Susan Cernek, Executive Fashion & Beauty Editor,


“After the shower I try and put on a body oil, Johnson’s Baby Oil, or Nivea cream on really dry areas. I’m really into moisture—for years I wasn’t, but I just feel like women who are older who have fantastic skin, all they talk about is moisturizing. For face, I’ve been using either the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence or the Shiseido Hydro-Balancing Softener as a base, and then I do a more serious moisturizer on top, like SK-II Skin Signature. Sometimes I’ll just use Vaseline because the only beauty routine my grandmother, who’s 92 and looks like she’s 72, ever, ever did was use Oil of Olay and Vaseline on her face. It sounds really heavy and really gross, but she barely has any wrinkles!

In terms of makeup, I’ll do a few dabs of YSL’s Anti-Cernes Multi-Action concealer to start with, and then Benefit’s Ooh La Lift, which is an under-eye concealer and the perfect complexion-perfector. I love Anastasia’s Go Brow Universal Brow Pencil, actually on my lids, to create kind of a neutral base. Bobbi Brown makes the greatest eye shadow and blush—she says she packs all of her powder colors really tightly, so they don’t cake on. Sometimes blushes are too loosely packed and then it, like, explodes color on your face. I love Covergirl Eyelights mascara and eyeliner, which is designed to accentuate your eye color. I bought the deepest navy/black, for blue eyes, and it just makes a world of difference. Sometimes straight black against fair skin and blue eyes can look really jarring, but this shade is perfect for everyday. And Hillary Kerr of Who What Wear is my patron saint of mascara—she knows every single mascara—she recommended Bottom Lash mascara by Clinique, which I love for a night out. Another tip came from a makeup artist who I sometimes work with—he curls the lashes so close to base it’s almost painful, and then appliesCoverGirl LashBlast waterproof mascara at the base and the regular formula at the ends. It really ‘sets’ the curl without looking too spikey at the tips. It looks amazing—like I have fake lashes—and lasts throughout the day. If you’re doing a full face, L’Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base is amazing—it gives your skin the most amazing silky, luminous quality. When I was getting married, I wasn’t convinced about the makeup I had booked, and one of our beauty gurus, Beth Shapouri, was like, ‘Why don’t you just do it yourself? All you need to do is get this L’Oreal base, get Nars Orgasm, teach yourself how to apply a few fake lashes, and that’s all you need.’ So I did it myself and I was totally happy.

I love to switch my bags but I always lose makeup in the bottom, so I got this tray and every day I ‘drop off’ whatever’s in my bag, in here. Like when you put your keys in the same spot when you get home—that’s what I do with whatever products I have in rotation. And I have this little vanity inside my closet with my perfumes and some jewelry. I’m very fortunate that my husband loves the perfume that I love: Coco Mademoiselle, in every form. I was coming home from Paris fashion week one time, and discovered at Duty Free that they made Coco hair perfume. It’s a little more powdery than the regular perfume. I also just love that there’s such a thing as ‘hair perfume’!

I set my hair in old-fashioned hot rollers every other day. My mom would throw in six curls every day before going to work, and she has the most amazing hair. So I started doing the same thing at the end of high school and have ever since. I tried really hard during college to have ‘cool’ hair; blowouts were really in, and ironing it pencil-straight. But I could never get it right, so I finally resigned myself to bouncy, curly, girly hair. I don’t use that much product—Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray and Shine Spray, or John Frieda Root Awakening Spray, and once a week I’ll do Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo, which is amazing. I am convinced that water quality plays a huge role in the way hair looks—that’s why all those Parisian girls have chic bed-head-y hair—it’s the water, not products. Though my hair tends to get really greasy when I’m in Paris, and my friend there told me, ‘Sometimes we just rinse our hair in Evian.’ I couldn’t believe it, but one day before a big meeting I tried it, and it really did make a big difference.

I’ll sit on the couch a couple of time a week and do my nails. It’s my zen moment. I remember reading a story somewhere about finding the perfect clean nail color and having really pure clean nails, but that’s so hard to maintain in the city so I mostly do a dark red or some bright color. I’m loving Essie Geranium right now; it’s a really fun pop-y red. Lately it’s been about trying to track down the various peaches and corals and oranges and reds, that the J.Crew catalogue girls wear—the lipsticks and the polishes are impeccable! I’ve been trying to track down that information, from J.Crew, for a while.”

—as told to ITG

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Laura

    this has to be my favorite post EVER. absolutely incredible!!!!!!!!!

  • sooze

    love the wedding make-up comment! simple and chic

  • Dawn

    Ahhh I'm obsessed with her. She's so laid-back and "cool" for a fashion exec editor. I love how her routine is not extensive and complicated. I'm going to try the vaseline thing, hey old people know best. I totally agree that old women who have fabulous skin always emphasize moisturizing as one of the secrets to their youthful looking skin. I moisturize my face and neck religiously, but I'm so lazy so I skip my body most of the time (5 days out of a week lol). Her gold necklace with the tiny green pendant is gorgeous, looks like an heirloom! thanks ITG for another fab post to start my tiring and long day! so glad i checked, I had a feeling you would update this morning!

