'My full name is Alexis Kalika Page—Kalika means rosebud in Greek. I’m actually only half Greek though, because my mom is Polish. But my sister and I got really Greek names anyway. She’s Athena and we had a dog named Zeus.
Growing up in Buffalo, I was super into makeup. There was this discount store called Vix and they had a really big beauty section. We would go to get household stuff and I’d always come out with loads of products just for fun. My grandma also had tons of makeup and hair products that I would play around with—I’d sleep over there and watch Miss America pageants with her—she’s a big part of the reason I got into makeup. I have a lipstick tattoo of her name.
But I had no idea that this was what I wanted to do with my life. For a long time, I wanted to be a waitress for some reason. I also did a lot of ballet growing up and thought I might pursue that. I ended up moving to New York City in 2000 to go to FIT, partially because I wanted to get out of Buffalo and a state school in New York seemed like the easiest option at the time. I was actually in the Advertising and Communications Department at first because it was the only program that didn’t require a portfolio.
My roommate in college was interning at Heatherette and they needed extra hands for a show one time, and asked if I could help their makeup artist for the day. I brought all the makeup I had and just sort of fucked around. The makeup artist realized that artistry probably wasn’t for me, but told me that if I was at FIT, I should try the Cosmetics and Fragrances program—I didn’t even know it existed! So I looked into it and ended up switching majors.
The cosmetics program was really small—there were only 20 of us—and Estée Lauder was really supportive of it and would let students intern with them every semester. They own a bunch of brands and you’d go into HR and tell them where you’d like to work and they'd place you. When it was my turn, I went in and said I wanted to work for MAC. They looked at me and said, 'Yeah, everyone wants to work for MAC. What’s your second choice?' And I was like ‘Well there really isn’t a second choice so I could just go to Nars instead.’ They obviously thought I was insane, but no other brand really suited me there. Luckily it worked out and I never really left. I started doing mini trend reports from looking at Style.com during Fashion Week—at first it was just a project to keep me busy, but it morphed into a full-time job in product development. I worked on seasonal color collections and collaborations. I did that from 2004 until this past November, when I left to work on Glossier.
I don’t consider myself a risk-taker really. I never have. My parents are very practical people and they’ve had the same jobs my entire life. At a big brand like MAC, you get to do a ton of awesome stuff—I’ve been through two passports, just traveling for work. But at the same time, I felt the need to start something small and build it. Doing that with Into The Gloss seemed like a sure bet. MAC fans and ITG fans are similar in that way—they’re so invested in the brand. When you have something that elicits that kind of response from people, you can’t go wrong.
When I came onboard, everything was very secretive because we weren’t sure what was going to happen. We started working out of Emily’s living room with her two cats.
We created these heavy, ridiculous moodboards and played with products and started working with a chemist in California, who is a total mad scientist and genius. We went to visit him and explained that the first products would be developed with skin as a concept. We totally clicked and after that we really got to work.
I’m really excited about the first four products in particular because the more obsessed I become with makeup, the less I wear it, so this is the stuff I want to wear in lieu of anything else. I’ve accumulated all these products over the years—my kitchen is full of them—and I know what they’re meant to do, but I don’t use them. I always thought I could make them better. That’s what we tried to do.
Skin has always been important to me because my skin hasn’t always been great. Growing up, my solution was just to do a full face of makeup—foundation, concealer, and powder—every day. By college, nothing worked, so I went on Accutane. That gave me a good three years of being a normal person and then it went back to hell. At that point I was 25 and getting facials all the time, which wasn’t really great either—it was painful and sort of demoralizing and didn’t really work. It was just a mess.
A friend of mine finally recommended this woman named Sofia at Aida Bicaj. It’s an uptown place that I’d heard of before, but had never thought to try. When I finally went, Sofia changed my life. They only use Biologique Recherche, which I had never investigated because it’s so expensive and I didn’t trust it to work. After the first facial, my skin changed. So I spent literally my future child’s college tuition on Biologique products because they kept me looking exactly like I did after that first facial.
Now every morning I start with the Biologique Recherche Lait VIP O2 on my dry skin and then I hop in the shower. I don’t like to put hot water on my face, so I’ll just let it hang on until I rinse off with cool water at the end. Then I use the Glossier Soothing Face Mist because it feels like it is rehydrating my face after the steam sucks everything out. I’ve never really been into facial mists before, but now I think it’s nice to rewet your face before putting moisturizer on. Then I use the Glossier Priming Moisturizer, which is kind of a game changer for me. A big part of the reason I used to use so much makeup was because I looked ruddy, or flushed and hot—especially during the winter. But I can’t stand rich, heavy creams. I want something that feels light when I’m applying it, but moisturizes in a rich way and also calms my skin down. So the Priming Moisturizer is great because we developed it to make skin look perfect without any makeup. And it really does that.
At night, I mix the Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant and Masque VIP O2. That shows you how crazy I am—if you tell me to use the mask every night, I use the mask every damn night. I mix a dollop of each in my hand, go to my fridge and put baking soda in it and mix that together and put it on my face while watching TV or doing the dishes or whatever. Then I rinse it off and use Lotion P50 and maybe one of their serums that come in these cute little science-looking bottles.
Oddly, my forehead has always been 1000 times drier than the rest of my face and needs special attention. Dr. David Colbert is my dermatologist and he's Illumino Face Oil is really good for that—he actually did a little illustration of me on my Illumino box that I keep in my medicine cabinet. And if I could cover my entire body in Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye, I would. It’s like a rich jelly, that’s why I love it. I also put it on the middle of my forehead because I think it helps with lines.
