High and Low Mix
All Things Beauty
With over 500 stores in 14 countries, Sephora is not exactly a hidden gem, but the beauty retailer carries more than 200 of the best brands, so we'd be remiss if we didn't include its online arm on this list. Sign up for weekly Web specials and join the Beauty Insider reward program to get exclusive info about store happenings, product samples, and more.
At left: Sephora Color-Dipped brushes, $18-$35; at
Sumptuous Fragrances, Soaps and Candles
While shopping at Aedes De Venustas's site isn't as much of a sensory treat as walking into its lush, velvet-lined N.Y.C. boutique, the online store does offer the same kind of meticulous selection of scents, creams and candles.
"I wanted to be an artist or perhaps a scientist. Instead, I am a perfumer," says Christopher Brosius, whose concentrated unisex fragrances come in unusual scents. Two examples: I Am a Dandelion and Chocolate Box, both of which smell exactly like what they are named for.
At left: M3 November Perfume Absolute, $75; at
All About Hair
This newly launched site features luxury hair accessories and products for women, chosen and approved by dermatologist-to-the-stars Michael Lorin Reed, a specialist in hair and scalp health. There are vitamins and herbs as well as cult-favorite brands such as Rene Furterer, Leonor Greyl and Klorane.
At left: Jennifer Behr antique crystal Wing bobby pin, $65; at
Bespoke Beauty Products
Three Custom Color Specialists offers a trio of inventive ways to order: 1. Ready-made and custom-blended makeup. 2. Discontinued shades (send them the brand and color). 3. Shades you create "from a piece of fabric, a paint chip, or a photo from a magazine."
At left: Lip and cheek stains, $23-$37 each;
Adam Eastwood and Franco Wright, the founders of this site, constantly track down innovative scents-they offer more than 1,050 fragrance items from 300 brands. Now they're introducing special editions. Look for exclusive scents such as the Reve en Cuir fragrance from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.
At left: Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud eau de parfum, $135; at
Unisex Beauty Products
Everything in One Place
The glory of Ulta: You can buy department store, drugstore, and salon-only brands all in one spot. Click on Special Offers to see the varied and numerous deals being offered, and get three free samples with every order. Frequent shoppers take note: New products and sales are posted on Sunday and Thursday mornings.
Cutting Edge Beauty/Grooming Products
Misha and Erin Anderson, sisters and co-owners of the Woodley & Bunny shop and salon in Brooklyn, scour the world for products and try each one themselves. On their site, you'll find super-cool lines such as Pur-lisse, Snowberry and Honore des Pres.
At left: Sachajuan hair paste, $28; at
Hair Products for Women of Color
Devoted to the hair- and skin-care needs of African-Americans and other people of color, Treasured Locks offers an edited selection of hard-to-find brands, plus its own Treasured Locks line. All products come with detailed descriptions, and the site's Reading Room is filled with great tips on caring for and styling hair.
At left: Knot No More tangle removing conditioner, $7; at
No need to wonder if your moisturizer is filled with icky chemicals. This site not only features more than 1,000 truly fine organic skin-care, cosmetics, and aromatherapy products but offers upfront descriptions about what goes into each one.
At left: Suki moisture-rich cleansing lotion, $27; at
Indie Beauty Brands
Here you'll find brands you don't see every day-and discover all of those secret products that stylish women depend on, including Biologique Lotion P50 and Rodin Olio Lusso face oil. (Both are pricey but really do make your skin glow!)
At left: Rodin Olio Lusso body oil, $80; at