Emma Hager, Student


“My name is Emma Hager [@emmahager] and I'm 18 years old. I am originally from Berkeley, California, but I currently live in San Diego and soon I'll be moving to Montreal to attend university. When I'm not busy with school, or sports I work on creative projects with friends, like making zines or curating pictures on Tumblr. Career-wise, if I could combine writing with my love of eccentric and interesting humans, I would be very happy. I always thought that being an editor or writer for This American Life would be the ultimate occupation.

I come from an all-natural family—my mother never wears makeup, and she takes a very environmentally friendly approach to most everything she does. Instead of buying mascara, she'll donate money to organizations like the Sierra Club and then save the rest. So as a child I turned to classic movies for beauty inspiration. Leading actresses from the mid-‘30s to mid-‘60s had this dramatic, manufactured beauty, and even in black and white I could imagine how vibrant the red lip on Lana Turner must have been as she appeared in front of the quintessential, beefcake-y John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice. To me, watching for victory rolls and half-moon manicures was as exciting as it got.

I think that’s probably why lipstick is my favorite makeup of all time, even though I don't wear it very often. Just seeing a woman with a bold lip always brightens my day! One year for my birthday I received Rouge Dior in 999 Iconic from a friend, and while it's not the best shade for my skin tone, I like to apply it late at night when I am doing homework or studying for tests. I get cranky if I sit for hours on end, so lipstick helps me feel more put together and essentially less brain dead.

Day to day, I don’t have a set course when it comes to beauty. I am not picky about products—if I have a clean face, all the rest is just extra. I’m a runner and all of the dust, sweat, and cheap sunscreen that comes with that causes some breakouts here and there. It's annoying, but in the grand scheme of things it's not too bad. I usually just wash my face with Clean and Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, or whatever's on sale. I like cheap—I’ll go to the dollar store and pick up these things called Nu-Pore Collagen Essence Masks. My skin always feels more refreshed and responsive afterwards.

Sometimes I'll get ambitious and put on mascara—always in brown because black looks a little harsh with my coloring. In broad daylight, my eye area has very little definition because my lashes and brows are relatively light, so mascara helps my eyes reclaim their spot on my face. Recently I received Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner as a gift, and it’s surprisingly easy to use. The consistency is more paste than liquid, so what you see on the end of the application stick is what you get. With a little instruction from Annie Kreighbaum by way of a helpful Disqus comment, I was able quell my fear of applying liquid liner, by myself, for the very first time. And never underestimate the power of Vaseline! I’ll put the tiniest amount on my eyelids for a dewy, '70s look.

As for nails, my main goal is just to keep them adhered to their respective nail beds. Running causes them to go black and pop off my toes, so nail polish does come in quite handy! I love orange so I am going through a bottle of Wet ‘n Wild Shine Sunny Side Up pretty quickly.

When it comes to my own beauty philosophy, I really do believe less is more—especially in terms of packaging! I love beautiful little packages with secret openings as much as the next girl, but all of that is lethal when it comes to the environment, as it often ends up in our oceans among other places. My concern with my own eco-footprint has completely dictated the way in which I consume: over 90 percent of my closet is used clothing, and I've only purchased a handful of products, ever. I don't think indulgence and sustainability are mutually exclusive; rather, it's about finding a system of exchange that complements potentially conflicting interests. I could stand to get better at this.

While hydration, a balanced diet, and plenty of sleep tend to be the typical tenets of beauty, I would argue that connecting with nature is equally as important in the long run. I'm not trying to preach the doctrine of a far-out, outdated hippie who runs an off-the-grid weed farm in Northern California. I'm a realist, but I do believe that connecting emotionally with the earth has magical powers. I have aspirations of living in a large city, no doubt, but I have to call out city dwellers who claim that they never have to leave the city for a quieter, more natural place. Getting away from the man-made intensity may entail leaving running water and your favorite take-out place behind for a few days, but what you gain from doing it is invaluable. While I can't promise you that alpine air will cure your forehead wrinkles the way a fancy French mystery cream will, I can promise you being out in the woods will cure you of your preoccupation with them. Those minor details just start to slide way down the totem pole of world order—there's definitely a beauty in conceptualizing your own place in the world.”

