Pharmaca: The Eco-Store to Rule Them All

If you’re anything like me, you often know where the nearest natural health store is, even when you’re away from home. In my town of Santa Cruz, Calif., I’m pleasantly satisfied with the natural body and beauty selections at our many local health food stores, but I’ve long fantasized about a storied business we don’t have—Pharmaca, which has outposts across the West Coast.

Pharmaca is the retail equivalent of that elusive but wonderful (IMO) breed of doctor that blends holistic and Western medicine—who is able, most of the time, to tell you what foods, herbs or natural products could help what ails you, but also—for that rare, “just make it stop” occasion—can prescribe antibiotics. It’s the Mecca for eco-beauty pilgrims like myself. 

I made my inaugural visit during a recent “Friends & Family” event at the Los Gatos, Calif. location. My long-awaited passage through Pharmaca’s doors unveiled an impressive array of brands I already know and love (jane iredale, Pacifica, MyChelle Dermaceuticals), as well as many that I was excited to peruse for the first time (everything from evanhealy is now on my wish list). In the back of the store, past everything from cosmetics and shampoos to supplements and first aid supplies, is a fully functioning, traditional pharmacy.  

Various brand representatives were on hand for the day’s event, and I had a lovely mini facial by Juice Beauty. On top of exposing me to some great products (the Green Apple Peel Sensitive and Organic Treatment Oil are both winners in my book—the first is a gentle wake-up for the skin and the second absorbed nicely, leaving a dewy softness behind), the esthetician imparted some useful skincare tips. For example, she helped me perfect the “press and roll” technique for applying serums, moisturizers, et al: using the tips of the three middle fingers to softly press these products into the skin helps it absorb and is kinder to the skin than the method of spreading and rubbing them in, which creates unwanted friction on the skin and also isn’t conducive to absorption. She also showed me how to gently pinch and roll the area above my nose in a way that helps to relax wrinkles. 

I’ve been using two Pharmaca-sourced items since my visit: jane iredale’s POMMISST Hydration Spray and the Dr. Hauschka Revitalizing Mask. The mist—a fruit-punch-evoking cloud spritzed on the face to settle mineral powder in—is just the latest addition to my long list of jane iredale products I swear by. The Dr. Hauschka mask is mild and nourishing—just the thing for sensitive, inflamed skin like mine.

If there’s a Pharmaca in your area—or even if not—it’s well worth the trip. Visit to find a location near you.