Shirley Cook, CEO, Proenza Schouler


"I always bathe with those exfoliating gloves…and I only take baths, never showers. When Jack and Lazaro and I lived together, we didn’t have a bathtub, so I used to shower then, but I also used to put a towel over the drain and sort of fill the shower up and sit in it like a little kiddie bath. [Laughs] I like bath oils, and for a while that was pretty much the closest I’d get to wearing fragrance. This Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan perfume was a gift. We’ve been researching perfume—eventually we’d like to have one—so I wanted to understand the market better and also understand what is nice and what isn’t nice. And I’ve really found that I like the Serge Lutens ones the most.

I don’t like to wear makeup—I like to wear as little as possible—so having good skin is very important. I went through a period later in life, after most people’s skin has cleared up, where I started breaking out all the time. I must have been 25 years old. All of a sudden I was like, ‘What’s going on with my skin?’ So I went to Dr. [Patricia] Wexler, and her products are the best. They fixed everything. She has an exfoliating face wash, a peel system, and a serum that’s the third step in the 1-2-3 process, and then there’s a day lotion with sunblock and an overnight repair lotion. It’s really easy. The other moisturizer that I really like is Chanel Hydramax—it’s amazing. I use it like a mask and leave it on for ten minutes. Your skin soaks it up and you’re glowing afterwards.

So that keeps me from having to wear makeup so much. I do always comb my eyebrows—that’s very important. They’re the only thing I’m so particular about, on my face! I started plucking them in 6th grade; I have older sisters and they used to hold me down and pluck my eyebrows—they were really bushy—so I don’t have a lot of hair that grows there anymore. Anastasia [Beverly Hills] makes an amazing clear brow gel, and sometimes I’ll color in the outer tips with her brow pencil. I use a little bit of Clé de Peau concealer if need be, and Blinc mascara. Have you ever seen it? It’s amazing—it creates these tubes around your eyelashes—it doesn’t come off during the day, doesn’t flake, and then when you wash your face, it looks like little eyelashes all over your sink. It’s really funny. Then I’ll use a little blush sometimes, or MAC bronzing powder. Lip balm is so important—I have it stashed everywhere: in every purse, every drawer. Right now I'm using Homeoplasmine and Aquaphor. I’m also obsessed with this one hand cream—I got a manicure at the Ritz in Paris once and discovered it—it’s called Ivo Pitanguy, he’s a Brazilian guy who’s a plastic surgeon, and his clinic made a whole line of products. I love this cream so much. I used to rock climb, and it’s made my hands so soft.

I go to Reyad at [Frederic] Fekkai to get my hair colored, which is kind of a new thing—I’d never colored my hair in my life but now I do a single process to cover up some grays. And then I go to this guy called Christoph Martin* to get my hair cut. He’s the best. Everybody I’ve sent to him loves him—I have these friends from Guatemala who fly up to New York to get haircuts! Leonor Greyl hair products are incredible—they smell so beautiful. I stopped washing my hair about six weeks ago. It's a miracle! A friend of mine doesn't wash her hair and it looks incredible. She told me Orlando Pita hasn't washed his hair in ages and he has such beautiful hair, so I gave it a whirl. We went on vacation—I would wet it every day and brush it and put Moroccan Oil in it, just on the ends, but wouldn't wash it. My hair changed, and it doesn't get greasy. Sometimes I use dry shampoo but not too often. If I did have to wash my hair, I would use the KNOW! products—all natural, no sulfates, no parabens, all that. The body wash is great too.

In terms of exercise, my whole life I’ve always been really active—I grew up in Florida so you’re always outside doing something. I played soccer, and I ran. I hate running, by the way. I see people running I feel so bad for them. I used to run an hour every day, and now I can’t even run around the block. My boyfriend and I actually tried to sprint, last winter, and we both ended up dry heaving on the side of the road. [Laughs] There’s this girl who I know who is an underwear model—she really has the best figure ever—and the only thing she does is 30 minutes of sprinting. So I was like, okay, I’ll try this. But after that I’ve just stuck with yoga. I go to YogaWorks—it’s two blocks from my office and two blocks from home, which is perfect. And it’s neat when you see the older people in the class who’ve been doing it for a while—you think, 'This is what I should be doing for exercise,' because they look amazing."

