'When I was interviewing for this job, I actually lied about living in New York. I had just graduated, was still living in Chicago, and there was this rumor going around the journalism school that companies like Condé Nast and Hearst wouldn't hire you unless you could prove residency in New York. Apparently that's completely not the case, but I believed it, so every time someone interviewed me on the phone and asked where I lived, I would say, 'Oh, I'm visiting my family right now, but I can come next week!' I'd fly to New York and stay with my aunt and pretend to live here. I was back and forth every two weeks for months—I used up all my miles and my parents' miles. Then when I found out I got the job, it was a Thursday. I told them I'd start the next Tuesday. I was so green that I didn't realize you could tell them that you'd start in two weeks or whatever. I thought they'd give the job away. [Laughs]
I started reading Into The Gloss back when Emily started it and was already getting a lot of press. But it was never for the beauty, really. I was always more curious about people's careers and connections and personal habits. At that point, I had some makeup, but I didn’t really know how to use more than pressed powder and mascara. I remember my mom taking me to the Prescriptives counter when I was 13 and I thought they made me look like a baby hooker. It was too much—pink lips, pink cheeks, pink lids. Makeup didn't make much sense to me as a kid—that wasn't how I was going to express myself. Whereas when I was starting my career, it became something I was interested in. Buying yourself a fragrance when you get your first job, or taking a bath with Laura Mercier honey because you’re stressed, can really put you in charge of your space when you feel like you're not in charge of anything else. In your early 20s, I think it's really easy to feel like everything is spinning out of control, and I have to remind myself that I'm actually doing OK. A bath usually helps.
When I first got this job, I was using everything. I was sitting in an office full of products and just got really, really excited. And then I broke out really badly. I was using five different cleansers and five different moisturizers because I could...bad idea. Avène Antirougeurs Dermo-Cleansing Milk saved my skin and I will be loyal to it until I die. Any time I need to rebalance my skin, I massage it dry and then wipe it off with a cotton pad soaked in Sisley's Botanical Floral Toner. If I'm wearing more serious makeup, I use Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser because it dissolves my mascara really well.
Before I moisturize, I spray my face with whatever mist I'm working through—right now it's Pai Lotus and Orange Blossom BioAffinity Skin Tonic—because I don't like to put lotion on dry skin. In the morning I use Glossier Priming Moisturizer because it helps reduce any residual redness and isn't too heavy under makeup. And then I've started using eye cream only in the morning. Aida Bicaj told me that if you do it at night, it'll make your eyes puffy when you wake up. So after Priming Moisturizer, I tap Kat Burki's Rosehip Intense Recovery Eye Serum on with my middle fingers. It's the only eye cream I've found that doesn't give me milia.
At night, I use oils. Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerative Oil is really good for skin that's on the verge of a breakout, so I'll use it a few times a week. But my absolute favorite is Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum because, after I use it, I feel like I wake up with a new complexion. It tones and evens and softens. In the dead of winter, I like May Lindstrom's Blue Cocoon because it's heavy duty. On my forehead, I tend to layer something extra, like Sunday Riley Bionic Anti-Aging Cream. I'm very conscious of getting wrinkles up there.
For zits, I use Aesop Control because it's sticky and really stays in place. My dermatologist recommended a retinol, but the prescription one I have has benzoyl peroxide and bleaches my pillows. Instead, I have a travel size of Sunday Riley Good Genes that I use between my eyebrows because I'm convinced it'll keep me from getting cystic bumps there. When it comes to exfoliation, I just believe in really rough washcloths.
I like a mask that I don't have to wash off—washing off is so messy. I desperately love La Mer's Intensive Revitalizing Mask—I use a generous quarter-size and massage it in for like three minutes, until it's all gone. Also, Fresh’s Black Tea line is so good. They have a mask called the Instant Perfecting Mask and it's a very accurate product name. You leave it on for five to 10 minutes, wipe it off with a damp cloth, and you're golden. After I work out, I like putting honey on my face because it's antibacterial, so I have this Honey and Coconut Mask that the Earth Tu Face girls made for me. It does exfoliate a little, and it tastes really delicious.
Alicia Yoon told me about Rose By Dr. Dream Powder Essence, which is the coolest product I've ever seen in my entire life. It comes in these four little capsules and you tap it out onto your hand...it looks a little like cocaine or something. And then when you rub it in, it turns into water immediately. She mixes it with her cushion compact, so I've been trying that, too.
