“I grew up in Washington, D.C., and I’ve been living in New York for about five and a half years. I moved here to go to NYU—I don’t remember not wanting to go there—and studied a mix of art history, photography, and random classes about things like baseball at Gallatin. The summer after my freshman year at NYU, I started interning with PR Consulting. That internship led to one at Vogue, where I stayed for a little over a year, starting as a general fashion intern and working a lot with Tonne Goodman’s assistant, Beau Sam. That was a good move, because I ended up going on all of her New York photo shoots. I loved being at Vogue, so I stayed on for another semester, moving to market with Kelly Connor and Meredith Melling.
The first time I saw Emily at Vogue, I texted one of my friends and said, ‘I just saw the Super Intern at work.’ [Laughs] I was a big fan of The Hills. When it came time to look for a fall internship, I emailed Emily, who was Elissa Santisi’s assistant at the time, to see if she and Elissa needed an intern. Emily came over to my makeshift desk and did a brief interview. It was good timing, because they had a shoot the next day that I got to go to. Emily had already started Into The Gloss—it was maybe nine months old. I got the internship with Elissa, but Emily told me that she was leaving Vogue to focus on Into The Gloss full-time. She asked me if I would help her on the days I wasn’t assisting Elissa, so I said yes. By my senior year of NYU, I was assisting Emily basically every day.
I'd gotten really close to Emily, and Into The Gloss was expanding—Nick Axelrod had just joined from Elle. Emily asked if I would be interested in staying on, so, one night over margaritas, I told her that's what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t going to get a huge salary or even benefits, but my family was very supportive. It was a leap of faith, but I figured, if Into The Gloss didn’t succeed, at least I would have a good relationship with Emily and a lot of experience under my belt. I started as an assistant, and eventually I started contributing photographs and writing for the site. Now I’m the managing editor.
It’s funny that I work in beauty, because I'd never really given it much thought before Into The Gloss. My mom isn’t into makeup. I remember deciding before freshman year of high school, ‘I’m going to wear makeup and look good for every single day of high school.’ And I did. [Laughs] But it wasn't much more than eyeliner, mascara, and sparkle eyeshadow. And I straightened my hair while it was wet—no one should ever do that! Now I know a lot more about beauty. I wish I could say I was 'low maintenance,' but I just have so many products. It’s the nature of the business.
I've always had sensitive skin—it’s pretty dry, and I’m pale. I can’t use things that contain a lot of alcohol, my skin gets red and itchy very easily. I’ve never really had breakouts, so my skin is easy that way, but I also have psoriasis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes you to overproduce skin cells in some areas. I’ve had it since I was 10. It was pretty glamorous. [Laughs] In the grand scheme of things, I have a pretty manageable case of psoriasis, but I’ve tried everything to control it—steroids, light-box therapy, shots, vitamins—except for these pills that suppress your immune system, because it’s not bad enough to take risks like that. There are commercials on TV for those drugs and one of the side effects they list is 'death,' so I’m like, ‘That’s fine, I’ll deal with being itchy sometimes.' [Laughs] I used to be really self-conscious about it, and truthfully, I'm still not thrilled by it, but I’m far more comfortable with myself now. Other than that, my skincare routine is pretty normal.
I started using Somme Institute a few months ago, which I love. It’s a five-step program that has everything from cleanser to moisturizer. The second step are these exfoliating pads, which make my nose and chin very soft. I love them, but they're strong, so I only use them once a day, if that. Then there’s a serum, a cream thing that smells kind of weird, and then a moisturizer, and an eye cream. I’m not sure what’s in the Somme Institute products—I’m not someone who is going to go read about all of the different ingredients or parabens. I like Somme Institute because it’s straightforward. I know what I have to do without having to experiment to find a toner and serum and moisturizer that work well together for me. I’d rather just follow directions. It’s really hydrating—the secret to good makeup is to have a well-moisturized canvas. And, because I’m pale, I wear Neutrogena sunscreen almost every day. It’s cheap, and it’s really thin. If I ever get a breakout, I put Mario Badescu Drying Lotion on. It makes you look like a crazy person with the chickenpox, but the next day there’s a dramatic difference.
Then I put on makeup. I started wearing foundation about two years ago, when Inès de la Fressange told us that everyone looks better with foundation. I thought she was amazing, so I said, ‘OK.’ But I hate it when it looks like people are wearing makeup, so I was cautious. Sunday Riley’s Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer in Medium is the best thing ever. It’s pretty moisturizing and makes your skin look smoother, even-toned, slightly tinted, and dewy. For the winter, though, I sometimes prefer Giorgio Armani Maestro Cream Foundation in 4, because it has more of a matte finish. Occasionally I’ll combine the two.
