"My mom was always interested in ceramics, and she'd give me all these ceramics books—like, books for kids that romanticized pottery. You know Nancy Drew? It was as if Nancy Drew was only looking for an Asian export collection. [Laughs] There was this book called A Cup of Light about a woman who goes to China and finds this incredible collection, along with love. My mom pushed that on me. I ended up interning at Sotheby's in Dallas and I was there for 10 months or something. One of the ceramics specialists from New York came and I was like, 'Oh, this is funny, my mom is making me read this terrible book...' and she said 'I love that book.' And I was like, 'So do I!' [Laughs] She said if I ever wanted to come to New York to work in her department, they would love to have me.
After Sotheby's I worked for Phillips Auction House, in the contemporary art department. But I basically used the job there to be able to create this magazine I had been wanting to create called MAKER—may it rest in peace. I worked on MAKER for almost two years and nobody at the company knew I was doing it. It was like a secret operation on nights and weekends. Last year I lived in Berlin, where I was working on a project with Freunde von Freunden and recently moved back to Brooklyn. Now, my full job is culture and programming for a design and architecture space in Greenpoint. It’s called A/D/O and it’s kind of like an incubator. In a long time I haven't felt challenged—I thought I knew all the art world players, and I thought I knew about design. I felt like I had good taste, but once I started this job, I realized I had no taste at all. [Laughs]
When I was a kid, my mom used a lot of Clinique. We would go to the counter at the local department store to shop, and I remember thinking the design was so nice. It was so beautiful, and the graphic design and the packaging was really interesting. It looked like it was only for grown-ups. But sometimes my mom would buy me a cream or some astringent Neutrogena situation—they were always aspirational to me.
Now I use Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel to wash my face. It’s so creamy, you know that you aren’t scrubbing—it feels more like a lotion and it washes off nicely. Sometimes though, when I come home from work, I’ll wash my face with water and I’ll take witch hazel on a pad and use that as a cleanse from the day’s trash. Water is good when my skin feels oily. I think it’s nice to use something that’s really gentle—you don’t want to scrape everything off! But if my skin is dull, I use La Roche-Posay Effaclar Gel and a firm washcloth. It feels like a Zamboni for my face. My sunscreen is La Roche-Posay Anthelios and sometimes I forget to put it on and I walk to work and freak out that I’m getting sun damage. I’ll actually go back home and put it on. I am terrified of the sun.
During the day, I'll use a light moisturizer—just a dollop of Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, and then I'll use the Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. I've been into this line called Farmacy, too—they have a night oil that I put on before bed. I really like the Farmacy Sleep Tight Night Cream too because it melts on warm skin and you don't have to do a lot of work. They make great sheet masks too, I think it's because of the shape. Every woman should use sheet masks! They feel nice and luxurious, and you look monstrous. It's a balance.
I only wear makeup on my eyes. I use an Almay Liquid Eyeliner that is actually the cheapest thing on the market, from Duane Reade. It’s kind of like an Inkwell, and I just line the top of my eye, never the bottom. My mascara is YSL Effet Faux Cils because you don’t need to double-dip. Whatever is on the brush is gonna be the right amount. I worry about germs sometimes, so the less I have to dip, the better.
On my face, I’ll use the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm if I’m feeling exhausted and shitty. In my mind it does everything it says it does and I just feel better. It tightens, brightens, and I don’t need to put makeup on after. Otherwise, YSL Les Sahariennes is pretty. I don’t use it in the afternoons during the summer—but if I’m going out on a date or have an early morning meeting I'll put it everywhere. I use it all over my face in the winter. And then I wear Nars Liberté on the apples of my cheeks.
The YSL Rouge Pur Couture packaging is amazing. I wear Aubin, which I bought for the first time in Milan. I have a lot of trouble with lipstick ‘cause it sometimes just looks like too much. This is almost nude but not quite. Sometimes, though, I’ll use a concealer from bareMinerals and I’ll mix it with a lip balm and I put it on my lips and it makes it into a nude. In photos so I don’t look like a dead person, I just do a dab. I'm very wary of looking like a doll. There’s nothing worse than sleeping with fake eyelashes, threaded brows, the whole thing and then waking up looking like a monster racoon. It really fucks you up for the day—and you feel insecure ‘cause you think, ‘That’s not my real face.’ I think the closer to me I can keep to my real face for day and night, the better. I like waking up and being able to recognize myself.
[Styling] my hair always depends on how much time I have, but I probably do less than I think I do. I use an olive oil spray probably once every day to help keep it flat-ish and tame, 'cause if there's moisture in the air, it goes crazy. I’m usually dry in the back, so sometimes I’ll wake up and the front of my hair will be tamed and the back will be wild. The oil spray is great for getting back there.
My curl pattern is medium, loose. I wash my hair with Klorane Oat Milk Shampoo, I let it air dry, and I put it into a bun for the day so the curl flattens. The day after that, I'll BaByliss Flat Iron it and brush it with a Mason Pearson to get the tangles out, but I use a small tooth comb on the tips—the whole thing takes maybe 40 minutes. I feel like my biceps have improved since doing it [laughs] but my hair reacts really well. When I work out, I just put a little bit of coconut oil in. My conditioner is either Tea Tree Giovanni from Whole Foods, or I use a Malin and Goetz one. It's good to switch it up. Especially because I put so much oil in my hair, it can get a little gross.
I don't trust people to cut my hair, so I do it myself. It's so curly that who the hell can tell? I put it in braids and just trim the ends—I use three different pairs of scissors to make sure I get it as clean as possible. I’m not precious about it, because one day it’ll get thin. Right now, it’s OK.
Malin and Goetz Deodorant is the bomb dot com! It's a clean scent, I've been using it a long time, and to me, it feels like it works. As far as perfume, though, I wear Maison Louis Marie Bois de Balincourt every day—the label is rubbed off and my bottle's almost done. It's kind of like a Meyers cleaning product mixed with some kind of manly tobacco smell. I like earthy scents—nothing super floral or sweet. I love Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme for men, which is clean but not too musky. Then there’s Gucci Guilty which I think is fucking hilarious. You kind of want to roll around in your sheets in it. It's maybe the most sweet thing I probably own, and it’s good for going out late.
My nails are Chanel Attraction—they're always this color, it’s kind of opalescent. I like to do just one coat so you can see the nail underneath. I don’t like doing two because then it looks like I have press-ons. I never get manicures, I just do them myself. I don’t like it when they push back your cuticles and then cut it. One, it seems unsanitary and two, you’re wielding this little knife—like, is everybody certified?
All of my nail polishes are Chanel. They're nice, but they only last two or three days before chipping... I've heard that they're trying to make the formula last longer. I use Temptation if I'm feeling a little bit more sassy. Oh, but I also have this Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Polish in Captain Howdy. This one is the secret hit! Whenever I wear it people are like, ‘What is that nail color?’ It’s a gross green, but it’s kind of chic?"
—as told to ITG
Alyse Archer-Coité photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Brooklyn on August 31, 2016.