Tag Archives: 312 Shops

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations

kiehls apothecary prep

In a throwback to their OG apothecary days, Kiehl’s is mixing up custom serums in store. Equipped with your very own Rx label. I stopped by the Michigan Ave store last month to experience the process firsthand and found it all very scientifically satisfying. My skin has been responding positively to my blend as well.

I love this because it’s all about customization. Something I am V into at the moment — those salad kits in a bag are freaking life right now.

Kiehls Michigan Ave

It starts with a diagnosis – what does the Skin Atlas (literally a giant book with helpful pictures) say about your skin, how oily is your skin, what’s the moisture level in your skin? There’s a wand that Kiehl’s uses to figure out the latter and I was low – in the 20s. To be fair, I think that “stellar” is somewhere in the 50s. After you have that reality check, you get to personalize your formula based on your two most significant skin concerns. Redness, wrinkles, rough texture, large pores and dullness. From there, you’ll get two tubes of potent complexes to mix in with Kiehl’s Skin-Strengthening Concentrate, made of 35% concentrated Squalane and botanical oil blend of apricot, coriander, black currant and echium oils. This blend on its own is incredible but it’s powerful when you mix in the treatments.

I like that the base of the concentrate is squalane – it’s like a warm cozy blanket for your skin that helps keep moisture in. My skin responds really well to Kiehl’s products, overall. I find they do what they say and you can see them working.  The option to customize is a nice perk for loyalists wanting to amp up the potency.

I went for it with the wrinkle-reducing complex and the texture refining complex. These are the skin concerns that matter most to me so it seemed obvious. In one tube, Kiehl’s gave me a highly concentrated retinol and the other was a mix of vitamin F and LHA (lipohydroxy acid). It’s a derivative of salicylic acid that chemically exfoliates in a gentler manner.  I came home, squeezed the two complexes into the bottle and then shook it intensely for about 60 seconds.

For the past month, I’ve been using this every night – about 4-5 drops pressed into the skin – over my serums and before locking it all in with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm. That last step is something I added because of the extreme dips in temperature.

Oh, and the coolest part is this custom vintage pharmacy label they print out in store and affix to your bottle. There’s a set of numbers on their as well that gets saved into Kiehl’s system so if you want to reorder your blend, they can bring it right up for you.

This isn’t yet offered at every Kiehl’s store but they list them all online so you can double check. For example, they do this in Chicago’s Michigan Ave store but not the Armitage location. However, it is available in Schaumburg.

Keep your skin protected and your limbs covered. It’s getting chilly out there!

Photo credit (second picture only): Hallie Duesenberg

Beauty Delivery in its Prime

Merz Apothecary

It’s Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. My Prime membership is money I readily fork over every July – between me and my boyfriend, there’s probably half a dozen Amazon boxes showing up on our door every week. There’s much to be said for the convenience and access to pretty much all things even though it comes with a side of guilt. The bigness of Amazon has implications for the shop small set. You can’t help but feel like you’re sticking it to your fav little boutique every time you get your one-click buy on. But, like everything, it’s about balance, right? While I’m not yet sure how I feel about a physical Amazon bookstore coming to Lakeview, I know I am excited about Amazon joining forces with Chicago institution (for 140+ years!) Merz Apothecary to offer beauty delivery in under two hours with Prime Now. I love Merz but I rarely make it up to Lincoln Square, or even the Palmer House post for that matter.. The option to have it brought to me is something I can get behind.

Merz is on the same page. According to owner Anthony Qaiyum, “… I am especially excited for us to be able to combine our unique products and our expertise in our field with Amazon’s unrivaled delivery operations. I think it is a recipe for customer satisfaction and business growth.”

The service is only available locally, from 10am-6pm Monday-Friday. So, to my 312-ers, next time you feel a cold coming on or just NEED that RMS Lip Shine (hey, it happens), you can get it from Merz, via Prime Now. The epic 20 pages of wellness goodies they have far surpasses any satisfaction I get from the lunchtime stroll through the CVS across the street. Two hour delivery is free or if you really just need it NOW, you can pay $7.99 for delivery in one hour.