—as told to ITG

The #ITGTopShelfie series puts the focus on the lives and beauty routines of Into The Gloss's lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Show us your own Top Shelfie on Instagram—tag us @intothegloss, and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie. 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • coffeetoo

    Emma! love putting a face/bio to a regular ITG/manrepeller commenter. Love your take on beauty/sustainability/less-packaging. You glow girl!

    Where are those bejeweled sandals from?

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Those bejeweled sandals are from -- gulp -- Prada. I was 12 (?) and spent all of my money on them. Very uncharacteristic as I rarely spend more than 10 dollars on any one piece of clothing/shoes. Usually I like to get 10 pieces of clothing for 10 dollars.

      My parents have been teasing me for like 6 years about that purchase. I don't blame them.

      • http://al-write.blogspot.com Alice

        This post is a month old but I just had to comment.
        First of all, those Prada sandals! Gah I don't think I have the words to describe their greatness. I can't believe that you bought them at age 12...if only 12-year-old me had had that foresight instead of buying every candy and junk food within sight. Sigh, well I suppose you live and learn.
        Secondly, I also really loved the take you had on beauty and the way it relates to nature. Can I just get a giant high five for everything you've said?

        • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

          Hey Alice!

          Even though this post is a month old, I appreciate your commenting on it! Hahah I saved up money for years so that I could buy a pair of Prada sandals. They were on "sale" for $350, from their original $1000 tag.

          Anyway, thanks so much again and see ya around the ITG-Disqus community! X

  • Evelyn Brockmann

    How I feel after reading this now. Actually the feeling I get from most Top Shelfs but there is something about Emma that makes me want to race out of the city (Budapest, as much as I love it) and jump into the nearest deserted countryside lake and hug a couple of trees and slumber away on a bed of wild flowers.
    Awww, well. Still stuck in the office as I see. Diptyque's L'Eau will have to do until 5pm then - cinnamon, geranium, rose, sandalwood and clove somehow take me away to that special place.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      People get so annoying! Trees don't! They're older and wiser :).

      Race, girl.

      • Evelyn Brockmann

        And the other day I heard that tree bark is one of the best things for your skin. Might just have been a fellow tree-o-phile.

        • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

          Don't forget to kiss banana slugs for good luck, too!

  • AlioRatio

    I really like this easy going approach to make up and skincare, you get thumbs up from me girl! :)

  • Haiku Jew

    Earthy elegance
    I love the natural life
    enjoy the magic!

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager


  • bijoux

    You are going to school in Montreal?! My absolute favorite city. You are so lucky.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Ouiiii Je vais à l'Université McGill! <3

      • mlle

        I went there and loved it. I can't recommend enough moving out of the McGill ghetto after first year and making friends with native Montrealers.

      • bijoux

        yes, my former love went there as well as UQAM. Since he's an ex, I have no more excuses to visit there and I really miss it! You will meet such cool people & based on your TS here, they will feel the same about you. enjoy.

      • daniellewilson

        I went to McGill as well and loved it!

      • Charlotte

        I also went to McGill and am from San Diego! Montreal is such a great city but winters can be brutal. And I agree with @mlle:disqus, move out of the ghetto after first year!

        • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

          Ooooh, thank you for all the advice, past and present McGillians! X @daniellewilson:disqus, @mlle:disqus

      • Alice

        McGill is hands down one of the most magical places in the world! Best four years of my life thus far...granted I'm only 23 but I bet I'll still be saying that by the time I'm 60. If you like vintage you're in for something special.

  • Cinamaron

    I love your makeup approach! Bold lipstick is my favorite too, even though I don't wear makeup everyday.

    Also I am SUPER envious of your skirt on pic 4. It is awesome!

  • http://www.dot-daria.blogspot.com Daria

    Loved the balance between your love for beauty products and the environment, reflected by the one for both city and nature. Couldn't agree with you more! x

  • thebloginista

    This was really inspiring. I love what you said about getting out of the city for awhile to re-connect with nature. It's something I definitely need to do more often, so I appreciate the reminder.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager


  • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

    I love you and thanks for being a breath of fresh air from the Park Ave elite! I have one piece of Prada too. A wallet. Best money I ever spent as it lasted 10 years when the average wallet would last a year or less. Sometimes it's better to buy something with a bit of craftsmanship and quality, from an artisan or Prada, it's all about the quality. As much as I love a good city, I always feel better in nature!

