Jenna Lyons


"There's sexiness in not trying to be sexy. Sexy for J. Crew is something more natural, not when everything is firing on all cylinders. There has to be something that’s a bit undone. You can’t have perfect hair, and clothes, and makeup—you need an element of imperfection to make you feel like there’s a person behind it all.

I was talking to Anna Wintour about this when we were discussing the red carpets last year, both of us wanted to go and just mess people up a bit. Everyone was so perfect! Everyone’s tan and primped and coifed and there’s no ease. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be in that level of spotlight and to be photographed from every single angle while you’re talking and laughing and all these things. You’re so vulnerable! So I get it, but I still just want to go in and mess up people’s hair. Lena Dunham was the one person who didn’t feel overly coiffed. I think she’s one of the most courageous women in television today, partially because of that—and she takes a lot of hits for it, too. She looks beautiful, but you can see her skin and you can see that she’s human. That humanness is something that we’re always striving for with J. Crew. Even if the hair is pulled up perfectly, there has to be that one little piece that comes off.

I’m very loyal to beauty products. I’m fortunate because I get to work with a lot of makeup artists and I come across some amazing discoveries along the way. These Estée Lauder Stress Relief Eye Masks are magic. Someone used them on me when I had gotten off a plane in London and had to go straight to work. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, those things don’t work,’ and then she took them off and I was like, ‘OK, they work.’ I just looked better. These are for all of us old people.

I also use the Shu Uemura Intense Vitalizing Concentrate. I don’t know why it happens, but I have this problem where makeup doesn’t stay on my eyes. I put it on and then look at it a few hours later and I’m like, ‘Well, I had makeup on, but I don’t anymore.’ This stuff makes me feel a little younger, it hides the lines, and it makes my makeup stay on. I just dab it on the lid and underneath my eyes and it totally stops under-eye makeup from looking cake-y. It’s magic. Plus it comes in an eyedropper—I think that anything that comes in an eyedropper has to be good.

I go to Aida Bicaj for facials. I’m obsessed with her; she’s how I found the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, which I’m also obsessed with. I have the other creams and stuff, but this is the one that I always use; if I travel I don’t leave without it. Sometimes you wash your face after having makeup on and it doesn’t feel totally clean, and this is the only thing that does that for me. It’s a little like an adult-level Stridex pad, except it doesn’t strip all the grease off your face—I want to preserve the grease. I need the grease; I just want to get the clean.

I want my face to look shiny, young, and dewy. It doesn’t do any of those things, but I do the best I can. I remember when I went to my son’s birthday party—it was early in the morning and I had been out kind of late the night before because we had an event, so I woke up feeling not so great—and I used the Arcona Brightening Gommage before my face cream and one of the moms said, ‘You look great! What did you do to your skin?’ and I was like, '...Arcona Brightening Gommage’, and she was like, ‘What?!’ and I was like, ‘I know.’ I think it expires though, which just means it’s got good stuff in it...I just made that up... Also this Dr. Jart Firming Sleep Mask is an awesome moisturizer. I put it on at night, but I use it in the morning, too, because half of the time I forget to do it at night. [Laughs]

The most important beauty product of all is my Blistex Medicated Lip Balm. It’s the only lip balm that doesn't burn my lips—I know I’m not the only one with that problem.

Our makeup artist brings this amazing stuff, Canmake Cream Cheek, back for me from Japan. It’s a treasure. I like it because it doesn’t make me look powdery like regular blush, but it’s also good for lips when you want to take your red lipstick off but it just won’t come off all the way. If you put it on after you remove all the lipstick that you can, it gives this really nice stained berry look.

