Catherine Shi, Biopharmaceutical Process Engineer


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"Hi! My name is Catherine Shi (@strawbeemochi). I'm an engineer at Genentech in the Pharma Technical Development department—the short answer about what I do is that I develop the formulations of experimental therapeutics for early stage clinical trials. I live in San Francisco, which is an incredible city for food and dining, but when I'm not working, I'm usually cooking at home with my boyfriend. Unwind time is very important—I also have moderate anxiety, so I try to run in the mornings and do a vinyasa yoga class two times a week after work. I meditate, too. I recently got the Caeden Sona, which is a wearable bracelet that tracks heart rate variability as a proxy for stress. It comes with a meditation tool in the app called Resonance with a really nice visual breathing pacer. The Breathe app has my favorite guided meditations, though. I'm trying to be better about meditating, but those help.

I'll also do masks when I want to unwind—I love the experience of beauty. But weirdly enough, stress actually introduced me to lipstick. I have really dry lips, and when I'm stressed, I pick at them. It's a really bad habit, and I decided to break it in college by going to Nordstrom and getting my first lipstick, which was MAC and made my lips even worse. Then I went online and started reading beauty blogs. It was the early days when everybody was on Blogger. And what I found, instead of a direct solution, was this beautiful, amazing community that I get to be a part of. I’ve formed so many great relationships and friendships because of beauty—sharing that is important to me.

For skincare, I’m using Tatcha and love all of their products, but the La Mer Treatment Lotion is an old standby. I think the ad copy says it energizes the skin and helps it accept other products better. I don’t know what that’s supposed to actually mean, but I know that my skin is so much less bright, less clear, and less bouncy when I don't use it. I can switch out everything else depending on what's going on, but I always, always use the Treatment Lotion. The Tatcha Indigo Soothing Treatment is also one of my favorites—I actually just stocked up. It's supposed to be a multi-purpose soothing balm but I use it as a night cream and no matter what is going on with my skin, it always calms it down. Whenever my skin is feeling really sad or I have something I want to look really amazing for, I book a Tatcha facial at Barney's in SF. Elena and Stacey are amazing and they use pretty much exactly the same products that I use at home. But the two face massages—before the mask with the Tatcha Cleansing Oil and during the mask with a refrigerated Akari crystal face massager—just really ups the experience to the next level.

My favorite base product is 3Lab's BB Cushion Compact SPF 40. It might actually be the most expensive BB cushion you can buy, but it absolutely just looks like skin and doesn't have chemical sunscreens. It is the only base product I've ever slept in that didn't break me out, and I swear my skin looks better when I've been using it consistently than when I don't. I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to the skincare benefits of cosmetics items because you're using so little, but this stuff seriously works. For lips, I stick to Burberry, Laura Mercier, and Le Metier de Beaute. Burberry has the best formulas for dry lips, and Military Red and Oxblood are my favorite colors. I'm more technology-driven than trend-driven, and I love the Burberry Kiss gel formula. I thought that was pretty revolutionary.

I always curl my lashes before I put on mascara. I use the the Koji Curving Lash Curler—I love it so much that I have two. I've worn the same mascara for eight years and I’m totally devoted to it, Kiss Me Heroine's Long and Curl Mascara. It’s a Japanese fiber mascara with a curved wand that gives me the super fluttery look I want, and it stays. Le Metier de Beaute makes the most gorgeous eyeshadows, too. They're quadruple-milled and you can really feel the difference. Their Kaleidoscopes are a thing of beauty.

I love color and sparkle on my nails. The combination of Sally Hansen’s Miracle Cure for Nails as a base coat and Seche Vite as a top coat works the best for me, but I recently got a Formula X kit like it too. The Formula X Delete All Tub is the best because it has five finger holes! I realize it's basically a large acetone sponge, but being able to soak all five fingers at once is so worth it. The best nail polishes are Chanel for the colors—Peridot [ed note: discontinued] is my all time favorite, but I am also a huge fan of Quartz and Trapeze. Burberry makes the most beautiful, slightly turquoise jelly-navy, a kind of interesting neutral. I also love Essie Turquoise and Caicos, as well as their flaky glitters. I think having glittery nails is the single easiest destressing tool in the world. On my toenails, I'm much lower-maintenance. I work in a lab, so I'm wearing closed-toe shoes 98% of the time. Even so, I love a good pedicure."

—as told to ITG