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      I agree! And when Ms. Miuccia Prada has generally been at the forefront of sartorial radicalism and social change, if you're gonna invest you may as well do it with her house, no? X

  • Chris

    I can't even breathe right now, Emma! Such an amazing piece from the best girl in the sartorial world. Into the Gloss has amazing taste <3 <3

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      You're my favorite Nasty Gal. See you sooooon

  • esra

    I loved this. #ITGTopShelfie is my favorite series on ITG by far! Keep 'em coming!

  • http://instagram.com/chelseachels ChelseaChels

    Love this! Super well written.

    Vaseline is a LIFESAVER - for everything. I'm a runner as well - and a cheap way to get your feet back to semi-normal-non-hobbit form is O'Keeffe's for healthy feet - then put on socks overnight. You wake up with baby butts. It's well worth the 8 bucks.

  • Bella

    What a lovely, wholesome young woman, and yay, one of the 99 per cent ;)! I love the image of you sitting studying late at night with Dior Iconic on your lips, and think that you have a very mature and healthy philosophy and life and beauty. I think combining writing with interesting people is going to work out for you :).

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Thank you always for your kinda words, Bella. I love "disqussing" things with you :)

  • Stacey Nishimoto


  • Kirsten

    Emma, you are so wonderful! You have such a fresh approach to beauty and fashion. May I ask, what is your tumblr? I'd love to have a look at it!

  • http://about.me/amandanudelman Amanda Nudelman

    Those sandals are killer! And I guarantee I did not look half as cool in my graduation photo haha.

    I love that you wear lipstick at home by yourself — I totally agree it's a power product, and I know I always feel way more fabulous when I'm wearing it. My favorite combo at the moment (which I think may be flattering on almost anyone) is MAC lipliner in Cherry + MAC RiRi Woo matte lipstick. Think it may work well for a cool, classic chick like you. ;)

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Thanks, Amanda! That combination sounds divine! I have a weakness for cinematic reds.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Case in point: homegirl Gene Tierney.

      • adamalpha

        God, that movie is amazing.

  • Jazz

    I go to school in MTL! You'll love the city it's fantastic. My advice to a fellow student would be to reach out of the university bubble and explore different parts of the city (Mile End, Plateau, St. Denis, Griffintown, Monkland Village to name a few haha), drag a few people from residence with you and it's a great way to have an adventure and have fun!
    P.S. winter here is just as bad as you've heard, just to warn ya

  • Seregiu Morar

    What it is your e-mail adress,Emma.?

  • JY

    You are just the best ever.

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Hehehe <3

  • phi

    I really love your attitude, alltogether...mine is quite similar and I really like to know that there are like-minded people out there ;) But I especially love the fact that you paint over your black toenails aswell (as far as they are still where they belong), my mum and my best friend always, always tease me for that.
    Keep doing what you do!!

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Glad you have a similar outlook! Being "green" shouldn't be a trend or a "lifestyle choice," it should be a unanimous effort to preserve what we love and what sustains us, you know? X

      • phi

        yes, absolutely!! nothing is sustainable when you don't enjoy it or at least know a real reason for it. but I think if calling it a 'lifestyle' (even if i hate that term from time to time) gets more people on board initially it's fine, isn't it?

        may I ask you if it's possible to get your running gear second hand? Not talking about the shoes but do you look for used training clothes -as far as you don't need to appear in teamwear. Would love to hear your approach to it!

        • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

          Yes! Okay so I really love those colorful 80s/90s running shorts (the ones with the slits on the side, that somewhat resemble diapers) because they are so breezy! There are tons and tons of them at thrift stores, so I find them there. I don't wear shirts everyday when I run, but when I do they are typically just ones I get at meets or school/team shirts. I find so many cute little Nike warm-up jackets and things at thrift stores. People are obsessed with workout clothes nowadays so it is quite easy to find what you are looking for, lightly used, for a fraction of the price.

          • Kim

            Loved the article. Finding workout clothes at a thrift store is a great idea! By the way, running does not make your toenails pop off. It's because your running shoes are too small. Most people wear running shoes in a half or a full size larger than their regular shoes.

          • phi

            well I can only speak for myself - I have big enough shoes but there's always some friction, especially when you don't have 'standard feet'. but I can't really tell why mine come off, I'm playing rugby aswell so that might be the main reason

          • phi

            haha I have a collection of colorful runningshorts from my aunt which I just started to use, they are hilarious and I like it that they make so many people smile ;)
            Thank you for your answer...again! You're right there have to be quite a few things in thrift stores. It's a pity that there's just a few of them around here in my area though.

