Shopping at Officine Universelle Buly 1803 in Paris, France is a bit like being transported to another era. It’s a place filled with beauty elixirs in stunning bottles balanced on gorgeous antique wood shelves. The only other place like it we’ve ever stumbled upon during our travels is La Reunión Farmacia in Cuba.
France is a country where you can nosh on delightful white truffle macarons at Pierre Hermé and spend hours gazing at extinct animals in the Grande Galerie de L’Évolution, but it is also, as it turns out, the perfect place to pick up a new hairbrush.
Dear reader, as soon as I laid eyes on the la brosse massage cuir chevelu (the scalp massage brush) at Buly 1803, I coveted it. At 30 euros (or about $35) it is the most expensive brush I’ve ever owned, but as a lady with long locks I can attest to the fact that it has completely altered my hair brushing. (Plus it is a much less expensive alternative to a Mason Pearson which would cost you between $105 to $230 at Nordstrom. Guys, however, may be out of luck. Buly 1803 does happen to stock a beard brush that will run you a cool 520 euros.) Each stroke turns what was once a routine into what now feels more like a ritual. Plus, as an unexpected added bonus, upon checkout the lovely lady helping me asked if I’d like my brush packaging personalized to which I of course responded yes. (If you’re in Buly 1803 and catch the glow of a 19th century lamp sitting atop a cherry wood desk, that’s where Buly 1803’s resident “calligraphy officers” customize your items.) The hand drawn calligraphy script on the front of my hairbrush package makes me smile every morning.
If it weren’t for the dang liquid restrictions on planes, I may have been tempted to bring all of Buly 1803 home with me. Buly 1803 has a gorgeous blue bottle of nail polish remover made with lavender, there’s a sea buckthorn seed oil from Mongolia that helps aid with UV damage to your skin (and just plain would look fantastic on your bathroom counter) and even Italian toothbrushes that will make you want to put your electric toothbrush away in a drawer.
Some of the prettiest pieces in Buly 1803 are the handmade Hataman flacons they import from Japan.
These fragile Japanese pieces aren’t just captivating to look at, since there is no porosity in the bottles they make the perfect vessel for high end perfumes since they will never oxidize if they’re properly stored.
From the high end to the completely reasonable end of the spectrum, Buly 1803 is an alluring store. Though it has been around for two centuries, the brand was reinvigorated four years ago when Ramdane Touhami joined as the company’s president.
During dark winter mornings when it’s difficult to get a move on at cockcrow, the sweet potions at Buly 1803 might be one way to help you ease into your day. Buly 1803 even carries toothpastes in flavors like apple, mint coriander cucumber and orange ginger clove.
If you happen to find yourself at Buly 1803’s St. Germain store (there are also outposts in Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo) it’s worth picking up a copy of the brand’s marvelous illustrated catalog (the text is in both English and French). One of our favorite items (which would make a fun hostess gift or stocking stuffer), are the shop’s soaps. You can ask to have any of the store’s savon superfin soaps monogrammed with the recipient’s initials. We also adore the little wood and wire hairbrush cleaners they sell (sadly they are only available in the brick and mortar locations). Even if you never stroll through St. Germain, you can still bring a bit of French essence to your daily beauty routine. Buly 1803 has an online store that ships globally.
Officine Universelle Buly 1803
*Additional locations can be found in Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris (in addition to this location we reviewed, there’s also a store in the Marais), Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo.
Address: 6, Rue Bonaparte
75006 Paris, France
Hours: Monday Through Saturday 10:00am to 7:00pm
Phone: +33 (0)1 43 29 02 50
Pricing (All in Euros): Scented Soap Sheets €12, Dental Floss €13.50, Clay €15 to €21, Toothbrushes €17 to €36, Toothpaste €20, Shaving Cream €29, Mouthwash €29, Soap Slabs €29, Hand and Foot Cream €35, Makeup Remover €38, Micellar Cleansing Water €38, Face Cream €40, Oils €21 to €185, Powders €23 to €64, Perfumes €130, Hairbrushes €24 to €135, Combs €20 to €520