"I’m the brand manager for Opening Ceremony, which means I play a few different roles. Around February and September I work heavily on producing and concepting our fashion shows. On a more day-to-day basis, we do a lot of events throughout the year and most of my work is managing those. I think what makes a good party is if everyone is in the mood to just have fun. That probably sounds pretty basic, but people just have to vibe and connect. I look at what Ladyfag does and I think she's probably doing the best job. When you go to one of her parties, you know that people are not going to be standing around and staring at people—you walk in knowing you’re gonna dance, walk out smelling like cigarettes, and have a great time. I don’t like walking into parties where people are a little too self-aware. I’m more interested if a brand is launching and having its first party ever—I love that kind of stuff. One-offs to me now are less repetitive, and you don’t know what to expect. In terms of bars, I’ve really come to appreciate Sel Rrose on Delancey, which is really close to my house. They have outdoor seating for summer, but I’ll just go there if I want to meet up with a friend and have a drink. I love Donna in Williamsburg, but it’s kind of out of the way for me—maybe a special spot, for dates and stuff. But the cocktails are great, and I know I’m not going to go there and end up having some crazy night. I can have two cocktails and go home.
I like to start fresh at the beginning of a night—I don’t totally wash my face, but I take Bioderma and a cotton pad and kind of wipe my whole face off. If I have beer in the fridge, I’ll have one and just play music. I love getting ready with music on, by myself. My—I hate using this word, but—holy grail product that really got me into skincare was Sunday Riley Good Genes. It was honestly crazy to me. I still have photos—I wasn’t disappointed with my skin before, but I saw such a change overnight that I was like, ‘Oh, maybe some of these products work.’ I wash my face with the Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Mask. It’s very clarifying but it’s not drying, which is hard to find. I think a lot of products with salicylic acid have a lot of drying properties, but with this you can tell your skin is clean but it’s not stripped. I use that, and I use the Kiehl’s Soothing Toner. I use a Vitamin C Serum from CosRX which is the Triple Lightning Serum. I think the combination of the two really got me into skincare. Then, my coworker who has the most amazing skin—she’s a little older than me and a mom. She uses Biologique P50 1970, and I was like, ‘OK, next step, gonna go for it.’ I switched over, and I remember being really upset because my skin was purging. For like two weeks, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to go back to Sunday Riley, this isn’t working for me.’ I even went back to Rescue Spa, and they had one of their facialists come talk to me like, ‘We promise it’s going to get better.’ I still use it every other night, and switch off with Good Genes. Now that my skin has gotten used to it, it doesn’t burn anymore. After 1970 I still do the vitamin C serum, and then just a super basic Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer to kind of seal everything.
My routines are like night and day—literally. [Laughs] During the day I don’t do anything at home. I have everything at my desk. But I have a very dedicated evening makeup routine. I’m doing a glowy foundation situation, I’m putting bronzer on, I’m putting eyeshadow on. I start with the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer. This is my secret formula for foundation: I’ll put a couple drops of Nars Hot Sand illuminator, and then two pumps of the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. I’ll mix them together and use a Beautyblender to put that on. I like foundation to look as sheer as possible, and I’m sure it takes away some of the coverage but it’s glowy-er. I do that, and then I use the Guerlain Retouching Pen on my undereyes. Benefit Hoola helps to give some definition, and then on top of that I use the Hourglass Ambient Light Bronzer. It’s sheer and adds more warmth than the Hoola does. For my eyes, I’ll use a little bit of Urban Decay’s shadow in Half Baked, which is a golden shade. I use a lot of the colors in the Narsissist Wanted Palette—I always go for pinky, orangey tones. Orange on my eyes blends out really nicely and gives a warmer look. My goal is always to make my eyes more cat-like. Even during the day, I always use a very thin line of liquid liner. I use a very cheap Sephora one, but you have to make sure it’s the thin-thin one called High Precision. When I go out at night I always line my bottom with black. I’ll do more of a cat eye at night, and if I want to do more of a shimmery situation I’ll do a copper. I just like to keep it fun and not dark, because I feel like black shadows on me look really intense. My favorite blush is Nars Portofino, which I feel like is a little bit less golden than Orgasm.
I brush my eyebrows up, but I have pretty thick brows as it is, so I just use Boy Brow in Brown. On my lashes I always wear Benefit They’re Real—it’s the best. It’s very separating. For lips, I had a sample of this Smashbox Lip Lacquer that looked darker than I thought I would like in the tube, but I was like, ‘Oh, I have this, I might as well use it.’ I put like two dots of it on my lips and kind of blended it, and I was like, ‘This is the perfect lip stain.’ Now I have to buy it on Amazon because it’s discontinued. I’m obsessed with Make Up For Ever in No. 9, which is the one that always sells out. It’s so good. And this one a friend gave me—Marc Jacobs in Role Play. Shockingly, one of the best red lipsticks I’ve ever tried is the Victoria’s Secret Velvet Matte Lip Stain—it has a sugary taste, they really did a good job! I find it funny when people are like, ‘What lipstick are you wearing?’ And I’m like, ‘Um, Victoria’s Secret, it’s the best.’ For lip balm, it’s La Mer, and it’s terribly expensive. For some reason my friend didn’t like it and gave it to me, and I love it.
I just got my hair cut last Thursday—it was really long. It’s not naturally straight. I’ve learned that if I blow-dry my hair and then straighten it it’ll completely fry it, so I have to wash it at night. The Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme helps to control frizz, and then I use the Invisible Oil Hairdresser’s Oil, and then the Blow-dry Repair Cream. I use a lot of reparative products. Then it dries, and at this point it’s curly still but dry. Then I’ll spray the Invisible Oil Primer and section it off into three sections to straighten. It takes me like 10 minutes. When I go out I just wear it down, but if it’s hot out I’ll do a high pulled up ponytail or bun. The tighter, the better. The best trick for that is to douse my hair in conditioner, and then kind of wrap it up. It totally keeps it from frizzing all night.
I love getting dressed up to go out. I’m not trying to look casual or chill when I go out—I try to do a look. In Spring/Summer, it’s easier for me because I’m not really good with layering. It’s better to just know what I’m going to put on and not have to think about putting a coat over it or anything. Especially now, I’m excited to wear either a cute top and jeans, and I try to always do a heel, or a dress. These shoes are Carel. For going out clothes, I love Adam Selman or Daisy—fun, younger brands. I’m never trying to wear a bandage dress or something, you know what I mean? I am crazy about my fragrance. It’s Le Labo AnOther 13—I know everyone loves Santal 33. When I smelled this though, I didn’t know who made it or anything and I had to track it down. I was crazy about it—it’s like catnip for me. It’s clean, and not too feminine.
I’m never the first one to leave. But once I’m out, I’m out. My only rule is that I have to be in bed by time the sun goes up. [Laughs] If I’m walking home and bikers are out, and a mom with her stroller—that makes me feel like a nightmare. I’m not one of those people who can just wash my face with water and wake up glowing—I’ve never been that. I don’t keep makeup wipes at my house because I’ll always make sure to wash, tone, moisturize. At my worst I’ll wipe with Bioderma and moisturize—that’s the bare minimum."
—as told to ITG
Michelle Salem photographed by Tom Newton on May 9, 2018.