Everything else I do depends on how I feel that day. I’ve recently restarted using the Bliss Vanilla+Bergamot Body Butter because I love the way it smells and it reminds me of fall. I’ll go through phases of using that or the Carmex Healing Cream because it smells like honey, and it feels like wax in a good way. Lush makes this cream called Lovely Jubblies that’s actually a breast firming cream, but I use it everywhere! I don’t know how I first found it, but it smells like flowers, so I’ll use it on special occasions because I don’t want to run out. I did the coconut oil thing for a bit last year…it just made me oily—but I do really love ButterElixer Oil a lot. It’s not as thick as coconut oil. I’ll use Skin Trip if I need to get that coconut smell.
If there’s anything I’m actually an expert in, it’s deodorant. I have at least six that I’ll use. My mainstay is Biotherm Deopure Invisible—I always get it at Duty Free. I like that it’s a roller and doesn’t leave much texture behind. But it burns if you use it too many days in a row, especially if you shave. Then I’ll switch to something creamier, like the Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Cream. Dove Advanced Care 48-hr Skin Renew is pretty good, too. The Soapwalla cream is also nice if you don’t like aluminum. After a while, it all builds up, so I’ll use the L'Occitane Cleansing And Softening Shower Oil because you need the oil to break down all the deodorant.
My eyebrows are neither special nor unique, but I’ll use 42 different products on them to look normal anyway. Part of it is that I feel guilty that I tweezed them so much in high school. What I really wish I could do is get them tinted every two weeks. Kristie Streicher does it for me and she is a god. She helped me realize that I do have eyebrows, but the hair gets really light so it’s hard to see. But I don’t get to go to her that often because she’s based in LA—I tried tinting them myself once and it just wasn’t the same.
I don’t normally like eyebrow gels, but Kristie recommended the Mary Kay one, and it’s the only one I’ve tried that doesn’t get flaky and weird. Then I’ll use the Anastasia Brow Wax Fix to place the sprout hairs in the middle of your forehead. I also love Tom Ford Brow Sculptor in Chestnut to elongate the shape of the whole brow. In the middle of the day my hairs get weighed down because there’s so much product, so I’ll do it again midday.
No matter how good my skin looks, I will always be the kind of person that likes to put on makeup. Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint is perfect because it gives me the sensation of applying makeup without a ton of coverage. And it works for my whole face—sometimes I pat a little extra over my cheekbones because I feel like it’s kind of dewy and it stays shiny there. I’m also particular about my cheek area because I have some acne scarring there and regular foundation will settle into my pores. The tint glides over it and fills in your texture but not in a creepy primer-y silicon-y spackle way.
But no matter what, I always powder my nose because I feel like it gets so oily. I’ll use any translucent powder—the HD Make Up Forever is good. I’ve also been very into cream bronzer for a while now. I got the Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base two years ago, and the tub is so big it will never run out. MAC Blush in Cheek was discontinued, but it’s perfect for doing a sun-kissed cheek.
My number one product of all time is MAC Fluidline in Rich Ground—I’m scared that they’re going to discontinue it like they did to MAC Eye Kohl in Costa Riche at one point. I’ll use it with a nubby brush on my lids instead of a paint liner brush—it’s firm and you can still do a line but it won’t do a flick. MAC Eyeshadow in Bronze and Sable are both really good. I also used to use Expensive Pink.
I’m surprised no one talks about how good Maybelline Lots of Lashes Mascara is, but it really is the best. For a while, I was spreading the gospel of Diorshow and Covergirl Lashblast, but I used it again recently and it makes my lashes looks dry and almost too long. Now I like my lashes to look squatty and fat—really full and dense. Lots of Lashes is the one. It’s a washable formula, which is genius so you don’t have to struggle.
In high school, I remember thinking Angelina Jolie in Hackers and Chloë Sevigny in Kids was the look. I shaved my head but it didn’t look good. At the time, I didn’t have the face for it—it was rounder, chubbier, younger. I don’t have delicate features. I mean, neither does Angelina, but…I thought I was going to look like Shannyn Sossamon or Winona, and I 100% didn’t. And then it grew in really oddly. I wouldn’t do it again.
Now, I don’t like to draw too much attention to myself with a strong look. My hair has been every color of the rainbow, and now I haven’t dyed it in a year. I like my hair looking ropey and lank, not smooth. Redken Windblown 05 Dry Finishing Spray is a thousand times better for that than the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray—it makes your hair feel full. I hate dry shampoo and the Oribe one feels like I have dry shampoo on. The best thing I’ve ever tried is Glam Hair Backcomb in a Bottle by Umberto Giannini, and you can only get it in London at a drugstore. It’s genius for giving you really full hair, but it’s a nightmare to work with. If you use just the right amount, though, it’s sort of amazing.
For the most part, I wash my hair every day. I’ll switch my shampoos and conditioners a lot but I just started using Komenuka Bijin line again because I really love anything Japanese. I first found it 10 years ago at Larchmont Beauty Supply in LA and forgot about it for a while, but I’m back to it now. Also super into the Fekkai PRX ones. There are only a few products that I’m very loyal to—for the rest, it’s just a Darwinian survival of the fittest.”
—as told to ITG
Alexis Page photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on September 26, 2014.