From a retail perspective, beauty opportunities never looked better. As consumers crave makeup and skincare products, cosmetic companies are finding nooks and crannies in all parts of the city, innovating new experiences in the process.

“New brands are catching fire,” notes David LaPierre of CBRE. This is in part due to Instagram and YouTube, where social media stars and celebrities alike can market directly to consumers. “Instagram has become a way of learning about new brands,” says Richard Skulnik of Ripco Real Estate.

Recently, French chain L’Occitane debuted its first (and very Instagrammable) Beauty Lounge at 160 Fifth Ave. in the Flatiron District.L’Occitane

Following their customers, many online brands are eager to make their mark on Manhattan.

For example, the formerly online-only natural brand Innisfree — one of over 30 owned by South Korean conglomerate Amorepacific — has already leased four stores in Manhattan, including in the Oculus. Represented in its US rollout by Christian Stanton at Cushman & Wakefield, it just leased a store at JEMB’s Herald Center, which is marketed by LaPierre and Kristen Crossman. “They pride themselves on their organic ingredients and were an early adopter of the disposable face masks,” says Stanton.

Innisfree’s duplex store near Union Square at 862 Broadway is already a hit due to a “living wall” of greenery that its millennial and Gen Z customers from around the world capture on social media.

Such Instagram-inspired build-outs have become essential for new and established brands in the cosmetic arena.

Skulnik was involved in a deal for L’Occitane to move to 160 Fifth Ave. in the Flatiron District, where it opened its first Beauty Lounge — a tranquil oasis for spa treatments that’s also designed to be a hashtag hit. “There’s a social media tie to retail, and we’ve seen it with other retailers from fitness to apparel,” says Skulnik.

Israeli cosmetics company Il Makiage tapped Zaha Hadid Architects to create a pop-up at 490 Broadway last year.Paul Warchol

Another cosmetics brand new to brick and mortar in New York City, Il Makiage, operated a now-shuttered six-month pop-up at 490 Broadway in 2018. The space, dramatically designed in black and white by Zaha Hadid Architects, was built for Instagram.

“It’s another brand new to New York and spent more than most on the pop-up and the aesthetics of the space,” says Skulnik, who represents the company. “It’s a company we weren’t talking about a year ago.”

He’s now working on a long-term location for Il Makiage’s wares.

Skulnik says that when he talks to these newbies, he tries to explain the benefits of going solo. “When you have your own brick-and-mortar location, the full brand and the full message is on display,” Skulnik says. “They can control how they are presented and the aesthetics of their storefront, rather than just being part of a department store or a counter in another store.”

Brands like MAC and Sephora are also using highly sophisticated virtual reality mirrors and programs to help patrons see themselves in various makeup looks without actually getting covered in sparkles.

Bloomingdale’s gave its sprawling first-floor cosmetics and beauty section a snazzy makeover that debuts today.Benjamin Lozovsky/

As upstarts anchor themselves in the city, longstanding brands are taking note. With an Innisfree and a Sephora across the street, Bloomingdale’s just renovated its first-floor cosmetics area that opens today.

Covergirl can now be found beyond a Duane Reade aisle in its own, well-branded Times Square corner at 719 Seventh Ave. The flagship opened in November.

It touts its new store as an “experiential beauty playroom . . . with tons of cute spaces for Instagrammable moments and a glam room.”

With 10,040 square feet, this was no mere pop-up but rather a 10-year commitment to SL Green Realty Corp. through JLL’s Michael Hirschfeld.

South Korean beauty giant Innisfree’s first US store opened near Union Square in 2017 with a giant plant wall. It has now leased four stores in

“There are now a lot of eyes on the brand and a lot more people are learning about them in the experiential store, and that translates back to sales at the CVS where [the customers] live,” says Skulnik.

Sephora, which helped funnel cosmetics sales into freestanding stores, is an LVMH-owned brand. Over the last four years, as city retail rents retreated, Sephora, represented by Ginny Pittarelli of Crown Retail Services, has focused on securing better locations while staying relevant and fresh.

Another multi-brand beauty company, Deciem, is rolling out locations. It signed for 1,400 square feet at 1134A Broadway in NoMad on the southeast corner of West 26th Street. The Toronto-based company represents more than 10 makeup brands with over 50 products in 15 markets worldwide. It also has four other locations in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn, at 177 Court St. in Cobble Hill.

A pitcher-perfect concoction at Lush, a brand known for bath bombs that result in bubbly tubs popular with promoters of self-care.Bronson Pascual-Farr

And cosmetics shops continue to fill mall-like complexes in Manhattan. For example, Turnstyle, the underground shopping center under the Columbus Circle subway stop, has Lush and e.l.f. When the Shops at Hudson Yards opens in March, its beauty collection will include The Body Shop, Jo Malone, Kiehl’s, MAC, NYX, Origins, Sephora and Urban Decay.

As cosmetics companies add brick-and-mortar stores to Manhattan, they’re also expanding office space. Il Makiage has its US headquarters at 110 Greene St. in Soho.
The beauty boom has been ramping up over the last few years. At the end of 2017, Shiseido, which also owns Nars, leased 213,000 square feet at 390 Madison Ave. The Japanese beauty giant has the rights to grow into the entire 862,154-square-foot redeveloped tower.

In 2017, MAC leased 86,524-square-foot penthouse offices at 233 Spring St., part of One Soho Square. Meanwhile, parent company Estée Lauder also restacked into 220,000 feet with expansion options at its longtime home, 767 Fifth Ave. Both deals were signed at over $100 per foot. In 2018, Estée Lauder also extended a lease for 216,589 square feet at 110 E. 59th St.