I don’t have one general makeup look, but it’s always either a red lip or a dark eye. Those are my only two choices, and I do them pretty regularly. I don’t have a lot of eyelashes, but the Chatecaille Longest Lash mascara is the only one that doesn’t get gloopy, and I use this Tom Ford Eye Defining Pen in Black. It’s got two sides—one’s very skinny and one’s a little thicker, and the genius thing is that when you put the cap on it pumps the liquid into the tip so it’s fresh for the next time you use it. Also, Nars just made the caps for their lipsticks magnetized, which I have to say is the best thing. That was my one beef with them—that the caps fell off. And then they totally rectified it! I usually wear Heatwave. My son, Beckett likes my Bite Matte Crème Lip Crayon in Clementine, and he’ll notice the difference; if I change it up he’s always like, ‘Mommy, what’s that?’ Also I use this MAC Prowear Lip Pencil that’s kind of a perfect no-color color called Staunchly Stylish.

I feel like looking powdery or matte looks old. There's no reflection on your skin; you just look super made-up. I don’t love it. I use the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, which I feel like slides around too much, but I like the consistency of it and I like that it has sunscreen. I also like the Shu Uemura Sweet Beige Brown Palette if I'm not doing a dark eye, which I get online. In fact, I order everything online.

I use this Sachajuan Intensive Hair Oil after showering. I have super frizzy hair and I’ve tried everything—this is the only thing that will allow me to let my hair dry naturally. We carry them at J. Crew. I also use the Sachajuan Ocean Mist in my son’s hair. He hates when I do it, but it looks so cute. It totally works! I’m not lying. If I haven’t used something or I don’t like it I won’t talk about it—and we only sell beauty stuff at J. Crew that we’ve tried and really like. I truly think their products great. Also the packaging is nice and simple.

When we first really got started with the fragrances people were like, ‘Oh, you can call it Jenna and use your face in the ads’ and I was like, ‘Uh, no we can’t.’ It didn’t seem like us. And can you imagine if I put my face on it? It wouldn't sell. [Laughs] So we started thinking that we should do it with someone whose whole existence revolves around perfume and is really steeped in that industry. We’ve been approached to do a fragrance so many times, but what became clear to us after doing so many other J. Crew collaborations is that the people you are working with have an expertise and a sensibility, and often a collaboration yields a much better result than if we were going to go out and do our own sneaker or whatnot. Which is why we don’t make sneakers—they’re an entirely different animal from, say, a deck shoe. The experts we collaborate with are people who spend their whole lives perfecting this one thing, people who understand that specific creative process.

So we approached this perfumer, Carlos Huber, to finally do it with us. I’d been keeping him in the back of my mind since we shot him a while ago for the catalog—I just remember thinking he was so handsome, I had fallen in love. He referenced Peggy Guggenheim for inspiration, who years ago had done a women’s art opening on 57th Street. She had her own gallery made completely out of wood, which was unusual because now if you think about a gallery you think about a white box. Instead, it was this warm, womb-like structure—absolutely stunning. So the fragrances' inspiration focused on that night at the gallery opening. That’s where the numbers for the fragrances come from—it was 31 artists on 57th Street.

The wood and the oak notes stem from the fact that Peggy didn’t serve wine and spritzers, she served whiskey and vermouth. He pulled from some of the iconic perfumes like Schiaparelli, which was a very popular perfume at the time. Also Frida Kahlo was one of the artists at the opening, so he thought about something that she would’ve worn at the time, and used those scents as the under-notes.

It’s funny, I love the smell of 57 quite a bit and I've been trying to wear it, but my son is completely not tolerant because I’ve been wearing the same perfume since he was born. He’s like, ‘You don’t smell like my mom! Where’s your perfume?’ But I still get to smell the new fragrances in the office, of course. I'll pass by and think, 'Mmm, that smells nice! It's ours? OK, cool, I still like it.' Everyone’s wearing them—they work for both men and women. Everything we do roots back to menswear in the end, so the idea that our perfume or a cologne might be suitable for one or the other makes complete sense. I mean, I wear men’s clothes half the time anyways. I get them from everywhere, but J. Crew’s easiest because I can get everything tailored—I know some people. [Laughs]

I was reading something today that said that if you’re too skinny people think you don’t eat, and if you’re too fat you’re a slob. But it wasn’t a magazine...Oh, it was on Naomi Campbell’s Instagram. [Laughs] Society is so tough and expectations are so unrealistic. Could I take better care of myself? Absolutely. I joke all the time that I’m old and I’m getting older and I feel it, so I guess I would rather talk about it with a smile and say, ‘Oh God, I’m old!’ than spend all my time at the dermatologist. I approach aging with ice cream and a martini."

