I remember reading an article years ago in a glossy magazine about a woman who made a concerted effort to get a manicure every time she traveled to another country. She reasoned that this seemingly small excursion wasn’t just a way to relax and beautify, but to organically immerse herself into the local culture — a way to sidestep the tourist twirl, slow down, and interact with everyday people just living their lives. 

All these years later, I still think about that little mission with a profound impact, and I’ve since made it a goal to do something similar whenever I venture abroad. Spas are one of my go to’s, especially because every culture puts its own spin on treatments. A traditional Thai massage is far different from a customized treatment you’d get in Hawaii, and both are a world apart from the services you’ll find in South America or the Middle East. 

Popping into a neighborhood beauty boutique is an even quicker way to give yourself that self-care moment, mingle with the locals, and pick up a new cream, perfume, or lipstick to bring back home. If you fancy yourself a beauty or skincare fiend and want to shop the best of the best, here are some global beauty boutiques to add to your “must-visit” list. 

Buly 1803: Paris, France  

Paris is synonymous with covetable skincare, sophisticated perfumes, and pharmacies that’ll make you go starry-eyed — and there’s no shortage of stores to pop into while moseying through the City of Lights. French beauty brand Buly 1803 is one of Paris’ originals, founded over 200 years ago and still going strong. 

Here you’ll find very Parisian goodies like dry oils in boutique bottles scented with redcurrant and tomato, powdered lilac clay in a beautiful tin that’ll zap up excess oil, and soothing elixirs featuring arnica flowers or poppy seed extract. Buly 1803 has two locations in the city: one in Le Marais and the other on Rue Bonaparte that’s a hop-skip from the Louvre. 

Visit: 6 Rue Bonaparte, Paris & 19 Rue Vieille du Temple, Paris 

Senti Senti — Brooklyn & NYC 

senti senti beauty store in new york
Courtesy of Senti Senti

Formerly known as oo35mm, Senti Senti is a beauty boutique (one in Williamsburg, one in Chinatown) that has an impressive, wide-ranging curation of hard-to-find beauty products from across Asia (with a strong emphasis on K-Beauty and J-Beauty). Each store is fully stocked with beauty staples and trending items from covetable brands including Goodal, Illiyoon, Haruharu, and Dermaangel. 

Basically, it’s a one-stop shop to get everything you need, ranging from elegant and easy-to-wear SPFs (Asian sunscreen formulations are arguably miles ahead Western versions) to trendy finds (like Beauty of Joseon’s Ginseng Essence Water) to quirky “gotta have it” finds like Mixsoon’s Bean Essence. 

Visit: 66 Ainslie St Store B, Brooklyn & 81 Mott Street Frnt 2 

Chicor — Seoul, South Korea

chicory in seoul

This list of the best beauty boutiques around the world would be remiss without an inclusion from Seoul. K-Beauty might have only risen in popularity stateside 10 to 15 years ago, but the country’s been a pioneer in skincare for decades longer. Today, it’s a top destination for beauty fiends eager to get their hands on top-tier products. 

In Seoul, swing by the Chicor Flagship in Gangnam (yes, of ‘Gangnam Style’ fame). This multilevel beauty destination features over 200 local Korean and global brands, each story featuring its own theme. For example, the first floor features “extreme beauty” finds, while the second is home to “beauty recipes” with products that are more herbal/botanical-based. 

Visit: 441 Seosan Building (B2F ~ 2F), Gangnam, Seoul

STRIIIKE — Los Angeles, California 

striike, beverly hills
Image by Jenna Jones

If you find yourself in the city of angels and are in desperate need of a treat-yourself moment, head over to STRIIKE in Beverly Hills for a full-blown pamper session. The parlor is run by the three Streicher Sisters, who each specialize in their own thing; Ashley is a sought-after hairstylist, Jenn, a celebrity makeup artist, and Kristie arguably does brows better than anyone in the city.

Opt for a pre-dinner glam moment with a makeup application (or invest in an educational session that teaches you how to highlight your natural beauty), pencil in a brow lift or microfeathering session, get a blowout (and don’t forget to take selfies to document your glorious hair day), or spring for the Keratin Lash Lift. 

No time for an appointment? You can also browse a plethora of makeup, skincare, and haircare products from Indie brands such as R+Co, Iris & Romeo, Monika Blunder, Osea, and Omayma.

Visit: 278 Civic Center Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Zielinski & Rozen — Amsterdam, Netherlands

Calling all scent queens. Zielinski & Rozen is a family-owned, apothecary boutique founded in Tel Aviv’s Old Jaffa district and headed by perfumery alchemist Erez Rozen. The boutique has expanded globally, with locations across Europe, and its new flagship boutique in Amsterdam is (literally) a delight to the senses. 

It’s the incredible scents wafting that will lure you in and invite you to smell everything in sight. The store is filled with paper-wrapped soaps, apothecary-style bottles filled with intoxicating perfumes, and aromatic candles in simple metal tins. If you can’t make it to this locale, Zielinski & Rozen has locations in Paris, Vienna, Prague, Madrid,  Barcelona, and other major cities. 

Visit: Utrechtsestraat 117, 1017 VL Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Mother’s Apothecary: Sedona, Arizona 

mother's apothecary, sedona arizona
Image by Wendy Rose Gould

Sedona, Arizona, is ripe with nature’s beauty, beckoning countless visitors every year to come and scramble upon the red rocks and make their way through twisting juniper trees. It’s also considered a spiritual mecca that’s home to intuitives and healers. Get your aura photographed, have your tarot read, and meet with a pet psychic, but also make sure to pop into a beauty boutique or two. 

One of my favorites — a recent discovery — is Mother’s Apothecary, which is owned and run by a woman who makes practically everything in the store herself. In this teeny shop you’ll find traditional, small-batch handmade herbal remedies ranging from botanical-filled soaps and creams to lip glosses, teas, and smudge sticks. Many of the ingredients are even sourced directly from her own garden. 

Visit: 40 Soldiers Pass Rd, Sedona 

Featured image courtesy of Chicor