318 Bedford Ave., nr. S. 2nd St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-490-5599
Katie Chang packs her unisex beauty spot with independently owned cosmetics and skin-care brands, many made locally. Look for hard-to-find lines like Chef Yossi and Brave Soldier, and regular visits from makeup artists, brow gurus, and beauty experts.
2305 Broadway, at 83rd St.; 212-799-0500
This D.C.-based makeup haven divides its shelf space between department-store stalwarts—"Laura," "Bobbi," "Trish"—and lesser-known imported lines. In back, a tiny two-room spa offers no-frills waxing, massages, and facials using Molton Brown, Darphin, and SkinCeuticals products.
Aedes de Venustas
9 Christopher St., nr Greenwich Ave.; 212-206-8674
The German-owned Aedes de Venustas deals in high-end, hard-to-find perfumes, candles, and home scents from around the world. Exclusivity doesn’t come cheap—a candle and a cologne will generally run you well over $100—but the gift wrap topped with fresh flowers is a pretty final touch.
Space NK Apothecary
99 Greene St., nr. Prince St.; 212-941-4200
Britain-based Space NK combines an in-depth knowledge of its product lines (many are plant-based and paraben-free) with elegant store design and thorough service. Expect cult brands, generous samples, and clinical facials with Eve Lom products in the private rooms in back.
227 Mulberry St., nr. Prince St.; 212-925-5857
At this DIY-ish Soho spot, shoppers can choose from over 200 essential oils—which range from familiars like musk or gardenia to chocolate or “snowstorm”—to create a personalized scent. The concoction can then be applied to body washes, fabric softeners, and even pet shampoo.