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Think Local: 11 New York City Beauty Brands You Need to Know

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Bryan Sansivero
Bryan Sansivero

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In honor of Racked New York's Beauty Week, we've rounded up the very best beauty brands that call the metro area home. Whether you're an avowed locavore or couldn't care less whether your products come from around the world much less across the street, you'll appreciate these lines that are whipped up right here in the surrounding
boroughs.

S.W. Basics

The Story: Plagued with super sensitive skin, former Equinox personal trainer Adina Grigore started making her own potions in her Greenpoint kitchen a few years ago. She soon began peddling products on Etsy. These days, you can find her creams, scrubs, and cleansers everywhere from ABC Home to Target. There's no added chemicals, nor are there any of those trendy miracle-worker add-ins touted on so many drugstore packages. (The label of her exfoliant awesomely states, "Sorry, no plastic micro-bead technology inside. Oops."). The whole operation is refreshingly minimalist; nothing—not the serums, not the masks, not even the miracle-working toner—has more than five ingredients.

The Retailers: Slope Wellness, Target Atlantic Terminal, Life Curated, Awoke Vintage, CAP Beauty, and ABC Carpet and Home.

Try: The brand's signature makeup remover ($14), which is made with olive oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil, smells faintly sweet, and also doubles as a moisturizer.

Make

The Story: There doesn't seem to be anything this beauty brand can't make—and make well. From matte lip pencils that take the shine out of your favorite cream formula to glitter eye shadows that add just the right about of sparkle, they do it all. And while donating 10% of every sale to a charity, no less. They're also killing it with collabs, having just teamed up with cool-girl designer on Maryam Nassir Zadeh on a exceptionally colorful capsule collection that's perfect for spring. Despite the fact that they've only been around a few years, the label's currently exclusively available at Barneys and J. Crew, which says a whole lot about the awesomeness of the products they're whipping up.

The Retailers: Barneys and J. Crew.

Try: The Custom Finish Effects Matte/Dew compact ($27), which contains both a mattifying gel and a moisturizing highlighter for giving your skin that "flattering Instagram filter" finish.

Soapwalla

The Story: It took six whole years to master the perfect formula, but Rachel Winard's now-famous deodorant cream has been such a success, you can find it stocked on the shelves at Colette in Paris. The little blue tub, which is delightfully free of sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and petroleum, is unlike any of the aluminum-laced sticks you've been using all your life. Best of all, it actually works—and so do her activated charcoal soaps, vegan bath salts, and everything else by the brand.

The Retailers: Collyer's Mansion, Bridge Pilates, TenOverTen, Brooklyn Groove, and Bluming Studio.

Try: Soapwalla's signature deodorant cream ($14).

RMS Beauty


The Story: When longtime makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift began experiencing health issues related to being around cosmetics—an unexpected work hazard, it turns out—she decided to start an organic beauty line that used none of the toxic chemicals she'd spent years surrounded by. Her entire range is filled with instant cult faves, from "Un" Cover-Up concealer to Lip 2 Skin balm to the truly life-changing Living Luminizer, and somehow it's great makeup that's great for you, too.

The Retailers: Shen Beauty, ABC Carpet and Home, Pucker, Bloom Beauty Lounge, and La Garconne.

Try: If RMS has a gateway drug, it's Living Luminizer ($38), a sheer highlighter with a pearly finish.

Rituel de Fille


The Story: You probably never knew that eye soot was the magic product your makeup bag was missing, but once you try the genius formula from this indie venture—founded by three sisters, one of whom is a makeup artist—your smoky eye game will never be the same. Whereas some Brooklyn-based brands can feel a little hippie-dippy, Rituel de Fille (which translates to "girl ritual") is more Bewitched than back to nature.

The Retailers: Catbird and Urban Outfitters.

Try: While we love Rituel de Fille's cream blushes and highly-pigmented lipsticks, the Eye Soot ($24) is the star of this line.

