It's true that there's a glut of beauty sites out there, selling every product under the sun with free shipping besides. So why shop local? Because it's the right thing to do, numbskull! It won't cost you anything extra to shop at independent stores instead of online (most products are pretty price-controlled), and some places will even gift wrap the stuff for free. Besides, it's the perfect excuse to pick up some extra sparkle for you.
My Tiny Beauty Selection:
Larchmont Beauty Supply: Yes, this is it: the holy grail of beauty supply stores. It's small, yet overflows with every type of high end product you can think of (including natural and cult brands). In one spot, you can attain Bliss, get Fresh, and Stila yourself for the holidays (ok, the brand name puns are blessedly over for a while; I've gotten it out of my system). There's tons of smelly candles, and some of them even smell good. The hair accessory department runs the gamut from clips to scarves to pretty flowers. And there are salespeople literally begging to help you. A word of warning: if you like products at all, this place will make you crazy. You may lose all sense of control. Remember that you're shopping for other people too.
208 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Santa Maria Novella: Few people have ever heard of Santa Maria Novella, since all the stuff's made by nuns in Florence, Italy. The soaps are exquisite, delicately scented and gentle on the skin, not to mention elegantly packaged. If Maria from The Sound of Music had been Italian instead of Austrian, she would have washed with this stuff. It's truly lovely. And one of the few outposts for Santa Maria Novella products is this tiny little storefront on snooty snoot snoot Melrose Place. Luckily, the lone salesperson will usually give you the time of day (unlike the cretins in the Marc Jacobs store across the street). They have a product that is called "weekend" soap that's very nice. I suppose they mean it's for travel, although perhaps it's for a dirty weekend (you never know with those Italian nuns). Try these products as a gift for an aunt or your grandmother. And while I know it's actually based in Florence, this store is such a rarity that I think it counts as a local find.
8411 Melrose Place
Scent Bar: This is, bar none, the best source for cult perfumes in the U.S. You can find all these brands online at their website, Lucky Scent, but at the store you can actually smell them. I find this essential, because I hate perfume. Really hate it. The wrong scent can give me a headache and ruin my day. But I found the one I can stand on myself, Eau de Menthe, at Scent Bar. It's a very simple Heeley fragrance that smells like mint, tea, and tiny bit of citrus. Scent Bar has a smell to fit everyone, from the stinkiest, skunkiest musk to pure carnations to chocolate and caramel. Go there and browse. Many people are (unlike me) very flexible when it comes to scent, and would appreciate a new perfume. And this is the only place to buy one. If you can't make it to the store, the website sells samples so you can try before you buy.
8727 Beverly Blvd.