—as told to ITG

Jenna Lyons photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on August 7, 2014.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Eliza

    YES! I loooove Jenna Lyons, and she has such a look. And anyone who shares an ice cream addiction is good in my book.

    Also might have to try that Dr. Jart night cream--I use one made of snail slime (I know) that works wonders.

    • Nikkie

      I use Dr.Jart Firming Mask Cream too! Dr.Jart my favorite skincare brand of all time!

  • Stella

    I have been waiting for this! Ultimate girl crush on Jenna, now all I need is a play-by-play on the J Crew catalogue makeup and I'll be a happy girl

    • Jessica Clare

      They recently revealed that they use a lot of RMS in the catalog...and now they sell it too!

  • B

    All hail P50!!! It's so much cheaper in the US compared to the UK... Every time I'm there, I literally stock up like a squirrel.

    • kathS

      where do you buy it? i feel like it is so hard to find :/

    • Lola

      Good to know! I'm going to the States next week and was wondering if I should get it here in Europe or over there.

  • Haiku Jew

    Jenna, if you're old
    I'm gonna be depressed now
    where's my martini?

  • Hannah Walker Finnie

    Yes mama!! I love her.

  • lolauren

    I was so excited to see this! I, like all people it seems, adore Jenna Lyons. I do wish she said what the perfume is that she wears everyday though.... (but of course I'll swing by Jcrew and give the new one a sniff)

    • Nancy

      If it's the one in Photo 19, it looks like Silver Mountain Water from Creed.

    • kelsey

      she wears creed's silver mountain water!

  • Emma and Emily

    Oh to work for J. Crew! That would be the dream.. I love so many of the same products as her and I am dying to try out the Sachajuan range..

    • Eliza

      FYI a bunch of it is on sale on J Crew's site :) Was browsing the other day and it's in the "sale" section and is an extra 30% off!

  • Lauren

    Jenna Lyons is such a girl crush of mine - epitome of class and style!

    • Adrienne Angelos

      Omg, right?! When she said their fragrance wouldn't sell if her face was on it I almost choked. Girlfriend looks like Giselle's hot erudite cousin to me.

  • Monica AG

    Um those kicks - who, who, who?!

    • kimair

      i'm pretty sure they are the nike x apc canvas high tops. a limited edition but i've seen them on ebay...

  • Ann

    Lena Dunham is the textbook definition of plain. Not unattractive mind you, because that can be aesthetically pleasing and interesting, just overwhelmingly plain. And that plainness is an absolute strength for her as an actress and storyteller, but in terms of the red carpet, I am so tired of influential fashion industry figures trying to convince us that she looks beautiful and stylish. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes. Being "courageous" is not synonymous having an unremarkable aesthetic look and style. "Humanness" on the red carpet is not diametrically opposed to having a reasonably striking physical looks, and knowing how to dress and pose to make a memorable, stylish impression.

    • Adrienne Angelos

      I mean this respectfully, but I couldn't disagree with you more. I think Lena Dunham is the antithesis to plain. Your last two sentences, however, I am on board with.

    • Luna

      Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. What is not beautiful and not stylish to one individual can absolutely be inspiring and beautiful to others, and vice versa. Which is why I think it is so important that people are featuring so many different choices in fashion, makeup, and TV. Years ago, people might not have put Liu Wen as a cover model of La Perla. Now we are changing, now we are accepting more, which we absolutely should do. I think we need more of these people who were always called "plain" or "different" or even "courageous" in my humble opinion!

