options for any budget," explains Leffler. "They are generally small-batch and from fellow small businesses, local when possible, and primarily from owner-operated companies. I'm also a big believer of 'try before you buy' sampling." Among the apothecary's best-selling brands is Kensington Apothecary's skin-care line, which Leffler says is a mix-and-match series appropriate for every skin condition. As for individual products, Leffler swears by Holistic Heights' Tooth Powder, an "anti-toothpaste" that customers always come back for.

The Experience
In constantly crowded, mass retail stores where employees are almost always juggling a few customers at a time, it's not easy to get a one-on-one experience. That's far from the case at WGA. "I go out of my way to help my customers find exactly what it is they're looking for, regardless of skin type, age, budget, and level of experience with natural products," says Leffler. "It's my passion finding products that my customers will love as much as I do."
7 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Soul Sunday.
Where: Soul Sunday, Online

The Story
Founders Shea Hardiman and Kara Kochalko were inspired to start their own line while backpacking through Europe in the fall of 2013.
You could say it was an atypical kickoff, since neither of them had a specific background in making their own products — but they're proof that you can do anything you're passionate about.

"The feeling and colors of all those new places and the natural ingredients around us had an impact, and upon return from our travels, we started Soul Sunday [in June 2014] as a place to foster the creative work that came from the trip," says Kochalko. "It evolved into an aromatherapy and self-care line that reflects our experience and outlook." Today, the goodies are not only sold on their own site, but in stores all over the country.

What It Offers
Soul Sunday offers a modest line of therapeutic, playfully named products. "Our roll-on aromatherapy oils are popular, and that's exciting for us because the usage of essential oils has always been one of our biggest priorities when creating our line," says Kochalko.

In addition to oils, Soul Sunday offers basic skin-care items, a natural deodorant cream, and soothing home mists. "They are made in small batches and were born out of necessity," says Kochalko. "Everything in the collection is blended with our personal beauty regimen in mind, replacing commercial products for ingredients that are gentle and aromatherapeutic."

The Experience
Kochalko and Hardiman realized there's a plethora of people out there who want to reap the benefits of aromatherapy, but find the market very overwhelming. It's for this reason that the duo sought to create an easy-to-navigate website that both the enthusiast and the novice can appreciate.

Furthermore, they set out to share their genuine desire to explore and create with their customers. "Our line was inspired by the joy of creativity and travel. We always want to share that sense of discovery and escape with our customer," says Kochalko. Consider us on board.
8 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Malin+Goetz.
Where: Malin+Goetz, New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA

The Story
Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz launched M+G in 2003 and swiftly opened shop in Chelsea, their own NYC neighborhood, in 2004. "It was a response to many authentic independents being sold to L’Oreal, Estée Lauder, etc.," says Malin. Both men suffered from different skin concerns and found it frustrating that nothing on the market suited their needs. That drove the desire to create a skin-care line that would be easy to use for everyone — but with a focus on sensitive skin.

What It Offers
Malin and Goetz blend high-quality, natural ingredients with performance technologies. "We developed treatments to be both gentle and effective for multiple skin conditions," says Malin. He tells us the top seller is the Eucalyptus Deodorant, which is free of alcohol and aluminum and uses eucalyptus and citronellyl to kill the bacteria that causes odor.

A few other notable items (though there are many) are the rum-scented products and the Peppermint Shampoo, both of which cater to a unisex audience — actually, all of the products do. M+G also sells a variety of candles and perfumes sans synthetic fragrances.

The Experience
"Authentic and personalized," Malin says matter-of-factly when I ask him to describe the "feel" of the apothecary. "We are a neighborhood store with many regular customers whom our expert staff know by name."

In addition to having a strong educational and sampling program, so that the brand's retailers know what it's all about, the duo believes in offering something for everyone. "We even have something for furry loved ones like our gentle Dog Shampoo, inspired by our rescued pug, Mr. Greenberg." Pup lovers, jump on this.
9 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Le Pink & Co. Beauty Apothecary.
Where: Le Pink & Co. Beauty Apothecary, Los Angeles, CA

The Story
In 2003, Miranda Megill opened Le Pink & Co., a vintage-style apothecary in Echo Park that was so small she called it a "chicken corner" — though that space was short-lived. Megill grew out of that tiny first shop and moved to a new location in Silver Lake.

"Le Pink is a result of our genuine love for cult makeup lines, niche fragrance, small-batch bath products, and green European skin care," she says. The enchanting shop has quickly become a go-to joint for many, including one of our favorite makeup artists Gloria Noto.

What It Offers
Featuring more than 70 different lines, Le Pink does an impressive job of blending hard-to-find, luxury products from around the world (think fragrances from Paris) with well-known natural brands like RMS and Eminence Organics. Besides the wealth of products you'll find, you can also indulge in its treatment room, which offers facials, waxing, and lash extensions.

The Experience
If you're a fan of nostalgia (who isn't?) and have a fervent love for beauty, Le Pink will probably feel like heaven to you. "It feels almost like you're in your girlfriend's bedroom and she's got a lot of beauty, fragrance, and accessories she wants you to play with," says Megill.

Despite the plethora of products Le Pink offers, which are chosen to fit every kind of curiosity, Megill says she doesn't let things feel overwhelming. "It has a lot to do with soft lighting, soft music, and soft tones — creating a space that is quiet and cozy."
10 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of In Fiore.
Where: In Fiore, San Francisco, CA

The Story
"I delved into oils and blending at a very young age," founder and creator Julie Elliott says. "My mother worked for an L.A.-based company that imported French cosmetics, so our vanity tables and medicine cabinets were a wellspring of various concoctions and hand-blended perfumes."

