Walking into Jessica Richards’ light and airy Shen Beauty boutique is like walking into the apartment of that girl you know who always seems to get what’s trending before everyone else. Shen embodies effortless style that exudes that in-the-know vibe. But instead of being inaccessible and museum-like, Shen is the store for the every girl, from the girl who doesn’t know a thing about beauty and is just looking for a good cleanser to someone like me who lives and breathes the world of scrubs and serums. Jessica Richards has crafted an experience that speaks to everyone.
Like her Cobble Hill-based beauty destination, Jessica’s cool factor is basically off the charts. The former stylist hails from California and has the chicest downtown NYC meets surfer girl look. Jessica opened Shen in 2010 after determining there were no places to buy the best of beauty in Brooklyn. What began as a neighborhood gem for culty, undiscovered organic lines and exclusive British imports soon started attracting consumers from Manhattan, Europe, Asia and everywhere else.
The store emphasizes wellness and features a finely curated selection of products. Her secret? She only buys what she likes. Rather than blindly picking up an entire line, she invests in what works, what she’d want to use everyday on herself. She loves hunting for new brands and really takes the time to get to know the people behind the labels. To drive home the beauty-as-lifestyle store theme, Jessica even offers facials in the back of her store. Now, this is a reason to make the trip to Brooklyn, am I right?
Recently, I sat down with Jessica, took a tour of her store and asked her a million questions about her accomplishments, beauty tips and wellness philosophy. By the end of the interview, she had me sold on everything she talked about. (You’ll see what I mean after you read the interview.) During my visit to the store, I also received a customized facial featuring that famous “phantom mask” LED light treatment. An hour of pure bliss included a mix of lymphatic massage, lights, extractions, serums, oils, exfoliations, masks and so much more. The experience was so transformative, I enjoyed the results for days after the treatment. Girls, if you learn anything today it’s that Jessica Richards and Shen are defining cool girl beauty. Read to find out how you can get in on it.
Annie: What is your perspective on wellness?
Jessica: Well, I think wellness has transitioned from beauty to health. In the beginning, wellness revolved around beauty – products that take care of your skin. Today, wellness has crossed over to green juice, diet and products that take care of you. For example, The Beauty Chef and Moon Juice are leaders of beauty powders and edible beauty elixirs. I’m a HUGE fan of The Beauty Chef’s powders and boosters. After drinking them, I cannot tell you how many people have complimented on my skin. Even clients and customers whom I haven’t seen for months will come in and immediately notice my skin. I am not kidding. People ask me all the time, and I swear it’s the Beauty Chef. My favorite has to be Hydration Inner Beauty Boost. It tastes so darn good. I like to pour a little into a glass of water because it tastes that divine. I can drink it all day, everyday. And then, of course, there are aromatherapies like Vitruvi, have you heard of it? They are a beautiful line of luxury aromatherapy products meant for everyday use. The brand is young and hip. Plus, the packaging is super cool. You have to check it out.
I also love Therapie Roques Oneil. The founder Michelle also created the line Green and Spring, and she also happens to be Pat McGrath’s best friend. So Pat uses the Aura Spray before she does everyone’s makeup. This line is wellness, not beauty. But I think this is where the crossover happens. Her best seller is the Himalayan Detox Salts. She has this whole process where she grinds the amethyst herself and she prays over them. She performs a ritual and the treatments. It’s basically an organic valium. You put two tablespoons of the salts in the bath, and you go to bed immediately after. My two boys poured the whole bottle in the bath once, and they were asleep within 15 minutes. I have friends who use them every night. You get addicted.
Annie: Just like me, you take a lot of baths! What are some of your favorite bath products?
