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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DIY Activated Charcoal

Activated carbon is a porous substance derived from organic material. For centuries, Japanese artisans burned plant matter to yield activated charcoal, renowned for its purifying properties. With the right equipment, you can easily make a zero-waste version of this versatile, natural product, applying its restorative properties to everything from soap to makeup and deodorizers.

DIY Activated Charcoal


Select a dry, fibrous substance with plentiful pores. I chose peach pits because they're in season.
Fruit peels, nut shells, and husks are also good options.
Traditional charcoal is derived from oak branches and other hardwoods.


Pack material tightly in a small metal container (an old tiffin works nicely).
Seal loosely or use a lid with a small ventilation hole in it.
Place on an outdoor fire source to ensure adequate ventilation.
Allow at least four hours for a proper char. Leave peach pits a little longer.
Remove container from heat source and cool completely before opening.


Use lemon juice to increase preliminary pore size.
A good rule for measuring is two juiced lemons per peach pit.
Mix one part lemon juice to four parts water.
Add solution to container, completely submerging the charred material.
Leave 24 hours.


Drain container and rinse organic material of solution.
Return to container and bake in oven at 120 degrees Celsius, at least three hours.
Alternately, return to fire source for further refinement.
Allow to cool before using.

Try incorporating a few pinches of activated charcoal in your favorite olive oil soap, tooth powder, or facial mask.

I switched to activated charcoal cosmetics awhile ago and I like them. Ophthalmologists may roll their eyes when I say this but I've been using homemade peach pit carbon as eyeliner a long time and it seems non-irritating and safe. 

Most people mix the carbon with coconut oil, which I prefer. I can't find bulk coconut oil in Paris, so I used avocado oil for the eyeliner pictured here (I've even tried olive oil). Add 1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal to two teaspoons coconut or jojoba oil and four teaspoons aloe vera. It takes me forever to finish eyeliner, so I make very small batches, 0.10 grams or so at a time, to ensure freshness. Reduce oil to one teaspoon and add 1 1/2 teaspoons melted carnuba wax for volumizing homemade mascara.

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Gluten-Free Paris Guide

The ultimate guide to dining gluten-free from a celiac living in Paris.
Options for gluten free brunch, lunch, and dinner including Chambelland, Thank You My Deer, and more in Oberkampf, The Marais and beyond. Eat gluten free at Preface Gallery in the Marais. Or try the gluten free arepas at Bululu in Montmartre.
Don't miss Café Ginger, a vegan and gluten free restaurant near Bastille.

Chambelland photo, my own. Bululu photo from Facebook. The rest are from Pinterest. If you know the source, please let me know so I can link back!

Americans love to believe that with the right diet, anyone can become anything. They especially love the virtuousness and entitlement that comes from eating gluten-free. Eliminate gluten, and you become part of an enlightened minority, an allergy-card-carrying member of the elite- smarter, prettier, and richer than protein-composite-gobbling plebians. "Gluten-free" reeks of Baobab oil and exclusivity; faithfully abide by the lifestyle, and you're one step closer to summers in the Exuma Islands and workouts with Tracy Andersen.

I used to think self-reported gluten-sensitivity was a quirk of life in the States, but the no-glu boom is global. Throw a stone in Oberkampf, and you're bound to hit someone professing non-celiac gluten intolerance, few of whom can put their muesli where their mouth is. I'm not immune to social contagion (I made my parents buy Tamagotchis, too), but my diet doesn't depend on what everybody from my last Tweetup is doing. If I could eat the delicious, water-insoluble agglomerated sub-microscopic network that is this starchy endosperm of grass-related grains, I would. Over two decades ago, I was tested for celiac disease. Turns out, I have a severe form of the chicest autoimmune disease around.

I've been eating gluten-free in Paris four years now, and I was vegan for a year and a half of that. Helmut Newcake was beautiful and delicious, but I've gotten food poisoning there more than once and I know other people who have, too. One time I was at our friends,' Natas Loves You, concert and I had to leave because I'd eaten baba rhum at Helmut Newcake just before. I threw up in the Metro and some Parisiennes had to hold my hair and RATP had to take me back to the shower and put me in a cab. Everybody raves about Noglu, but the food is mediocre, the service poor, and the menu overpriced. Only their chocolate tart is good. I wish they had more dairy and egg free options!

A few tips:

  • Roquefort and charcuterie contain gluten
  • Gluten-free beers include Brasserie CastelainMoulin des MoinesAltiplano and Mikkeller.
  • Gluten-free soy sauce is largely available (MySoy and Tamari) and you can buy xanthan gum at La Vie Claire or Lafayette Gourmet
  • Items safe in the US may be contaminated here (like Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce )
  • According to Ladurée's executive pastry chef, their macarons may contain traces of gluten. Papy Bio offers gluten-free baguette, macaron, and pizza ateliers. Pierre Hermé, Un Jour à Dimanche and Carette have gluten-free macarons and pastry options
  • Gluten-free breads and pastas are available at almost every grocery store, and specialty shops like Der Tante Emma-Laden or A Boire et à Manger.
  • Most boulangeries will make gluten-free bread if you ask in advance, but cross-contamination is possible (except at Eric Kayser)
  • Cupcakeries Chloe S. and Comme un Gateau accept gluten-free orders
  • Marks & Spencer is the apogee of gluten-free deliciousness in Paris, and my biggest zero-waste fail thanks to its amazing quiches, pasta, cookies, ice cream and prepared foods. Chains like Exki and Cojean usually have gluten free and some vegan items
  • Crepes are not celiac-friendly- galette are. Look for the word "sarrasin," and beware of cross-contamination. Galette Café and Aux Ducs de Bourgogne offer gluten-free galette.
  • That being said, there's a gluten-free creperie in Montmartre- Creperie Broceliande- which my French friends insist is incredible, despite it's unabashed touristy status.

Hot chocolate at Angelina's isn't gluten-free, but many of their famous pastries are, and the manager- a Chanel-clad celiac- is friendly and helpful. Just say, "Je ne peut pas manger du gluten," first- the "ne" is silent. The header image above is from Biosphere Cafe. My husband brought me a pizza from here once, and some kids in the Métro tried stealing it. Click here for the Pinterest Gluten-Free Paris Guide Map.
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