    • kt mo

      I can recall at least 3 of her red carpet looks off the top of my head, which A) i can't do for hardly anybody and B) if i can, they've been red carpeting for MUCH longer.

      So you know, opinions...

    • Lauren

      In my opinion, the point of Lena Dunham is not her looks; instead, it is her huge talent, ambition, and success. Admittedly, I do think she is lovely and not plan, as you say, but I am so glad that there is so much more to her than her face. As a young woman, I feel lucky that Lena Dunham is speaking for me and to me.

    • Eliza

      Haha "the Emperor's New Clothes". I think she just looks like a normal person--who can look really pretty sometimes and really not-pretty sometimes, just like almost everyone I know.

  • Nicky

    I've only looked at the first few photos and already can tell this is gonna be one of my fave top shelf picks!

  • marcia silverstein

    I really enjoyed this. Jenna Lyons is very real in her approach to life as well as make up and skin and hair products. I love that she says she u is old and getting older and she faces it with a martini and ice cream. The approach is beauty now is the French ideal. She talks about messing up the too perfect look which is much more French than American. American women want perfect everything skin, hair, makeup. Latey (for the past year or so)
    beauty blogs are all about messy hair, no make up make up and skin care over make up. It is a healthier approach to life and beauty

  • Luna

    I agree so hard with the last paragraph, "if you're too skinny people think you don't eat, too fat you're a slob." Expectations are unrealistic. And it can also be about sexiness too. We are always told, be sexy, but not THAT sexy. Do this, but not that. Be yourself, but not like that. Be perfect, no but not too perfect! Let's just do whatever we feel good doing.

  • Eleanor Rigby

    I love Jenna Lyons. An unconventional girl who made it. Her insight on the idea of perfection and her shout-out to Lena Dunham are perfect.

  • kt mo

    She is so perfect. OOHHHHHH my god this was...the total best. I'm that internet meme right now like, I can't even, I have lost the ability to even. This is everything. Shut down the internet, guys. We have a winner.

    • ITGFerber

      You win the comments.

  • Camille

    Anyone know where her blazer's from? J Crew? HELP.

  • Maya

    I feel like I have been waiting for this moment all my life (read since I started reading ITG). So down to Earth, so chill, so whatever yet so chic and awesome. Love her.

  • Scandalous Beauty Makeup Blog

    Jenna Lyons is my muse. This was such a delightful read--can't wait to check out some of the products! Thanks for featuring her!

  • chicnoir

    Wow am I excited to read this top shelf. I've waiting forever to read this.

    *does happy dance*

  • Uc

    She's my style icon and I adore her to bits. She has what you call style. Love her!

  • Tatiana Depetris

    OMG!!! Love her, she is SO cool.

  • MissReidPlease

    Words cannot express my infatuation with thee J. Lyons I career stalk her like mad and could bathe in ALL is career advise.

    P.S ...and moisturise with her closet -sigh-

  • Erica Rae Deutsch

    HOLY GRAIL. is it bad that i feel sort of cool for having the same beauty woes as her? runny makeup and frizzy hair used to be the bane of my existence, but now i'm feeling a bit better about it knowing jenna lyons is dealing with the same bull shit.

    god i love her, props to itg for having this icon on topshelf

  • Cèline

    I love her!! So funny how I was thinking about Hannah's GQ boss some few days ago, I loved season 3. Jenna's top shelf is everything. Thank you ITG you always pick the right people.

  • Lauren

    I know she doesn't live in this Brooklyn townhouse anymore, but I look at these photos of her former home anytime I need inspiration. So stunning!

  • ee_by_cc

    There's something that is just so matter-of-fact about Jenna Lyons, like she wouldn't bullsh*t you about anything. I love that.

