Some of the freshest and most affordable produce can be found in the busy, crowded blocks of Chinatown, but you can also find some of the greatest beauty products tucked away there. The makeup artists and skincare obsessed have been coming to the neighborhood for imported cult products for years—it's where you can find anything from rare eye drops to sheet masks to experimentally high SPF counts. Here are a few of our favorite shops.
oo35mm: Journey into this inconspicuous shop and you'll find one of the most amazing places to browse bath, body and beauty products, as well as novelty items. The attention you expend reading labels and chatting with the dewy skinned staff will be worth it when you find that dream product you never knew you were missing. Generous with samples and selling guaranteed authentic items, oo35mm is a true experience in beauty culture and Chinatown beauty shopping. The store is small but never too crowded, and if you can't get there, the entire shop's offerings are also available on their website.
Oo35mm is located at 81 Mott Street; Hours: 12-7:30 p.m. daily.
Amore: Three legendary Asian skincare brands maintain shops in Chinatown, and although each sells online, free samples and staff knowledge are as prevalent at these brick and mortars as they are at Sephora. Amorepacific is one of the biggest and most well known beauty brands in Japan and Korea and they are known for that rare ginseng that everyone seems to have a version of. Their lines are massively coveted in the Western beauty world, and at the store you'll be able to swatch and compare IRL to find the best products for you.
Amore is located at 7 Catherine Street; hours: 10 a.m.-8 pm. daily.
Inside the Face Shop. (Photo by Danielle Guercio)
The Face Shop: This single-line chain store features a generous sheet mask collection, and their products are known for exploring trendy ingredients ahead of the curve. Their affordable and high quality face mists are something that every man and woman could use, especially in the heat and humidity of NYC summers.
The Face Shop is located at 6B Elizabeth Street; hours: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Everyday Beauty Lab: This shop will knock anyone's socks off. It’s roughly the equivalent of a department store for Asian beauty products, carrying every major brand and with enough sheet masks to stretch river to river. This is the shop to go to if you're really in the mood to browse. It's above Canal, amply spacious, and well attended. They even put out tons of testers so you can sniff most items before committing. Looking for those popular black peel-off masks? Done. Need a super rare cigarette cancelling mouthwash? Done. Are you now addicted to their mugwort period pads? Me too, friend, me too.
Bonus: They also carry SK-II, whichis among the top rated and top counterfeited skincare brands, so having an authentic local hookup is a game changer.
Everyday Beauty Lab is located at 115 Bowery, hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
JKN Lee : Shops like JKN Lee are on the very cutting edge of popular skincare and makeup. Carrying Peeling Masks, Kill Brow Tattoo, commonly sold out lip stains, and Dr.G, a legendary brand whose devotees claim results after just one or two uses. The brands they carry are all leading on Amazon and in super secret Facebook groups run by people who spend a tithe on beauty. Impulse buys here are almost guaranteed as packs of 5 for 5 masks hit you right when you walk in the door.
This corner shop is also a wholesaler, so if you are a burgeoning beauty entrepreneur or lifestyle devotee, you can get even better prices on these imported and treasured products.
JKN Lee is located at 2 East Broadway; hours: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
Inside JKN Lee. (Photo by Danielle Guercio)
Chinatown's pharmacies, grocery stores, and herb shops are also full of beauty treasures. No matter the square footage, these shops have devoted followings, both keeping local businesses present and introducing people to the culture of self care in other countries. Items can range from less than a dollar to the most coveted and rare ginseng lotions that are hundreds of dollars. Tools, creams, travel aids, the benefits are clear, you couldn't find half of this stuff if you didn't see it down here first, and they are often priced to compete with Amazon.
Danielle Guercio is a New York artist and nightlife veteran out to enjoy all there about this city before everything becomes a Duane Reade.