—as told to ITG

*Christoph Martin, 212-414-1422

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  • Ola

    I love Shirley's no fuss attitude to beauty! And I can totally relate to her exercise routine too - yoga is pretty much the only thing I can muster these days. Hate running and other straining forms of exercise! It's all about yoga for me ;)

  • Hania

    I love her attitude as well! And I appreciate her perspective on hair washing, I stopped washing mine daily about 3 years ago (I suffered from oily hair... or so I thought) and its the best thing I've done - now its 2x a week max, grows like a weed and is not oily at all, healthier, than its ever been (even with hair colour). I would love to be bold enough to stop washing it completely!

  • Marlena

    How did you accomplish that? Did you just start washing it less frequently and went through a period of your scalp adjusting to the new washing schedule? I'd appreciate good advice as I am struggling with that myself. Thank you!

    • Hania

      Exactly that... I just started washing less. I started every other day and worked my way down.... Living in France for 5 years, where its normal to wash your hair 1x a week, certainly helped! But it does take time, no instant gratification here. Honestly it also helps to have longer hair that you can pull back into a pony tail, as well as using dry shampoo. I'm blonde so I can get away with most dry shampoos, but in the past year, I've even cut back on those. There are other tricks as well - using white wine vinegar as a hair rinse in place of shampoo, as well as lemon juice or egg white masks. Funnily enough, I find using mousse (I use cheap + cheerful Suave - $1.50 at my supermarket!) also helps - maybe it controls the oils or keeps it fluffy for longer?

      My sister in law was having problems with hair loss, I convinced to stop washing her hair daily, and after a few months, its getting stronger, with less loss.

      When you're used to squeaky clean hair, it can be a bit painful at first. But I think the awkward phase is worth it for the benefits. Hope this helps you Marlena!

      • Marlena

        Thank you so much, Hania! It helps a lot!

    • maya

      That's what I did - just decrease the washing. I didn't go cold turkey or anything.

      Now I "wash" only with conditioner. I love it - but it is different from freshly shampooed, you have to be okay with that. I actually prefer it. It's almost like the natural oils are product.

  • Alexis

    Lately, I have been seriously shampooing my hair just 2x a week but now I am considering to just once a week - we'll see. I have been washing (shampooing) every other day and now if I do wet my hair it's just to rinse some product out and I do a conditioner just on the ends for a few minutes.

    This has been the best revalation - I love the way my hair looks now. And if I have a sweaty lunchtime gym session - dry shampoos are the best. The concept really - I'm still on the look out for a good one that smells good.

    • Milka

      Orlando Pita RENEW Dry Shampoo. I have tried it all and this is the only one that has really worked for me.

    • Hania

      Have you tried Pssssst? I know its not very glamourous, but it is effective!

      • saibellanyc

        Psssst is the original and the best!!!

  • Loarla

    I've heard such great things about the Wexler line, glad it worked for Shirley. I used Wexler's products religiously for about three months, during which time my skin has never looked so bad. I recently started researching the ingredients in Wexler's products and now I know more about all the chemicals in her so-called skincare, you couldn't pay me to touch the stuff.

    I now use RMS coconut cream (raw, organic, amazingness!) I've been using the RMS for about a week and it has completely transformed my Wexler-ravaged skin. If you're thinking of buying Wexler's products, I'd strongly advise against it. Use something clean and gentle on your face instead and your skin will repay you in kind!

  • pansy

    How do you make an appointment with Chrisoph Martin and how much is a haircut? His site is very elusive.

  • Julie

    i've heard about going shampoo free. found a great site that suggests using 1 T baking soda + 1 cup water as the "shampoo," and 1 T apple cider vinegar + 1 c water to "condition." it takes a few weeks to adjust to going shampoo free. I think I would prefer this method to the once a week routine, because with once a week your hair will always feel greasy those 2 days post shampoo.

  • Ashley

    So I actually did the baking-soda shampoo & apple-cider vinegar conditioner last summer for about 4 months. I'm wondering if anyone else has tried this or has an improved method? (i.e. I'm curious about using the white-wine shampoo...can you elaborate?)