For the better part of 30 years, Elliott studied various healing modalities — from Ayurveda to flower essences to plant alchemy. "I guess you could say I have some sort of spiritual appreciation for the energy behind living things," she says. In Fiore is the result of a woman who shares a special bond with essences and has a remarkable talent for cocktailing.

What It Offers
In Fiore's line of over 50 products certainly falls on the luxury side of the spectrum, but it's worth the splurge. From body balms to treatment serums and truly one-of-a-kind parfums, everything it offers is exquisite.

"We take traditional herbal remedies and elevate them with essential oils, handcrafting them using our proprietary layering technique," says Elliott. Due to major demand, In Fiore recently expanded into the International Orange spa, where Elliott uses the products she mixes for treatments, including the In Fiore 4-2-4 Facial — a deep-cleansing method that features a four-minute face-oil massage followed by a two-minute cleansing massage and a thorough rinse with splashes of warm and cold water. Book us an appointment, ASAP.

The Experience
"It’s so, so important to us that any client walks out with a tailored regimen that meets their current needs," Elliott says. "We use a lot of ingredients that work for you internally as well as externally. Clients receive excellent advice from In Fiore’s expert team of estheticians and certified massage therapists who really know and understand our ingredients, so that they are able to prescribe the best regimen with the customized treatments."
11 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Province Apothecary.
Where: Province Apothecary, Toronto, ON

The Story
Struggling with severe allergies and eczema spurred founder Julie Clark to craft beauty products in her own New York City kitchen. She was drawn to holistic skin care and used her time off from work to experiment with oils, waxes, and herbs — determined to create the perfect skin-care regimen. Clark left New York in 2010 to study aromatherapy, holistic health, and esthetics in Toronto, and never looked back. She now serves as a certified holistic esthetician and aromatherapist, all while formulating, blending, and packaging her products by hand. Talk about serious dedication.

What It Offers
At PA, every ingredient is high-quality, organic, and comes straight from one of the Canadian provinces (hence the name). The skin-loving line features all your basics — cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and more — but you'll also stumble upon more exotic finds, like its Sex Oil and essential-oil incense. Oh, and if you fancy having a custom serum blended just for you, it's no problem.

The Experience
PA has a team of four estheticians who possess a wealth of information about every product, in addition to delivering general skin advice and suggesting DIY recipes.

"Our mission is to empower our customers with knowledge about their skin...and how to take care of it," says Clark. "We want every customer to know why certain products work for them and how they should be using [them] in their routines — we also want everyone to feel confident in making their own masks and treatments in their kitchens." One of Clark's personal favorites is the Spring Detox Face Mask, which consists of pineapple, honey, and organic yogurt.
12 of 14
Photo: Courtesy C.O. Bigelow.
Where: C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, New York, NY

The Story
C.O. Bigelow is the oldest apothecary in America, going back all the way to 1838. It was originally founded as the "Village Apothecary Shoppe," and Clarence Otis Bigelow took charge in 1880 and officially changed the name to C.O. Bigelow. The apothecary is now owned by pharmacist Ian Ginsberg, who bought the biz from his father. It's now been in the family since 1939. "Our mission and philosophy is, 'Honest. Genuine. Trustworthy,'" says Ginsberg. Sounds good to us.

What It Offers
When you walk into C.O. Bigelow, expect to find a vast assortment of eye candy, including its own line of products that have stood the test of time, as well as cult classics and beauty goods from around the world.

"The store is a collection of our own things as well as our favorite things," Ginsberg tells us. "Many of the products are named after the doctors who created them or for the patients for whom they were created." You can't go wrong with the Lemon Body Cream, which was created in 1870 and is still a best-seller. "It’s very rare to have a product around for 145 years without changing the formula," says Ginsberg. Cue us hitting "Add to cart."

The Experience
They say change is good, but in C.O. Bigelow's case, it's all about honoring tradition and history — which means always putting customers first and not altering formulas that have worked for years. "Theres a feeling you get when you step inside that is unlike anywhere else," Ginsberg says. "C.O. Bigelow takes care of you."

13 of 14
Photo: Courtesy of Medicine Mama's Apothecary.
Where: Medicine Mama's Apothecary, Ojai, CA

The Story
Because of her severe allergies from pesticides and chemicals, founder Donna Steinmann decided to study plant sciences, herbology, and naturopathy, and eventually earned her license in cosmetology — so you could say she seriously knows her stuff. For the last 20 years, she's devoted her time to researching and formulating her own all-natural healing products, which feature only the highest quality ingredients. While the flagship apothecary resides in Ojai, CA, the line is now sold in thousands of health and wellness stores around the U.S.

What It Offers
Tell us this: Can you eat any of your skin-care products? Okay, maybe you wouldn't actually want to, but if you did, Medicine Mama's are totally viable options. Its number-one best-seller is Sweet Bee Magic, a cream created from ancient forest honey. All of its products aid in soothing, healing, and providing superior moisture — whether it's for your face, feet, or even your vagina. Yep, if you're having any issues down there, try out Vmagic — a skin-softening balm infused with honey, avocado, sea buckthorn, olive oil, and protective beeswax.

The Experience

When it comes to customer service, Medicine Mama's doesn't mess around. It offers free shipping all the time, adds samples to every box, and if for some reason what you ordered doesn't fly with you, you get a refund — no questions asked.
14 of 14
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!

More from Beauty


R29 Original Series