  • Fashion gossip

    This is amazing! Beautiful stuff!! I would like the last pic, please :)
    Xoxo, K.

  • Kelly

    what is that source of that ring/necklace in the last pic, please? thanks, love this one!!

  • kristi

    "so I finally resigned myself to bouncy, curly, girly hair."

    she says it as if that's torture. a little full of ourselves perhaps?

    • Carla Marshall

      a little envious maybe.......

  • Anne

    the J crew colors are Essie and sold in their store...not terribly hard to find

  • MG

    So many fabulous tips! I seriously took notes of this post. I adore your blog!

  • Arlene

    fantastic post! i would also love a bigger version of that last picture. it's beautiful :)

  • Marcela

    Love the interview. It is always nice to hear from the professionals what products they use and recommend and what their beauty routine is like.
    It is true she has gorgeous hair

  • Ella Pretty

    Great interview - I really liked the mascara tip (about applying different ones to the base and tips)...I'm going to have to try that with some of my "clumpier" mascaras. Love all the products pictured - especially the Chanel packaging - so luxe!

  • Kam

    These 'top shelf' posts make my day. Guess I'm really nosey!

  • Julie

    Love these posts! Please post more. No slacking Emily!

  • Tea

    Ooh great post! Im addicted to 'The Top Shelf"

    I wonder what that white Chanel compact is...I have to know!

  • Bre

    I really like the idea of having a tray to keep your makeup organized and in one place for your purse. I do not, however, like the idea of slathering mineral oil based products on my face and body. If she's hoping for moisture she should opt for plant based oils instead.

  • alice

    amen to the moisture routine!!! it's the fountain of youth

  • Lauren

    Great post! I love the idea of clearing out your bag into a tray every night. It's such a smart idea!

  • Amanda

    I relate to this so much! I love her simple, homespun approach to her beauty routine. I love SK-II, Olay and Vaseline. Alba has a product called Un-petroleum jelly that I really love, in case anyone was looking for a sustainable alternative. XO

  • Sarah

    Kelly, I'm pretty sure the bracelet is Celine?

  • LuckyD

    Please no more Top Shelf, my makeup bag is going to EXPLODE!
    On a more realistic note, looking forward to trying the mascara trick and the L'Oreal perfecting base ;)

  • Cara

    wow this post is amazing! The products she uses are so attainable too. I'm in love with Cover Girl Lash Blast! I'm also a really big moisturiz-er... it is key to great skin! My Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Butter and my Yes to Carrots Day Cream is A MUST! I agree with everyone else about emptying out the purse. I think I carry everything BUT the kitchen sink in there :P

  • Tai

    I loved this one! She seems so nice, and she has gorgeous hair!

    It's so true about old ladies and moisturizing. My grandmother swears by coconut oil, she uses it on her face, as a deep conditioner and even feeds a spoonful to her dog every day (who, btw, has an incredibly glossy coat).

  • Sona

    Any idea on where she got her makeup tray or the plastic looking make-up container? I notice that these ladies have such elegant set-ups for New York, and would love to hear their recommendations. I just bought some apothecary jars from Crate & Barrel, which helped clean up our bathroom, but I would love a beautiful tray for the make-up I don't keep in my purse. I think I may slowly drive my husband crazy with all my stuff ;).

  • Cristina Peltier

    I love your blog!!!

  • srp

    @bre, i also got freaked out immediately by the series of petrochemical-based products this lovely lady uses... though i do love this website!

  • Jessica

    great story, Susan! JCrew uses Bobbi Brown lips for their catalog

  • Jill Beretta

    Emily! Remember when I first left comments and there were not so many people commenting months ago? This is really a testament to the genious of your blog. Features like this are AMAZING. Thank you so much!

  • gee

    susan cernek <3 great post.

  • yv

    love thepost!

  • Julia

    Last Fall and Winter, I used vaseline on my face, it's moisturizing and I didn't break out from it either, this is definitely a routine I am going to continue for the dry and cold seasons to come.

  • anonymous
  • anita

    Love the fact that she use's all sorts of different brands - I love seeing them all mixed together! Great interview!

  • Haley

    It's almost sad how much I look forward to new posts, especially the "Top Shelf" ones. Almost, not quite. Love this! And, you know, all the other ones.

  • Petya

    After reading this, I actually went and bought the L'Oreal primer and I am in love! I thought it was only fair to come back and report!

    The texture of the cream is very airy and soft. Feels thick but does not feel oily at all. I applied the primer mostly over the area around my nose, ON my nose, and my forehead. It created a clear, velvety layer over my skin and it blurred out my (unfortunately, rather large) pores. The effect: no pores, no oil, no redness, no shine. The best thing about it was that you could still see skin!!! It just looked... BETTER. The effect was so striking, I actually took my glasses off and cleaned the lenses before I looked again... I was worried I was not seeing this right.

    Thank you, Emily!!! Thank you Susan!!!

