Aerin Lauder


“It’s funny because my apartment feels pretty gender-neutral—I have two sons, they’re eleven and thirteen, and they’re real boys—but when you go into my dressing room, in the bathroom, it’s completely girly. It’s the one area that I have that’s very me, and it’s very feminine... I’ve always been fairly classic, fairly traditional. Everyone always asks, ‘Did you ever rebel? Did you dye your hair blue? Did you wear black nail polish?’ I mean, of course, there have been episodes when you wear weird-colored lipstick… But generally, I think I was pretty much the way I am now. I stick with what I know, makeup-wise. Just because something is on trend doesn’t mean you have to embrace it. You can look at it and admire it, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear black nail polish or red lipstick. If you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, you’ll look your best, and I think that’s a really important idea. Sometimes, whether it’s fashion or beauty, things are on-trend and they look beautiful on the runway, but when I apply them to myself it doesn’t look the way it should.

Beauty was always a part of my life. I always joke that I’ve been in the beauty business for 42 years, because my earliest memories are of my grandmother [Estée] putting makeup on, or spraying perfume, or mixing foundation with cream. I always wanted to be a part of the family business—I always loved it. I remember seeing piles of magazines with red tags in them, marking all the Estée Lauder ads. I didn’t know anything different because everywhere, all over her house, would be red-tagged magazines, so I just assumed they came that way. The first time I saw a magazine without tags I was like, ‘Why does it look like that?’ [Laughs] The beauty industry was always a part of my life, and I think it’s something that I just innately love because if you don’t love it, you can’t do it.

I remember the first makeup product I used was this opalescent lip gloss—it was white with pink pearl in it—and we were all trying it on at school. That’s what made me realize how incredible Estée was; I knew her as a grandmother, but I never knew her as a professional. My friends all knew about Estée, but at the time, we were so young, and no one was really into makeup. Then when we all started getting into makeup, I would bring makeup to school and share it with my friends. They’d love to come over and play because we had testers of all the products…I was popular. [Laughs] But she always focused more on skincare with me; she had this wonderful quote—and I think it’s more relevant than ever—that ‘You only have one face—Take care of it.’ I think anti-aging serums are so important. I love Advanced Night Repair, the Re-Nutriv Serum, the Re-Creation Serum—they’re amazing. I start my day, every day, putting one of those on, and I end my day by putting one of those on. I think it’s a really important part of your beauty routine, especially as you get a little bit older.

I started wearing foundation when I was in college. I had been working at Prescriptives, and I got a custom-blend Prescriptives foundation, and I loved it. Foundation is a funny product… I think it is a little bit of a shield. I mean, I see a difference in my skin when I wear a foundation and when I don’t. I put it everywhere—I always like a sheer foundation, usually Clinique Even Better, but I do put it everywhere. I just use my fingers; I don’t use a foundation brush or anything. I learned a lot from watching my grandmother put makeup on. She did everything with her fingers—she would put on teal eye shadow and it would be perfect. She could put lipstick on without even looking in the mirror. And as I got older and started doing shoots and started working within the industry, I’d work with makeup artists, either at a shoot, or someone would be doing my makeup, and I’d learn different tips. I learned about thinning out the foundation—applying it sheer and then building it, versus applying a thick layer of foundation—and lining your lip, blending the lip liner in, and then applying a lipstick or a lip gloss, as opposed to just putting a line on. Little things. I also always wear a dark, dark brown eyeliner, as opposed to black or a color, just because it looks better with my coloring. I think Mary Greenwell taught me that. She did my makeup when I got married. That was the first time I wore more dramatic makeup and Mary showed me how to do it—she’s a great teacher.

People were always saying to me, ‘What’s in your makeup bag? What’s in your makeup bag?’ So I had this idea of creating an edited capsule collection of products based on that concept—the idea of ‘what’s in my makeup bag.’ For fall, we launched my line, Aerin, with seven essential products that I cannot live without. The first collection is all about weekend/weekday, which is not necessarily based on fashion trends—it’s more lifestyle. You wear more dramatic makeup during the week when you’re at work and you’re running around, and on the weekend, you still want to wear makeup, but look a bit more natural. My makeup routine changes seasonally, too. In the summertime, I wear much lighter colors, and a bit more gold-ish eye shadow at night. When you’re sun-kissed, it’s nice to wear either a pop of color on your lip, like a coral or a pink or a beautiful beige. I think when your skin color changes, it’s nice to change the makeup coloring as well. In the winter, when you’re a little bit paler, wear a different shade. Bronzer, to me, is the best product because, say you get off a night flight and you feel completely burnt out and you haven’t slept, you just put a little bit of bronzer on and you look refreshed. I definitely like a dewy finish; it looks more natural, more youthful. And I do love Lubriderm body lotion. I love Johnson’s Baby Lotion—it always reminds me of my kids when I use it. I love Jo Malone for fragrance, bath oils, for products like that—the Red Roses and Vintage Gardenia scents especially. I tend to stray from Estée Lauder brands when it comes to candles or soap—you know that company who makes the big soaps with floral-patterned packaging? Claus Porto, love those, and I love the Musc candle from Diptyque; it’s delicious.

