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Berlin’s metropolitan mix of laid-back city style and innovative eco-chic hasn’t always been well-served by beauty retailers. Shoppers hop from department stores and chain perfumeries with big brands to pharmacies with their doctor brands and French imports to organic markets touting natural potions.
Some of the latest stops for pretty pampering offer curated collections that are both classic and cutting edge. Old hands in the cosmetic industry have struck out on their own, while new kids in town are bringing fresh faces.
Here’s a look at some of the city’s new spots to spa and spend beautifully.
MDC Cosmetic: One of the minds behind the Andreas Murkudis concept store, Melanie dal Canton decided to develop her own world of well-being. The small, attentively-curated shop features high-end apothecary brands like Aesop, a large array of Santa Maria Novella products and indulgences such as cashmere bed socks, hot water bottles and scented candles from Cire Trudon.
“People are happy to see something done right,” said dal Canton about the support she’s received from Murkudis, his customers and local residents.
Niche fragrances include the latest from Lubin and James Heeley, whose 2013 fragrance will launch at MDC, and skin care from Austria’s Susanne Kaufmann, whose Berlin salon recently closed. Dal Canton, who also represents Kaufmann, also brought over the salon’s aesthetician to provide beauty and wellness services in the back room, including skin analysis, massage, facials, nutritional counseling and ear candling. Prices range from 20 to 150 euros, or $26 to $197.
Knaackstrasse 26, 10405 (Prenzlauer Berg)
Hours: Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Linden Leaves: New Zealand’s eco-care brand Linden Leaves has sprouted its only European store on Berlin’s Torstrasse.
“Berlin is a melting pot of open-minded people who don’t just want to buy [established brands] but are interested in natural products,” said Ellen Skalla, who also oversees European distribution of Linden Leaves from the shop’s back room.
The brand’s skin and body care is nature-based and free of parabens, mineral oil and sodium lauryl sulfate, and its name just happens to echo that of one of Berlin’s most famous boulevard, Unter den Linden.
Highlights include two care lines for men, Pure Man and Rugby — each product is labeled with a sports maneuver — as well as an aromatherapy body oil range that features fruits and herbs suspended like jewels in the tall bottles (19.90 euros ($26) for 70 ml., 49.90 euros ($65) for 250 ml.). With its clientele of both green-minded locals and international tourists, the Torstrasse store also serves as what Skalla calls “a small focus group” for testing.
Catering to the hotel and jet-set crowd means Skalla often ends up guiding visitors to the Linden Leaves online shop or taking care of shipping for precious products that won’t fit in carry-on baggage.
Torstrasse 138 (Mitte)
Web: linden leaves-shop.de
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m.
Wheadon — Wohlfühlen ist Hautsache: It’s all about feeling good for Nicole Wheadon, a former Galeries Lafayette Berlin beauty department head, who has opened a boutique just steps from Mitte’s shopping maelstrom. The store puts an accent on feeling good as well as looking good, with an array of niche lines.
“It’s very simple,” says Wheadon. “Most perfumeries are really boring. They all have the same stuff.”
Wheadon’s eclectic assortment features classic German natural cosmetic lines like Dr. Hauschka and Boerlind mixed with niche perfume lines like Honore des Pres, Humiecki & Graef, Parfumerie Generale and Huitieme Art, alongside cult faves Dr. Bronner and eco-luxe brands like Patyka.
Downstairs, a shabby chic cellar holds vintage barber chairs for close shaves, a treatment corner for facials and a makeup table for Becca and Illamasqua application.
Wheadon, who has 27 years of experience in the beauty industry and also lives in the neighborhood, offers clients an unheard of sort of concierge service: She’s on call from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. for customers’ beauty emergencies or last-minute gift needs.
Her service approach extends to Berlin Fashion Week — she’ll have the shop open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. each night, “so people can get their treats and treatments” before or after a full day of fashion.”
Wheadon — Wohlfühlen
Steinstrasse 17 (Mitte)
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m. and by request
Belle Rebelle: Set in a corner of Charlottenburg she calls “Little Paris,” Corinna Mosler-Jakobsohn’s shop, Belle Rebelle, wants to surprise, delight and educate.