    Here's my experience with it:
    I went cold turkey....started using just the baking soda/ apple cider immediately. The first two weeks sucked. My hair looked dirty and limp. But after that, it was magic--- my hair has this amazing glossy sheen that I'd never seen before. It was easier to style. I needed no products whatsoever (the natural oils on my hair were enough!). The natural wave in my hair was enhanced and I didn't air-drying produced a lovely texture all on its own. All great, right? Well, the last month and a half of doing this I started getting rampant dandriff. And I'd never had any before in my life-- never a flake before last summer. And suddenly I had to be very paranoid about touching my head at all. At work I'd accidentally touch/scratch (the slightest touch was enough) my scalp and then later in the mirror I had half of my scalp trailing down my hair. Seriously disgusting. And all I could think about were all the people I'd seen in between the scratch and the mirror! Agh!
    I don't know why this happened 2 months into it...anyone else have this problem?? The ph of baking soda is very alkaline (basic) and I think my scalp needed something more acidic (its natural ph).
    I continued to use the apple-cider vinegar on my hair as the conditioner for a while, but the smell got to be too much. It's a very heavy acidic smell until your hair dries completely. And even then it lingers a bit. And if you get it damp whatsoever-- even a little sweat after a workout-- the vinegar smell comes right back. My fiance started to complain and that's when I threw in the towel.
    I had to go back to the conventional shampoo/conditioner but I sure miss the texture I had 2 months into the no shampoo process. I'm hoping someone else has another way!

    • Kate

      Ugg, I dealt with the dandruff effect myself! I did some research and some people said, too much product, another said, you're not washing enough, another, you're washing too much, etc.

      With the slightly warmer weather, though (I live in New York, the temperatures have been all over the place), the dandruff hasn't returned and I'm only washing my hair two, maybe three, times a week. I use Aveeno to shampoo and conditioner with happy results.

      Moving into a no shampoo/conditioning existence, I have been soaking my hair in avocado oil for about 30 minutes once a week. It is lovely, adds great texture and shine to my hair, but avoid the roots, or you'll look like an oil slick.

    • Camille

      Have you tried using only lemon juice or lemon juice substitute (the one that's sold in grocery stores in yellow bottles), no baking soda at all? It's the only thing that really works for my dandruff, and I haven't had any problems with the smell, although I have to rinse my hair very well. And if the smell lingers a bit, my hair just smells like lemon, which really isn't so bad! Good luck!

  • Rach

    I tried going shampoo free for a good 3 month stint, but my hair just didn't agree with it. I have cut back to once a week, though, and I wash with conditioner every second day (my hair is quite fine and just looks a bit wrong if I leave it longer). The key to co-washing is to use way more conditioner than you ever though possible - I buy cheapie silicone free conditioners at the health food store and seriously dump half the bottle on to my head - and also to scrub your scalp well with the pads of your fingers. It feels great, and I swear all that massaging has made my hair grow faster and stronger.

  • Anna

    I agree with Shirley that it's better to have clear skin than overload on make up! That's why I wear minimal make up!

  • Angel

    Very nice article amazingly, I enjoyed the comments just as much if not more than the article!!! Great info!

  • Jill Beretta

    LOOK AT THOSE COMMENTS!!!!!! So exciting. Such a good post, Emily. Thank you. People in Shirley's position are people we love to hear from!

  • Lillan

    Fantastic article! I only discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and I must have read through every article in one sitting. I love the interviews and the fact that you feature all thse interesting, vibrant, fun women each with their own views on beauty and grooming. The photos are fabulous too.


  • march

    Ok to all of you not washing your hair, do you still get it wet? Haha i find this so fascinating

  • Miss. Y

    I'm from Europe and I'm used to washing my hair just once or twice a week.
    I always thought it's quite odd to wash your hair every day of the week, I know nearly noone who does that, except for a few girls who claim to have 'very oily hair', and even they tend to skip a day.
    It just saves so much time every morning when you don't have to wash and dry and fuss over your hair! Gives you extra time to sleep and eat and I think that that makes you look better than any hair ritual. Who cares about your hair if you look tired and hungry?

    To answer the above question: i have very particular hair in the sense that its curly and when I comb it it usually becomes a huge frizzy bush, so when I comb my hair, I make it a little bit wet. I don't do anything extra such as oils or conditioner or whatsoever :-)

  • Bea R.

    Back to the no-shampoo movement.. I was inspired to try this again after reading this post and all the comments and replies. My hair is prematurely gray - and fine but curly, meaning that the curls fall out by the second day, and when I have my hands on it oo much, putting it in a pony-tail, etc.
    I had been doing the cider vinegar rinse for about two months - but I seriously think it is changing the color of my silver hair so I stopped for a while. Has anyone else had this problem? I also can't bear the smell of the dirty scalp, and by the second day I notice that dirty hair smell coming back. I am now trying the vinegar rinse as the shampoo step and then the conditioner after to give my hair a good, clean smell, which I seriously miss.
    Also in between I rub some virgin coconut oil on my hair when it feels especially dry or seems frizzy.
    Such an issue - never knew trying to keep a clean but healthy head of hair would cause so many problems. Would love to hear more tips.

