Vanessa Traina, Stylist


"I just got my ear pierced—I went with my little sister who is covered in piercings, she’s super punk rock—to Haight Street in San Francisco just to buy jewelry and I walked out with this piercing. I felt so cool for a day, and then I woke up the next morning and thought, ‘Am I an idiot? Did I really just get a new piercing at 26?’ But now I kind of want to do the other side to match!

I’ve always been really low-maintenance with beauty. I mean, I started wearing makeup in my twenties. I’ve never required a lot of maintenance or products. My secret is washing my face with water and then putting on moisturizer. I tried using cleansers when I was a teenager and I felt like they gave me pimples, so I became scared of any kind of cleanser. Somehow water and moisturizer keeps my skin looking fresh. If I have makeup on, I use remover of course—Lancôme or Darphin. I never go to bed wearing makeup. That’s one thing that every makeup artist has told me. I really don’t wear that much makeup, and even my concealer is just a tinted moisturizer. I’m a 'Chanel Ambassador', which means that I basically just formulated a relationship with them, and they introduced me to their line of products and they send things to me before the collections come out. It’s up to me whether or not I like them, or whether or not I wear them. But I actually do happen to like the products and I’m more than happy to wear them, and kind of represent their beauty. I love Chanel eye glosses. It’s my favorite. I only use a tiny bit. Like if I use the gold one, I just use a tiny bit, like in the corner there. The red one I love too. It makes your eye kind of look bruised. [Laughs] It’s good. My brows are super light so I always pencil them in. I use an eye shadow actually—NARS Bali. It’ like a gray, it’s kind of weird. I use a bronzer, NARS Laguna. And I use this really cool Chanel mascara, Exceptionnel de Chanel. It’s a super weird brush, but it combs through your lashes. I have long lashes, and I don’t like when they look too clumpy. I use little Balenciaga pouches as makeup bags, clutches—I use them for everything. They always work with what I’m wearing.

New York, I feel like, dries me out so much—so I literally use four moisturizers. I use the REN Vita-Mineral Radiant Day Cream underneath, and then Chanel Hydramax serum—it gives a really nice glow and it’s like a nice over-moisturizer—and then a tinted moisturizer. So every morning I’m wearing three moisturizers. And one for body. I use Moisture-Rich Body Lotion from Clarins and I’m obsessed with it—I love the smell and it’s not greasy. So I use the Clarins, and then over the Clarins—because you can never be using one moisturizer [laughs]—I use Rodin body oil which also kind of doubles as my perfume because it has such an amazing scent. It’s kind of like a tuberose, gardenia kind of scent. I use Aquaphor on my lips. It’s the best. Or Homeoplasmine—you know what’s really funny? My friend Daniel [Martin, the makeup artist] gave me this from the pharmacy in Paris and it’s actually nipple cream, for pregnant women! It’s like Aquaphor but a little lighter and you can use it anywhere. And I always wear sunscreen. My Chanel tinted moisturizer has SPF. And then if it’s warm outside, I go for La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 60 and 40. I love a tan. I feel like it’s one of the most common misconceptions, that you don’t get tan if you wear sunscreen. I get so tan, and I’m always wearing at least SPF 45. You need to wear sunscreen. And also, what people don’t realize is that when you wear sunscreen you don’t burn—so you don’t peel, and your tan lasts longer.

I’ve been getting my hair colored by Laurie Foley for a little over a year now. I went to another colorist to take me brown, he did it really badly and it turned red immediately, and charged me $900. I was on-set shooting with Marie-Amélie [Sauvé] and Guido [Palau] actually told me that Laurie is the only person who can fix it. So I started going to her then, and I just love her. She really works with your skin-tone, it’s not just about a formula. It’s like your formula, which is so important. And she’s never charged me a crazy amount. Her prices, I feel like, are so reasonable. Because hair can—you know, highlights and all that—can get so expensive. In terms of products, I’ve been using Bumble and bumble Surf Spray for so long. My hair is naturally wavy and the texture is never better than when I’m in the ocean or something and this really gives you that kind of feeling. I use the Orlando Pita line mostly. The Polish, and Plump when it’s wet. I don’t really blow dry my hair. I got one of those Brazilian things, but then I felt like my hair was too straight and greasy. So I kind of went back. [Laughs] It makes your hair kind of stringy-looking when you get it.

