I discover the delightful Saint Charles pharmacy on a bright and sunny but thoroughly frozen day in Vienna. My friend Coco and I have been drinking glühwein at the Christmas markets to warm our hands when we alight on this enchanting 1800s-style apothecary in the quiet district of Mariahilf. Beyond the stylish glass and brick facade, Saint Charles is like stepping into the past, with 19th-century tiles lining the floor and oak dressers piled high with ointments.
I soon learn that this is a sixth-generation family business with a focus on herbal and natural remedies. I spot familiar and beloved brands such as Aesop alongside Saint Charles’s own line of beauty products, whose simple serpent-and-sceptre-marked bottles contain lotions and potions created from recipes passed down the generations. The ingredients are mainly grown by local partners and farmers; I smell juniper, pine, basil and grapefruit in the richly scented Privatmischung Körperbalsam (body balm, €32.80 for 250ml) and decide to add a bottle to my already groaning bathroom shelves.
Being more of a paracetamol than a homeopathic girl I avoid the natural remedies, but am drawn to some other unfamiliar beauty names, such as Aponanum – its jaunty Byzantine Rosewater (€15 for 100ml) makes a beautiful take-home gift – and Lederhaas, another Viennese brand whose chic, utiliarian packaging leads me to its delicious and organic frankincense hand and body wash No 1 (€24 for 300ml). Other practical picks include the Esse probiotic lip conditioner (€14.70 for 10ml) and a natural wild mint toothpaste (€8.90 for 75ml) by the superbly named Stop The Water While Using Me!. Whether it cleans my teeth more thoroughly remains to be seen, but it tastes delicious.
For more brilliant organic beauty products, click here.