Amy Odell, Writer & Editor

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"I’ve been a fashion writer for five years, which, in Internet years, is forever. I moved to New York from Austin, Texas to study journalism at NYU. In college, I had a really hard time getting an internship, and I like telling this story because I found my professional life to be the opposite: I tried so hard—and more than once—to get an internship at New York magazine, and I just could not get through to them.

Since I couldn’t get an internship, I learned early on that you really have to beg for work. I tell people this all the time and I don’t see it happening that much, but if you’re serious about being a writer and a reporter, you have to beg for work. I think it’s the same way if you want to have any desirable creative or fashion-minded job—a stylist, a photographer—you have to beg. I just stopped being shy about that aspect of it, and it's worked. It’s not a bad skill to learn, how to beg in an effective way.

Anyway, the first time I freelanced for New York magazine on their Party Lines page, I was awful. It’s a scary, hard job to do because you have to go up to these famous people and get them to be really funny. But months later, I heard that the magazine still needed reporters, so I emailed the editors and said, ‘I tried this once and you didn’t really like it, but I know I can do this. Please let me try again.’ And they did. They said they thought it was a 'ballsy' email. I ended up getting an item in the magazine, and after that, they put me on retainer and used me a lot. I ended up trying out to be the first blogger for their then-new fashion site, The Cut, and I got it. I worked there for four years before going to BuzzFeed to become their fashion editor. That was really exciting, and I was working with such smart people. Now I’m the editor of Cosmopolitan.com. I would never want to leave the Internet.

When it comes to beauty, I’m really picky about skin. I was really lucky in high school because I never had breakouts, but I started having them when I moved to New York from the pollution—I think. To prevent breakouts now, I wash my face with Cetaphil twice in a row. That’s the best tip I’ve learned from a facialist—she said ‘Wash, rinse, then wash and rinse again.’ That gets all of the impurities out. I also do chemical peels using the Microdelivery Purifying Peel from Philosophy. And, for spot treatment, Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Exfoliant is good. If you leave it on for a long time, the pimples will be minimized. Occasionally, I’ll use it on my whole face.

I moisturize day and night with Clinique Moisture Surge. I need a gel, not a cream, otherwise my face will get too oily and clogged. Clinique’s is really light. I have a stronger version—Clinique Moisture Surge Intense—for when my skin gets really dry in the winter. But Nars Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer is also a good, strong moisturizer. The Nars people told me not to use it every day because it’s really intense, but I use it a lot. I don’t use eye cream since it sometimes makes me break out in little red marks. Maybe if I was feeling really puffy one day I would try it.

I’m not as serious about makeup. I have gotten so many samples from working at fashion and beauty sites, so I have a lot of products, but most of it's for special occasions. For everyday, I wear concealer and powder. I use Lancôme Teint Visionnaire under my eyes, on blemishes, and to cover any redness around my nose. For powder, I put MAC Mineralize SkinFinish in Medium on every morning, with those MAC Disk Sponges. I don’t really ever wear foundation because it’s too heavy—I’m just not going to bother with that every day. And then, on my cheeks I love Benefit PosieTint. It works really well on my skin.

I fill in my eyebrows, too. They’re kind of thin, so I use Revlon Brow Fantasy to make them look a little fuller. And I always wear Lancôme Hypnose Star mascara. I used to like Dior, but I read on Fashionista that Lancôme was better. I like it. Every once in a while, I’ll wear Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner in Black. It goes on smooth and doesn’t smudge. I think eyeliner is a fun, nice touch that’s easy to put on and takes less time than eye shadow.

When I’m going out, I’ll do a smoky eye with Smashbox SmokeBox Eyelights. Or if I’m going to a wedding or somewhere fancy, I’ll wear mascara and a light, shimmery shadow, like Benefit Leggy Velvet Eye Shadow. I have deep-set eyes, so keeping my eye shadow from creasing can be an issue. But you know what? Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden really works—my shadow doesn’t budge.

I haven’t done a 'statement lip' in a while, but it feels high-maintenance, and sometimes I like that. I was working on a post about lipsticks once, and my realization was that, while Tom Ford lipstick stayed on the best—I like Cherry Lush—a lot of drugstore brands are pretty good, too. Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Candy Apple is one of my favorites. But I usually just wear a neutral lip gloss or Aquaphor—I’m obsessed with Aquaphor for my lips. Bobbi Brown Barely Sparkle and Naked Plum are my favorite glosses.

Then, of course, there is my box of glitter. When I was in college, I experimented a lot more with color and glitter. But I’m getting older and doing the same thing everyday. I save the glitter for concerts. I have a ton of MAC glitter—I don’t know how I even acquired it. But it looks so pretty when you dab a little in the corner of your eyes. Who doesn’t love to sparkle? J.Lo always has some kind of shimmer. And it wipes off really easily, which is great for me, but you can’t hug or kiss someone without getting it on them. My boyfriend doesn’t like the glitter, but it doesn’t stop me. He knows if I’m wearing glitter, he is going to end up wearing the glitter, too. [Laughs]

My hair, well, it's really wavy. If I don’t do anything to it, it will be frizzy and gross. I either have to straighten it or make it extra wavy, like I did today. I used to straighten it a lot because I thought it looked better, but now I’m too lazy. So to make it wavy, I like salt sprays, like Tigi Catwalk Salt Spray. My theory for salt spray is that my hair always looks good after I go swimming in the ocean and let it dry, so a spray that mimics that effect will work just as well. And to wash my hair, no matter how many shampoos and conditioners I try, I always go back to John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s just the best.

