Beautify Yourself in the West Side: The Gems of Grant Street

A writer’s life is full of risk and temptation, but don’t worry – my current addiction isn’t anything to talk to Jeff VanVonderen of Intervention about. It’s beauty products! If there’s a place slinging skin care, I’ve been there, undoubtedly slathering a $198 serum under my eyes in utter denial of being able to afford such a thing.  I treat Sephora like my own private methadone clinic come payday, like every Beauty Insider who needs a sheet mask to function.  My bathroom is littered with crumpled Lush baggies, since I’m a bath bomb junkie. So, imagine my surprise when my editor at Karibu sent me to Salam & Beauty Supply Store, a destination I apparently hadn’t tried (282 Grant St. near West Delavan).

Salam Beauty owner Kenyi Legge inside his shop.

Salam Beauty owner Kenyi Legge inside his shop.

The owner, Kenyi Legge, is from South Sudan. He moved here 14 years ago, and stocks Salam with natural products from all over the world. The perfume selection behind the counter stops me in my tracks. Henry is kind enough to let me try on a few by Crown Perfumes, a brand directly from the United Arab Emirates.  I pick up three Crown roller-balls: “Red Rose,” which smells amazingly like an upscale version of 90’s-throwback Love’s Baby Soft; “Secret Man,” perhaps a Middle Eastern homage to CK One; and a concoction just called “Fruit” which smells tantalizingly like ripe apricot and raw sex appeal. I plan on mixing and matching them to create my own blend. Henry also stocks a great Egyptian Musk oil, the perennial scent of hippies and divas alike.

Next, I discover the answer to what dull, drab winter skin requires: African black soap. Those carried at Salam are raw, organic, and fresh, including the brand Tropical Naturals and hand-wrapped bars by Harlem Fragrance. These soaps detoxify like no other. Anyone prone to congested skin would benefit from a bar, or two.

Grab samples of Rasta Jamaican Mango & Lime Gel. It creates the enviablesalam2 beach hair many sea salt sprays aspire to, without the usual dryness. Your island mane might land you a gig as a hair double for the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Luxury skincare brand Skin Essence packs highly-potent ingredients with manageable price tags. The chic red and gold bottles are worth showing off via your beauty blog. My personal favorite is the glycerin and rose toner, which calms redness and maintains a well-balanced skin pH. Try the brand’s argon oil-based serum in the P.M. to wake up looking flawless in the A.M.

Whether you need hair extensions and a Rasta beret or faux rubies and body glitter, a visit to Salam will definitely enhance your beauty.