Jessica Richards, Founder, Shen Beauty


“I was raised in between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. When I was growing up in California, I worked at this surf clothes store called Second Reef. Then for a year before college I worked for a snowboard shop in Aspen. After that I went to FIT in New York, and I was working as a stylist assistant for Lauren Santo Domingo when I became pregnant with my first son, Carter. Four months after I had my son in 2009, my face cream fell and broke in my bathroom. I figured I’d just walk to a nearby beauty store, and that’s when I realized there was no beauty store near me [in Brooklyn]. And so I thought, ‘I’m going to open a beauty store. Can’t be that hard.’ This is how my brain works, totally insane. I also thought, ‘Oh, people in beauty will be nice’—fashion was really catty and mean then.

Now that Shen is open, I describe the demographic [of my shoppers] as women who go to Whole Foods and buy only organic groceries, then go to Starbucks and get a latte. And guess what? That’s not organic. And then she’ll come in and say, ‘Well, I want all organic products, but I have this spot on my face and I really want it to go away.’ I quickly realized that people want niche alongside things that they already trust, which is why my store isn’t all-natural and organic.

When I find a new brand I love, it’s like a unicorn comes out of nowhere. [Dr. Sturm Skincare] is my number one bestseller at Shen. Her products come science-backed—she did the ‘Kobe method’ for Kobe Bryant’s knee. Her formulas are so good and she partners them with ingestibles, so they create this inside-outside beauty. And yet, the products are still clean. That is huge. That’s what excites me—who’s doing something that’s different, or special, or is an untold story? The Sturm Enzyme Cleanser is definitely one of my skincare go-tos because I love the powder to liquid—you get this immediate quick exfoliation. A brand that I love and want to sell is Oskia. I like their cleanser. A new brand called Romily Wilde that I’m about to launch has this cleanser that’s like an oil gel cleanser in a pump, so you don’t have to stick your hands in it. And then I have my old go-to, which is my Amanda Lacey—I’ll just never not have it. I’m not such a fan of toners or essences or spritzes. I feel like it strips my skin. After cleansing, I lightly pat my skin with a towel—I don’t get all the moisture off—and then I go to serums. I always use some sort of hyaluronic, and for the past two years I’ve been using the Sturm Hyaluronic Serum. If I don’t use it for a week, I notice a difference in my skin. I always go back to the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, even though it smells like turkey jerky to me.

There’s another product called Vitabrid that I like but don’t sell. It’s this dry vitamin C powder you can mix into anything you want. Sometimes I do this Nuori 10 day [vitamin C] treatment that you shake up and mix with powder—you notice a difference. And then I move on to some oil. There are three oils that I always, always, always have. One is Pai Rosehip Seed Oil, because it’s super simple. It’s like 40-something dollars, and it’s one ingredient, and it’s cold pressed and 100-percent organic, and it works for every single person’s skin type. It’s more of a dry oil, so it’s not super goopy. May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon I always have—the blue tansy really helps with redness, and it’s good for sensitive skin. And then the Joelle Ciocco Blossom Oil, which I just bought again in Paris. It’s thick, but I really like it. I don’t typically use a cream, but I have a Sturm Blood Cream, which I use. I’ve been using this Osea Protection Cream that I like, but I’m not such a cream person anymore. Cream sits on top, whereas oils and serums penetrate.

Lately I’ve been masking a lot. I love the Goldfaden Detox Mask—it kind of tingles on my face. I also have the Goldfaden scrub, which is really abrasive. Sometimes you need a physical exfoliator to get the sunscreen off after a long day at the beach or something. I like the Sturm mask actually. You put it on your skin and you rub it off, and it’s like you’re rubbing clay off your face but all of a sudden your face is super hydrated. It kind of beads up—I’ve never used a mask like that, and it was weird. I love the Pai Rosehip Mask, and in the wintertime when my skin is really dry I add a couple drops of the Rosehip Seed Oil to it to be more hydrating. I hate sheet masks. I detest every single one of them. First of all, I can’t walk around my house with them and I have too much to do. When it comes to laser treatments I go to Dr. Macrene. I get one laser on my face called V Beam to even out the pigmentation from being in the sun as a kid. Then I also do laser tattoo removal. Don’t get tattoos, especially ugly ones when you’re 15.

Two years ago I found out I had vitiligo. When I first got [diagnosed] I went to the doctor every week. Because I work in the beauty industry and it’s my skin, I was so worried. I went only organic and stopped eating meat, fish, dairy, grains, sugar, and caffeine for six months. The doctor gave me a steroid cream and I was so miserable—nothing changed, and I was just more stressed out! I had to make the decision to let go of everything. I’m still taking a million supplements, but you know what? It is what it is. I need a glass of wine at the end of the night, I like coffee with half and half, and if I want to eat pizza with my kids I’m going to eat a slice of pizza. I’d rather be happy. Now because of my vitiligo, I use sunscreen every day, no matter what. Elta MD UV Clear 46 is what I wear—I love it. Joelle Ciocco introduced me to Daylong Sensitive Skin 50, which I really like but they don’t sell here. I bought a bunch of those [in Paris], and I’ve been switching off between the two of them.

