“I started working at Into The Gloss my sophomore year of college—I’d never had an internship before, and I wasn’t necessarily looking for one. I only emailed because I really loved the site and figured I could learn something. Beauty wasn’t necessarily my thing, but I loved the interviews. The site was more about the people on it than anything else. So I shot an email out in the dark and the assistant at the time emailed right back. She was like, ‘Yeah, we’d love for you to come in. Can you send me your resume?’ And I was like, oh shit, a resume? So I pulled together this whack resume that had nothing on it, just nannying. But we clicked and I started working here a few days a week and never really stopped.
When I graduated I thought maybe I should leave, actually. Like, maybe it was time to try something totally different at another company. But so much had changed while I worked here. It started as this small little Into The Gloss team, then we started Glossier and phased out advertising on ITG…I was totally lost in terms of what my direction was. That was when Emily Weiss sat me down and said, ‘Let’s figure out what you want to do here,’ which is when we starting thinking about Community as its own thing. There are these worlds of people reading ITG or commenting on our Instagram or buying our products—we knew they were all integral to us as a company, but we didn’t quite know what to do about it. We thought, maybe we can make them their own space and devote a team to really developing those relationships. So in November 2015 I became the Community Manager to figure that all out. And I’ve been here my entire career! My dad was like, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. [Laughs]
One of the first things that we ever did was host a small gathering in our penthouse for 35 of our top customers. This is before we launched the flavored Balm Dotcoms, so we had Product Development come up, meet the girls, and test out the flavors with the group. It was so wildly successful because all of the women left saying they had made so many new friends and exchanged so many numbers. That’s why we started a Slack group for them—so that they continue to talk to each other. Now they host meet-ups, and I’ll swirl through Instagram and see them commenting on each other’s posts. They’ve really become best friends. People are so invested in a brand like ours, that when customers meet, they actually have a lot in common and have a lot of fun together. To me, that feels really special.
When I need beauty inspiration, I watch Girlfriends or look on Twitter. I just follow some really cool black girls who always look incredible, particularly their hair. For my makeup and skin, I’ve got my routine that I stick to. But right now, I’m in the midst of a hair transformation because I finally grew out my relaxer. So, this is me trying to figure out how to define my curls that I haven’t seen since I was 11 years old. My process starts at night when I co-wash it with either Briogeo Deep Conditioning Mask. Right after that, I use Kinky Curly Curling Custard, which I keep in the shower, too. Shout out to Priscilla, my curl goddess. She knows everything about curls, and she recommended it to me. Then I put in the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibuscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie and braid it up into four to six braids. Always, I’ll go to sleep with a scarfie—it’s just a scarf but I call it a scarfie. I’ll wear this around boys, I don’t give a fuck. The thing is my hair is so dense, that I can wake up and it’s still wet.
Once I take out my braids, I try not to touch it. I just let it sit. If I just keep putting my hands in it all day, or especially right out of the braids, I feel like it’ll frizz out more. Sometimes I straighten it…I just had it straight last week. I know that it’ll ruin my curl pattern if I do that too much. But you know what, I’m sorry, OK? I like it straight sometimes. So if I heat-style it, I’ll probably keep it like that for five to six days before deep conditioning it and going back to curly. Honestly, I just want my hair to look like Tracee Ellis Ross in Girlfriends circa season 2. Her hair was so incredible in it, and so that’s my life goal. I’m working on it.
About the color… Neither of my parents have red hair. Apparently my great-great-grandfather did, but who knows about that. So when I was born—I had orange hair already—my wristband fell off, and when they brought me back to my mom, she was like, ‘Uh, you brought me the wrong child.’ I used to hate it because it looked so different from everybody else’s. There was this guy in high school—he used to call me burgundy, which is really confusing because I don’t think he knows what color burgundy is. That’s sad for him, I hope he’s doing OK now.
In the mornings, I always use Milky Jelly—or micellar water on days when I just can’t. But my real saving graces are the Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion and the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. They’ve both been really clarifying and calming because my skin can get red and blotchy. After those, I always do a toner. Either the By Terry Cellularose, the Mario Badescu Rosewater with Aloe, or the Glossier Soothing Face Mist. I honestly use all three in rotation.
