Buy Happy: Ricky’s

To combat environmental and financial wastefulness, it’s crucial to make mindful purchases that last and make us happy. In this new series, I’ll docoument the purchases that have never let me down, from my favorite purveyors of food, beauty, and wellness. 


About Ricky’s

Ricky’s is a NYC institution. I first discovered it as a teenager while walking around the formerly gritty East Village, but it has been serving the drag queens and ’80s club kids of downtown since 1989. My friends and I marveled at all the exotic shampoos we had never seen, the neon wigs, and the glittery make-up we wished we had an occasion for. One push past the beaded pink curtain in the back showed us that Ricky’s is not just a beauty shop; sure enough, you can also find naughty costumes, toys, gag gifts, and a whole lot more. This visit was also my first conversation with a drag queen, and I walked away smiling at how witty she was and how fabulous she made me feel.


Ricky’s carries an amazing array of products: drugstore make-up brands, high-end hair care, salon-quality tools and equipment, and incense and candles. You can also find naughty accessories and costumes, as-seen-on-TV gadgets, greeting cards, even umbrellas and undergarments. This is the perfect place to grab a bunch of small, inexpensive gifts for a birthday token, hostess gift, or pick-me-up for a friend going through a break-up. I go in every time I pass one, even if I don’t buy anything, because I’m always amused by what they carry and the people I see inside. When I do make a purchase (which is almost always), there are a few products from Ricky’s that have never let me down.

Insane False Eyelashes 

While you can get low-key false eyelashes by the bounty, Ricky’s has the most incredible variety of costume lashes (brick-and-mortar stores always have more than the website). You can often find them on sale for 99 cents, in vibrant colors, glittery sparkles, even feathers and foils. Events like the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Halloween, and New Year’s Eve are the perfect opportunities to get kinky with your costume, and once you get the hang of putting the lashes on, they become strangely addictive.

RickyColor Nail Polish

Ricky’s brand of nail polish is a great line; I find them to last even longer than OPI or Essie, plus they’re a lower price and have fun names that are throwbacks to the dirtier New York of the ’90s. I picked up Chinatown Knockoff the other day; other shades include Bodega Run, 5 Dollar Pashmina, and Post No Bills.

Quirky Lip Balm 

Ricky’s carries the wonderful Rosebud Salve and more, but to add some fun to your purse, grab one of these funky skull balms by Rebels Refinery (coconut scent in the black skull) or cherry- and lip-shaped ones by Tony Moly. I think I even impressed my 13-year old cousin with the skull balm.

Hair Shapers

The unsung hero of updos, hair shapers can create great effects. I use the small size bun shaper to add volume and shape to my work bun. I’ve also used the large size for evenings out; they’re lightweight, and available in several colors to blend with your hair. Check out this tutorial to see how to amplify your bun.

Party-Ready Liquid Eyeliner

A friend gifted me NYX Studio Liquid Liner in electric blue, and it turned out to be one of the best eyeliners I’ve used. The brush is long and narrow but easy to use, and the liner dries into a thin gel. It doesn’t smudge or move at all once dried, and it washes off easily with soap and water. The liners come in super-fun colors, plus a range of glitter shades, so you can bring disco back wherever you go.

Product images courtesy of Ricky’s NYC. Store image courtesy of Gilt.

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