Local beauties

Get glam from head to toe with products bred in Boston


You already fill your grocery cart with locally sourced foodie finds. So why not extend that shop-local philosophy to your beauty buys? Here’s our breakdown of a few must-have skin- and hair-care products, all with a Boston pedigree.



Balance by James Joseph

The story: Former James Joseph owner William George launched this lightweight shampoo-and-conditioner duo in 2010, earning a shout-out in People. Low-pH formulas balance hair and skin, caring for your scalp and locks with natural wonders like citrus extracts, tamanu oil, and achiote-seed extract. They’re color-safe and free of sulfates, parabens, and harsh preservatives; even vegans can happily lather, rinse, and repeat.

Locals love: The conditioner, which detangles even the toughest tresses.

Buy it: At James Joseph Salon (30 Newbury Street, Boston, 617.266.7222), James Joseph Studio (16 Earheart Landing, Medford, 781.393.6800), Fulham Salon (847a Beacon Street, Newton, 617.340.6360), and balancebyjamesjoseph.com.


Mario Russo

The story: A staple on Newbury’s salon scene since 1990, Italian-born, Boston-bred beauty innovator Mario Russo has his own line of olive-oil-based hair and body products — a shampoo, a conditioner, a treatment mask, lotions, and more. They’re entirely made in Massachusetts, from chemist creation to manufacturing to packaging. But their ethos is rooted in his grandmother’s love of the golden oil’s moisturizing and antioxidant properties.

Locals love: The new Once-a-Day Spray, a can’t-miss hydrating mist with green tea.

Buy it: At Mario Russo salons (9 Newbury Street, Boston, 617.424.6676; 60 Northern Avenue, Boston, 857.350.3139) and mariorusso.com.

Runway Tools

The story: Avanti South owner Avi Elkayam felt the made-in-wherever hair tools he used fell short. So he took matters into his own hands by creating Runway Tools. Now the rest of us can use his high-tech gear, featuring ingenious touches from Boston-based engineers: for instance, the EasyCurl iron winds from the root with a wrist-saving
spin action.

Locals love: His Titanium Flat Iron heats very evenly, so hair ends up shinier and sleeker.

News: Expect a summer release
for a new version of the EasyCurl, which will boast a two-speed motor — slow for tighter curls and fast for looser ones.

Buy it: At Avanti South (141 Dorchester Avenue, South Boston, 617.482.1003) and runwaytools.com.


Living Proof

The story: Once upon a time, stylists Mitch DeRosa (owner of Mitchell John Salon) and Ward Stegerhoek hooked up with MIT scientists in hopes of creating better hair care through technology. Their research resulted in a new moisture-controlling molecule that’s the foundation of Living Proof, whose products transform hair without weighty silicones or oils. The brand now boasts five lines (Restore, Straight, Full, Hold, and No Frizz) sold around the world — proof positive of a homegrown success. 

Locals love: The Full Thickening Mousse and Restore Mask Treatment, both great for perking up lackluster locks.

News: The Restore line recently got a three-product boost — a Revitalizing Spray with heat and UV defense, a Targeted Repair Cream for fighting breakage, and a Recovery Regimen for intensive repair.

Buy it: At Mitchell John Salon (67 Broad Street, Boston, 617.951.0122), Sephora (800 Boylston Street, Boston, 617.262.4200), and livingproof.com.




The story: Newton-born MiniLuxe’s mission is to set an ultra-hygienic new standard for nail care. Founded in 2007, the beauty-lounge brand offers manis, pedis, and waxing in über-clean settings — think hospital-grade sterilization and disinfectant, plus pedicure whirlpools with fresh running water. It also has its own yummy-smelling LemonAide scrub and cream for tired tootsies, as well as a Luxe polish line that’s free of formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, and camphor.

Locals love: Its callus-treatment pedicure, which readies Hub heels for open-toed summer sandals.

News: MiniLuxe is expanding (here come salons No. 7 and 8). And spring introduced bold new polish colors with a local twist — they’re named after the brand’s first six locations.

Buy it: At MiniLuxe (296 Newbury Street, Boston, 857.362.7444; see miniluxe.com for additional locations).

