Claudia McNeilly, Writer


The #ITGTopShelfie series puts the focus on the lives and beauty routines of Into The Gloss's lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Show us your own Top Shelfie on Instagram—tag us @intothegloss, and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie.

“Hi! My name is Claudia McNeilly [@claudiamcneilly] and I live in Toronto, Canada. I’m a freelance writer who writes about food and women’s health for places like New York Magazine and Teen Vogue. My job sounds glamorous when I say that, but what it really means is that I’m almost always working at home. Freelancing can be really hard, but I love it more than anything. I get to read the internet all day and occasionally hear from people who tell me they learned something from a piece I wrote, or had it resonate with them in some way. Other than money, what more could you ask for?

My job means that I may be emailing Condé Nast editors, but I’m also wearing a robe and a t-shirt and I haven’t seen my eyebrow pencil in days. Most days when I’m working, I don’t wear makeup or shower until 3pm. But I still have a routine. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is put the kettle on to make a big pot of French press coffee, and I chug a glass of water while I wait for it to boil. As a Victoria’s Secret angel might say, ‘Water is the most important part of my beauty routine.’

As far as skincare, I’ve just wrapped a year-and-a-half long affair with my Clarisonic. I would use it with Fresh Soy Cleanser or Andalou Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel—but lately I’ve been washing my face with coconut oil and just exfoliating with baking soda. I’ve actually used baking soda as an emergency exfoliator for years. Before that I always assumed it was bad for my skin because it costs a dollar, and how good can an exfoliator be if it doubles as a fridge deodorizer? But it’s amazing. It gets rid of blackheads like nothing else and I swear, a couple sprinkles from a dollar box of baking soda makes my skin look more glow-y than a $200 Clarisonic. After cleansing, I’ll use a spritz of rosewater to tone.

Then moisturizer. Cold-pressed rosehip oil is the best face and body moisturizer—I used to use La Mer, but nothing works as well as this. I buy a huge bottle from Bulk Naturals, and it evens my complexion out like nothing else. But you have to get the cold-pressed kind, otherwise you're just putting orange gloop on your face. For zits, I use Polysporin. It’s an antibiotic over-the-counter cream that prevents and heals infections. Since pimples are small, localized skin infections, putting Polysporin on them makes them go away. Any time I have a pimple or feel one coming on, I just go to bed with a big dab of Polysporin over it and it’s half its original size by morning. It’s not nearly as popular as it should be… I’m very passionate about it.

At the end of 2015, I was going through a pretty big makeup phase. Now in 2016 I’m trying to emulate that minimal makeup look, if only because I got lazy about taking it all off at the end of the day. Also, I don’t want to give people expectations that are too high to maintain. I always want to look like myself. If I’m going for more coverage, I’ll mix Stila Stay All Day Concealer with First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream and use that as a tinted moisturizer, setting with Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder. I find matte bronzers do a better job of putting some definition and colour on my skin—I got this Chanel one from the beauty closet of a magazine that I interned at, and I’ll do a few swipes of it across my cheekbones, temples, and collarbone. If I want shimmer, I’ll use MAC Lightscapade Mineralize Skinfinish. My most recent breakthrough beauty discovery is Nars Blush in Sex Appeal. The shade is perfect if you’re on the paler side. Since I’ve been wearing it, people have literally told me, ‘Your cheeks have such a nice natural color to them.’ Goal achieved.

For a lip stain I actually use Tarte Cheek Stain in Natural Beauty. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to use it on your lips, but the slightly creamy texture makes it the best lip stain I’ve tried. I find that it goes on better if you mix it with a little lip balm—my longtime favorites are Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, Rosebud Salve, and Kiehl’s Lip Balm 1. When I want to wear a lipstick, Chanel Rouge Coco in Mystique [ed note: Mystique no longer available] is my all-time favorite. But if I’m just looking for moisture and a sheer color, I’ll use Clinique Superbalm.

Also, I love drugstore mascara...specifically L’Oréal Voluminous Original in Blackest Black. I can appreciate a good swipe of Maybelline Great Lash as much as the next person but I think Voluminous works so much better to separate and give volume.

Another product I’m obsessed with is Phyto Phytodefrisant Botanical Straightening Balm. I have naturally curly, very frizzy hair, and have spent years trying different leave-in conditioners to tame it without having to go in with several flatirons and blow dryers any time I want to look presentable. Most products don’t work if I just let my hair air dry, which is what I like to do. But Phytodefrisant is amazing. It’s heat-activated but works just as well, if not better, when I let my hair air-dry. It has a weird texture for a leave-in that kind of feels like watered down hair-gel, but it doesn’t harden your hair at all. Plus, since I’ve been using that, I’ve been using heat styling tools way less, so my hair texture has gotten better. I could go on and on about it, because it really is a miracle.”

—as told to ITG

More like this: Alyssa Reeder advises you stay in this weekend, Grace Overell begins her beauty routine with a little Gypsy Water, and Media Brecher has drugstore product recommendations for days in the #ITGTopShelfie.