“This is so cliché and cheesy but so true—seeing how happy people get if you A. give them a beauty product, or B. give them a tip that works. There’s such joy in finding a good beauty product. And for fashion trends, what looks good on you may not look good on someone else, whereas with beauty, if you find an amazing body lotion, people are like ‘oh my God, I want to try it! Because I can try it; it’s a trend that I can try.’ Beauty is the lowest common denominator: I don’t care what they say, every girl, every woman, wants to feel pretty and empowered and beautiful, within their own definition of beautiful. I love fashion, I love shopping, but I love beauty more because I love the science of it. Fashion, the trends are always changing. But beauty, the trends and the technology are always changing. So there’s always this crazy ingredient story that’s interesting, like, ‘sea kelp that’s harvested by mermaids at dawn.’
The best perk of my job is getting to take products home. I mean, my bathroom looks like Sephora; like a clean, smaller Sephora. Burt’s Bees has a new body lotion [Fragrance Free Shea Butter & Vitamin E], and I love it because it feels amazing, it’s fragrance free, and I am not a fragrance person. There are beauty editors who see the new Prada or Guerlain fragrance and they nearly have a stroke because they’re so excited. And I’m like ‘oh, the bottle is so pretty,’ but I’m not a big scent person. I’ve also been on this crazy bronzer kick because I went to Lake Como and I was wearing a huge hat but my body still got a little tan, so my face is a different color. I’ve been trying out all these bronzers, and By Terry has an amazing one called the Bronze Expert. She invented the YSL Touche Éclat basically, when she was at YSL, so that’s why now in her line there are all these products with brushes. It’s really sheer and pretty and comes in four shades.
For standbys, I love the Olay Regenerist line. I love those products. That collection, dollar for dollar, is awesome. Also Rodin Olio Lusso face oil is great for the winter, but it’s a splurge. I really like Kiehl’s Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub—that works really well. I love Dermologica Microfoliant Daily, that’s a great product. SK-II, oh my God. I love their products. I use the Facial Treatment Mask before a wedding, or if I’m going out for a benefit or something. Years ago at a Calvin Klein show, there were all these models walking around who looked like Hannibal Lecter, and Pat McGrath said, ‘You have to try this product, it’s AMAZING,’ and she threw a mask on my face. The key ingredient, the ‘essence,’ is called Pitera and comes from sake, and the story is that old men making sake had beautiful skin on their hands. Years later, I went to Japan with SK-II and I went to the sake factory and I looked at their hands—the hands were freakishly young looking! And then they took a picture of me with some crazy technology and said ‘this is what you’re going to look like when you’re 80’ and I was like ‘oh my God, give me the essence NOW!’ I love masks, period. I’m a big believer in pampering your skin at home. I think so many women say ‘oh, I get facials every other month,’ and I’m like—dude, do it at home. Buy a mask and make it a ritual. And that’s kind of an Asian thing I guess; Asian people are really into skincare and baths and relaxation. So I probably do masks three times a week.
Oh, lash serum. I am obsessed with lash serum. I literally have four in my medicine cabinet right now. I used to love lash extensions, but even if you’re going to Soul Lee, who is the best person, my eyelashes are so delicate that they would break. Lash serums WORK. I don’t know if they put baby rainbows in there, or the dreams and wishes of a Cambodian child, something in there works. I like Talika [Lipocils Expert] which is a classic—I like it because it uses a mascara brush, so you wiggle it at the base where the follicle is. Peter Thomas Roth Lashes To Die For—excellent. Also there’s a great mascara brand called Blinc, they are coming out with one. That’s the next one that I’m trying, that I’m really excited about. Oh and the CoverGirl mascara is really good— Lash Blast Length. It’s the best mascara on the market, and it’s like, $10. If you want clean, defined, super long lashes, it’s great. And, super random great product that no one thinks about—and it’s such an extravagant, ridiculous luxury— Chanel and Cle de Peau make cotton pads. Yes, you can buy them at Duane Reade for ninety-nine cents, but do I want the Chanel ones that have the little CC logo? Yes. It feels like you’re taking off your eye makeup with cashmere. It feels so happy and delicious.
I use a lot of drugstore nail polishes, because I feel like nail polish is so trend-based and it chips in two days. Yes, it’s great to be able to buy a $28 bottle of nail polish, but most of the colors that Sally Hansen and Revlon do are great. The formula from Rimmel is really really nice, and it’s around $4. There’s something about the brush; the brush is key for nail polish. Some brands have the most beautiful colors but the brush is so bad that you literally can’t apply it. Revlon has a couple great colors out right now, one called Gray Suede and one called Make Mine Mango which is kind of the perfect coral. I love Gucci Westman and what she’s doing with the brand and the products; she is brilliant. I’ve been to the Sally Hanson labs and got to create my own polishes. When I got there, I was like ‘I want this and I want that kind of sparkle,’ because I love the Deborah Lippmann polishes and how chunky the glitter is. I wanted it to be base of rose gold, with big chunks of glitter, and for it to look like a dusky sunset in England. And then the lab tech came over and said ‘the nail polish you’re making is probably the most expensive nail polish we’ve ever created; we can’t produce that one.’ So I think the one they’re doing is a sort of periwinkle blue.
A lot of the beauty treatments I do are for the sake of investigative journalism. When I was in Tokyo I did the ‘Doctor Fish’ pedicure. That was crazy. Do I want to do it again, probably not. Especially when you lift your foot out of the water, and the fish are still sticking onto you like leeches—you literally have to shake your legs and they come flying off. And when you see pictures of it in ads, they’re cute little silver fish, really dainty happy looking fish. In real life—I don’t know, maybe it was just the spa I went to—the fish looked like leeches. They’re black and slimy and you put your feet in the water and its like ‘whoosh!’ It feels like someone’s scraping at your skin. And some of the fish are really big! I’m like, ‘please don’t eat my toe.’ So would I do it again? Probably not. Was it a great experience as a beauty editor? Yeah, it was awesome.”
—as told to ITG