"You know, I’ve always written. It’s really hard to peg that one moment, and people ask you in interviews a lot, when did you start writing? And I don’t know that there was a day. I always thought of writing as a hobby, and then I went to college and just couldn’t push English aside. That’s when I switched my major and started really taking writing more seriously. When I graduated, I was looking for a job in magazines actually. And then I Googled ‘literary agents,’ because I didn’t know what that was, and found a list of about two hundred and sent my resume off to all of them, and then one of them had a job opening. That was how I got my first job as an assistant. While I was there, I was always writing. I wrote book and music reviews for small magazines, some of them I don’t even think have my name on them… And then I was writing for The Village Voice, The Observer, The New York Times... Then the first two books of essays came about, and I wrote those while I was at Random House, and then I quit to write The Clasp, and that brings us to now.
A funny trick to decent personal essays is that they’re not actually about you. There’s a great Annie Dillard quote that I’m going to butcher, which is rather fitting because it’s about butchering, but she talks about how the process of writing is like splitting wood. If you aim for the wood, you’ll miss. But if you aim for the chopping block you’ll hit it. Aim just past the wood. And I think what she means is that there’s a sensibility and an idea and some sort of place that you’re trying to get to that is perpetually located just outside of where you are. Confessional writing is very sort of trendy now. It’s like a voluntary Salem witch trial that we’re living in. And I think that the way I choose topics is, I know I have a take on something that is outside of myself. And then for The Clasp, I wanted to get broader and deeper and have a whole cast of characters and have it take place in different countries and have it have like a mystery element and pack it with all the things that I love but that are not actually part of my life. And I love short stories. If you look around these shelves, a good deal of them are short story collections, but there was no novel that was a tribute to the short story. in terms of getting into someone else’s experience, that’s why it was so great to write the novel.
I’ve written about beauty a little bit—I did an article for W about SK-II. They sent me all this stuff to moisturize or reinvigorate my face. And then I wrote about nail art for Elle. I got my nails done by a really famous nail artist, Naomi Yasuda, but it was funny because it was really difficult to actually write the piece about nail art with the nails on. There was a story I did for Elle UK about YouTube beauty vloggers—I got sent so much makeup for that one. I still have a tremendous amount of eyeshadow, it’s crazy. Really, for somebody who doesn’t wear a tremendous amount of makeup, it’s formidable. I am like the hit of any Halloween party! If you’re ever in need of fluorescent orange eye makeup, I am your woman.
Daily I don’t really wear foundation because I make my own DIY BB cream with Mario Badescu Moisture Magnet and a little bit of Diorskin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup. It’s mainly moisturizer and a dab of foundation to color it. Then I put on setting powder or bronzer right before leaving the house. If I’m going out, it feels like a serious thing to get ready. I work from home so there’s no need to dress up. And sometimes getting dressed up makes me feel cartoony. I like to mix Clinique Black Honey with Chanel Rouge Coco in Paris [ed note: Paris is discontinued—try Romy]. Then I use YSL Touche Éclat and curl my lashes—no mascara though. My eyes are too sensitive for anything close to my eyes. I can’t even wear contacts.
I wash my face at night instead of the morning—I don’t want to dry my skin out, but I also don’t want to break out! I take makeup off with Lancôme Eau Fraîche Douceur. It is really good—that’s one thing that doesn’t irritate my eyes at all. And then I use the Malin and Goetz Grapefruit Cleanser. I like how it smells, but I think it can be a little bit drying. But also I feel like, living in the city, there’s always a perpetual layer of gunk on your face. Sometimes I mix in Bliss Micro Magic to exfoliate.
If I feel like I’m getting red or breaking out, I use the Elemis SOS Emergency Cream. It’s basically like an herbal cream that calms your stuff down with amino acids… It’s a little sticky, but you just put it where you feel like you’re about to break out or you just feel like there’s redness or irritation. Because I’ve been traveling for my book tour, I think Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Face Gels are the best thing. I’m on all these airplanes and it’s super, super drying. You just put them on for 10 minutes and it hydrates everything. It’s apparently supposed to be good for wrinkles, too, but I don’t know about that. I find that to be generally a load of hooey. That said, I do have Lancôme Génifique Yeux Youth Activating Eye Cream. Even if it doesn’t actually have any youth-activation elements in it, I do believe that it’s better than nothing. And it’s not that expensive considering how long it lasts me. Mario Badescu Moisture Magnet with SPF 15 is my main moisturizer though. It feels light, like your skin’s going back to whatever, a place where it wanted to go. Like, it’s like a little GPS for your skin.
There are some things that I’m opinionated about, like hand creams. Hand cream, when it comes to beauty, feels like shoe-shopping. Because hand cream is so boring, but you can be good at it without a specific set of knowledge. Similarly, style-wise, anybody can buy decent shoes. My favorite is from Amsterdam, by a company called Marie Stella Maris. The Hand Cream has a light rose, and to be really superficial, I really like the packaging. And then my other one is Le Labo Bergamote 22 Body Lotion—I use that one instead of perfume.
Hair! Hair is a fucking thing. My hair is my struggle. It’s uneven craziness. It’s waves. It’s layers of frizz. I did the Brazilian [Keratin] once or twice, but it’s really bad for you, so now I just try to blow it out myself. I use the Fekkai Shampoo, but I’m looking for something new—less thick and perfumey. Occasionally, I’ll go to Drybar to deal with it. But if I blow it dry myself, I use the Parlux 3200 Compact Hairdryer with Number 4 Lumiere d’hiver Super Comb Prep and Protect and Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Daily Leave-In Tonic. And I like the Drybar Sparkling Soda for shine, plus dry shampoo from Klorane. I know how to make it last for like a week, for sure. It’s expensive otherwise!
Sugar Body Scrub from C.O. Bigelow is really great for the whole body. And I use Kiehl’s Crème de Corps. It’s incredibly moisturizing, and it sinks in. This is going to sound a little bit weird, but I tend to be late for everything, so I run out of the shower and put lotion on my legs and I need it to absorb quickly because I want to put jeans on immediately. It goes in quick—or maybe I just have super dry legs and they’re dying of thirst.
For the rest of me, I do acupuncture with Frank Lipman—I actually used to babysit for his kids, so that was very lucky. I sit like a crazy person with bad posture and don’t do yoga, so he’s been really wonderful. He also has a chiropractor at his office who I’ve seen as well. Occasionally I’ll go to the Russian Baths in the East Village. It’s very intense, but it’s a whole almost like a cultural experience. I don’t necessarily seek out a specific beauty routines like that, but I like saunas—I’m really into being steamed like a piece of broccoli."
—as told to ITG
Sloane Crosley photographed at her home in New York on December 19, 2015.