A peek at just a few of the many (many, many) things you can have in your hands by the time you finish your morning coffee.

Fancy candles, including cult classic Diptyque Baies. // Chewy ginger candy because your throat hurts and also because these look delicious. // Hypnotic Sleep Aid because even though it’s Monday morning, you spent the weekend at Riot Fest and tonight cannot come soon enough. // Smith + Cult Lip Lacquer, which Fat Mascara raved about on its podcast and you’ve been curious since. // Face wipes, since you just ran out this weekend. // Lipstick that matches your mood for all things fall. // A fleece-covered hot water bottle because there is absolutely nothing better for cold feet and yours sprung a leak last winter. // Snacks! // RMS Living Luminizer because you’re at the office and you just looked in the mirror. // Boroleum ointment, something you just discovered will help your dry nose. Mornings this time of year get rougher and rougher. // Natural insect repellent because Zika. Hey, I got a trip to Miami coming up over the holidays.

312 Shops: Arch Apothecary

Chicago is a shopping destination and beauty boutiques are plentiful. 312 Shops features my favorite places to shop in the city and explores new territory as well.  Consider this your guide to Chicago, by way of beauty. Arch Apothecary in Old Town is a pretty palace — blowouts, makeup lessons, brows, lashes and some of the best beauty shopping around town.

Arch-ApothecaryWhen Arch Apothecary, the luxury beauty and style bar based in Rockford, Ill., opened its city doors in Old Town last year, it quickly gained a cult following and started racking up all sorts of Best of Chicago nods. Also, they share a motto of mine: live pretty. Those two words are in their DNA — aside from the long list of services they provide and gorgeous makeup they sell, the boutique itself is a stunner. Rustic chic wood floors, grand chandeliers, flawless marble counters, sleek glass shelving and products for days.



The Brands…It’s a makeup lover’s paradise. Luxury artistry brands like By Terry, Le Metier de Beaute, Kevyn Aucoin and high-end skin care from Sunday Riley and Natura Bissé. They also carry two of my favorite beauty lines, RMS and Jouer, both of which can be hard to find. Look for nail color from Deborah Lippmann and RGB and a massive wall of Oribe hair care. Arch also carries local makeup artist Jenny Patinkin’s brush line (which is incredible…more on that later!)



The Perks…Arch is a one-stop shop for all things pretty. They literally do it all — waxing, styling, makeup, facials, haircuts. They even have some stellar package deals if you’re looking for routine maintenance.



The Experience…I could spend hours at Arch, and that would be just in playing with all of the products. It’s a great place to fill up your makeup bag and discover new products, which is exactly what I did when this photo was taken! The team bronzed and sculpted my cheeks in a very natural way. I loved it and had to immediately buy this Kevyn Aucoin Bronzer.

312 Shops: Macy’s State Street Beauty Floor

Chicago is a shopping destination and beauty boutiques are plentiful. 312 Shops features my favorite places to shop in the city and explores new territory as well. Consider this your guide to Chicago, by way of beauty.  If you still harbor sweet memories of shopping at Marshall Field’s, you likely get a little wistful at the now Macy’s on State Street. This building is an icon and it’s now home to one of the most picturesque beauty renovations. Prepare to be floored.


The way we shop for beauty in department stores is clearly changing. A welcome shift, don’t you agree? The traditional counter model admittedly feels quite dated. I’m thrilled to see a more open shopping atmosphere and tech integrations taking shape. Bloomingdale’s debuted its new cosmetics floor this month and now Macy’s on State Street is showing off the first phase of its major beauty floor renovation.

The Look… Macy’s beauty department spans 26,000 square feet (wowza!) with 40 cosmetic lines and nearly 70 fragrances. The historic architecture of the building, which happens to be the second largest department store in the world, gives this reno even more edge. We’re talking marble floors, white walls, the original columns and that famous “Tiffany Ceiling” – made with 1.6 million pieces of Tiffany Favrile glass that suspends over the cosmetics floor. And, importantly, no more bad department store lighting! The column capitals were enhanced with special lighting installations and everything is soft yet bright.