I take a shower every morning and a bath every evening. The first thing I do when I get home from work is run a bath. I’m obsessed with baths. Growing up, and my house in San Francisco is really old, it was built in the early 1900s—so I didn’t have a shower. It’s all the original bathrooms and everything, and I have this amazing, huge, freestanding bathtub. So I’ve always been a bath person. That’s why I shower in the morning, I don’t like washing my hair in the bathtub. I just like to relax. I love REN bath oil—I buy in bulk, because there’s nothing worse than when you run out of a favorite product."

—as told to ITG

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Talia

    Laurie really is the best- it's true.

  • Suzanne

    Could you tell me which Serge Lutens she has on the tray?

    • Capitalist Pancake

      The bell shaped jar is Sarassins, but I can't tell what the spray bottle is.

      • Suzanne

        Thanks! I think the spray is Fleurs d'Oranger. Love Serge Lutens!

  • Copper Etiquette

    I would love to try the Moroccan bath oil!

  • The Procrastinator

    Just checked out the brush on the Chanel mascara - really unusual, but also rather intriguing!

  • mimi

    im surprised she colours her hair, it looks really natural.

    i like her low-key approach. admittedly, i would also LOVE to see someone who is real open about being high maintenance too :)

  • Ashley

    do a top shelf with someone who actually admits to wearing makeup. like a lot. like eyeshadow and lip stick and everything. top shelf is my fav but im tired of hearing people say they don't wear much makeup

    • jessica

      preach it.

  • Marcela

    Love the interview,
    Her skin looks great so it seems that her beauty routine works.

  • cameron

    I believe the spray serge lutens is fleurs d'oranger-please correct me if I am mistaken!

  • grace

    i love vanessa traina <3

  • Suzanne

    @Capitalist Pancake: Thanks, that's what I thought. I think the spray is Fleurs d'Oranger. Love Serge Lutens!

  • Lauren

    I think that there is usually only a small minority in the industry who is obsessed with wearing a lot of makeup. Probably being around so many products etc...I'm sure its tiring. that and the minimalist trend have probably influenced what's going on in beauty. I like less better...very french approach. I've switched over to buying a lot of skin care and a little makeup. It feels much better and is less effort. You wake up and know you don't need anything to look attractive

  • Farah

    I love Top Shelf but i would also love to hear from someone who maybe has some skin issues and has to work to keep it looking good AND maybe wears some foundation and concealer, for goodness sake. Love the natural approach but i sure need a lot of goo to make my skin look good! Also love that she uses a French nipple cream for gloss. The best gloss i've ever used is Lansinoh nipple cream! Started using it when i had my son and nothing compares--no scent, super moisturizing, and shiny. Also if it is safe enough for a newborn to ingest it has to be very pure AND comes in a giant tube so lasts forever.

    • yvette

      i agree. i just laugh at the thought of wearing no foundation and concealer. i'd love to be one of these women who doesn't have to and who scoffs at it, but my skin looks terrible without it.

  • Sarah

    I love her low key makeup routine. Also I wish I could take a bath everyday! So relaxing =)

    <3 Sarah

    p.s. do you know anyone who has a completely organic skincare routine? I only use organic and I would love it if you could include that more!

  • ladivasosa

    It's funny how she layers her moisturizers. For my body, I always mix a glob of oil with my lotion to add a hint of extra fragrance and extra softness.

  • Ploy

    So low-maintenence and definitely an inspiration.

  • laura

    i agree with comment above--more "high maintenance" beauty! bring on the makeup addicts! excite us with products! while i love (and abide by) a somewhat minimalistic beauty routine, it's fun to see the real connoisseurs in their element.

    • Alexis

      Exactly! Also, I will feel less guilty about the NARS products slowly taking over my bathroom.

  • serenab

    The top shelf is my favorite part of this blog! I wish you'd do it more often! :)

  • flyavsted

    I agree with others here, I would like to read about a person who wears makeup. Love the top shelf though!