I get Botox in my forehead and I am not ashamed—I call it preventative. When I was 19, Dr. Baker—and if you know who Dr. Baker is, he is like, you know, the Picasso of faces—looked at me and said, ‘You have an overactive brow, you really should start doing Botox.’ I was 19. I walked out and I thought, ‘That’s fucking rude.’ Years later I started getting it because he was right, I have an overactive brow which causes wrinkles. Basically all [Botox] does is freeze it, and then when I’m 50 I’ll stop doing it and I’ll look like a 40-year-old. I don’t do it around my eyes because I like to be able to smile, and I don’t do anything below. I think people are embarrassed about Botox—it’s like sex, in a way. They want to pretend like they look that way, but it’s not reality. I don’t understand—like, if you say you work out, what’s the problem saying you do maintenance in other places? I color my hair, I work out, and I do Botox. Whatever.

When I do put on makeup, I use Vapour Luminous Foundation in 120, with this Gressa brush. I kind of blend in circles. What I like about the Vapour foundation is that it feels hydrating, it covers, and it gives you luminous, glowy skin. It feels like a treatment at the same time, not just like you’re putting makeup on. I used to use the RMS Uncover-Up, but as I’ve gotten a little older it creases a little bit, because it’s coconut based. And I don’t like dipping my fingers into anything because I feel like everything is dirty. I’ll usually just use Eyeko Rock Out mascara, which makes [my lashes] long and separated. I tint my brows at Shen, and if I don’t tint my brows then I use some sort of brow pencil. Right now I have one in development so I’ve been testing that out, but prior to that it was this Eco Brow pot, and I used it in Penelope with a little brush. I’ll add a little bit of this Becca blush-y glittery bronzer, even though it’s broken. I could easily use 9,000 more that I have, but for some reason I always like the broken one. Or I use Kosas—I launched them for her, so that’s my new baby. I also love the Eyeko Sport Eyeliner. It glides on really nice, and then it has this brush at the end so you can kind of feather it out if you want it to. For my lips I usually use either Love and Sage lip balm or Lucas Papaw or Lanolips—something super simple that I can just rub on my hands if there’s extra. I do like a Kosas red lipstick, which is on the cleaner side—how many pounds of lipstick do they say you eat in a lifetime? I do the red lip with just mascara and clean skin, with my hair back. If I have an event, I go to Shen and have Jill do my makeup. She does the most amazing makeup on me—somehow she just gets it. She does a smoky eye, and she always makes me wear a nude lipstick, which is interesting. She’ll put me in some Vapour one.

My best friend was in hair school when I moved [to New York]. She was like, ‘Just buy the products and I’ll do your hair.’ She turned my hair, I shit you fucking not, highlighter yellow. It was neon, and it burned. I jumped in the shower in all my clothes and started screaming. The next day I went to Oscar Blandi and he couldn’t fix it—I was there for eight hours, and it cost me however much money, and it was still messed up. After that, we were not friends. Needless to say, a couple years later I read an article that mentioned she was working with Harry Josh, and doing Gwyneth [Paltrow]’s hair color. I called her up, and I was like, ‘So, we can be friends now, and you’re going to dye my hair for free.’ She was like, ‘Fuck you, but OK.’ Now I’m the godmother to her daughter. She stopped doing hair recently though, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s OK, you’ll still come to my house and do my hair,’ and she goes, ‘No, I’m quitting,’ and I’m like, ‘No I know, for all those people.’ She was like, ‘No Jess.’

I’m neurotic about my hair, and she told me to go to Marie Robinson, the person she trained under. So I now see Marie for my color, and I see Johnny at Marie for my haircuts and blowouts. I like it light blonde because I want my kids’ hair, which is what I had. I don’t dye underneath because I think it’s weird when people have highlights underneath. You don’t lay on a lawn chair with your hair flipped over. Usually I wash my hair, put a ton of oil in it—an Orlando Pita or Virtue one—and then I put it back. My hair is broken from having two kids, so for the last year and a half I’ve been taking Imedeen—it’s the best collagen supplement. There are different colors, but I bought the yellow one, and you can do a three-month pack. You notice a massive difference after three months.

I’ve been wearing Gypsy Water since it launched. And now Behnaz just launched these fragrances, which thank god she did in travel size. I’m not a rose fan at all, but the rose oil actually smells like a beautiful rose garden and not like a granny’s rose. The neroli one I wear much more. I also have this one that I just got in Dublin, it’s Roads Art Addict. It’s really, really nice.

Hand sanitizer is my thing—I love the Naturopath, and this new little one from Noshinku that’s credit card size and bergamot scented. For nails, I always do a gel manicure. I do Glamsquad at home because my friend is a podiatrist, and she scared me to the high heavens about getting my nails done at salons. So I will only do it at my house, or I go to her place on the Upper East Side and she does medical-grade pedicures. They clean out your feet, they scrub them, she looks for anything. I’ll go up there mainly to have lunch and say hi, but then I get a pedicure while I’m there.”

—as told to ITG

Jessica Richards photographed by Tom Newton in New York on July, 13 2018.