I only take baths, but I wash my hair in the shower. I take baths at night—they’re not that long, like, eight minutes, six minutes—I run the water hot, add a little oil. I love all those Klorane shampoos. But I change shampoos a lot because it makes me feel cleaner. I think your hair gets used to it. It’s awful, but I actually shop for a shampoo based on the packaging—how it looks. I don’t mind wet hair in the summer, but I think when people wear wet hair in the city and go to work, I don’t understand that. Trust me, I leave my house all the time with wet hair in the summertime, like to go for a run, come in and take a shower, wet hair, shorts, tank top, bathing suit—like, that’s kind of my summer look. Maybe it’s the uptown side of me, the very professional side to me, how I present myself at the office, and wet hair is not part of it.

I would say that I’m definitely ‘uptown.’ I think uptown is a bit more polished, a bit more formal. I have a downtown/uptown quality, though. I mean, I wear jeans all the time, my hair is not so pulled together to the point of being, you know, unapproachable, but I think that I’m uptown in the sense that I’m a bit more polished. I love understated elegance. But then, I think Kate Moss has amazing style. I mean, she really does. We were away a couple years ago in Turks and Caicos and she was in the villa next to us and I always looked forward to seeing what she was wearing that night to dinner, like cut-off jean shorts, a man’s vest, no shirt, and ballet slippers—and it was like, perfect. It’s not my style, I mean I do wear cut-off jean shorts and ballet slippers, but I never quite look like that.”

—as told to ITG

 Aerin Lauder photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on August 9th, 2012.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Carly_L

    Superb interview! I enjoyed reading it a lot.

  • AsphodelJones

    I've been hoping you'd profile Aerin Lauder. Really looking forward to blowing a ton of money on her prod-- er, trying the product line.

  • Lindsay Sue

    Being a downtown girl myself (hey there, Chinatown), I've always admired that uptown aesthetic. So polished, clean and classic. And her apartment is, of course, beautiful and airy.

    I loved this interview and the photos. Two (freshly manicured) thumbs up.

  • Denisa

    I simply liked this post very much! She seems to be a lovely person!

  • WY

    I wish I was her... She's so polished, and sophisticated with a hell of an admiring beauty selection - need. that. too. x

    Raves 'nd Ramblings

  • Jrothke

    There's nothing like being born to wealth and power.

    • Cay

      Yes, but you can't exactly fault this generation of Lauders for that. They don't have to do what they do. I'm sure that they've all inherited enough money to live comfortably off of, but instead they put their time back into the company that Estee created, and that effort shows. I mean, look at some of the things that M.A.C. and Clinique have done in recent years. They're driving forces behind a lot of the innovation in the industry, not to mention many of its charitable endeavors. That's pretty admirable, if you ask me.

      • Catherine Stern

        Agreed. And I find it very respectable that she seems to work her butt off. She could just sit back and let someone else take care of the business, but instead she really gets involved.

        One thing I found interesting was her comments on shampoo packaging. I too have an obsession with packaging - it can be the sole reason why I buy an average product, and why I might not buy a great product. And it's one of the reasons I am not an Estee Lauder fan. I think the packaging is very old-ladyish and not with that cool vintagy-vibe. I just find it kind of gaudy. That being said I adore the MAC line for it's simple clear and black packaging.

        • Cat

          I am guilty of the packaging thing as well, but I think Estee Lauder packaging has changed quite a bit in the past few years (re the old lady thing). I use their Idealist line and those little bottles give me joy to look at! Although in this case that's not why I started using them, but they are truly gorgeous and are like bathroom decoration. I do think their Advanced repair eye cream looks old lady-ish though, but in a chic kind of way ;)

        • Tai

          Funny! One of the reasons I don't love MAC - even though their products are generally quite good - is their packaging, it has always felt really blah and light-weight to me. I guess it takes all sorts. If you're gonna do black packaging, I think NARS does it beautifully. Even though it gets dusty like nobody's business.

    • Janine

      It's also very nice that the Lauder family gives a great deal back. Including their involvement with breast cancer.

      Green is an ugly color.

  • Lera Pet

    Used to always become so excited to try new trends but always come back to my basics. I think the only trend I can really pull off is gold eyelids. I tried so many different red and other rich lip colors. Unfortunately, it's not for me. I always feel self-conscious wearing bright lip.