  • Judit

    i think she is not the first one who claims to be "low-maintenance". but yet again, she puts on 4 layers of moisturizers every day. why is it so hard to admit to be high-maintenance? also, Homeoplasmine is a medicine (probably homeopaths would argue with this but still) and it is not for daily or continuous use. i don't really like overusing all these medicated products or using stuff for purposes they were not designed to. call me old-fashioned.
    otherwise i love the blog and i especially enjoy peeking into other ladies' bathroom to see what they use and believe in - let them be famous or not!

  • kriss

    i would love to use balenciaga pouches as makeup bags as well ;)

  • Bia

    Well, at least she washes her own hair. Haha I also like that she seems mindful of prices for someone who is so wealthy...nice piece.

  • chic noir

    great interview. Does anyone know the name of the brown perfum beside the candle in photo number 4?

    • Suzanne

      It's Sarassins from Serge Lutens, & it's actually purple. :)

      • chic noir

        thanks suzanne :)

  • chic noir

    ashely do a top shelf with someone who actually admits to wearing makeup. like a lot. like eyeshadow and lip stick and everything. top shelf is my fav but im tired of hearing people say they don’t wear much makeup

    There was one makeup artist you was very popular a few years ago who wore a lot of makeup and she had big hair too. She was Beyonce's makeup artist for a while. I think her first name is Molly.

    I read an article about Molly how on her first job, the hair stylist and assistants made fun of her because she wore so much makeup.

    • Lisa C

      I think you mean Mally Roncal. She always seems like such a HAPPY person when I see her on QVC :)

      • chic noir

        Yes You're right Lisa C. That's her name, Mally Roncal.


  • patti

    You are definately not too old for a new piercing.

    I was 27 before I got my first 'cool' piercing - i.e. something besides regular earlobe piercings. It's a helix. I didn't even have TWO earlobe piercings before then.

    Definitely getting the other side done.

  • annie

    She seems lovely, but I just don't think you can be "low-maintenance" when you are spending THAT much money on your upkeep and products. Not wearing a lot of make-up is a little bit different from being low-maintenance I think.

  • rena

    try Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane

    its unique and addicted, no one can tell where it is from. a lot of ppl guessed mine as Coco Mademoiselle but not quite, so i liked that.

    yes Emily, please interview someone who loves makeup and is good at it so we can learn a trick or two!

  • Lisa C

    Vanessa is lovely--such a great profile--and I would like to take off with all her moisturizers and bath oils! (Though it's one thing to love bathing, I find it hard to believe that there is not a single shower in her childhood home. Her mother, the novelist Danielle Steel, lives in the Spreckles Mansion in San Francisco--it takes up an entire city block and has a ballroom and an underground parking garage.)

    On the topic of being high maintenance or not: I think many of us have come to think of it as whether it looks like we're wearing make-up, whether we look "done" or not, as opposed to the number of products. I'm sure my late grandmother, with her red lipstick, penciled eyebrows, and cold cream, used far fewer products than I do...and she would think it looks like I don't wear any!

    • LuckyD

      I completely forgot her mother was Danielle Steel. Talk about good genes and beautiful skin... Wow.
      I love Vanessa's look (her profile - to die for) and feel so lucky that she shared her beauty routine with you (for us) Emily.
      Ren is another brand that's been on my list, have to try!

      • LuckyD

        p.s. - Can we talk about that statue/sculpture/stuffed flamingo on the coffee table!?!

    • yvette

      Her mother is Danielle Steele? Holy shit. Ok, she's loaded.

  • R

    Her piercing completely suits her. And I think although all these girls claim to be low-maintenance, the photos of shelves and trays packed with products say otherwise! Perhaps they feel "low-maintenance" relative to others in their milieu..?

    I love the idea of just washing your face with water and slapping on moisturiser, though: seems so fresh compared to my morning-'n'-night chemical wash to keep blemishes at bay. Oh, to be genetically blessed!


