L'Officine Universelle Buly 1803, Rue Bonaparte, Paris


Trés discret, with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it entrance and pretty green awning, Buly is a restoration of famed parfumeur Jean-Vincent Bully's historic maison. Readers of César Birotteau (which should be taught at every business school) are already familiar with Bully's life, the inspiration behind Balzac's titular character. Somehow the story of a peasant whose meteoric rise ends in misfortune resonates with me even more now that I face the vicissitudes of bourgeois life every day.

For plastic-free toiletries and bulk oils, look no further- all production methods and packaging are straight out of a 19th-century apothecary. Think glass amber bottles with rubber droppers, unwrapped natural sponges from Greece, olive pits, crushed walnut hulls, Azuki powder and Yunohana hot spring crystals. The selection includes pascalite, argile, and Amazonian white clay; bulk dried flowers alongside iris root, bukkake powder (from the droppings of the Japanese bush warbler), and mimi senketsu (for flawlessly clean ears).

Bespoke soaps come with a beautiful paper holder you'll reuse over and over, and receipts so gorgeous, even hard-core minimalists won't send them to a landfill- of course, you have the option not to print them at all. Prices belie the lush marble and wood interior: expect to pay 7 euro for 50 ml of avocado pulp, 12 euro for scented matches, and 20 euro for eau de la belle haleine or a silk toothbrush. Ask to try the water-based, alcohol-free perfumes- they're very special. They look pink when sprayed on skin!

I'm on my third pépin de raisin now- it smells nice, but since I've switched to the oil cleansing method, I'll get some ricin or neem oil next time. Buly is a lovely piece of Paris' heritage and less-impact resource for quality cosmetics with a nascent capitalist twist.

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