Define:Beauty Cosmetics

The story: Local makeup artist Mariolga Pantazopoulos has beautified big names for years (think Maria Menounos and Jennifer Garner). But her new cosmetic and beauty-tool line helps women of all stripes define their style. Many products are cleverly named after the birth years of inspiring women: brow tints nod to Frida Kahlo, foundations to Coco Chanel and Susan B. Anthony. Some are multi-tasking miracles, like cream blushes that can color lips. That versatility won fans backstage at Boston Fashion Week, where the line debuted in September.

Locals love: Her creamy lipsticks, available in shades like Marina, an on-trend orange named after her daughter.

Buy it: At the Loft Salon (253 Newbury Street, Boston, 617.536.5638) and definebeautycosmetics.com.



The story: The granddaughter of a makeup artist, Lauren Genatossio had beauty in her blood. After opening her own brow and makeup studios in Boston and Hingham (named after her grandmother, of course), she soon launched her own line of skincare, face products, and shades for eyes, cheeks, and lips.

Locals love: The Luminizer for a dewy glow.

News: Spring brings six new Vivid Luxury Gloss colors for popsicle-stained lips and six new shimmery Sheer Satin Shadows.

Buy it: At Sarra studios (840 Summer Street, Boston, 617.269.8999; 104A North Street, Hingham, 781.749.5599).


First Aid Beauty

The story: Having garnered a beauty background at local faves MiniLuxe and Fresh, Lilli Gordon tapped dermatologist Dr. Robert Buka as her chief science officer and launched her own brand. Now First Aid Beauty rescues skin with serious savvy, blending therapeutic ingredients and luxurious textures so even those tackling tough skin conditions can skip greasy, medicinal-smelling concoctions. The Watertown-based brand’s creams, cleansers, and serums are easy on sensitive skin, and some boast FDA-approved OTC formulations for issues like eczema and acne.

Locals love: The Ultra Repair Cream for a blast of hydration.

News: The new Aloe+ Soothing Gel arrived just in time to relieve sun-drenched summer skin.

Buy it: At Sephora (800 Boylston Street, Boston, 617.262.4200), on QVC, and at firstaidbeauty.com.


Stages of Beauty

The story: Created by MIT-trained chemical and biological engineer Jasmina Aganovic, this brand aims to treat skin right at every stage of life. With advancing decades come not just new stresses (work, marriage, and kids, oh my!), but new skincare needs. So Stages boasts cleansers, serums, toners, moisturizers, and scrubs tailored to each decade’s concerns, using natural ingredients like apple stem cells and Swiss cress extract. We hope to age like the lines’ names suggest — with Radiance (20s), Harmony (30s), Elegance (40s), and Grace (50+).

Locals love: The rejuvenating, protecting, and hydrating power of the Treatment Cream, the cornerstone product of every line.

News: The brand just launched age-specific toners that restore natural pH and brighten complex complexions.

Buy it: At stagesofbeauty.com.



The story: A fan recently described Cambridge brand Shamanuti as the best of the farmers’ market in a Hermès bottle — a ringing endorsement if we’ve ever heard one. And makeup artist Courtney Shepatin’s organic and wild-crafted products do indeed come in pretty packaging. But it’s what’s inside that counts: rich formulas put a luxe spin on natural skincare, packing creams, serums, oils, toners, and masks with ingredients like pumpkin enzymes, evening primrose, and seaweed. 

Locals love: The Activated Charcoal Cleanser — not just a facial cleanser, but a great shaving cream and body wash.

News: With summer looming, Shamanuti will soon introduce Sunbutter, a sheer but UV-ray-repelling moisturizer.

Buy it: At Whole Foods (115 Prospect Street, Cambridge, 617.492.0070) and shamanuti.com.



The story: Bostonians benefit from skincare guru Violet Mkhitaryan’s Old World beauty secrets. Drawing on her biochemistry background and ancient recipes of her native Armenia, she’s created a much-loved line of all-natural face and body products, handmade weekly at her spa with organic ingredients like chocolate oil and wild-rose syrup.

Locals love: Her new Violet Flower Water, a toner made with Bulgarian rose, for a springtime pick-me-up.

News: Violet aims to bring a “natural revolution” to the Middle East with the recently opened Violet Kuwait, an oasis in a region with a tough-on-skin climate and a market dominated by chemical-laden products.

Buy it: At Violet Skin Boutique (1362 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617.264.7546) and violetskinboutique.com.