“It was kind of a funny, serendipitous start. I by no means was trying to find myself a beauty position—I just knew I wanted to be a writer in the magazine world. I was going to do whatever I needed to do to get my foot in the door. So I hightailed it to New York after growing up in Baltimore, and forced myself to get an internship every semester while studying at NYU. After graduation, I landed a job at Elle Girl, exclamation point. [Laughs] I started out as a booking assistant—which was rad, in hindsight, because it gave me insight into a lot of my future work as far as booking shoots, and knowing what to look for. But I realized pretty swiftly that booking was not for me. When the magazine folded, I had been there for exactly one year. That's when I started looking for new editorial positions where I could maybe do some writing—I mean, mostly filing, but maybe some writing later. I put my resume out there and heard nothing. And then Condé Nast called, they were like, ‘OK…You can interview to be the Beauty Assistant at Vogue, or you can interview to be Anna Wintour’s assistant.’ I was like, ‘Um, I choose beauty.’ Said the girl who never cared about beauty, until that point. If I wanted to write, that felt like the move. So, I went in and interviewed with Sarah Brown, and I like to think that we jived. She is truly a great teacher, and she really takes the time to give a person insight into things you don’t learn in journalism school. I think about what she taught me all the time.
So, I was with Sarah at Vogue for four years, toiling away in the beauty closet—the most luxurious, best beauty closet ever. People who are obsessed with organization are key to a beauty closet. After Vogue, I went to W with Jane Larkworthy where I was basically the W guinea pig. One time, I buzzed my hair for a story. Jenny Shimizu was more or less my inspo for that, and Garren cut it. He just went for it. Like, took a clipper—I think he got down to a two, maybe a one. Best haircut ever. One day I’ll go back to it. With a haircut like that you just feel cool, even if you aren’t—there are a lot of days where I didn’t feel cool but I knew I looked cool.
Then I got asked to see what I could do at The Cut. That was right when they were relaunching, when it was going from a blog to an actual website. While I was there, and I got a mysterious email one day from a person named Tiffany Bensley who suggested that I meet with a woman named Cassandra Grey at The Carlyle Hotel. So I was like, ‘What is this? Is this an interview, and am I being interviewed, or am I interviewing?’ We went, had a meeting…then had a couple of meetings more. They were telling me about this thing called Violet Grey and that I should move to LA, and I was like, ‘Hmmm...’ But, I told my husband about it—he’s from Michigan, went to school in Providence, and then went to business school in Chicago... We were in New York then and he was basically frozen. He was like, ‘Can we please move to LA?’ At Violet Grey, I had the opportunity to curate products that I truly believed in, and then to tell the story behind them so people would love them as much as I did. It was the realm of fusing content and commerce and marketing in a really fun, savvy way. Working there for four years inspired me to want to go out and do that on my own. I left last April, went on an epic trip to Korea with my mom for about a month, and then took some time to just rest the brain and see what I really wanted to do. I decided late last summer to start this thing called Type Navy with my business partner Tiffany Bensley, who is also formerly Violet Grey. At Type Navy, we specialize in digital content marketing and branding and rebranding for businesses that need it. That’s the more traditional side of our consultancy, but the new fun thing is that we also consult for private equity funds who are looking to invest in beauty brands, and who need a beauty expert to help them do their due diligence. That’s been exciting.
My morning routine is pretty basic. I am a creature of habit—I like to buy things in multiples because that’s all I use. I spent too many years trying tons of products for so long, that I think I kind of got to a place where I know what I like and I know what works really well for my skin, and I’m sticking to it.
I wake up and I make a giant pot of coffee. I wipe my eyes down with a warm towel if I have leftover mascara on, and just to feel like I’m awake. I don’t even brush my teeth or anything yet, I just go straight to the coffee to get that going. Then I mosey on back to my bathroom. I’m also basically blind, so everything has to stay exactly where it is. Everything’s white, so without my contacts in, I can’t tell the difference. I always wash my face first, with the Dr. Barbara Sturm Cleanser. I use the foaming one—it’s super light and gentle. There was a time where I wasn’t even washing my face in the morning, because I feel like my skin doesn’t need it. But I do like the feeling of it. Right after cleansing, I spray this Hydrophy mist. It’s from Korea, and I discovered it on my trip. It is the finest mist I have ever felt out of a can. You can’t get it here, but my mom goes back every fall so she got me three more. It’s made with some tree bark I think, but it balances my skin. I always pat everything in—if I’m doing a face mist, I don’t want it to just evaporate into the air, so I smack it all in. And then sometimes I’ll do rose water—this is pure rose water from Iran bottled by Stories + Objects. I don’t use it all the time, but it smells great. I tap it on in the morning if I feel like I need extra hydration or if I feel breaky-outy. Sometimes I just only put it on my forehead, I don’t do my whole face. And then, of course, the corresponding rose oil which is pretty decadent and amazing. If I don’t use the rose water, I usually do my spray and then Joanna Vargas’ Daily Serum. I’ve been using this guy ever since she developed it—I think I helped her test it out. It’s the only thing that I think truly makes my skin look glow-y from the inside out. You know, when you have that sort of facial fresh glow? That’s it. Every time I recommend this to someone, they always fall in love with it.
If I’m traveling and want to exfoliate, Suisai Beauty Clear Powder Pods are great. I pick those up in Tokyo—they’re like a cleansing powder, very similar to the Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder, or the Sturm powder. I usually take these to go when I travel somewhere warm, because I like to use them if I’ve been using a lot of sunscreen or sweating. I like Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Face Mask, which is actually a gommage. It’ll slough stuff off but still leave your skin feeling smooth. When I feel really grimy, I use the Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask. I probably do the Joanna Vargas one twice a week, and that’s pretty much as treatment-y as I get. I also did a face mask this morning, but only because I didn’t sleep last night. I used the African Botanics Marula Intense Skin Repair Balm, which is also what I do after long-haul flights. It’s the kind of thing where you have to really work it in, but it emulsifies if you warm it in your fingers. I think marula is the most healing oil, and I just like the scent of it—it’s wholesome and nutty. I also love May Lindstrom. She has an incredible balm as well, the Blue Cocoon. It just depends on what kind of scent vibe I’m in.
