You might not think of L.A. as a beauty product Mecca unless you drive along Beverly Blvd. or 3rd St. in WeHo and spot some of the newly opened skin and fragrance bars. I bought my first $200+ fragrance from an non-descript boutique nearly a decade ago; all these years later some of the beauty industry’s best natural innovations in skin and body care hail from L.A.’s burgeoning indie beauty scene.
You can dabble with crystal-inspired perfume oils as you refill your wheatgrass shot or settle into a core power yoga session—after all, new age-y oils are seemingly everywhere in this town—but I think it’s more fun to uncover a great artisanal product from a non-mainstream brand. I find products handcrafted locally have natural, clinically-proven ingredients more pure in form, packaging that is far more simple and elegant, and an assortment of scents more appealing—homespun qualities derived from the creative communities from around town.
Maybe it’s the vibe I get from meeting an aromatherapist who takes the time to explain why rosemary is awesome for stimulating the scalp. Maybe it’s knowing I can email the founder of a night cream product a specific question. Maybe it’s the benefit of supporting small, local businesses, but in L.A., where luxury is always a priority, creative indie companies are quickly becoming preferred. If you’re still using Neutrogena, it’s time to give one of these made-in-L.A. picks a try:
Behind the Brand: Brad Hunter took his experiences working for Estee Lauder, La Prairie and Lancôme, and developed a line to address the skincare needs of frequent flier.
My Pick: Sublime Youth Creator Gel-Cream ($245) is a treatment based on dermal stem cells extracted from daisies. As far as gels go, this has to the richest one I’ve ever tried. It penetrates quickly, plumps up skin without making it feel greasy or smothered, and has a watery fresh cucumber scent. At this price, the jar should last you three to four months unless you use it under the eyes, which I dutifully now do.
Behind the Brand: May Lindstrom spent over three years researching organic and botanicals ingredients before launching her namesake line. You’ll find kitchen spices like cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and turmeric in the line.
My Pick: Problem Solver ($90) is a black-as-night mask that comes in a supersized jar, which I swear might last you the whole year. The powder is potent; one sniff the left me coughing from the cayenne pepper, but once I mixed it up with water, the clay-based mask soaked up the oil and grime from my congested skin in about 20 minutes. It may tingle at first, but that’s the actives getting deep into your pores.
Behind the Brand: Originally from Vancouver, Sasha Plavsic is a former marketer who spent nights perfecting her line of nontoxic lip conditioners. Technically, she’s an L.A. transplant, but her move here proved to be a win; her product line has grown from 6 to 40 pieces in under two years.
My Pick: Pink Moon ($26), a tinted balm that gives lips moisture but isn’t tacky or waxy, launches this March. The shade offers a nice pop of muted magenta without being too bold or brash, but the application is opaque not sheer. You don’t get any shine with the conditioner, but a slick of gloss will remedy that.
Behind the Brand: Persephenie Lea is certified aromatherapist who focuses on the therapeutic and medicinal use of oils in her WeHo studio. She’s so exclusive, you can only buy her goods online or by appointment. She make my all time favorite Datura Perfume Oil.
My Pick: Nanu Lei Bath – Fizzy Mineral Bath Powder ($46) is a bath bomb. The mineral sea salts will turn your ordinary bath into a deliciously scented one and detox skin with just a few scoops.
Behind the Brand: Shiva Rose is queen bee of holistic living in L.A. This spring, she launches her eponymous skin and body care line with products that promote organic vibrancy and health.
Beauty Pick: Venus Body Oil ($60) has rose quartz crystals and a base of sunflower and sweet almond oils, which moisturize the legs nicely after a shave. Sandalwood turns the conventional rose essential oil into a beautifully sweet blend.
La Tierra Sagrada
Behind the Brand: It’s three hair products made by Stefanie Padilla (aka the “hair shaman”). A hair stylist to designers, musicians, and models, she insists oils (like coconut) are the key to taming hair on set.
Beauty Pick: Treatment Hair Medicine ($44) is a rosemary scented balm, which can be kept on towel-dried hair anywhere from an hour to overnight. The deep conditioning cream melds into a dense oil when warmed by hands and smells potent enough to keep you focused—even if you decide to wear it to a yoga class like Stefanie does.
Strange Invisible Perfumes
Behind the Brand: The Venice Beach-based botanical fragrance house has been a cult fave of locals. Alexandra Balahoutis (who firmly believes “aromatherapy is essentially medicine”) recently launched a collection of a dozen scents inspired by the zodiac.
My Pick: February babies will like Pisces ($125) is a fresh spin with authentic Indian Kewda and sparkling lime notes, which play nicely with jasmine. It’s intensely moving with a hint of something exotic.
A native Angeleno, Nav is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has been testing beauty products for print and digital magazines for nearly a decade. She spends her days working in media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.