“My philosophy in life and in beauty is the saying, ‘An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.’ I don’t like to have to correct later, so I try to take care of myself beforehand. I have three kids and I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the last eleven-and-a-half years—actually in the house I grew up in. I’m always plugged in because I work on the internet. Plus I do a lot of management because I have 25 employees now, so it’s a lot of talking to people. It’s fun, but I definitely need to relax from it. I come home to Brooklyn, cook dinner, and eat it with my kids and husband. I really like to cook, so that’s how we hang out. Then I read books to them and help them with their homework. On my own, I read the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and this magazine called Gather Journal, which is a really beautiful whole foods magazine. I read a lot of interior design magazines and about design in general. I still feel really committed to digital, though. Digital media changes really frequently and I think it’s become more sophisticated. The expectations for quality are greater and people want their stuff online to be as good as everything else. Which is fun for me.
I’m really into skincare, especially since I just turned 40 and aging skin is a whole different beast than my skin when I was 30. I was telling my daughter the other day that I haven’t skipped a single day of washing my face and brushing and flossing my teeth since I was 17. But your skin changes—around my third kid I got really bad rosacea. Since then it’s just been all about preventing inflammation with reliable products. I love Skinceuticals and La Mer specifically. I’ve been using Crème de La Mer on and off since I was in my 20s. Even when I was broke I would buy it.
When I wake up, the first thing I do is use Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser and then I let my skin rest for five minutes while I make coffee or tea. It’s very gentle and moisturizing so it doesn’t leave my skin dry. At the end of the day I use the Eve Lom Intensive Cleanser, which I do in the shower with the wonderful cloth she gives you. Then I’ll use the Skinceuticals CE and pat it in very gently with my fingertips. I think that one smells like a palm that’s been holding a penny—a little coppery. It’s kind of a gross smell that I’ve come to love. It’s the only product where, when I stop using it, I see a noticeable difference. Your skin texture and luminosity actually changes. Then I use a Trish McAvoy Beauty Booster Serum that has hyaluronic acid in it and Amarte Eyeconic Eye Cream every night. Then I’ll sometimes do an Olaplex and SK-II night where I lather up, do a mask on my face and hair, and chill. I don’t know what’s in the SK-II masks but when you take it off after an hour, you look noticeably better.
Once a month I’ll use Biologique Recherche—it’s very harsh, but it does help. It’s very effective in re-texturizing, so I’ll use it if I feel like I’m breaking out. Or I’ll get a glycolic peel at my dermatologist, Pat Wexler. I haven’t yet breached the fillers and all that yet. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I feel like I need to commit to that level of maintenance, but I have no problem with people who do that. You should do whatever makes you feel good.
The feeling of sunblock bugs me, though I do have some sunblocks I like enough to use regularly. The Skinceuticals Physical Defense one and the La Roche-Posay sunscreens are really good. I’ve had a lot of skin cancer, actually, and a lot of sun damage over the years, because my parents never put sunblock on me as a child. So, I’m very worried about it now. I get skin cancer checks about every six months. When I’m at the beach, I’ll use anything over SPF 30 and reapply a million times. I like to look like a crazy person at the beach with white everywhere.
I barely do anything on a daily basis. After I moisturize, I’ll do very, very light amount of foundation. Just three dots of Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer with a really big brush to take away the redness. It gives you a lot of coverage, so you only need the tiniest bit and it really evens out the blotchiness I get on my nose and my T-zone usually. Then I fill in my eyebrows with the Troy Surratt eyebrow pencil. It’s very dense so you have a lot of control over the color. Christine Han used to be our beauty editor and she gave me the La Prairie Cellular Radiance Cream Blush in Plum Glow two years ago and I still use just the tiniest amount of it. The older I get, the more I want things to be moist and dewy, so it’s good for that. I’m also obsessed with Pat McGrath’s Skin Fetish 003 highlighter stick. It’s so pretty, and it’s two-sided...you first do the balm, and it keeps the powder on. I also have the Nars Hot Sand Multiple Stick which is pretty good day-to-day, and I also like the RMS one.
For my eyes, I’ll curl my eyelashes with Troy Surratt’s eyelash curler. I don’t wear mascara every day, but I like They’re real! by Benefit. On my lips, I love the Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo Lipshine because it’s super moist. It’s really sheer though, so I also like the Tom Ford Patent Finish Lip Colors. I like a pink, purple and bluish red—I don’t go for orange-y.
If I’m going out, I’ll definitely do my own makeup, though I don’t know if I do a good job [Laughs]. I’ve been experimenting a lot with the blue and green eyeliner trend, and that’s fun. I’m using the L’Oréal Color Riche Eyeliner in Cobalt and Givenchy Magic Kohl in Bronze. My kids hate it—I think it throws them off. Anybody can pull things off if they want to, but I think makeup is one of those things that makes people feel like themselves or not, so what you do to your face is very personal and people often feel afraid to mix it up. And it’s expensive, so it’s like, are you sure you want to commit $40 to the blue eyeliner trend? I always really enjoy when I see a woman take a beauty risk with hair or makeup. For me it’s fun to be that person.
I’ve stopped using shampoo and started using only Christophe Robin's Cleansing Mask with Lemon. I do have Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo for special occasions though. I first got it at Domino, where the beauty editor got me hooked. Every year or so I’ll buy one and slowly get through it. It smells really good and then you don’t have to do anything to your hair after you use it, you just kind of shake it and you look French immediately. But I stopped using regular shampoo like that when I started dyeing my hair because it just strips the color off. I’m naturally going gray, and I’d like to think I’d like gray hair, but I really struggle with it, and always end up dyeing it. I go to Lucille at Sally Hershberger for the color, whom I adore. I’ve been to many salons in New York City and she’s the best. Then James at the same salon cuts it. I’ve been going to him for over 13 years. We have a real relationship.
BODY & FRAGRANCE
I use the CeraVe Healing Ointment and Kiehl’s Crème de Corps, which are both completely unscented. I do not use them every day because I’m busy and too lazy, but once a week at least.
My all-time favorite fragrance is Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan. I keep a different Sultan in my purse by Loup Charmant. I like an amber scent. And the Byredo Encens Chembur, it smells like a Catholic church, and it’s the only bottle of perfume I’ve finished all the way. I tend to keep Byredo in my office because they’re refreshing, but I always come back to the Serge."
—as told to ITG
Stella Bugbee photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Brooklyn on May 10, 2016.
Meet the editors: Vogue's Sally Singer is trying to become an exercise person, Self Service's Claire Thomson-Jonville learns a thing or two from makeup tutorials, and 25 Magazine's Sarah Chavez explains what "dolphin skin" is in The Top Shelf.