This is the blemish corner, during those special times of the month. If I see a blemish coming, I’ll dot the Indie Lee Blemish Lotion on it. If it gets to the point where it gets really gnarly, I’ll pop it. I know you’re not supposed to but I do it to all of mine. Then I put these acne patches that I got in Korea on it. I got so many of these, they really work. It sucks out the sebum overnight. This is really good, it’s the Cure Natural Aqua Gel and it’s one of those Japanese skincare secret type of things. It soughs off your dry skin. Also, I have endometriosis and the only method to slightly ease the excruciating pain is with marijuana and CBD and a hot water bottle.
My nighttime routine starts with the Sturm cleanser again, and then I pump the Recherche Beauté Aura Absolue Active Elixir Tonic on a cotton pad. That brand is focused on colloidal metals, so there’s silver, gold, and I think pearl, and a light-stable vitamin C. The main base of it is a neroli water, so it smells amazing. I wipe that off, and it kind of gets everything that I might have missed with a cleanser. And then every other day, I use the Active Elixir Serum. It snaps your pores together overnight. When I was using that pretty regularly, I don’t think I’d had a breakout in three or four months. Then I ran out, so I broke out.
I’m not really a fragrance person, but I really like having them for when I fly or go places when I might not like other people’s scents. It’s really the only reason I have them. Unless it’s something like my wedding, where I want a scent to remember the day by. I tend to skew towards the jasmine, floral type, or a tuberose moment. But I love Le Labo’s Ambrette 9. It smells like clean laundry—they used to have a baby fragrance also called Ambrette 9, and it was a milky white color, and you had to shake it. That was probably my favorite, but they stopped making it. It was for your baby! So really gentle.
I’m not a makeup person. A lot of my makeup I hold onto for posterity more than that I use it. Like, I have two tubes of the lip color I wore to my wedding, but I haven’t even worn it since then. It was Hourglass Matte Liquid Lipstick, and it had just come out. Under my sink is just the stuff that I stockpile, like the French lip balm that I can’t live without. It’s Homeostick, from the Homeoplasmine people. It’s the best lip balm that I discovered in Paris. My pouch is one my friend and makeup artist Jenn Streicher designed, and where I keep my go-to makeup (when I wear makeup). The La Prairie Cream Blush is one of my obsessions—I wrote about this at The Cut all the time. During the summer, I like the Peach Glow, and during the fall I like the cooler tones, so I’ll do Plum Glow or Berry Glow. If I’m going out to dinner or I haven’t slept, I use tinted moisturizer from Addiction, which is a Japanese makeup line, in 009 Rose Beige. Then I do the Soleil de Tan from Chanel—I use a big brush and apply it the way Dick Paige always does at the Michael Kors shows, which is just right where the sun hits. It’s pretty light, just to warm up my skin. This other cream blush is from Jung Saem Mool, who is a Korean makeup artist. It’s a super, super sheer cream that I use with the Makeup Drop. Then I use Serge Lutens mascara—today I’m wearing the main one, but every day I use the Cils Cellophane, which is a pain to get off. It’s the one with tiny little particles in it, so it thickens your lashes with a clear solution and adds a bit of gloss. If you buy that, you must get the Erno Laszlo Eye Makeup Remover. If you don't use them together, the mascara will not budge. And my heated eyelash curler is from Muji.
The best highlighter is from 3CE—it’s called Back to Baby Glow Beam in Pink. If I’m having a no-makeup makeup day, it’s just the Glow Beam and the Cils Cellophane, and then the Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint in Dew, which is the clear eye gloss that she and I worked on together when I was at Violet Grey. I never do an eye makeup look, but I’ll do a little bit of the Charlotte Tilbury brown eyeliner, or whatever brown eyeliner I have, and put it along the lash line, and then eye gloss on top. And then brows—the Dior Chalk is my favorite, which was a limited edition run and they didn’t redo it. Kristie Streicher has been doing my brows for forever, ever since I was an assistant at Vogue.
I’m a wash-and-go girl. Ashley Streicher cuts my hair, and she knows that, so she cuts it in a way that I can wash it and then just air dry. I strictly use Christophe Robin products, and then this Davines Natural Tech Calming Shampoo because I also have a dry scalp—your face skin is the same as your scalp skin. I use that as a treatment, maybe a couple of times a month. It smells like farts, but it really helps!
For styling, the only thing I do use is Camellia Oil from Sulwhasoo. It’s so pretty, and it smells amazing. I’ll put it in my hair when it’s wet, or a tiny tiny bit when it’s dry, because a little goes a long way. I don’t really brush my hair, but I do love the Instyler Hot Brush. It changes your life when you don’t want to wash your hair every day, but you also don’t want a major cowlick in the back. Otherwise, my brush scene is this Japanese brush that I got from a hotel in Tokyo—I stole it because it’s so cute, and since I don’t brush my hair a lot I don’t really want a big, clunky thing. I use the Yves Durif brush on my dog, Santa. That’s a little bit of Violet Grey in me. This, though, is The Cut in me—it’s my dirty little secret, a Bioré Pore Strip. I don’t use them more than once a month, but it’s a guilty pleasure. I just like seeing the goop on the strip. There’s nothing more satisfying.”
—as told to ITG
Christina Han photographed by Tom Newton in her home in Los Angeles on March 13, 2018.