MCMC Fragrances

The Story: MCMC was started by two super-chic sisters in Brooklyn, one of whom studied at Grasse Institute of Perfumery in the South of France. Together, they peddle luxe small-batch fragrances that can be procured at cool indie boutiques like Mociun and Written By Forest. Many of the scents are inspired by the girls' travels (Maine, a potion with Bulgarian rose and French seaweed, is the result of "a day spent on the island of North Haven off the coast of Maine, falling in love"), and they're all bottled by hand.

The Retailers: Cloak & Dagger, East of the Mississippi, Odin, Space Ninety 8, Mociun, Written by Forest, and Thistle & Clover.

Try: MCMC's "Maui" fragrance ($95) sets the mood for spring with its notes of tuberose and green bamboo.

Apotheke

The Story: After purchasing a soap-making kit from Amazon, founder Chrissy Fichtl got inspired, grabbed some of her private-chef husband's cooking pots, and started a company. These hand-crafted plant-based formulas are heavy on essential oils and free of parabens and synthetics, which, according to Apotheke, helps balance the oil production of skin. Also? Their candles are available in unique scents like citrus basil and rosemary mint, last more than 70 hours, and come in double-whiskey glasses. The brand's stocked at stores that look straight out of Kinfolk across the country, as well as West Elms nationwide.

The Retailers: Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store, Beam, Jill Lindsey, and Northside Pharmacy.

Try: The Citrus Basil candle ($30) is a perennial favorite.

Meow Meow Tweet

The Story: This small-batch apothecary based in Bushwick is owned by a vegan couple dedicated to making products as ethical as their diets. They whip up organic bug sprays, salt scrubs, cold-pressed essential oils, and skin creams in scents that wouldn't be out of place at your local juice place. There's fennel orange, lavender lemon, and even a charcoal-based formula, all awesomely packaged in colorful paper and labels hand-drawn by the founders.

The Retailers: CAP Beauty, Twisted Lily, At Wilderness, and Brooklyn Groove.

Try: The Grapefruit Mint soap ($10) smells like a summer cocktail and comes wrapped in a cute cat illustration.

Laqa & Co.

The Story: Leave it to a couple of New York City girls to invent—and perfect—the nail polish pen, a seriously life-changing product that lets you give yourself a paint job on the go. (We wouldn't recommend polishing up on, say, the L train, but pretty much anywhere else is fair game.) If you're not perpetually running late and have time to give yourself a proper manicure, they also whip up old-school nail polish in colors like Nookie (a saucy berry shade), Gremlin (a creamy mint), and Incestuous (an innocent lavender). And the line doesn't just look good on your hands—they commission up-and-coming artists to design the packaging, resulting in some of the prettiest products on the market.

The Retailers: Birchbox Soho, Bridge Apothecary, C.O. Bigelow, and City Chemist.

Try: The "Birthday Suit" nail polish pen ($14) may be the perfect neutral.

Limegreen

The Story: What creater Talima Davis really excels at is multi-use products—and when you take into account how tiny most New York City medicine cabinets are, it's no surprise why Limegreen is carried at places like fancy-grocer Union Market, a favorite of Park Slope moms. The soaps that can be used as shampoo, facial cleanser, or body wash, and the oils work as well on your cracked elbows as your hair and face (seriously!).

The Retailers: Artists & Fleas, Union Market, Gourmet Guild, and Brooklyn Night Bazaar.

Try: The Face-Body-Hair Baby Wash ($16), which can definitely double as a body wash for sensitive-skinned adults.

Armour

The Story: Started by former punk frontlady Theo Kogan who couldn't find a lip color that would actually stay on, Armour is a line of lip gloss that, unlike most of the shiny goop you come across, is seriously long-lasting. But that's not the only way these lip glosses are unique; they're also packed with good-for-you ingredients like shea butter, avocado, olive oil, and vitamin E, come in opaque and shimmer formulas in shades like Nirvana (a clear sparkle) and Siouxsie (a fiery cherry red), and are guaranteed to make you feel like a rock star even if you've never set foot on stage. Best of all, they're bottled in Brooklyn.

The Retailers: Eva Scrivo Salon, Miomia, Homebody Boutique, and Diana Kane.

Try: Armour's opaque lipgloss in Siouxsie ($24) is the perfect look-at-me red.