The Brands… Of the 40 cosmetic lines, 16 are new. Most of the new beauty is located in the “Impulse Beauty” area, which is the largest in the country with 3,400 dedicated square feet. There’s Tarrte, Inglot, Urban Decay, bareEscentuals, and even Essie and butter London. There’s a NARS counter, 1 of 2 at Macy’s in the entire country (the other is in Minneapolis). Macy’s also has the exclusive on Michael Kors new cosmetics line for a year.




The Perks… Nearly every space has something unique. There are vanities strategically positioned throughout the Impulse areas (how cute is Urban Decay’s?!) and Benefit added new services previously only available at freestanding Benefit boutiques, including body waxing and spray tanning, which are done in private in the “Pretty Room.” Yes, that’s what it’s called. Philosophy has a face scanner that shows you what your skin really looks like underneath makeup and there are LED screens playing video and showing off brand creative everywhere you turn.



Can you believe this is only Phase One? The renovation will be complete in the spring of 2014. Look for a brand new Laura Mercier space and more real estate for Dior.

312 Shops: space519

Chicago is a shopping destination and beauty boutiques are plentiful. 312 Shops features my favorite places to shop in the city and explores new territory as well. Consider this your guide to Chicago, by way of beauty. If unique and hard-to-find is your flavor, you’re going to love space519. 


Tucked away in the Bloomingdale’s building off of north Michigan Ave. is one of my favorite shops in the city, space519. It’s uber-curated with something special for everyone. Men’s and women’s apparel, beautiful jewels, books just screaming for a place on your coffee table, home décor, furniture and…you guessed it, a killer beauty section. The apothecary housed in space519 is well-stocked with organic beauty that you almost never see in brick & mortar locations. Frankly, we need more places like space519 who have a unique POV in the very crowded Magnificent Mile.

Space-519-RMSWell-stocked RMS display. I picked up the Lip Shine in Sacred during my last visit!



It’s really tempting to just order up this entire display

The Look Not your average boutique, there’s quite a bit of square footage here. It’s open and airy with a modern feel. Products are housed on glass and stainless counters and inside brass cabinetry. Nearly everything is for sale inside – even the furniture, props and art used for décor and merchandising.


My second favorite area of the store

The Brands Natural beauties, prepare yourself. space519 stocks RMS Beauty, Kjaer Weis, Jin Soon, HippxRGB, ILIA and Rahua.  Oh, and that’s just to name a few. There’s also an excellent selection of fragrances to sniff – Strange Invisible, MCMC and Apothia.

Space-519-JewelsI’m obsessed with that light fixture


Accessories tucked around every corner

The PerksLook for guest appearances of brand owners from time to time. Kirsten Kjaer Weis made an appearance last year and Astro Wifey (a.k.a. her royal nail art highness) is working her genius artwork to create one-of-a-kind manicures one Saturday each month.

The ExperienceTake your time here. There’s nothing cookie cutter about this store, so you might find yourself getting lost in a sea of books about Paris and other travels.

312 Shops: SPACE.NK.apothecary

Chicago is a shopping destination and beauty boutiques are plentiful. 312 Shops features my favorite places to shop in the city and explores new territory as well. Consider this your guide to Chicago, by way of beauty. Check out my latest tour of Chicago’s newest beauty boutique, SPACE.NK.


Space NK chose wisely for its first ever Midwest boutique. Finally, the luxury beauty retailer opened up shop in Chicago at Bloomingdale’s. According to Space NK founder Nicky Kinnaird, Chicago was the right market. “We have an existing fan base here, judging from customers shopping on our website and asking us to open a store.” She’s clearly referencing me, right? And definitely Joyce of Bronzer Bunny, too. We may have led the online petition!

The brands… More than 40 luxurious brands are available and new products arrive every few weeks to keep inventory fresh. I was struck by the gorgeous display of Kevyn Aucoin, Hourglass and Lipstick Queen as well as serious shelf space dedicated to Oribe, Tata Harper, Rahua and Jin Soon.

