'When I went to college, I majored in Applied Mathematics and Italian—because I love both of those things—but I got bored. For some reason working in a restaurant appealed to me, so I started working as a hostess at a restaurant in Virginia where I lived. The people I worked with knew I loved to bake, and I would beg them to put a dessert on the menu and let me prep. , so they would let me come in super early in the morning and prep with the prep cooks. I knew I wanted to be a pastry chef, so I went to culinary school and moved to New York and worked my way up in the New York City restaurant world...I had been working with Dave [Chang] at Momofuku as the pastry chef for awhile, and I eventually told him, ‘I want to open this bakery.’ And he was just like, ‘Great. Let’s do it together.’ And we called it Milk Bar.
When you work in fine dining kitchens, you’re going to work maybe a 16 or 18 hour day, standing in chef clothes that are too big for you because you’re maybe the only girl in the kitchen. The most you’re doing is maybe brushing your teeth and putting on some mascara—that’s it. As I’ve grown up a little bit, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of finer beauty routines. One of the first beauty things I do in the morning is I drink two cups of water—that's huge, and it makes my face feel like it's not going to shrivel up. Nothing replaces just drinking a lot of water. At night I'll use like a really, really thick Olay Regenerist Overnight Cream. It’s really luxurious—you can feel your skin like drinking it in—and it just has this refreshing feeling...you can feel like your skin is happy again, if that makes sense. And then you look in the mirror and you’re like, ‘Oh wow, I’m glowing!’ Every woman wants that, you know? Sometimes I’ll use Estée Lauder Perfectionist CP+R Serum and then I’ll put the face cream on after that.
In the morning, I always put on a nice foundation—like Revlon PhotoReady BB Cream Skin Perfector in Light/Medium. It has SPF 30 in it, and I have light enough skin, and I get a lot of freckles on my face when I’m in the sun. In New York when you’re running around, you never know when you’re going to get caught in the sun, and it sort of just evens out the color of my skin. Then I use a little Bobbi Brown Blush, which is awesome, in Nectar. We used it on the set of Master Chef. It looked amazing on me and I wore it out afterwards. Sometimes you put on blush and it’s clear that you have blush on, but this...it just warms your cheeks and makes them glow in the most natural way. It looks like you’re not wearing makeup. For someone that used to rarely wear makeup, that is like the goal: How do I wear makeup that looks great but that looks like I have no makeup on?
For mascara, I like Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara in Extreme Brown.I have super light hair so I like a brown mascara because it doesn't feel so intense. Or Christian Dior Iconic High Definition Mascara—I buy both. So I’ll use black if I’m going out and want it to be more dramatic. The one thing I will say that I've learned, the really pricey makeup is pricey because it’s really great quality. If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have never thought of spending that much money on a tube of mascara, whatever it is. But it makes a gigantic difference. Finding the right color and then spending a little bit more money than you normally would on really good stuff, it makes your beauty routine really simple.
I don’t use a lot in my hair, which is probably the funniest part about it. My live-or-die-by thing is Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray—if I’m keeping it natural, or if I’m going to spend the whole day in the kitchen in front of the hot, steamy ovens. It’s super expensive, but you can feel how much more you get out of it. It also almost acts a little bit like a dry shampoo. And I love the smell. I get compliments like, ‘Oh you smell so good.’ I’m like, it’s the hairspray! For haircuts, I either go to this cute little salon here called Fumi in Brooklyn or a guy in LA named Matthew Holman. For me the ability to pull it up or keep it down is essential, so I'm always cutting it with the thought in mind that I’m never going to just wear it down or just wear it up. I’m really honest about the fact that it’s like, ‘Hey, I don’t do a lot to my hair. I don’t have a lot of time...’ I mean, I want what everyone wants, which is I want it to look amazing with very little effort. And they do it.
You know, [sugar] doesn’t break me out. For lunch today I had a scoop of chocolate ice cream, a scoop of salted caramel and a scoop of vanilla. It’s professional! Purely professional. I think it’s just…with so many different things, it’s everything in moderation. I probably eat sugar less in moderation than other things, but I also don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t eat bloody red meat every single day. My vices are different.”
—as told to ITG
Christina Tosi photographed by Tom Newton in New York on October 15, 2015.