  • Kelli

    "Just because something is on-trend doesn't mean you have to embrace it.". I couldn't agree with that statement more. While I, too, enjoy seeing new styles and trends, I do agree with her in that, sometimes, those styles or trends do not translate well with your own personal style or aesthetic. Being true to who you are, what you feel comfortable in, is such great advice. I really like that she knows who she is, what she likes/doesn't like, and isn't wishy-washy about it. That she can totally appreciate Kate Moss's style but knows that that just "isn't her." This was such a great top shelf- really enjoyed reading it. Keep 'em coming, Emily!

  • Kitchen Afternoon

    I have been enjoying the run up to her launch, she is intelligent. And has been wearing a great bracelet in several recent photos

  • Dianna

    Such a great post... feels very genuine. I also cannot chase the trends, it's exhausting and does not pay off (emotionally AND financially).
    Emily,, can you do a post on Natalia Vodianova, please? I know she lives in Europe but if you have a chance (e.g., during fashion weeks there, etc), would you corner her for us?:)

    • Franny Mary

      YES to natalia!!
      but after reading her comments about running a marathon w/ no training, i feel as if she would say something along the lines of ..."i don't wash my face".

  • Llollipop Addicted

    So you waste a ton of water for just 6 minutes of pleasure... How reasonable.

    • N.T

      Oh please. As if someone else in the world - including you - isn't doing anything else that's not "environmentally sustainable"

    • Aya

      I wouldn't be surprised if her bath used less water than a 6 minute shower. Come on now.


    Can she give us some of the makeup she hardly ever wears?

  • guest

    Her vanity cabinet is completely staged, am I the only one to notice this? It just happens to include every single Estee Lauder Companies product and all the labels are showing appropriately. Totally BS.

    • Nina R.

      Why all the negativity?? My medicine cabinet is clean and highly organized, although not so chic and glam. Of course she has all the products! EL owns so many companies, why would she need to use anything else?

    • Catherine Stern

      I actually keep my beauty products (and kitchen and bath) all neatly lined up with labels forward. That's the OCD Virgo in me. I do think Emily has done some staging though in some bathrooms. Most noticeably when the products are beautifully arranged on counter tops and you know there is no way someone would practically organize them like that. Any comments on staging Emily?

    • Dheald414

      If I knew Into The Gloss was coming to photograph my bathroom and display the photos on the internet, I'd make sure to make it look perfect too. And with Aerin Lauder, of course she will display the Lauder brands. It's true that tons of magazines are featuring Aerin now, but I still think ITG has its own unique take on promoting it...

  • Sissel

    I love that she is so honest about what Estee Lauder products she likes, and which she doesn't. I generally don't like the Top Shelf rapports when they feature people with their own beauty brand, because they always only use their own stuff (or say they do). It's a mortal sin lying to Emily Weiss!

  • Trishelle

    she is gorgeous, and polished and chic!

  • Fairytalesandcoffee

    I have read the Lauder story about how the line was born. In line with other cosmetic giants - elizabeth arden, charles revson. A combination of ballsyness (sp?) and salesmen ingenuity. Truly inspiring. I was really excited about Aerin Lauder starting a new line - then I saw what she came up with and boy was I disappointed. It looks like a frilly version of Estee Lauder with a higher price point. Like a limited edition collection. Same DNA. Completely uninspiring. I have never been a fan of their cosmetic line, however, I do like a few of their skincare products. Aerin Lauder has always come across really well in her interviews. Seems like a really grounded person considering the wealth she was born to.

  • VotreAmie

    I love that she mentioned the fact that it's totally cool to admire a trend but recognize that it may not be right for you. That it's all about feeling comfortable and confident and completely like yourself. So true!

  • Amy

    What brand are those black and white packaged products?

    Love this feature! Can't wait for you to feature Carolina Herrera or one of her equally beautiful and stylish daughters--PERFECT skin!

    • Janine

      Yes! Carolina Jr is sooo stylish.

  • Janine

    Great post. I really admire Aerin (and her sister Jane, as well). They're so smart, and hardworking, just like their grandmother. Aerin has such great style, in every part of her life. I can't wait for the Aerin brand to expand.. I'm always following her to check in with her interests and style. Money Shmoney. Aerin may we well off but she could've easily done nothing with her life--and many do just that. Not her. She's a great role model.

    Thanks again, Emily! I love ITG.

  • antoinette marie

    I saw a article on Aerin Lauder in some fashion magazine; can't remember the name. Anyway, I liked this very much.

