When it comes to beauty products, some brands are notoriously hard to track down. Luckily, the Bay Area is home to slew of beauty supply stores that stock up on imported conditioners, botanical skin-savers, seasonal nail polish hues, and indie fragrances. Whether you’re looking to perk up damaged locks, soothe dry skin, or slick on the perfect shade of red lipstick, these local shops have you covered.
S.F.’s top beauty supply stores
This two-year-old skincare shop peddles more than 70 plant-based brands, including Suntegrity, Kjaer Weis and One Love Organics. (The shop may be small in size, but its bright blue facade makes it hard to miss.) The owner, Shashi Bantra, knows her stuff: she was previously a beauty exec at Sephora. In particular, Credo specializes in skincare products by Tata Harper, a Vermont-based brand incorporating all-natural ingredients like fruit enzymes and avocado peptides. All the products stay true to Bantra’s buying philosophy, which is scripted in red lettering across the wall: “Totally natural. Super good. Absolutely beautiful.”
This 500-square-foot natural skincare boutique is the pet project of Dara Kennedy, formerly the global marketing director of Elizabeth Arden and Living Proof. The beauty maven makes a point of carrying botanical-based products from around the world, including exclusive lines like Tek from Italy, Les Fleurs from Paris and Boucleme from London. The boutique’s intimate size allows for one-on-one skin consultations with the knowledgeable staff, who can tailor a skincare regimen to your particular skin type (and will cheerfully dole out samples).
Susie Wang founded her organic makeup line out of a Napa farmhouse in 2005. Over a decade later, the culty brand encompasses toxin-free cosmetics, skincare and bath and body products. The all-natural line forgoes artificial colors, fragrances and chemical preservatives. Instead, the blushes, tinted moisturizers, lipsticks and eye shadows are colored by fruit pigments. The popular Coffee Bean Caffeine cream soothes undereye puffiness and dark circles, while the sweet-smelling organic shampoos and conditioners incorporate plant-based ingredients like kelp, mint and virgin coconut.
Dana Olsen founded this artfully styled shop in 2011, specializing in eco-friendly, natural beauty products. You’ll find RMS’s skincare products made with natural oils and extracts; True Botanicals’ luxuriously rich anti-aging creams, and Earth Tu Face’s serums, masks, and skin sticks. Captain Blankenship’s line is a perennial best seller, formulated with cold-pressed organic plant oils, flowers, seaweeds, sea salt, and essential oils. (Try the Mermaid Sea Salt Spray, a texturizing spritz for beachy waves made from sea salt, aloe vera, sea kelp extract, and essential oils.) Good Stock is one of the few spots in Oakland to stock Imaginary Authors scents, a collection of exotic smelling unisex fragrances with alluring names like Memoirs of a Trespasser, The Cobra and the Canary, and Cape Heartache.
This sleek black-and-white salon has a hidden gem feel, situated on an inconspicuous alleyway off Market Street. In front, you’ll find a full storefront packed with makeup, hair products, jewelry, and home accessories. The haircare selection includes rare finds like Evo and Kevin Murphy; Davines Alchemic shampoo and conditioners for chocolate, gold, red, and copper hues; Olaplex hair perfector for damaged strands; and Rahua’s moisturizing balms. The assortment of cosmetics spans Ilia’s nature-based multi-sticks and lip conditioners, Ellis Faas hydrating concealers, Kjaer Weis lip tints, and RMS Beauty’s lip shine.
Antonia Kohl is an mid-century design buff with a nose for exotic scents. Her boutique perfumery is decked with antique glass vessels, porcelain knick-knacks, and vintage furniture. The store is filled with nearly 50 small-batch perfume brands, including hard-to-find lines like Neela Vermeire from Paris, Olympic Orchids from Seattle, Kerosene from Detroit, and Papillon Perfumera from London. There’s even an entire wall devoted to indie Bay Area perfumers. Still searching for your ideal scent? Sign up for one of Kohl’s natural-perfume-blending classes and concoct your own (from $150).
Hal Silverstein opened the first Peninsula Beauty shop in San Mateo in 1959 because his wife couldn’t find her preferred hair dye. Today, the local chain touts a dozen locations throughout the Bay Area and is run by Hal’s daughter, Lori Silverstein. Each of the stores carries over 5,000 products from around 200 haircare, skincare, and cosmetic brands. You’ll find mineral make-up from Bare Escentuals and Jane Iredale, as well as a wide array of nail polishes from Zoya, Essie, Butter, and OPI. Skincare lines include Dermalogica, Philosophy, Clarisonic, and Murad, while haircare features Frederic Fekkai, Biolage, Wella, and Paul Mitchell. Don’t miss the large selection of paraben- and sulfate-free products from eco-conscious brands like Coola, Lavanila, and Loma.
This Union Square beauty supplier is a San Francisco mainstay, open since 1983. The well-appointed shelves bear hundreds of hair, nail, skincare, and cosmetic brands, including Pureology, Chi, Essie and OPI, Bumble & Bumble, and Moroccan Oil. One wall is filled with brushes and a wide variety of hair styling tools, from curling irons and straighteners to trimmers, clippers, and blow dryers. And while it’s situated in the middle of the city’s tourist hub, San Francisco residents receive 10 percent off all purchases.
Yosh Han is well known in the world of fragrances—her collection is sold at upscale department stores like Henri Bendel and Barneys New York. But this isn’t a perfumery in the traditional sense: Han specializes in creating one-of-a-kind custom fragrances from her at-home atelier. In one-on-one, personalized appointments, Han mixes up heady concoctions from ingredients like white ginger, tiger lily, and Tunisian opium. Each blending session is akin to aromatherapy, involving discussions of aura, chakra, and personality.
This longstanding Cole Valley beauty store is immediately recognizable by the purple awning out front—the banner matches the lilac color scheme within. The chandelier-strung shop is filled with hundreds of products for pampering your hair and skin, including sought-after brands like Abba, Terax, Davines, Mario Badescu, MOP, Dermalogica, and Rene Furtherer. You’ll find a range of styling tools—curling irons, straighteners, and rollers—along the back wall. In particular, MadKat is known for its wide selection of moisturizing balms and restorative products for heat-fried and color-treated hair.