Melissa Lenberg, owner of Citrine Natural Beauty Bar at Biltmore Fashion Park, wants to bring order to that chaos.
On top of running a robust online business selling luxury makeup and skincare from brands like Jane Iredele, CV Skinlabs, and May Lindstrom to customers throughout the country since 2012, Lenberg’s homegrown brick-and-mortar store outgrew its 500 square foot spot at Biltmore’s UNION in November and moved to a 1,400-square-foot space directly across the walkway from its original location.
The bright-and-clean, high-ceiling space combines natural elements in an upscale, almost clinical atmosphere, where Lenberg and her team recommend products like the botanical-rich ILIA Vivid Foundation ($44), Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($75), or Kypris Antioxidant Dew serum ($67).
Cosmetics companies have taken notice, but those seeking placement at Citrine can expect its products to be run through the rigors of Lenberg’s testing.
“I literally get people every day trying to get their products in [the store],” Lenberg says, a licensed aesthetician originally from Phoenix. “I have been in this industry for such a long time, and obviously my standards are pretty high, and I’m not going to wear makeup that’s at Whole Foods. I want the coverage. I want it to be luxurious. I want skincare that feels amazing, makes a difference in my skin, smells amazing, so I always test the products before I bring them in.”
Lenberg’s curated store comprised of offerings from 20 brands is beneficial to her bottom line and her health. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she moved back to Phoenix from her then-home in California to be closer to family when her health took a turn for the worse. At that time she realized that it was't only the food she put in her body that mattered, but also what she put on her body. Ingredients like formaldehyde and its many cosmetic forms make her cringe today, but that discovery was a disappointment at the time.
Lenberg’s love of makeup and skincare made her dive into research about products that are natural but also work well.
“I started seeking out a bunch of natural brands just for my own personal use, and I found that not only did I feel better, but my skin looked better,” Lenberg says. “I found that I got the same coverage, if not better. I didn’t feel like I had makeup on. It was just a better experience for me all around. Through doing the research, I just became really passionate about natural cosmetics.”
“Natural” is an unregulated term by the FDA, but for Lenberg, it means products are non-toxic and have an 85 percent or greater natural base. Ingredient labels can be hard to read for a layman, so Lenberg suggests going over them with a licensed aesthetician.
Nearly all of Citrine’s staff holds an aesthetician license and all will work with clients to assess their skin type and choose the right products for them. Because Citrine carries many brands, Lenberg says there’s no favoritism toward certain lines, so clients can get knowledge-based recommendations from the staff without the pressure buy from one in particular.
Citrine prices run from about $15 to $100 range and can be purchased in-store or through citrinenaturalskin.com.