  • Victoria H

    I have the same piercing! I have it on my right ear though and no plans to get the other side done. I don't think 27 is too old for this type of piercing. It's still relatively low-key since it is part of your ear and not any where else on your face. (^-^)y

  • Capitalist Pancake

    I completely admit to being a buying in bulk person myself, for stuff like body lotions and skincare. I get the feeling that most of these gals on the Top Shelf have money enough where facialists and dermatologists are just part of their regular routine, so they are lucky enough to have skin so good that they don't wear much makeup, at least during the day. With the French girls, aside from stinking great genes, whenever I go there, it seems there is big emphasis on skincare and maintenance rather than makeup.

  • elena

    I dont know, she does mention quiete a row of makeup products she uses - tinted moisturizer, bronzer, eye glosses, mascara, eye brow shadow. It still ends up a minimalist look, but the full face routine is there (minus the lipstick).

  • Rach

    HUGE APPLAUSE for Vanessa for celebrating sunscreen! It's the number one most important thing you can ever do for your skin! I also love Vitalumiere Aqua.

  • Priscilla Francine Makeup

    I love Chanel's Vitalumier aqua foundation. Great coverage, yet so lightweight. I like that it is water based!!

  • Rei

    LOVE this, and especially the piercing! It looks great on her, I want it now.

  • Katja

    topshelf is my favorite. I love that you present the whole spectrum of women who wear no makeup to those who wear tons. I love this one and also Jen Brill, Harley Viera-Newton, Karlie Kloss etc. Also with such an anti-aging obsessed society its very nice to see a mixture of that and younger women whose skin care regimen is much closer to mine.

    keep up the phenomenal work!

  • Miss. Y

    Hmmmm... low maintenance? Seriously?
    But then again there probably wouldn't be much to say about someone's beauty routine who really is low maintenance.

    And what is it with some people thinking that French equals low maintenance? That's kind of funny.

    Love the flamingo in the background of the first picture! I'm also curious about the jewelry

  • http://Twitter@RichDParra richie p.

    I read often about some women who are self-proclaimed as 'low maintenance' and the slight criticism that follows. I think beauty routines are so personal and reflective to one's style, skin type, and personal taste, that being 'low' or 'high' maintained really is the eye of the beholder. I think the social trends of the perception and interpretation of the meaning of make-up are really interesting.

    Also smirked at the amount of moisturizer. I like moisturizer too, and I thought: "Should I get that much?"

    She uses many expensive products. I also enjoy to see when some women have a diverse mix of go-to products-or drug store favorites, but I guess is you have the means, why not?!

  • Solita

    My mother was 51 when she got her helix & tragus pierced. She looks so totally cool. She also got 3 tattoss since turning 50. So, don't worry Vanessa, you're never too old to be as cool as my mom! Now if I can just get her to wear black polish. lol!

  • Nadine Matar

    I've thought about this piercing for myself, and I think this post just convinced me that must go get it done! Love the blog, as always. Keep the beauty coming!



  • Elora

    I didn't realize she wasn't a natural brunette until now! By the way, she was featured on Who What Wear today. Here's the link:

  • Amber

    I agree with her on the cleansers I can't roll with those. I just use pure african black soap imported from ghana in africa that smells so yummy to clean my face then simply put unrefined coconut oil on my face to moisturize.
    I just checked out rodin their site looks pretty cool, you can also find bath oils at my job (ABC Carpet & Home) but I prefer getting mine from the rastafarian health food store near my house in brooklyn they have really great bath oils from the caribbean and india :)

  • theabraham

    OK she's and the Proenza Schouler gal got me into trying Chanel Hydramax gel and serum and it works like, I dunno, couture I guess.

  • pamb

    I love how she just sort of 'formulated' a relationship with Chanel. She means they approached her, because she is a socialite, 'girl about town', they send her free products and she plugs them in any story about her. Wow. It's a job that's not really a job, the kind you can't get unless you don't really need it.


Lancome 'Effacil' Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
Darphin Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
REN 'Vita-Mineral' Radiant Day Cream
CHANEL Hydramax + Active Sérum Active Moisture Boost
Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion
Aquaphor Lip Repair
Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Surf Spray
REN 'Moroccan Rose Otto' Bath Oil