The Bizarre World of Sidestein Beauty

Move over Lush, Sidestein has NYU students covered.


Talia Barton

African black soap body wash in Sidestein is a gentle, hydrating body wash. Beauty section in Sidestein covers everything students need. (Photo by Talia Barton)

Divya Nelakonda, Staff Writer

You’re checking out at Sidestein. A pack of paper towels in one hand, and a coffee in the other, you notice something. Right by the cashiers sit the mysterious “clean” beauty and health products. Charcoal toothpaste and eco-friendly deodorant? Does anyone actually use those?

Though primarily useful for grabbing dorm essentials or snacks to power you through late-night studying, Sidestein can have some strange products. If you haven’t yet taken a peek inside, remember that egregiously expensive meal plan you had to pay for? Those dining dollars will come in handy here.

You’ll find your ordinary hand soap, razors and deodorant, but if you look a little closer, you’ll stumble upon other items — some intriguing, others downright weird. Luckily for you, I tried these products so you didn’t have to. 


Hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste

I have always been skeptical of charcoal toothpaste. After all, if you have something black on your teeth and wash it off, you’re obviously going to notice how white your teeth suddenly appear. Seems like placebo at play. Nevertheless, I gave this a shot. And the toothpaste was unmistakably black. While it had a minty flavor like most other toothpastes, I could not help but feel like there was something earthy about the taste. As expected, I could not tell if my teeth seemed whiter based on placebo, but regardless, they felt clean. Unfortunately, I would have preferred a fresher, mintier aftertaste and breath, which were compromised for the charcoal.


I am a sucker for face masks, and I don’t think I am alone in this obsession. My friends and I exchange face masks for Christmas and birthday presents, split the “Buy Three Face Masks, Get One Free” deal at Sephora and even bring them back as souvenirs when we travel abroad. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to try Sidestein’s different face masks.

Freeman Cleansing Apple Cider Vinegar Clay Mask and Scrub

Apple cider vinegar is supposedly really helpful in balancing the skin’s pH, which was why I was drawn to this mask. Luckily, it smelled more like freshly cut Honeycrisp apples than vinegar. The mask had exfoliating beads that I felt were effective in getting deep in my pores without being too abrasive. I left the mask on for about seven minutes; it stiffened up a little, but I still had some mobility in my face, unlike other clay masks I have used. After washing it off, my skin felt clean, but a little tight; I definitely had to moisturize right away. All in all, it was comparable to other masks I have used, and it had enough product for multiple applications. 

Freeman Anti-Stress Dead Sea Minerals Clay Mask 

This mask is bright blue (think Lush’s “Don’t Look at Me” mask) with a very faint fragrance. Unlike the apple cider vinegar mask, this one did not contain any exfoliating beads. This mask should be left on for 10-15 minutes, although my roommates intercepted the bathroom while I left it on, so my application leaned toward 20 minutes. The mask definitely hardened up, but it was not excruciatingly tight. After washing it off, my face felt clean and smooth; this mask was more gentle than deep cleansing, like the other mask. Overall, I can’t vouch for it relieving my stress.


African Black Soap Body Wash

I had read about African black soap, which most people use in bar form. Some people swear by it to resolve acne or stretch marks on their skin, while others find that it dries their skin out. While I have not used it for long enough to report on long-term impacts, the soap also has aloe, oats and shea butter, so it still has moisturizing properties. The body wash also contained some Jojoba beads, but there were not nearly enough, nor were they powerful enough to feel like they were really exfoliating. I would recommend this as a gentle, hydrating body wash.

Some of these items can be found for cheaper at other stores or online, but if you end up with tons of leftover dining dollars at the end of the semester, this could be a fun way to spend them. Regardless, I would recommend checking out Sidestein’s beauty and skincare section if you are looking for a new product to spice up your routine.

Email Divya Nelakonda at [email protected]