Then I use a light moisturizer—either regular Priming Moisturizer or Tatcha Water Gel Moisturizer—with Clarins Golden Glow Booster to make me look tan. I found the Tatcha gel through one of the Glossier community members and I really love it. And with the drops—I go a little overboard with that...you’re supposed to use two drops, but I use at least four. It makes my skin smell like yogurt, which is kind of weird, but I like the effect. Then I use Invisible Shield on top. My other things are a vitamin C serum and Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment… I just use those when I’m feeling dull or something.
Face-wise, I’ll go between Skin Tint in Medium or Dark, or the Chanel Vitalumiere in 30 Beige. I’ll also use this By Terry Cover Expert Foundation, which is lightweight. The By Terry and Chanel are when I want a little somethin’ somethin’—but I just kinda plop it on there. So I’ll do that and then I’ll use either Stretch Concealer in Medium or this Hourglass Hidden Corrective Concealer Stick in Natural. I’ve actually repurchased the Hourglass and I never repurchase things—that’s how much I love it. It’s so natural and easy to apply, and I feel like it’s the perfect level of coverage but still has a little dew.
Ugh, my eyebrows. So, I always fill in my eyebrows. I will not go anywhere without filling my eyebrows. One time there was a fire drill in my dorm, and I got up and filled in my eyebrows. I got in trouble, but I’ll be damned before I let y’all see me without my eyebrows on. [Laughs] Right now I’m using this Anastasia Brow Definer, but I prefer the Burberry Effortless Eyebrow Definer—mine ran out. And then I use Boy Brow in Blonde just to fluff them. I feel like Boy Brow brings them back to looking natural, so I always do that.
From there, it’s all about a little contour. Day to day, I use Chanel Soleil de Tan right underneath my cheekbones, on the sides of my nose, and then on the sides of my forehead. If I’m going out or trying to look sexy, I use the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow to look more defined. I put it in the same places with a flat brush, but I only use the contour color because I highlight with Haloscope. Some call me Haloscope queen. Just kidding, no one calls me that. Mostly I use Moonstone as a highlight on the half-halo and bridge of my nose, with Topaz underneath where I do my bronzer and on my cheekbones. Blush-wise, I use the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Stick in No. 20 every day. On my eyes—everyone knows this already—but I love the Sisley Phyto-Lip Twist in Nude. It has this shimmery, purple-ish tint, sort of like a natural eyelid. I will also use Milani Fierce Foil Eyeshine in Naples for a pink lid. A red eye is really me right now, so the Stila Magnificent Metals in Rose Gold Retro or Givenchy Rosy Glow Lip and Cheek Balm are my favorites for that. My mascara is Chanel Le Volume or Maybelline. Honestly, I feel like drugstore mascaras are fine, but when I go buy Chanel Le Volume it’s kind of like a treat, like a Cheat Day.
I don’t wear lip color. Well, I always wear something on my lips but people don’t know that because I never wear a lip lip. On a normal day, my goal in life is to have my lips look puffy. The best lip liner of all time is Essence Lip Liner Pencil in In The Nude. It makes your lips look fuller, and it weirdly works on all my friends of different skintones. And it’s $2. I’ll use it all over my lips or with Generation G in Cake. Then, I have two other favorites—the Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Shiny Lipstick in Leather Blazer and the Serge Lutens Water Lip Color in Chardon. They just make your lips look a bit more warm. Lowkey killer is the Dior Lip Scrub. I have full lips, they get dry. Can’t be having that.
The only time I’ll paint my nails myself is when I paint them with this Deborah Lippmann Whatever Lola Wants—it’s just a sheer, slightly pink shimmer. You can’t fuck it up and it looks really, really good. Otherwise I’ll do gels, but I don’t do them that often because I don’t want to spend the money. I did try my hand at acrylics, like three weeks ago. They looked good, but it was so not me that I couldn’t take it—I had to clip them off. I literally was in the office, leaning over the trash can, like pop, pop. Turns out, I’m not an acrylics girl. When I couldn’t get my credit card out of my wallet, I was like, I’ve had enough.”
—as told to ITG
Kim Johnson shot by Tom Newton in her home in New York on July 7, 2017.