“It’s beauty defined differently,” the owner explained. “A quiet rebellion against mainstream beauty.”
Mosler-Jakobsohn’s 322-square-foot jewel box of a shop looks bigger, owing to mirrors and inset shelves; the historic storefront was allowed minimal changes, but has maximum impact thanks to refinements by architect Davide Rizzo, including a hanging cube-shaped screen that shows fragrance films from Carner Barcelona and Lisa Kirk’s Revolution. A veteran fragrance distributor, Mosler-Jakobsohn offers some of her favorite treasures, including scents from Carthusia, Ulrich Lang New York, Maria Lux and Profvmvm Roma and skin care by Sepai Skin Technology, Firma, Revive and Rodial.
Other treats include Smith’s Rose Balm, Rubis tweezers, Senseo atomizers and the Fornasetti candle and incense burner collection. Makeup by Laura Mercier and nail polish and body care from Face Stockholm rounds out the selection. Additionally, Belle Rebelle is Berlin’s only source for Mona di Orio scents and the rare, discontinued candles from the same line. Collectors take note — and take your credit card.
Bleibtreustrasse 42, 10623 (Charlottenburg)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fingerbang: From tribal tips to graffiti graphics and camo colors, manicure freestyling has finally made its way to the city by way of Larissa Bechtold’s cheekily named Fingerbang pop-up nail art salon.
Canadian transplant Bechtold, who is planning a permanent nail bar and beauty boutique in Berlin, invites out-of-town nail pros to ply their trade at her events alongside local artists she convinces to briefly change their medium to the nail’s tiny canvas. Fingerbang’s pricing starts with a standard polish manicure for 26 euros ($34), a manicure with two accent art nails at 30 euros ($39) and nail art alone at 5 euros per nail ($6.50).
Fingerbang will host a pop-up nail art salon during Berlin Fashion Week (venue TBD), and has won guest spots at the Grazia’s Uma and Starstyling’s party at Cookies.
Those entranced by Berlin’s bohemian beauty can take home a piece of the German capital in a bottle. Here are some of the newest fragrant experiences on the block.
Heaven Scent: Berlin model-turned yogi-turned natural perfumer Tanja Bochnig is going for the gold. The latest scent in her April Aromatics line, Calling All Angels, is a blend of deep rich incense, vanilla, and honey accords enhanced with quartz crystals and small petals made from 24-karat gold — and is said to be bottled during a full moon. The limited-edition gilded elixir is offered at Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), Departmentstore Quartier 206 and Breathe Cosmetics as well as online; 30-ml. costs 169 euros ($223) and is the first in a series of angel-themed fragrances from Bochnig.
Everything Old Is New Again: Decades ago, J.F. Schwarzlose was as big a name in Berlin fragrance circles as Caron or Guerlain in Paris. The perfume brand, founded in 1856 and shelved in 1976, was resuscitated by packaging designer Lutz Herrmann, who has rejuvenated Hugo Boss, Gucci and Juvena. Herrmann modernized two J.F. Schwarzlose classic scents, Treffpunkt 8Uhr (“Rendezvous at 8 o’clock”) and 1A-33 (named for old Berlin license plates), and bolstered the line with new fragrances Trance and Rausch (Rush), which was inspired by contemporary Berlin’s infamous nonstop nightlife.
The 50-ml. vintage-inspired bottles are priced from 98 to 125 euros ($128 to $165) and are available in Berlin at Belle Rebelle, Galeries Lafayette Berlin, Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) and in the brand’s online shop.
Drink Me: Frau Tonis Parfum is mixing it up with the Ritz Carlton. Head bar manager Arnd Heissen has created signature fragrance cocktails inspired by the shop’s scents including “Frau Tonis Orange” and “Potosi,” which blend tequila, blood orange syrup, orange blossom water and herbal teas. Those who want to blend above and beyond can make theirs a double — starting with a Frau Tonis bespoke perfume session with Champagne, fresh fruit and 50 ml. of your creation to take home. The evening wraps up with perfumed punch in the Ritz Carlton’s Curtain Club; the German or English-language events can be booked through Frau Tonis starting at 99 euros ($130).
Zimmerstrasse 13, 10969 (Mitte)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Ritz-Carlton Hotel Berlin, Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 (Mitte)