Jessica: I love Himalayan Detox Salts, but if I need a specific treatment I’ll use Pursoma. Pursoma is a wellness beauty brand that focuses on taking care of yourself holistically: Resurrection Bath is going to revitalize you, give you mental clarity; Digital Detox pulls the wifi out of your body; and Hot Tub Bath is for deep detox. This is the one I tried first when I was on the brink of getting sick, and I kind of had my doubts about it. But the founder Kahlil Gibran told me to give a chance and follow all the directions. So, I ran a bath as hot as I could, stirred it with a wooden spoon – this way the bath didn’t absorb all the chemicals – and climbed in for exactly 15 minutes, no more, no less. When I got out, I wrapped up in a robe, drank lots of water, and sweated the toxins out. I felt light-headed, dehydrated, and sweated like crazy. But after waking up the next morning, I felt amazing. Not sick at all. I called Kahlil to tell her what happened and she said, “I told you so.”
In addition to using the Pursoma salts, sometimes I’ll add in a scoop of coconut oil and some essential oils if I’m feeling excited. I find baths so relaxing. It’s also far easier to shave in a bath too, ha!
Jessica: I put Phylia de M. Fulphyl in my smoothies every morning. I also give it to my kids every morning, and they do NOT get sick, not kidding. It’s fun because I make the smoothies with the kids and they love it. Fulphyl is a great nutritional supplement filled with pure organic fruits and vegetables. It removes harmful toxins, free radicals, and increases cell growth and regeneration. Plus, it does not interrupt the taste and consistency of the smoothies. Besides Phylia, I also add The Beauty Chef Glow Powder.
As for fruits, I add frozen fruits, such as peaches, mangos, bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, along with almond/coconut milk, and maybe a little yogurt or orange juice. I never add vegetables into my smoothies. I’m more of a fruit smoothie girl rather than green juice girl.
Annie: What are some of your beauty staples that you keep going back to year after year?
Jessica: My all-time favorite cleanser is Amanda Lacey’s Cleansing Pomade. I have been using her for five years. The cleanser is infused with Camilla oil. I also cannot live without Amanda Lacey’s Illuminating Eye Gel. This eye gel is my Holy Grail and secret weapon to fight against wrinkles and under eye circles. Infused with mica (a light reflecting particle), it brightens dark circles and evens the skin tone. It almost looks like glitter, but it’s not. It’s a light reflecting particle, think like RMS Beauty Living Luminizer. It’s amazing. I love to keep the eye gel in the fridge because the coldness of the gel feels so relaxing on the skin and I love how it tingles. For my lips, I love Amanda Lacey’s Cupid’s Bow Plumping Lip Balm. No matter how many lip balms I have tried, I ALWAYS go back to this one. Literally, no balms can compete with this outstanding product.
Annie: What products do I absolutely need to buy from Shen today?
Jessica: I do switch between the Amanda Lacey cleanser and Aurelia Miracle Cleanser. But the Amanda I always go back to. It doesn’t make you break out. It’s just the best. After cleansing my face, I pair it with Antonia Burrell Cream Supreme Facial Moisturizer. This moisturizer works harmoniously with the two cleansers and it’s one of my top-sellers. It is always sold out. I will switch between Aurelia Cell Revitalize Rose Mask and Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask for intense moisture. They are both clear, so I will even wear it on my face when I drop my kids off at school, and then when I get home I wash it off. For an exfoliator, I use Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask, which has volcanic ash in it. You can leave it on as a mask, and it feels amazing. Right now, I am loving the Shiva Rose Face Oil. We are selling her products here at the store soon. I can’t wait!
Annie: You have this cult following of cool, in-the-know women. Tell me, what do they love…
Jessica: Amanda Lacey cleanser. Antonia Burrell is another top-seller. It’s a natural skincare brand that specifically targets sensitive and acne-prone skin. The brand’s top sellers are the Cleansing Oil, Radiant Light Serum, and the Cream Supreme. I love the serum, and it really helps with hyper-pigmentation, but from a natural perspective. The Cream Supreme is the one I personally always go back to. It is the BOMB! I constantly have to restock this moisturizer. This cream is super light-weight and it completely clears up your skin. Customers who have acne, wrinkles, sun spots and hyper-pigmentation absolutely swear by this moisturizer. You’d be so surprised who uses this cream!