  • Vicki

    *Bowing down to Jenna*!!!! Simply Amazing! Love her take on aging as well!

  • Alexandra Puffer

    Adored this - thank you for all the product tips, I'm starting to think a bit more about creams and aging and this was comforting and insightful. I love the bit about human-ness, and imperfection - that is recipe for an effortless look. Like, wearing just enough make up so that it seems you aren't wearing any at all.

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I think she's achieved the look of dewy skin without looking like a vaseline covered model. Her hair is also quite amazing. She's been looking pretty young lately! I'll have what she is having!

  • Tanya

    Maybe like me, she has really bad vision that contacts aren't so helpful for. I wish I could ditch my glasses, but seeing trumps looking as good as I can.

  • Sara

    Great interview, and great answers by Jenna! Ultimate girl crush on Jenna, oh yes! And she is 45? She looks like she is in her early thirties! Beautiful and intelligent woman!

  • thunderlegz

    Love! Does anyone know what the pink nail polish is in picture 20?

  • Lygie

    Like pretty much everyone, I have a major crush on Jenna. She exudes cool, effortless style.

  • Sharon Macklin

    Well...aren't you the sweetheart?

  • stonecoldcuddlewhore

    THANK YOU, Jenna re: approaching old age with ice cream and a martini. People like her - cool, successful, total girl crush worthy - putting that message out to the masses makes a difference. Love it.

    IMPORTANT: WHERE IS p50 in THE US??? Does anyone know of a good reputable distributor? I am afraid to order on amazon because I'm not sure if it's the real thing. I'm in LA, so if anyone knows of a good place locally, please fill me in!!!!

  • Carina

    My heart skipped a beat when she said she used Canmake and Heat Wave. I LOVE her. Thanks, ITG!

  • Cat Woods

    Fab feature Jenna and Emily! Look forward to hearing more about the J Crew scent

  • jane

    Does anyone know where her shoes are from?

  • Kristy

    I love her. I don't say this often and I definitely err on the side of jaded when it comes to fashion darlings, but I want to be Jenna when I grow up.

    She is everything, nice, intelligent, self-deprecating without being overly so, honest--when she talks about this or that product being at j. crew it sounds like she actually likes them rather than just plugging.

    And so, so, poised. It goes to show personality and grace trumps "objective" beauty (which, as an average-looking person, I find very reassuring).

  • Suzanne

    My local J. Crew got the fragrances in today, so, of course, I had to go try them. Forget the silly backstory; both are very nice & wearable. No. 31 is a little more traditionally feminine, & No. 57 would probably work really well in cold weather. I ended up getting a rollerball of No. 31 but liked both.

    • Amanda

      Didn't know they were in stores already!! I neeeeeed to try them. What would you say they smell like? And does it last long on you?

      • Suzanne

        I get a lot of rose & plum from No. 31; it's sweet but not sickeningly so. No. 57 is woodsy & boozy. They both lasted most of the day but wear very close to the skin. I personally like a little more projection, but at least they shouldn't knock anyone around you out. They remind me a little bit of the Elizabeth James Nirvana Black & White fragrances, but a bit more refined.

        • Amanda

          Awesooooome!!! Thanks so much. I've smelled the Nirvana ones so I know what you mean. I think ima go for the 57.

  • Ann

    It is glaringly specious to compare Liu Wen and Lena Dunham in order to highlight broadening beauty standards.

    Also, I made no claim about knowing or even caring about how Lena Dunham perceives herself on the red carpet. This is not about Dunham's agency, but about praise for her looks by several fashion tastemakers, which I am free to question, criticize, and disagree with. Please don't twist my words in order to moralize on beauty and diversity.

  • Lauren

    This is a really interesting point. Thank you for expanding upon your original comment.

  • NIkkie

    I use Dr.Jart Firming Mask Cream too! Dr.Jart my favorite skincare brand of all time!