The neighbors… Housed in a nook within the Bloomingdale’s cosmetics department, Chicago’s Space NK is in good company with Laura Mercier, La Prairie and Bobbi Brown nearby. When the reno is done, it’s going to be insane.

The perks Without question, Space NK has the best gift-with-purchases. Seems as though everyone has resorted to one-time-use packets and fragrance cards, which makes their often inclusion of nearly full-size lipsticks, mini diptyque candles and other deluxe offerings refreshing.



These neutral eyeshadow duos by Kevyn Aucoin are calling me!

The experience All about discovery. I always come across brands that are new on my radar, like Sai-Sei, and the sales team is more than willing to chat and answer questions (in a very non-pushy, friendly way).





Space NK will host its grand opening celebration when Bloomingdale’s wraps its beauty floor remodel. Save the date for Thursday, September 12 — word is one of Space NK’s famous GWPs will be up for grabs. And, while you’re at it, jot down Saturday, October 26, when Space NK founder Nicky Kinnaird will be making an appearance and offering one-on-one consultations.

312 Shops: Bluemercury Lincoln Park

Chicago is a shopping destination and beauty boutiques are plentiful. I’m introducing a new feature, 312 Shops, to detail my favorite places to shop in the city and to explore some new territory.  Consider this your guide to Chicago, by way of beauty. I’m kicking things off with one of my favorite boutiques, the Lincoln Park Bluemercury.


Before I got back to my Midwest roots and made Chicago my home, I lived in DC for about five years. I was fresh out of college and just starting out in the working world, saving my hard-earned pennies for important things like rent and food, but also lip gloss. Priorities were in check, clearly. One of my favorite places to visit was Bluemercury.  I frequented the M Street location on the regular and ventured off to the Dupont Circle store during lunch breaks occasionally. It was my peaceful oasis and provided a total aspirational shopping experience. Bluemercury was originally founded in D.C. in 1999 by Marla Malcolm Beck, just 29 years old at the time, and her husband Barry. She had a vision and turns out, everyone wants a peaceful beauty oasis. Bluemercury is the fastest growing luxury beauty and spa chain in the nation. Chicagoland is home to a total of five, with the latest opening in Highland Park this weekend!  The Lincoln Park shop on Halsted is a girl’s dream.


I always like being welcomed by a giant display of NARS

The look… Both inviting and contemporary, think hardwood floors, Persian rugs and white marble.  It’s a concentrated space — so much pretty for eyes to take in at once. Rows upon rows of makeup displays, walls of product housed on glass shelves and jars of minis, like Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in every color possible.


Drool-worthy wall of Diptyque, next to a massive amount of Molton Brown


Like a kid in a candy store

The brands… You’d normally have to visit a handful of different stores and/or online shops to find the variety of brands you would in Bluemercury. There’s a mix of artist makeup lines, like NARS and Bobbi Brown, derm-approved skin care, including Dr. Dennis Gross and Skinceuticals, niche brands, such as REN and Diptyque, and tons of luxury. The Lincoln Park shop also has loads of Kiehl’s, Moroccanoil, Oribe and dedicates a healthy amount of real estate for NEST.

The perks… Bluemercury seems to get new releases and seasonal collections earlier than others (this holds true in their online shop, too!) and their staff is super-friendly — Richard is the man. Samples are plentiful and they host a lot of fun events, which are always BYOB.  At least they are when I go. Bubbly and beauty talk just go together. Am I right?


Kiehl’s for days


M-61 available only at Bluemercury

The exclusive… The M-61 skincare line, developed by Marla Malcolm Beck, fuses the best of science (peptides, glycolics, retinol) and nature. The M-61 line, including a yummy collab with lip scrub queen Sara Happ, is sold exclusively at Bluemercury.

The unexpected… It’s also a full-fledged spa! Facials, body massages, micro-derm and waxing — they do it all.

Bluemercury also has a beauty blog, authored by Marla, that I faithfully follow. You can almost always expect her take on seasonal collections, like these NARS Pierre Hardy blushes, and even some reveals on what she’s working on behind the scenes with M-61.