  • Hannah

    I am really fascinated by this not-wash-your-hair thing. I am one of those with "oily hair", and I wash it every second day. I used to wash it every day, but I am trying to be more gentle to it. My problem is that my hair look reeeeaallly oily if I try to leave it one more day. I look like a teenager who haven't had a shower for two weeks. How do I get my hair from teenage to clossy and groomed?

  • Ashley

    An update to the no-washing saga (I started it again after reading the post & helpful comments)

    Try 1: Cleaning with sulfate-free/paraben-free silicon-free/ etc conditioner (as per Rach's suggestion): worked nicely but still left my hair "too clean" was pretty much like shampoo-ing to me

    Try 2: no washing whatsoever, just rinsed with water and diluted lemon juice (as per Camille-- thanks!!). Left my hair shiny and moisturized but still a little too greasy (but I'm still in the "adjustment period")

    Try 3: Rinse with water every other day (lemon-water on the ends to condition) and wash 1x a week with this shampoo-bar :
    I think it leaves my hair with just the right amount of natural oils...and smells nice!

    So far I vastly prefer diluted lemon juice (fresh squeezed) to the apple-cider vinegar...both in hair texture and smell. I have medium ash brown hair though and I wonder if the lemon juice may lighten darker brunettes

    • Cat

      I started to use these shampoo bars: It's very easy to use and the scalp and the hair feels good and clean. It's made of organic oils - so it's pure and natural. I rinse my hair in two steps: 1. with 1l water which i mix with the juice of 1 lemon and 2. with 1l almost cold clear filtered water to rinse out the lemon. Then as the last step i put some argan oil in the ends of my towel dry hair. And I must say that I made the same experience: my light brown hair is getting brighter - so it might be the lemon juice! But the texture of my hair is beautiful and soft and super shiny with this shampoo bars! Some people have also great results with Aleppo soaps.

  • Lisi

    Amazing! I just saw this article featured on Refinery 29 and was shocked about the shampoo first. Now I am 100% intrigued!! I'd love to give it a try! I'm wondering what font you use, because I love it. I'm not expecting an answer, but maybe you can post it somewhere? It's so professional and fun!

  • anita

    her ring looks like my Bochic earrings! Very pretty! I love looking at beauty products, could look at them all day!

  • Fernanda

    I'm intrigued aout this moviment, but theres something that i don' understand. You have to stop watering or just stop using shampoo?

    • Bea R.

      Fernanda- you just stop using shampoo - because it is after all detergent. The premise being that detergent is bad for your hair and your scalp and just makes your hair look worse, not better. It makes your scalp so dry that your scalp produces too much oil to compensate for the dry scalp, and that in turn makes you shampoo more, and the whole ugly cycle gets repeated.

      You can rinse your hair every day with plain water, or use a lemon juice rinse or cider vinegar rinse. I use a lemon juice rinse (juice from one whole lemon mixed with 8 ounces of water) maybe two or three times per week. If I feel my hair needs it I will use baking soda and water rinse first - but the acid rinse (either lemon juice or cider vinegar) has to follow.

      I am still looking for the right balance with these rinses but my hair and scalp are much healthier since I stopped the shampoo. My hair is shinier and more conditioned, my scalp doesn't itch, no more dermatitis on my neck, etc.
      I use to use so many products just to make my curly hair manageable (special shampoo, special conditioner, then leave-in conditioner and curl activator) - now I only use the lemon juice rinse, and my hair is soft and shiny and the curls defined.

  • Heidi

    To be successful going shampoo free you MUST really scrub your scalp with your finger tips, not nails, on the days that you do wet your hair. It is this action that removes the dirt from your scalp. Rinse, Rinse, Rinse! A good a cheap conditioner to try is Sauve coconut conditioner. It does not have ingredients that build up and require shampoo to remove. Another point of failure is the product build up so you have to do your homework. Use only water soluble products. I like Devacurl Angell, but there are many on the market. I have been shampoo free for years. It is wonderful for my curly hair...goodbye frizz! Two great resources are and The Curly Girl, Lorraine Massey. Trust me you don't need to be curly to use their suggestions. Works great on my straight haired son to completely get rid of his scalp eczema!


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