  • Erin Haslag

    "I approach aging with ice cream and a martini." :)

  • Pam

    Got it!

  • Colleen

    That office space is literally to die for

  • Eleanor Rigby

    Best comment. I strongly disagree with the top comment above. As for Liu Wen; she's from my province in China, glad for her that she made it.

    Jenna Lyons says that what represents Lena Dunham is refreshing as an input to the fashion/celebrity world. She's not the typical beautiful girl you'll find in Sports Illustrated and that's perfect like this. J. Crew is also not a red-carpet brand either. They welcome diversity and accessibility.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but by naming and categorizing someone as plain, we are reinforcing the notion that in order to be a valuable woman, you need to be stunning on the outside and be able to sell and seduce by your image.

    Beauty is not everything and I wholeheartedly believe that the double standards mentioned by Ann are helping no one.

  • CM

    btw the sneakers are Gucci…white leather and snakeskin high tops.

  • Mademoiselle nature

    She is beautiful this ladie :-)

  • moldub

    can we talk about what she's wearing?! what are those sneaks? love the whole look!

  • marshmellows

    great interview, thanks!! and i swear by the Dr Jart firming sleeping mask as well -- you just wake up with unbelievably soft skin that's more bouncy, balloon-like (in a good way)

  • Anjula Montgomery

    She's great!

  • Veronica Shields

    Hah, I was just thinking about this the other day when I was looking at unglammed photos of Adele and just how much prettier she looked when her natural features weren't completely obliterated by MUAs. This Hollywood obsession with perfect beauty destroys the underlying nature of it, which has character and therefore flaw. It's one of the reasons I refuse to touch full coverage foundations and the like for everyday situations - how can you sell yourself as a confidant if you aren't wearing some of the imperfection that makes you?

  • joannanyc

    I am short with big boobs and I wear J Crew all the time.

  • Belle

    Jenna is THE modern woman! Thank you for featuring her on ITG.

    On a same but different note, I've been an avid reader of ITG since the days of "only Emily", and I love how fans have "grown". These are [wo]men with brains who adore beauty. I can truly say I look forward to reading everyone's comments as much as the articles themselves. Thanks for creating this platform, ITG!

  • suzyd

    Did anyone else read "Dr. Jart Firming Sleep Mask" as "Dr. Fart Firming Sleep Mask"?

  • Carla

    Eating the same thing everyday and wearing the same perfume everyday sounds very boring. Such a shame when there are so many delicious foods and beautiful (niche) perfumes

  • Vicky Lam

    hey Jenna, I think there is a watch style you may like

  • Lou D.

    I love her unique style!

  • DivaDebbi

    Jenna is a delight! I can't think of anyone who presents themselves more flawlessly than Anna Wintour, certainly NOTHING is ever askew or relaxed looking. Her Red Carpet weigh in rings a bit false to me.


Estee Lauder
Estée Lauder Stress Relief Eye Mask
Shu Uemura
Shu Uemura by Shu Uemura Red: Juvenus Intense Vitalizing Concentrate
Biologique Recherche
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 W
ARCONA 'Brightening Gommage' Exfoliator
Dr. Jart+
Dr. Jart+ Premium Firming Sleeping Mask 1.75 oz
Tom Ford Beauty
Tom Ford Beauty Eye Defining Pen
Lipstick – NARS – Heatwave
Chantecaille 'Faux Cils' Longest Lash Mascara
Canmake – Glow Fleur Cheeks (#04 Strawberry Fleur) 1 pc
Laura Mercier
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
Bite Beauty
Bite Matte Crème Lip Crayon
Shu Uemura
Shu Uemura Sweet Beige Brown Palette
MAC Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Staunchly Stylish
Blistex Lip Medex, Lip Moisturizer
SACHAJUAN Intensive Hair Oil
Sachajuan Ocean Mist Texturizing Spray
Land by Land
Arquiste For J.Crew Perfume