  • paula

    I love her writing! ITG should hire her ;)

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      I don't know you, Paula, but I think I love you.

  • http://blushingtheory.blogspot.com/ Nicole Rivera

    What a refreshing read! I love this quote: "While I can't promise you that alpine air will cure your forehead wrinkles the way a fancy French mystery cream will, I can promise you being out in the woods will cure you of your preoccupation with them." So wise!

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I think in the future it may be imperative to skew towards less products in general for environmental reasons (right now I think the trend is more about health/ a certain look than it is planet), but I agree: hearing from those with every single last bottle of beauty liquid is very interesting and fun. Would love to hear all about yours! X

  • http://www.grooveq.com.au Alison

    Emma is the future we NEED. Natural, articulate and engaging. Sending loads of good vibes from Sydney!

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Alison....thank you! Sending good vibes from California!

  • http://hapiland.net/c/free-career-test-online/999-hair-theory-and-practice-question-tests/cosmetology-practice-test-questions/ Karen Brown

    Emma, I love your writting. You are so wonderful! You have such a fresh approach to beauty and

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Thank you so much, Karen! X

  • http://tamishka.livejournal.com/ Tammy T.

    absolutely loved this top shelfie interview! trying to find balance between indulgence and sustainability is also something i'm trying to achieve.

    i'm a native Montrealer / current McGill student and i'm sure you're going to love it here! i agree with some of the last few commenters -- stay out of the McGill guetto if you can, get yourself a bike and consider the Mile-End/Plateau area (metro stations Laurier or Mont-Royal), or the Sud-Ouest district (metro station Lionel-Groulx), the latter which is located right by the Lachine canal and the Atwater farmers' market, and is an easy bike ride to campus. best of luck / bonne chance :)

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Tammy! Thank you for your advice on Montreal. I try to be as anti-tourist as possible, and it is great to hear from the locals!

  • amidstyouth

    Do more profiles of everyday girls like this please! I thoroughly enjoyed this article

  • nalea

    Hey emma, what's the sunscreen brand shown in the photo? thanks! xx

    • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

      Hey! It's just CVS pharmacy brand. It's pretty thick, which I like for running and swimming. X

  • anita rivas

    What's the Manic Panic?

  • Jam Jam

    Where were like-minded ladies like this when I was 18? So happy to read about young women embracing a lifestyle that isn't focused on consumption.
    With that being said, this read just like my beauty+style philosophy, making me realize how much I come here for the fantasy and incredible life stories of the eccentric and fabulous. Please keep that element, it's the backbone of ITG!

  • Saakshi Kaushik

    Hi EMMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. you just made my day

    • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

      Thank you!!!

  • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

    It's just from CVS! Their store brand :)

  • ehii

    how do you have time to comment on all these blogs?

  • ehii

    like emma said, it's more of a beauty trend than anything else. likewise, there have been plenty of comments lamenting the number of girls with beautiful skin telling us they only focus on skincare and "don't need" makeup. emma, if you care about sustainability you should look into the sourcing for the products you use. clearing plastic from the ocean is a well intentioned and romantic idea but also consider the industries and communities you are supporting. vaseline is a byproduct of crude oil refinement. how many of your cleaning products, food items, or cosmetics contain petrochemical products or palm oil? you're also making the choice to take a relatively long haul flight to university when your state offers public education (although i know that's not always as accessible in california as it should be). obviously nobody is perfect and we all do these things but i'm just saying, it can be good to consider the bigger picture. you can look into locally sourced and produced products (i live in europe so i don't have any recommendations for california or canada, maybe someone else does?) or at least companies like Jurlique and Aesop (both Australian) that seem to practice, or at least encourage, sustainable and natural measures. they're expensive but high quality and last forever. like eliza i am a total product junkie but i can also proudly say that i'm mindful of what i buy, i don't waste it, and i do my research (and yes, i recycle or reuse the bottles). you can have both!! and i come to into the gloss for the products....


Dior Rouge Dior Lip Color
Clean & Clear
Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash
Nu-Pore Collagen Essence Mask
Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner
Wet n Wild Wild Shine
Wet 'n Wild Wild Shine Nail Color, Sunny Side Up