When I try to put myself together in a very manicured way, something always goes wrong and I end up looking messier than if I had just gone for a natural look. For everyday, I use the Lancôme Cushion Compact in Ivoire C. It’s super sheer, but the coverage is insane to the point where I don't need concealer with it. I use my fingers and put it on my red areas around my cheeks, nose and eyes and on any spots on my forehead. After that, I like Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick—I use Apricot, which is discontinued, but Bronze is pretty close. I apply it with this Sonia Kashuk Duo-Fiber Brush over my cheekbones and between my eye and my brow, and up and down my forehead. I never don't get compliments when I wear that.
One thing that I have learned to do is use a cream blush. I have the Dinoplatz Cushy Blusher in Surf’s Up, which is really fun. You apply it with the sponge tip and it dries to velvet. That one is very light pink, so if I want something rosier, I use Sonia Kashuk Crème Blush in Petal. I like to put that on the apples of my cheeks and then I do a powder Guerlain Terracotta bronzer over that for a glow-from-within look. Then there's Topshop Glow, but I use that mainly as a cream eyeshadow. I'm big on shimmer for the lids, so I'll layer that with L'Oréal's Infallible Silkissime Liner in Silver because it's really blendable and soft.
I can only do a cat eye with a gel pot and a concealer brush. I really like the Nars Ubangi, which is actually blue, not black. To give the color more depth, I use Laura Mercier Kajal d'Orient Eyeliner under my gel as a kind of base. It’s much easier to use a brush over that because I have a line to follow. For mascara, I don’t care. I like Better Than Sex by Too Faced, or any drugstore brand with a big fluffy brush works. If I’m wearing glasses, I don’t wear any because it gets on my lenses. And Boy Brow every day. I never cared about putting anything into my brows before it, and now I can tell when I’m not wearing it and when I am. It has completely changed everything.
If I'm wearing red lipstick, it's because I have a zit—the best distraction method. I really only wear true, bluish reds. Topshop Hazard is great for $12. Or there's the investment red, Dior Rouge 742. Also, Charlotte Tilbury makes really incredible products and her Red Carpet Red is a favorite. It’s just a dream to use.
My hair is naturally very curly. When I moved to New York, I got my hair cut at Bumble and bumble and the hairstylist was like, ‘What do you want to do? Want me to do it curly?’ I had just broken up with a guy, and I was fine about it, but I was like, ‘You know what? Blow it out!’ I haven't really worn it curly since because it was easier to manage and I looked less like Shirley Temple. I'll get it blown out professionally once or twice a month at Drybar, but if I have to do it myself, I use Philip Kingsley Minimizer to help me manage my volume.
One thing people don't talk about enough is shower caps. I love shower caps—good ones, not the hotel freebies. If I'm not washing my hair, I put it back in a big headband and put a cap over it so I don't have to worry. When I do wash it, I use Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo because it helps my scalp deal with not washing it much. For conditioner, it's Leonor Greyl's Jasmine Mask. The only difference between a hair mask and a conditioner is that a hair mask is a better conditioner.
My three main styling products are Bumble and bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil to defrizz, Milk by Garrett Markenson Reverie to coax a natural-looking wave out, and Shu Uemura Touch of Gloss Styling Balm on my ends to make them piecey but not sticky. At night, I brush my hair for like 10 minutes with a boar bristle brush—it distributes the oil and by the time I wake up, my hair is noticeably less greasy.
After years of them not working, I gave up on body scrubs. To really exfoliate my legs, I do my own version of dry brushing with a towel instead of a brush—it really does work if you have scars and skin you want to turn over. Then I moisturize while I'm still wet with Kiehl's Creme de Corps because I'm a sucker for their holiday packaging. That's also when I put on perfume—I think it was Diddy who said it lasts longer when you apply it to wet skin. I'm in love with Bel Époq by Régime des Fleurs. It’s sweet and sophisticated, and I try not to use it too much because I never want to run out.
For a long time, I really only wore Sugar Daddy by Essie, but now I've gotten more into blues and cool colors—I wear my nails short and I think blue on short nails looks really cool. I like Tenoverten's Austin a lot, or Chanel Vibrato. If it’s important to me to have perfect nails, I won’t do them without Smith & Cult's Basis of Everythingand Above It All. Not only will your manicure not chip for seven days, your manicure looks new for seven days. I actually never go out to get my nails done—the hand massage is nice, but I think that doing my own nails with friends is the best bonding activity. My roommate and I will do ours together. I've bonded over nails so many times.”
—as told to ITG
Emily Ferber photographed by Tom Newton in New York on January 11, 2015. Emily is wearing a Tabula Rasa sweater and Helmut Lang jeans.