  • San Francisco Editor

    I love her bathroom! I could just die : )

  • Guest

    I was so apprehensive the second I saw her name but this has been one of the best TS yet. She is elegant, obviously a hard worker and to be honest, who wouldn't want to work in the family business if it was Estee Lauder? And in response to some earlier comments, I keep my cosmetics and makeup just as neat and overly organised, with the labels facing out. Of course she's going to have Estee products, and although I would have liked her to mention a greater range of products and routines, the photos are good. Plus, the water comment, sometimes baths are more water efficient, especially if the water comes from a tank or you grab a few buckets full of bath water to water the garden. Sorry, I'm Australian ha ha responding to drought is inborn X

  • Marilia21

    I think that Aerin Lauder has an old money aura but honestly, she is very new money on the sense of always wanting to appear "upper east side" in everything she does. After al, Estee was from Queens, wasn't she?

  • Akarvelsson

    She is amazing, and has an amazing life - but this is not a real top shelf! It's an advertisement. Sad :(

  • Sarahdee

    I used to enjoy reading the comments on this site. Now it has gotten so negative I can barely stand it. What's up with all the hate ladies & gents?

  • Laura

    I was so excited to see Aerin Lauder featured in Top Shelf. Although she's 19 years older than me, I've always admired her sense of style, and her outlook on beauty and fashion (I particularly loved the quote about trends). In every interview that I've read with her, including this one, she's always conveyed self-confidence, in the best possible sense. She knows what works for her and what doesn't. She's true to herself. For someone of her background (great wealth and access to everything), she's incredibly restrained and discreet. She has impeccable taste, because she pays attention to the small details (e.g. her makeup routine suiting the seasons; wet hair, but only in the summer and on vacation). Thank you Emily for the enjoyable read.

  • Maria

    I love her! She comes across as super down-to-earth.

  • skepticfeeling

    I totally agree with you about style and fashion trends... though I am only 21 but never put black nail polish or unsuitable red lipstick and I don't feel like it, I never dyed my hair in strange colors...

  • Jenna

    What a disappointment it is to see her here, when every magazine has already featured her and her line in the last month. That glossies in need of advertising revenue (and afraid of a company's wrath) have succumbed to her slick, full-press assault doesn't surprise me...but Into The Gloss following suit is truly maddening. I come here to read about creative, exciting people, not marketing machines.

  • Kate {Modette}

    I love her style! Very much like mine, actually - feminine and a little girly! xx

    Kate {Modette}

  • dancinlaughin01

    She is blatantly advertising her product line. It's way too obvious. Of course, you favorite skin care line is going to be Estee Lauder. On the other hand, I do appreciate that she uses some drugstore products!

  • Sofia – As We Travel

    "Just because something is on trend doesn’t mean you have to embrace it", I couldn't agree more. I love fashion, but I don't care at all about trends, and I don't actually understand those who do, why wear something ugly just because someone told you it was trending...?

  • lolauren

    I love Estee Lauder and even as a young 25 year old I like the "old lady" style of the Advanced Night Repair. Plus, their mascara and the Invisible Fluid foundation are amazing. I agree that its not as "trendy" as Nars and MAC, but it works beautifully and I'm glad I found it. This was a lovely profile, thanks!

  • mag

    Such nasty comments! I loved this post, and I think that Aerin always presents herself with so much poise and elegance.

  • Florence

    Fashion & Beauty are all about marketing, it's a world of fantasies. We can' t be naive but many of us enjoy that side. I do enjoy that a lot, including A . Lauder in ITG. At the end of he day I know a Chanel nail polish it's really similar to a Sally Hansen one. But that Chanel bottle looks so chic! . Those are personal decisions. I choose my Mac air than a pair of boots. It would be great to have the money for both, I don't , that's why I loooooove to read about this word, ITG it's my escape! I don t care if Aerin bathroom is staged! The truth is in your feelings.

  • Melanie

    I actually don't mind the mix of comments. It's indicative of our culture right now. Corporate anything is not very appreciated. However, if ITG did not do interviews like this, as well as others, it would be irresponsible in a way. Estee Lauder is an influence on the industry to say the least. I myself do not support them, due to their animal testing, but to each their own. And I hate to have to point out, but every single blog post in some form or another is advertising something. Even the small, start-ups, are advertising something - their products, themselves as brand messengers, a lifestyle, something. It's not as if Aerin was asked what candle she liked and she replied "Rampart." This article was awfully lauder-centric, but what else can we expect? Not my favorite top shelf (Rodin schools Lauder on that count), but still valid. :-)

  • Carson R

    Dear ITG, I love you. C

  • mressentialist

    She's hugely inspirational - also her Gracie wallpaper really something.

  • Carolinabrianna

    I love love Aerin Lauder!!! A model for me!

  • Olivia F

    i appreciate that there are still people like her alive and kicking