I’m from Texas, so style-wise, I’m a jeans-and-t-shirt person. In Austin, it’s so hot all the time that you wear cutoffs, a tank top, and flip-flops just about every day. And I’m always in flats—I’m 5’9”."

—as told to ITG

Amy Odell photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on April 19, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • vicki

    Yay makeup!! Its nice to see somethings that aren't normally talked about like the UD Primer Potion and Revlon lipsticks. Amy is really pretty, in the first picture I think she looks like Rachel McAdams. Great post!

    • softy

      UD eye primer potion is AMAZING. HG item for me.

    • http://havingstuff.tumblr.com/ Katie

      Yup! Really not trying to throw shade at all the natural luxury ladies that are usually featured on Top Shelf but this one was way more relatable to me. Loved it!

  • nani

    She's insightful, lovely and hilarious, especially her wonderful advice about how to 'beg in an effective way.." Well put & thank you!!

    • Nina

      Yes, totally. As an aspiring journalist myself (who finds it extremely difficult and embarrassing to beg for anything, let alone a job) I found this very inspiring. She's so right, you really gotta put yourself out there. I love reading about other women's careers on ITG, thanks!

  • Guest

    Not that interested in her Top Shelf (because we have totally different skin colors/types) but I loved seeing her here. Amy, The Cut has become unreadable since you left!

    I'm going to question that advice about begging, though. I own a photography studio. I would not be impressed by anyone who begged me for work. I don't like women (or men!) who grovel. But come in and talk to me like a grown ass woman (and bring a decent portfolio) and we just might be able to work together. Passion for the work and a good eye will go a long way with me. I don't need my ass kissed; that's my husband's job. ;)

  • Evelyn

    Amy seems to be wearing an eyeliner in her inner rim in the photos. ITG, do you know which one she used? Love the effect!

  • 39nineteen

    I LOVE your story. Sitting here applauding! I need to be ballsier when it comes to promoting my dreams for sure. I am great at promoting others but then I tend to fall to the wayside... loving what you've manifested into your life!

  • Monica

    What is the name of the chanel nail polish? :-)

    • ITGMackenzie

      Hi Monica,

      It's Lilac Sky! It's been discontinued :/ but you might be able to track down a bottle on Amazon or eBay. Good luck!

      xo
      M

  • Katherine Clow

    Love her relaxed view on fashion and wearing flats! Being tall, it's hard to always wear heels even though it's acceptable to be taller than most people. Great top shelf!

    http://classicinchicago.blogspot.com

  • Susie Rae

    FINALLY someone with a real deal makeup collection

    • http://havingstuff.tumblr.com/ Katie

      Totally. It's great that so many ladies out there are beautiful from green juice, but I read ITG because I'm interested in makeup (which I assume is true for most readers) so it's nice to have a Top Shelf about someone who actually wears it and doesn't credit their look entirely to organic sea kelp or whatever.

  • M

    I was a HUGE fan of Amy's from when she was at The Cut!! She and Charlotte were the funniest! I was gutted when she left.

  • pamb

    At last, a medicine cabinet that looks REAL, not hyper stylized with a precious few expensive products. She may get the products for free, but it looks like a real person lives there.

  • Courtney Chase

    Great read! I really appreciate her sharing her career experience, especially about begging for work and really fighting for it. And I LOVE Aquaphor on my lips!

    Pretty/Awesome

  • Mina

    Always in flats at 5'9"? that's sad:( I am always in heels, and I am 5'11"!

  • Miss Y.

    Great article! She looks very natural and beautiful and it's nice to see a few drugstore products too. I love the Revlon Lipbutters!

  • corinne

    I love how she uses Clinique moisture surge, a great product at a great price point. I love how it doesn't make my face greasy, yet it gives it a 'youthful' dewy feel.

    Nordstrom has a Gift With Purchase on right now for Clinique, its an 8-Pc gift, so its a great time to restock on any clinique products!

    http://www.giftwithpurchasetime.com/gwp/2013/11/awesome-clinique-7-pc-gwp-nordstrom/

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

Cetaphil
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Philosophy
Philosophy Microdelivery Purifying Peel
Fresh
Fresh 'Umbrian Clay' Mattifying Face Exfoliant
Clinique
Clinique 'Moisture Surge' Extended Thirst Relief
Clinique
Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Fortifying Hydrator
NARS
Nars Skin Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer
Lancôme
Lancome ‘Teint Visionnaire’ Skin Correcting Makeup Duo
MAC
MAC 'Mineralize' Skinfinish Natural Medium
MAC
MAC Disc Sponges
Benefit
Benefit Posietint
Revlon Brow Fantasy
Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil
Smashbox
Smashbox Eye Lights
Benefit
Benefit Velvet Eyeshadow
Urban Decay
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Tube
Tom Ford
Tom Ford Private Blend Lipstick
Revlon Colorburst
Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter Candy Apple
Aquaphor
Aquaphor Lip Repair
Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown 'High Shimmer' Lip Gloss
MAC
MAC Glitter
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Shampoo
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Conditioner
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