The Beauty Products Pharmacy Owners Actually Use Themselves

Yahoo Beauty

By Amber Katz

Historically, your neighborhood pharmacy would provide everything from illness diagnoses to a counter for consuming milkshakes — two straws, of course, for you and your “steady” — to purveying beauty offerings. With regard to the latter, we’ve come a long way from the quaint pharmacies of yore; the 2016 method of beauty buffs is a mix of  shopping online, checking out department store wares, and hitting beauty megastores like Sephora and Ulta, in addition to drugstores.

While drugstore chains are simply a more commercial iteration of their apothecary ancestors, something is lost in the modern translation, and it’s not just the mom-and-pop atmosphere. With so many boutique pharmacies in New York City, we’re returning to this nostalgic era where the drugstore was the ultimate beauty counter. Pharmacy owners were the original beauty gurus, and the cult product curation at C.O. Bigelow, New London Pharmacy, Thompson Chemists, Zitomer, and Pasteur Pharmacy is unparalleled. So many of the glorious international beauty gems — from Vichy deodorant to Embryolisse moisturizer — that we thought we could only find abroad or by paying a hefty shipping fee are often right here at these iconic Manhattan haunts. So we tapped the stores’ owners to share what’s flying off the shelves at their respective shops and what they’re using themselves.

Pasteur Pharmacy’s Leon Tarasenko

Leon Tarasenko of Pasteur Pharmacy
Leon Tarasenko of Pasteur Pharmacy. (Photo: Pasteur Pharmacy)

What beauty products can you not keep in stock?

For us, it’s all about men’s shaving products. Brands like Proraso, English products like Taylor of Old Bond Street, Floris, and Penhaligon’s. We specialize in artisan shave products from smaller companies.

Which ones do you use yourself?

I use the shaving products, like Barrister and Mann offerings. I also like Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements products. I’m a fan of Penhaligon’s juniper sling scent. As for hair care, I use a great product that’s medicated called Regenepure — it’s very popular in the store. It’s made with tea tree oil.

How have the beauty offerings at your pharmacy changed?

We used to carry a lot of professional hair care products. Now we’ve gotten more into men’s grooming products, which have really taken off in the past two years or so. Men are becoming more aware of their hair, making sure they’re moisturizing, and of course, they’re into shaving products. I’ve noticed an uptick in concern about hair loss, so we offer Nioxin products. We sell a lot of Kérastase and René Furterer items, as well, in addition to Fekkai. We sell a lot of Neostrata skin care, as a lot of doctors recommend it. A lot of CeraVe and Cetaphil, as well. Hypoallergenic products are popular, as well as a skin care and shampoo brand called Vanicream, which is free of scents and parabens.

What’s most challenging about running a high-traffic pharmacy in NYC?

Competing with a lot of Internet sales is challenging. Amazon affects retail stores tremendously. We carry stuff from all over the world, but Amazon carries everything. That’s a big challenge. People buy online, but so many want to be able to sample products, see, feel, and touch them. Pricing is not the problem. We’re competitive in pricing. The challenge is the availability with the ease to purchase online. We focus on the brick and mortar here. We post about what’s new in the store on Facebook and on Instagram. A lot of shave sites are fans, so we often host meet-ups at the store for a group of about 60 to 100 people.

What’s most rewarding about it?

I like taking care of people, I like to make people happy. It’s not about the money for me; I’ve been doing this for 30 years. It becomes more of a hobby. It’s great when people come in and try a sample of a product and they’re happy and post about their experience.

New London Pharmacy’s Abby Fazio

Abby Fazio of New London Pharmacy
Abby Fazio of New London Pharmacy. (Photo: New London Pharmacy)

What beauty products can you not keep in stock?

Bioderma, Montale Rose Musk, A313 [Vitamin Pommade], Laluset [hyaluronic acid cream], Santa Maria Novella Rose Water.

Which ones do you use yourself?

Organic Pharmacy Rose Hip Oil for hyperpigmentation — the only safe alternative to hydroquinone. I always use this after my summer in Greece or any sun vacation. I like Joanna Vargas Vitamin C Cleanser — gentle, powerful, and natural. Julisis Eyemulsion has an immediate effect and it keeps working! Montale Roses Musk is the best rose ever. Kevyn Aucoin lipstick — any of his reds will do! RMS Beauty Living Luminizer is the perfect ultrasheer highlighter. Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Prickly Pear Oil is a game changer. Rigaud Cypres Candle is the ultimate in old-school luxury.

How have the beauty offerings at your pharmacy changed over the years?

Our offerings have definitely become more niche, specialized, and international, especially in fragrance and skin care. Skin care in particular has become much more natural and high-end, a trend predicted 10 years ago when there was almost nothing on the market. Now we have amazing niche luxury organic skin care like Julisis, Radice, and the Organic Pharmacy, all introduced to the U.S. by New London.

What’s most challenging about running a high-traffic pharmacy in NYC?

Keeping up! We get new brands and products thrown our way every day, and it takes a very savvy team to distinguish the great from the not-so-great. I think I have a great instinct for finding what people need even before they know they need it, but you have to have a stellar team, or otherwise it’s overwhelming!

What’s most rewarding about it?

Connecting the right product to the right customer is the essence of what we do at New London, whether it’s a perfume or supplement or lipstick or a candle or a homeopathic remedy. It’s also really amazing to come to work every day and work alongside my husband, John, and my daughter, Eleni. It really is a family business!