I’m really self-conscious about my under-eye circles. I have big eyes that protrude from my face, so if there’s overhead lighting, which there almost always is, I look like I have dark circles no matter what. I also have very thin skin there, so you can see the blood. For a while, I used Touche Éclat under my eyes, but then we posted a video that Wayne Goss did about how to use Touche Éclat, I found out you’re not supposed to do that, because it’s a highlighter. So I switched to Cle de Peau concealer and it works pretty well. It’s heavier, so when I want lighter, liquid coverage, I use Lorac Touch-Up To Go Concealer in CF3 or Garnier Skin Renew Anti-Dark-Circle Roller.
I think women look more feminine, delicate, and pretty with a healthy amount of blush. Cream blushes give you a lot of control because you can rub them into your skin. For the summer, I like Chanel Cream Blush in Affinité, but for winter, I like something darker, like Stila Convertible Color in Poppy. I blush naturally as it is, so I don’t need a ton. I would say something like 50 percent of the people we’ve profiled in The Top Shelf use Nars Illuminator in Orgasm. So, naturally, I tried it. It doesn’t look great in the compact, but it looks amazing on. Don’t use too much, though, because you’ll look like you were in a crazy orgy. [Laughs] I put it on my cheeks, a tiny bit on the bridge of my nose, right under my eyebrows, and spot on the center of my chin.
On my eyes, I’m a big fan of orange-y bronze colors because they make my eyes look more green. I wear Estee Lauder Pure Color in Chained almost every day. It’s thin enough that it blends well with your skin, and gives you this pretty metallic tone. I've been using the Bobbi Brown Almond Blush as eye shadow for a long time, which I think has been discontinued. I took it from my mom and used it all through high school and in college. I like sleeping in my makeup, too, because sometimes it looks fantastic. My favorite products for getting it right are Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Eye Pencil or NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Via De'Martelli. They never bleed on my upper waterline, and they're really easy to smudge. I think it’s nice to put highlighter like Nars Interstellar Eye Paint on the inner corners of your eyes, too, near your nose. You have to use them lightly, or you’ll look like a full-on space alien. I’m not particularly loyal to mascara, but I always go waterproof. My favorite is Kevyn Aucoin, because it creates tubes around your eyelashes and doesn't budge.
The two things that got me into makeup were nail polish and lipstick. They’re easy to put on and to understand. I have a stupid amount of lipstick, but I have a few favorites. The best red I’ve ever found is Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso 10. It’s a heavily pigmented, rich, true red that’s part stain, stick, and gloss. It does not stay all day, and it bleeds, too. But it’s the greatest. I also love Nars Dragon Girl, which is a better summer color. MAC Sin is the best dark lip, for when I’m feeling vampy. And I really like Tom Ford Black Orchid, but I have a hard time getting it to stick to the inner part of my lips, so MAC Dubonnet is a great base for that. And it should be said that the best beauty product ever invented is Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.
For my psoriasis, I wash my hair with prescription Clobetasol Shampoo, which isn’t exciting. It smells disgusting. Otherwise, I like Klorane Shampoo with Peony, because it smells like babies. I am really down to try whatever in the hair department, though. Whatever works. My hair is really long, thick, and wavy, and pretty healthy considering all the things I do to it. I get it highlighted twice a year, and it’s also ombré-ed. I use a ton of conditioner—I always run out of conditioner before shampoo. I really like Redken Smooth Lock Conditioner to make my hair silky and smooth, but not oily. And after I shower, I wring out my hair and massage four pumps of Bumble and bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil through it. It’s thick, so it absorbs better when I apply it to wet hair. To style, I like Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, because it gives a lot of body and it’s not crunchy. And, if you want to have a dirty, Kurt-Cobain look without actually having gross hair, Catherine Walsh once told us to put Nivea Creme in your hair. I love it.
For my body, I moisturize with oil. It can be a pain to use, but the best way to apply it is to put it on while you’re still in the shower. Turn the water off, then apply the oil before getting out. It absorbs much quicker. Then, just don’t sit on your sheets or anything for a few mintes. I like Fresh Rice Dry Oil. Kate Young talked about it in her Top Shelf, and I tried it and was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so much better!’
I have a lot of piercings—my mother is starting to get a little concerned. [Laughs] I met Colby Smith when I first started working at ITG, because we were doing a story about piercing and tattoos around the time that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo came out. I got a second piercing in one of my ears, and it expanded from there…
For the last two years, I’ve been going to the gym three times a week. I’m not particularly athletic. Growing up, I was a big horseback rider, a skier, and I played lacrosse and soccer. But if someone told me to run today, I would very quickly die. [Laughs] I don’t do a ton of cardio. I’m under-the-radar strong. I’m not the healthiest eater, so it’s good for me to get toned. I would be lying if I said I looked forward to going—I’d much rather sleep, but I feel better and more confident in my body when I go. I’m naturally a self-conscious person, and I’m pretty hard on myself. So instead of complaining about my butt or my arms being too big, I went and did something about it. It’s helped me accept that my body is what it is. I am never going to have small hips, and I’m never going to look like a model, unless I don’t eat food for a solid seven months. But when I work out, I feel like a healthier version of myself, and like I have more ownership over my body.”
—as told to ITG
Elizabeth Brockway photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on March 30, 2014.