“I work at Warby Parker as a copywriter and write the occasional feature for GQ and New York magazine. I studied writing at Brown University—well, they called it ‘literary arts’ and in the yearbook, next to my name, it was misspelled as ‘literacy arts,’ it’s like, ‘I learned to read!’ [Laughs] When I first came to New York after I graduated, I shared a bed with my mom—she was very generous to let me stay with her—and I was washing dishes at Liquiteria in the East Village. At first they wouldn’t even let me make smoothies! I made it to smoothie-making eventually. The shifts were really long and the breaks were really short and we were allowed to have one smoothie per shift, so, what I ended up doing is drinking the dregs from all the smoothies I made for other people—so I always had a medley of supplements in my stomach, or I made myself the most nutrient-dense smoothie I could, with peanut butter, protein powder, an inch of milk, some bee pollen or something...
Anyway, my skin has never been good or bad. It’s just there. But when I turned 25, I suddenly became interested in, like, being really good at doing my taxes, because I always messed them up; I wanted to get a facial, I wanted to start walking normally in high heels, and I wanted a real job. I had all these goals and this was one of them: to take better care of myself, physically—well, to take care of myself, period. And I decided I wanted to get a facial because it felt womanly.
People had talked about this facialist Christine Chin as if it was Fight Club or something. You go and have this very intense, physical, cathartic experience, and you come out stronger. So, I went to see one of Christine’s facialists, Hannah, and it was…so painful. You’re lying there prone and so vulnerable and somebody’s tinkering with you: ten different creams on your face, a little microdermabrasion, which is like having a fish nibble on your face, and the incredibly painful extractions, which were so intense that my nose was bruised for a week afterwards. But afterwards I bought all the Christine Chin products. I’ve actually had to go back twice so they could remind me of the order in which I’m supposed to put them on. They’re funny, these luminescent lilac bottles that say ‘Celebrity Collection.’ There are so many of them, it makes me feel like Patrick Bateman. First, I wet my skin but I don’t get it super wet and put on the Cell Gold Toner. I feel like a cotton ball is probably the appropriate applicator but it feels like such a waste because the cotton ball sucks it all up, so, I just squirt it on my face and then just rub it around. [Laughs] Then, I put the morning stuff on, the Cell Liquid Gold, and then a sunscreen. I don’t know what the Liquid Gold does, it’s straight up potion. Then, at night, I do the toner again and the Retinol Smoothing Fluid, the Christine Chin night stuff, and then I put on a different eye thing. My mother is always giving me eye creams; I think she’s probably projecting. Right now, I’m using the Boscia Enlivening Eye Treatment. Then, once a week, I do the chemical peel, Cell Gold Gommage Peeling, which makes my skin very smooth.
The jury is still out on whether it’s all worth the money. When you’re there, it doesn’t feel super high-end or luxurious. There’s something very serviceable about it, which I like. The place itself is, you know, you lie on the table and there’s the machine and she puts the machine on your face and then you’re done. It’s like being at the dentist or something. So, no cucumber circles or anything.
I wear makeup maybe sixty-five percent of the time. I wear makeup to work because it makes me feel professional. It’s how I imagine wearing a corset would feel in the 19th century—like, I have my armor on. I use Korres Wild Rose Foundation. It’s really light and it has a very subtle luster, like a pearl. I started to wear foundation pretty recently, because, again, it’s the ‘womanly thing’—it seems like something that a woman does. I’m still getting used to it and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep doing it. I rub it around my cheeks and then put some on my forehead and on my nose. Then, I basically just throw tons of stuff on my eyes. It takes me probably six minutes, but I enjoy doing it, I guess, because I don’t have that many rituals. Unless you have a family or a husband, you don’t have that many domestic rituals, and my makeup feels like this kind of ritual. I start with Maybelline Great Lash Clear on my big Russian Jewish eyebrows. It kind of shellacs them down. I had tadpoles for a while but then they grew right back when I stopped fucking with them. We all made that mistake. Anyway, then I put Diamond Lil Stila Eye Shadow all over my lids. I use a brush for that and my fingers for the rest: Make Up For Ever Diamond Shadow in Brown, and Eye Shadow in #4, a matte black, which I apply close to the lash line with the small end of this Essence of Beauty brush I’ve had forever. I do all the shadows in varying degrees. I put a lot on in the morning and then it gradually comes off throughout the day in a way that’s appealing to me; it’s like my makeup’s slowly being erased. Then, I use the Urban Decay Perversion Glide-On Eye Pencil, which is really just the blackest of the blacks that I’ve found. I do it inside the lash line and above and smudge with my fingers.
Mascara is a sensitive subject. You know how everyone talks about Maybelline Great Lash as the ne plus ultra of mascaras? I think I figured out why everyone says that, and it’s not because it’s the best: I think it’s because-- and I’ve tried a shit-ton of mascaras—most mascaras decay really quickly. So, after a month, even if it’s amazing, it will either congeal or dry out. Maybelline mascara is fine in the beginning, but it just doesn’t change consistency, ever, so you can use it even after a year. It must have a longer shelf life—I’m convinced that’s the secret. Every other mascara is basically ruined after two weeks, or rapidly deteriorates. I’ve had this Maybelline Great Lash Blackest Black for, like, a year. Occasionally, I’m suckered into buying a tube of something else by a convincing sales person, and then I get obsessed with the new one for a week or two and then, after a month, it stops working and I go back to Maybelline. Right now, it’s Smoky Lash from Make Up For Ever. I love it, it’s very inky. It’s a process, but I feel like you have to swing for the fences with the eye makeup. I also can’t do anything else: lipstick comes off in a second because I eat or drink something, and blush I don’t know how to use at all, and brozer I don’t really know how to use, either. So, I concentrate all my resources on my eye makeup.
The one lipstick I wear, if I do a lip instead of my eyes, is NARS Jungle Red. I think it’s the ideal red. I don’t wear it very often but when I do, it’s so effective. It always surprises me how strongly people respond to red lipstick. It’s like how babies are attracted to shiny things—if you just have a strong color on your face, people want to reach out and touch it or look at it. I mean, same for me: If I see someone with a bright red skirt, I want to look at it in a very primitive way.
I love Uslu Airlines polishes. I use about forty coats of HUG until it’s solid silver sparkles. It’s like a topographical map—it’s crusty but so, so cool-looking. You have to be very precise with the sparkle placement and usually, I add a drop of nail-polish remover to it when it’s getting really thick during painting. I keep my fingernails short and use some sort of seashell color, like Jade Rose or Tendresse from Chanel. I have to look at my hands all day since I’m always typing, so I don’t like a statement nail.
Have you ever used this bright orange bath oil, Kneipp Herbal Bath? It’s this crazy German herbal stuff that’s like bathing in a liquified Ricola cough drop. It feels very hard core, like it’s doing something very healthy to your lungs when you inhale the steam. I do it pretty rarely because it’s actually kind of unpleasant. I guess I have an adversarial relationship with all of my products."
—as told to ITG
Molly Young photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on July 26th, 2012.