C.O. Bigelow’s Ian Ginsberg

Ian Ginsberg of C.O. Bigelow
Ian Ginsberg of C.O. Bigelow. (Photo: C.O. Bigelow)

What beauty products can you not keep in stock?

It would be all the classics: our Premium Shave Cream made for us by Proraso in Florence, Italy, our C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve, and Marvis toothpastes. These are items you use every day and can’t live without. We try to bring a little luxury to daily tasks. Using our Premium Shave Cream is like taking a trip to Tuscany every day. We like to take mundane tasks and turn them into special little moments.

Which ones do you use yourself?

The Marvis toothpastes are my go-to every morning and night. I even bring the travel size or mini tubes with me when I travel. I also use the C.O. Bigelow Bay Rum Hair & Body Wash daily. I use Opalis Shampoo for dry hair, Opalis La Lotion, C.O. Bigelow Deluxe Facial Moisturizer, and Avène PhysioLift Eyes.

How have the beauty offerings at your pharmacy changed?

Selling hard-to-find international brands from all over the globe has been one of our niches. We have stuck with that, and it works for us, and our customers love our discoveries. All of the brands that we sell are personally selected by us, and each has a unique point of difference. You are never going to find three shampoos that all do the same thing; every shampoo has a specific feature that will appeal to different customer needs. The one change in our offerings is we now sell more men’s grooming products. We always have offered a diverse selection; however, this category has been on the rise for years, so we try to offer the best of best.

What’s most challenging about running a high-traffic pharmacy in NYC?

The cost of doing business in New York has risen dramatically through the years, and it has been difficult to continue to deliver the standard that our customers have come to expect from us through the years. It’s become difficult, but we continue to after 178 years. Stopping at C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries remains a “want-to,” not a “have to.”

What’s most rewarding about it?

The most rewarding part is the customers. We have a strong customer fan base and have a loyal following that goes back for generations. Being part of New York history is something we truly cherish and is an honor. We have a treasure trove of historical items in our archives that date back all the way to 1838, from vintage glass apothecary bottles to all the formulas that were created in our pharmacy decades ago, including our Lemon Body Cream formula that dates back to 1870 and is still one of our best-selling products today. As a Bigelow family, we believe we are in the feel-good business, and many times a day through beauty or health care, we make a difference.

Thompson Chemists’ Jolie Alony

Jolie Alony of Thompson Chemists
Jolie Alony of Thompson Chemists. (Photo: Thompson Chemists)

Which products can’t you keep in stock?

The products that fly off the shelves here at Thompson are Bioderma Crealine, Bioderma wipes, Biafine emulsion, Embroyolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, Cane+Austin Corrective Treatment Eye Cream, Cane+Austin 20% Miracle Pads, Lavido Age Away Hydrating Cream, Sircuitskin Fixzit+, and Klorane dry shampoo.

Which ones do you use yourself?

The products in my daily skin care routine are Sircuitskin X-Trap to cleanse a.m./p.m., Lavido Hydrating Facial Toner in the morning, Karin Herzog Vita Kombi-1 (before moisturizing), Karin Herzog Additional Sweet moisturizer, and Sircuitskin Cool Lychee-Wa (as a weekly mask).

For hair care, I like Leonor Greyl Bamboo Shampoo, Philip B Oud Royal Forever Shine Conditioner, Leonor Greyl Eclat Naturel (as a leave-in conditioner at night), and Butter Elixir Bhakhti oil.

Makeup-wise, I love the Antonym brand, especially the mascara, eyeliner pencil, and eyeshadow quads!

How have the beauty offerings at your pharmacy changed?

From the beginning, our focus here at Thompson Alchemists has been on products that we and our customers really love, and that has always also included a lot of international and especially European brands. We also want the best quality products that are highly effective but are also beneficial to people. The product has not just to be good, it has to be good for you! Customers today are very educated and knowledgeable about different products and ingredients, and we have seen a greater interest and importance placed on natural and “clean” products.

What’s most challenging about running a high-traffic pharmacy in NYC?

Given that our priority is our customers and getting them the best product for their type of skin/hair and also lifestyle, challenges can come up with giving each one as much time and attention as they need. We also spend a lot of time educating ourselves on the newest research and information about ingredients.

What’s most rewarding about it?

Helping people is absolutely the most rewarding thing about the pharmacy. I love being able to connect a customer with the best product for them. We also meet so many kinds of people here all over, and that really adds to the environment in the store.

Zitomer’s Sharon Sternheim

Sharon Sternheim of Zitomer
Sharon Sternheim of Zitomer. (Photo: Zitomer)

What beauty products can you not keep in stock?

We can barely keep Instant Peel, Baby Foot, and Phylia de M. hair care products in the store.

Which ones do you use yourself?

I use Instant Peel, Baby Foot, Phylia de M. hair care products, plus treatment and color from Shiseido and Chanel.

How have the beauty offerings at your pharmacy changed?

We are searching for niche lines that don’t have mass distribution.

What’s most challenging about running a high-traffic pharmacy in NYC?

In the past, it was competing with the large chain stores. Now it’s competing with the Internet.

What’s most rewarding about it?

Hearing our customers say that they couldn’t live without Zitomer, appreciating the personalized service and our merchandise selection.

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