  • Rach

    I LOVE that she uses rollers. I started using big hot rollers a couple of years ago, and find them near-idiot proof. I just pop in around 6-8, do my makeup, eat breakfast, get dressed, take them out when cool and shake it with my fingers. I'm surprised more people don't use them, it looks bouncy but chic and contemporary.

  • Elizabeth

    maybe emails j.crew or the new blog they might tell you the color

  • Sarah

    Okay, I recently discovered your blog and absolutely love it, especially the Top Shelf posts. They are my favorites! I like reading about people's routines, and I've started to make lists of the products people talk about that I want to try out. I actually went to the store to buy the L'Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base and they were out of it. I'm keeping my eye out for it.

    • Angela

      I made a list too! Great minds think alike :)

  • Ashley

    Love Susan! What a gorgeous woman. This has to be one of my favourite profiles done thus far. So many great tips!

    And I would love to know how exactly she does her hair. She has the most perfect, bouncy curls. And from a girl who doesn't suit pin-straight hair nor frizzy curly hair either I would just die to find out how she does it.

    Thanks Emily for all the hard work you do in bringing us the best beauty tips and info straight from the industry :)

  • christa

    this is amazing! susan is a fantastic editor (and boss) =)

  • Amber Fairweather

    I'm telling you, Evian is the best beauty product ever. Try washing your face with Evian and I mean just Evian. It's a treat.

    p.s. I like this lady!

  • Lindsay @ A Walk in the Closet

    Great interview! I love that Susan mixes between high and low end cosmetics and is not a makeup snob despite begin executive fashion and BEAUTY editor of She seems like a really down to earth person!

  • Stephanie

    Hmm... I wonder what the eyeshadows in that gold MAC palette are?

  • LuckyD

    Guess who's wearing her Essie Geranium manicure today? Me! Obsessed.

  • Lindsay K

    It's always good to see Susan. She's one of the sweetest, hardworking ladies in the industry. It is always a pleasure to work with her. It's crazy what amazing hair she has. I envy!

    I would love to see an update on the JCrew makeup. The models always look so fresh and dewy.

  • Aubrey Rose

    I adore her simple approach to beauty. I've recently jumped on the hot roller bandwagon, does anyone know of a reliable brand for hot rollers?

  • Caddy

    I love her and what she has to say. She's got great hair too makes me what to try hot rollers!

  • Amy

    I read somewhere that the orangey-red nail polish JCrew used in one of their fall catalogs is Essie Clambake. It is one of my favorite nail colors!

  • Sindhu

    Have to jump on the loving her hair bandwagon. She seems so grounded and modest, like her a lot! I would also like to find out more details on her hair because I'd love to give it a go myself!

  • Nina

    The TOP SHELF is my favourite section! Its always so exciting to see a new post. Personally, I really enjoy seeing whats in peoples beauty cabinets, the way they arrange their stuff and hearing what makes them loyal to certain products. Good work!

  • Clarissa Nani Kim

    If u want a richer SK-II moisturizer for the cooler seasons that reminds u of Vaseline texture but is a super cream - try LXP Cream. If u want to try a sample, stop by Bloomingdales @ E.59 Street at SK-II counter & ask for me or tweet @OrchidSage

  • http://na YH

    Susan, I would sincerely like to read more from your peers if you can provide opportunity. I live in Fort Lee, NJ where there is a gag on English and education which can be rather intimidating as we are across the GW Bridge. The bookstore across Paris Baguette has closed. They used to have a lot of magazines, I think people only looked at the visuals and did not read articles.

    Question: Is it better to wear light hue clothing or dark clothing if one lives near an urban center? Look forward to getting support from you literary gals and ecourage them to move here to help create a safer environment.

  • Chrissy

    Great Post! Love so many of the products you reccomended! Benefit's Ooh la lift has saved me from many early mornings after having been out too late the night before! It's perfection. Also, you have gorgeous hair, probably a good thing those trendy styles didn't work out!

  • Beatriz


    Does the YSL concealer have any treatment, or just creamy pigment? Thanks!

  • Fashionably Taylored

    Love your blog! Stunning!

    xoxo, T

  • DS

    lovely article

  • Couteau

    Can't believe you persuaded Kate Middleton to do a Top Shelf.

  • Lana

    This is such a great post! I am so late in reading it but honestly, this is exactly what we all want to know.


Johnson's Baby
Johnson's Baby Oil, Original
Nivea Lait Crème Nourrissant
SK-II Facial Treatment Mask
Shiseido 'The Skincare' Hydro-Balancing Softener
SK-II 'Skin Signature' Melting Rich Cream
Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics Ooh La Lift
Anastasia Beverly Hills
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Mechanical Brow Pencil
CoverGirl Exact Eyelights Liner
CoverGirl Exact Eyelights Liner Eye Brightening
Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara
CoverGirl LashBlast
CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
L'Oreal Studio Secrets Professional
L'Oreal Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base
Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Thickening Hairspray
John Frieda
John Frieda Root Awakening Health Boosting Detangling Spray
Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo
Essie Nail Polish