Some other favorites are SkinCeuticals Metacell, a daily anti-aging emulsion, and Unstung Hero Anti-Mosquito, a non-toxic and DEET free repellent that smells good and doesn’t leave that weird residue. It’s unisex. I have customers who come in and buy this and decant it into small bottles to take with them when they travel. And lastly, Therapie Roques Oneil Bath Salts.
Annie: Are there any brands you are launching at Shen later this year that we must know about?
Jessica: Virtuvi. The audience for this brand is a lot younger and hipper. The packaging also appeals to a younger audience because of its simplicity. Another brand is Green and Spring created by Michelle of Therapie Roques Oneil. I am also going to introduce Saule Blanc in September. Lastly, I will bring Eyeko.
Jessica: Thank you! My number one tip is always moisturize your skin whether it’s with facial oils or moisturizers. Moisture is the way to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. I also firmly believe in taking your makeup off before bed. I rarely ever sleep without thoroughly cleansing my face, but if I’m running against my precious snooze time, I will skip cleansers but NEVER moisturizers. You will not believe the amount of moisturizers and oils I slather on my face. Also, I drink tons of water. Again, moisture is essential to healthy, radiant, and younger-looking skin. Grapes become raisins due to lack of moisture. Our face reacts the same way.
Annie: I love your California baby blond hair, perfectly effortless and undone. What’s your secret?
Jessica: I’m a huge fan of David Mallett Australian Salt Spray. He uses pink salts from Australia, which helps create the perfect Australian beach-tousled curls. He’s actually launching a new product called Le Bon at the end of this year. I can’t wait. His salon in Paris is the one with all the taxidermy inside. It’s so good.
Jessica: I love workouts that make me sweat. I love cardio. Recently, I made it a mission to do SoulCycle at least twice a week. Funny story, the first time I did SoulCycle, I fell off the bike and no one helped me back up. I was completely mortified! I have been riding my bike for the last seven years and it has changed my life. I ride my bike everywhere, even to SoulCycle. I also chase my two boys around everywhere.
Annie: Do you get facials?
Jessica: Oh yes, I cannot live without facials. I get facials and peels, oxygen and lights all the time. If I had to recommend to a friend, I would say you need at least four facials a year, at least every season. Get your sweaters out, get a facial. When summer comes around, get a facial, get the dead skin cells off. In my opinion, girls should make every effort to receive a facial treatment. It’s such an important skincare regiment that is often overlooked.
Annie: What are your favorite makeup products?
Jessica: I don’t really wear makeup. I tint my eyelashes and brows, and I get facials. When I need to wear makeup, I ALWAYS wear a red lipstick and a mascara. I love RMS Beauty Volumizing Mascara and Bobbi Brown Everything Mascara. For lipstick, I use By Terry Rogue Terrybly Lipstick in Frenetic Vermilion (200) and 21VD (400). I also always wear perfume. Juliette Has a Gun: Not a Perfume is amazing, because it smells different on everyone. I also love Byredo Gypsy Water. I am such a Gypsy Water girl.
Annie: Lastly, before we end, I must know: What is your overarching philosophy on organic and natural beauty?
Jessica: When I first opened the store, I only sold organic and maybe a few natural products. But I immediately learned that organic and natural go bad quickly, and also, not everyone shops that way. I describe my customer as the organic Whole Foods shopping, Starbucks drinking, GMO labeling, Lulu Lemon wearing, SoulCycle girl. Realistically speaking, you can only do so much with natural organic beauty and food products…unless you’re Rose-Mary Swift or Shiva Rose. I love that, but that’s not me, and I know who I am.
In my opinion, in order to embrace that entire lifestyle, it’s really hard and takes tons of commitment. I can only do what I can do. I try my hardest to eat organically, but when I dine out, I have no control over the source of the ingredients. So it was this realization that established the foundation of my store. Shen is a hybrid of both. I sell organic and all natural as well as clinically-proven beauty products developed by science that really work. I wouldn’t be able to sell Aurelia if I was completely organic! It’s hard, but you have to offer both.