"I wasn’t sure I wanted to say this, but I actually interned at Into The Gloss back in 2013—and I was the worst intern that anyone has ever had at any publication in New York City. It was my first internship while I was at NYU, and I didn’t know anything yet… One time I went off and took a really long lunch and came back to my manager saying, ‘You can’t do that, like ever again.’ Which I think is really funny and just goes to show that you can be the worst intern but still get the job. The statute of limitations had passed on me not being a good intern apparently. [Laughs]
Before ITG, I didn’t read any beauty content. The goal was to work as a fashion writer somewhere. The beauty world was very far from me, but my mom was always into beauty—she worked at the Nordstrom Bobbi Brown counter in Cleveland, where I'm from. She would always say, ‘You need to wash your face. You need to have clear skin.’ Then as I got to college, I had this transition where I wanted to wear beautiful clothes less and I wanted beautiful skin more. And I think it’s interesting that men are getting into the beauty game—David Yi is a great example. But I think I’m much more high-maintenance than any guy I know. There are a lot of men who will take an interest in skincare but won't touch makeup with a 10-foot pole. I wear makeup daily and am very in the trenches with it—I try everything. Which, I think is important whether you're male or female. Because we're all kind of fumbling through this together, right?
My skincare routine starts at night, actually—that’s when I like to shower. First, I wash my face with the Root Science Facial Cleanser, which is a bar cleanser. I like to get my hands all sudsy and then rub it onto my face. Then I tone with the Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Astringent Lotion…that product is very polarizing. People love to hate it. But Kiehl's has really changed the quality of my skin. After that, I use Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum. Man, I don’t know why I like it—someone gave me a bottle when I didn’t really use face oils yet, but one night I was like, ‘Whatever. We'll see what happens.’ I woke up, and my skin looked so good. All I know is that it’s got these hyperactive ingredients and it occupies this space between a serum and a face oil. Whatever it is, it just sinks in. Now when I go to bed, I want something filmy on my face. I like to feel slick.
One of my more controversial opinions is that I think that eye cream is the biggest scam of our time. Under-eye hydration is very important—but you can do it with your normal moisturizer. This Nature's Republic Aloe Vera Soothing Gel is 13 bucks so I often use that as an under-eye cream. I really like to use aloe gels because they’re basic and you can do anything with them. Like if I want to make a mask, I could mix the Pai Rosehip Oil in and make it happen. Also, I like aloe because my grandmother only uses aloe cream from GNC and her skin is bananas good. Sometimes I’ll just use the Jao Face Crème Anti-Aging Serious Moisture Repair, I saw this backstage at fashion week. It says three powerful anti-aging compounds, and I don’t know what they are, but it’s really nice and supremely hydrating.
If I ever want to do a mask that’s more like a spa experience, I do the Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Mask because it’s very, very hydrating and it smells divine. If the texture of my skin is weird, I use it because it has retinol in it. And I just got this Yurga Skincare Pumpkin Clay Mask. I didn’t think I would like something that smells like a Starbucks beverage, but it’s such a good mask. I would use it every morning if I had the discipline. The Sisley Express Gel Mask I save for the plane.
I don’t wash my face in the morning anymore. My dad is Irish, so I have a lot of red pigment in my skin. When I wake up, my skin looks great, but if I go to touch it, it immediately goes red and I have to put makeup on to cover it up. When I stopped washing my face, that solved the problem. Now I just put on Biologique Recherche's Amniotique E. Serum immediately. It’s just a hydrating serum but it smells like a public restroom, so I’ll use Image Skincare Daily Moisturiser SPF 50 after because that smells like a piña colada. And I’m never not moisturizing my lips—I have the Glossier balms all over, and this Nivea Kiss of Olive Oil and Lemon that I got at Shoprite in Cape Cod.
I use a Harry’s Razor on my neck and a Conair Trimmer on my beard. I do like this Harry’s After Shave—it's the best thing for razor burn. It smells very manly... It’s probably one of the manliest things I use. Sometimes I’ll put the Glossier Moisturising Moon Mask on my neck too.
I’m obsessed with Kiehl’s Musk! You know, I know, we all know. So when I wash my body I put the Kiehl's Musk Shower Gel on a Salux cloth to wash and exfoliate my body. I also use the scent later in my routine—it’s just so, so good. The other thing that I really like is this Sans Ceuticals Activator 7 Body Face and Hair Oil for when I'm not feeling the musk. It’s a vitamin A multi-purpose oil and it doesn’t really smell like anything. I can use it from head to toe because it works on hair and skin. Sometimes over the summer, I'd just put that all over and walk out the door.
Now, I don’t do anything—but I used to back when I had hair. It was very curly and in order to tame it, I had to shower every morning, put in a blow dry product, blow dry it until it was the perfect amount of coiffed, and spray to make sure it held. But last April I said, ‘I’m gonna shave my head,’ and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Now my hair care is focused on the scalp. In the shower, I use the Shu Uemura Clarifying Cleansing Oil on my hair and beard, and once or twice a week I’ll use the Sachajuan Scalp Treatment. I put that in at the beginning of my shower, wash my body, and after 10 minutes I’ll rinse it out. It's ultra-clarifying because it has salicylic acid in it.
Like I said, Kiehl’s Musk is the bomb. It’s one of those scents that smells really strong when you put it on, but then it changes with your body chemistry. I’m never not getting compliments when I wear it. I also like vetiver scents if I’m vibing on something that’s a bit more dressed up. Chanel Sycomore gets a lot of use lately because it's pretty clean and simple. Then Etat Libre d'Orange Fat Electrician is a bit more of an interesting vetiver. I used to wear Bal D’Afrique but it reminds me of when I turned 21, because I think I was wearing it then. My sentimental favorite is Bobbi Brown Beach. My mom gave it to me, so it reminds me of her.
During the day, I wear either Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in Light or Perricone No Foundation Foundation in Light to Medium depending on how my skin looks. I’ll blend either of those out with the Beautyblender. I like to use the pointy end because it can get into my facial hair so the makeup doesn’t make a border around it. Then what I normally do is use Nars Soft Velvet Loose Powder in Desert with this Elf Powder Brush. For definition I’ll put La Mer’s The Bronzing Powder high up on my cheeks and under my eyes. On my brows I use clear Make Sculpting Lash and Brow Gel.
If I’m going out at night I amp it the fuck up! I'll use Glossier Priming Moisturizer as a base and then I use the Image Skincare I-Prime Flawless Blur Gel, which is high silicone—it’s not playing around. I follow that up with Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick in Rosewood because I want my skin to look flawless. It has the same buttery consistency as the Clé de Peau Concealer, which makes sense considering how expensive it is. If I need concealer, I’ll mix Glossier Skin Tint with the Tom Ford Illuminating Pen in Naked Bisque. Because my skin will be one color by the end of that, I’ll put on Glossier Generation G in Cake as a blush. I think it’s interesting when it’s placed up higher on the cheeks, closer to the temples. And I put Haloscope in Quartz on only at night. I don’t like to highlight during the day, but when I’m going out, I think it’s really cool to look dewy when you’re dancing in the dark. That’s the look!"
—as told to ITG
Brennan Kilbane photographed by Tom Newton at his home in Brooklyn on October 14, 2016.