Primping is a pleasure on the Upper West Side, thanks to its preponderance of stores selling luxurious soaps, creams, shampoos, fragrances, and cosmetics. In addition to major beauty palaces such as Sephora, the neighborhood has a number of smaller shops offering lesser-known brands from as far afield as Australia and Israel. Below are a few favorite stores for stocking up on lip balm or treating yourself to a lusciously scented body balm.
219 Columbus Avenue (at 70th Street)
An Australia-based skincare and hair care brand, Aesop lavishes as much thought and attention on its shops as it does on its products. Its UWS outpost, a former dry cleaner, is all pale pine and gray terrazzo, so that simply entering is a pampering experience. The helpful staff, who will happily make personalized product recommendations, add to the ambience. Along with cleansers, toners, shampoos, moisturizers, and balms, Aesop’s product range includes mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorant, and both personal and home fragrances. Consisting of just three carefully balanced scents, the eau de parfum collection nicely sums up the brand’s aesthetic: There’s Hwyl, whose spicy and earthy notes are meant to evoke a Japanese forest; Marrakech, redolent of clove, cardamom, and sandalwood; and Tacit, a citrus scent with subtle spice notes.
2268 Broadway (between 81st and 82nd Streets)
Cedra is first and foremost a pharmacy, but you will not find your typical drugstore beauty brands here. Baxter and Jack Black are among the men’s specialty skincare lines carried, while women will appreciate the lushly fragranced Crabtree & Evelyn hand creams. And just about everyone can benefit from the serums from Immunocologie, the masks from Sircuitskin, the vegan-friendly Ayuna soaps, and the Mason Pearson hairbrushes.
194 Columbus Avenue (between 68th and 69th Streets)
The self-dubbed “Abnormal Beauty Company” quickly garnered a cult following for its highly affordable The Ordinary skincare line, and that cult became larger when Kim Kardashian West declared herself a fan of one of its retinoids. In addition to The Ordinary serums, oils, and toners, the Upper West Side shop stocks Deciem’s other brands, including the Hylamide and Molecule skincare lines and the AB Crew range of grooming products for men. Products are displayed on wheeled metal racks more commonly seen in a shop’s backroom than storefront, and the exposed-brick and weathered-plaster walls emphasize that Deciem is not your typical beauty brand.
25 Central Park West (at 62nd Street)
Like Cedra, Jaros is a pharmacy that carries an impressive range of beauty and grooming products; it even has a licensed cosmetologist on its staff. Its well-stocked shelves include Moroccanoil and Philip B haircare, Mavalia and Dr. Hauschka skincare and cosmetics, Molton Brown cleansers, Essie nail polish, and Mustela’s gentle skincare products for little ones. Perhaps best of all, Jaros offers free delivery within the neighborhood—handy if you are felled by a beauty emergency.
2175 Broadway (between 76th and 77th Streets)
With its vegetarian (and in some cases, vegan) products and emphasis on recycled, recyclable, and reusable packaging, Lush ensures that you do not have to feel bad about wanting to look and smell good. It is perhaps best known for its colorful handmade soaps and bath bombs, whose unlikely ingredients include lime peel, organic cloves, sea salt, dried cranberries, and parsley. Shampoo is available in soaplike bars to reduce packaging, though you can purchase it, along with conditioners and other products, in bottles too. Makeup, shaving products, deodorants, and tooth powders are also on display among the shop’s handsome wood shelves, trays, and barrels.
112 West 72nd Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues)
Ricky’s began as a Greenwich Village purveyor of outré cosmetics beloved by drag queens, club kids, and cutting-edge professional stylists. In the 1990s the presence of a Ricky’s on the Upper West Side would have been inconceivable to most. But Ricky’s has since evolved into a one-stop shop for grooming and beauty products from a dizzying array of brands, many of them difficult to find elsewhere. If you need stage-quality Ben Nye setting powder, Kryolan Gold Liquid Body Make-up, Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, Marvis toothpaste, Triumph & Disaster hair pomade, or temporary tattoos that look like cartoon diamonds, this is where to come. Ricky’s has a proprietary product line as well, which ranges from blender sponges to highlighting powder to large hair clips that make coloring and cutting hair easier.
420 Columbus Avenue (between 80th and 81st Streets)
Though Rituals is a Dutch brand, it takes inspiration from centuries of Asian wellness and beauty traditions. Its Yalda collection, which includes a shower gel, a body cream, perfumes, and candles, evokes bygone Persia with its pomegranate-based scent; the Happy Buddha line of cleansers, creams, and home fragrances features scent notes of sweet orange and cedarwood to lift the spirits; Cleopatra is a tightly curated makeup assortment whose ingredients include sapphires, rubies, and other gems in powdered or pulverized form.
2052 Broadway (between 70th and 71st Streets)
Sabon began in Tel Aviv as a soap-making venture of two friends. Today its products include shampoos, moisturizers, masks, and home fragrances, but all items are all still made in Israel using natural ingredients including seaweed extracts, almond oil, and aloe vera. Scented with the likes of lavender, vanilla, patchouli, and rose, they bring a hint of nature’s bounty indoors without overwhelming your olfactory sense.