Since our tidying overlord, Marie Kondo, has ignited a national dialog about sparking joy, allow me to tell you about something that sparked a little joy in my life: a store! And not just any store, but the most interesting, meticulously curated beauty store I’ve been to in years. A tiny jewel box of a shop, located here, in good ol’ Manhattan. It thrills me in the way Santa Maria Novella thrilled me when I learned about it years ago on this very website. Will you share my excitement? Don’t know, but I’m wishing for the best.
It’s called Takamichi Beauty Room—an offshoot of Takamichi Saeki’s Lower East Side hair salon, only the Beauty Room is stationed a little further uptown, near Gramercy Park. I learned about it through the briefest of mentions in a trade magazine article, and then the next thing I knew I was headed up there with Tom in tow (me to Tom: “you’re going to love, pack your camera”).
I did not know whether Tom’d like it—or even if I would. But walking through Takamichi Beauty Room's doors certainly settled one truth: This is a store with personality and flattering track lighting. The shop is styled like a living room for a lotion baron—expensive-looking creams and apothecary bottles are stacked on sleek bookshelves, a bar cart loaded with soaps and toothpaste sits in the back. I could live there! Or be buried there. Either way I get to go to heaven.
Much of the inventory in the store conveys a clear message: “We’re not Sephora.” There’s a deodorant cream that smells like vetiver, a wooden brush made just for your nails (a little exfoliation keeps those nail beds healthy), and a couple of solid toothpastes that look like lollipops if you aren’t paying close attention. Like moths drawn to cashmere, Tom and I orbited a collection of jellied bar soaps for a while. They’re part of a Sicilian brand called Ortigia, and each color points to a different scent—neroli, sandalwood, and amber are a few. And then another Italian brand, Carthusia, sits just to the left of the Ortigia soaps in the store. Inspired by centuries-old fragrance formulas and bottled in Capri, the collection smells like, hmmm… top notes of summer and citrus? Probably just bergamot.
My favorite dispatch from Takamichi Beauty Room has to be Mary Allan skincare. Mary cut her teeth as a formulator at Dermalogica and as a VP at Jurlique before launching her eponymous line in 2010. It’s packaged in Biologique Recherche’s nemesis—smooth black glass and sans-serif typeface—and I can’t dance around it: it’s certainly a more expensive assortment of products. The black charcoal cleanser melts down and then foams without leaving my face dry, and without leaving a film. The Aqua Peel has taken on the role as my new daily exfoliant (it’s only 5-percent glycolic acid—enough to make a difference but not too much to scrub my skin raw). And then Nude Luminosity, which is a magnificent pearl of a product. A few drops and I’m glowing and goin’, but never greasy. There are a handful of ingredients in there that make it more skincare than makeup (squalane, collagen, cold-pressed oils), but for me, it’s more like a smoothing, brightening topcoat that I’ve come to rely on. And, if you can believe it, I’ve heard even better feedback about the oil—that’s on my to-do list for next time. "Next time" as in next week.
Photographed by Tom Newton