Cobble Hill might be full of stately brownstones gracing tree-lined streets, many housing some of the most fashionable women in the borough, but until rather recently, it was hard to find skincare products sourced from somewhere other than, well, Rite Aid. That all changed five years ago when former-Vogue stylist and neighborhood resident Jessica Richards opened Shen Beauty on Court Street, introducing the neighborhood to a variety of cultishly adored beauty and wellness products, the very kind which Richards once couldn’t find for herself without going to Manhattan.
In the five years since she was inspired to open Shen (inspiration came in the form of a broken jar of face cream that couldn’t be replaced by anything within walking distance), Richards has come to know the beauty needs of the neighborhood intimately, and has learned how to respond to those needs in an almost-intuitive way. Recently, I visited a newly renovated Shen—it now has more space for treatments like facials and microdermabrasion; Shen also offers services like waxing, makeup application, and brow-shaping—and spoke with Richards about her approach to building the perfect beauty shop. She told me, “I curate beauty just like I would curate a fashion shoot,” and notes that it’s possible to take the same high-low approach to beauty that many people use for fashion, not only in the sense cost, but also via combining organic and natural products with non.
Richards explains, “I focus on natural and organic because that’s what I love, but it’s not all that I sell because no one really lives that way… People want results, and with organic products you don’t necessarily see immediate results, whereas with something like Skinceuticals, it works instantly. So we sell that! But we also sell organic lines—even ones that are wildly natural, like May Lindstrom—because they work too.”
Shen also has a smartly edited and highly effective wellness section, that includes Richards’s personal favorites like PurSoma Detox Baths,The Beauty Chef Glow Inner Beauty Powder, and Therapie Roques O’Neill Himalayan Sea Salts. All of which are very on trend right now (think juice cleanses, but for the skin… and without needing to stop eating), but are also just fun and effective to use, making Shen Beauty a destination not only for neighborhood residents in need of a new face cream, but also for anyone who cares about the things they’re putting on their face and body.