“I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to be in fashion. From an anthropological standpoint, I was interested in clothes as the signifier of a person. I liked that while pretending to be someone you weren’t, you could wholly be yourself. This was during a time in London where the it-girl was alive and well—Peaches Geldof, Pixie Geldof, Daisy Lowe, Alexa Chung. They were the only girls I had seen who were around my age who were in fashion. I knew how they got there, because they all had famous parents. I was like, so how am I going to do it? It’s what drove me.
During my second year at the London College of Fashion, I interned at an agency called ITB. It was the branding wing of a talent agency called ICM, which repped people like Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. I was really trying to find myself, style-wise. I wore cut-off denim shorts, I was obsessed with acrylic nails and got them done at this place in London called Wah Nails. I was not work-appropriate. My boss was Emma Grede, and now she actually runs Good American with Khloe Kardashian. Two weeks before I was going to graduate, [Emma] came up to me while I was reading Industrie, which was a magazine all about fashion insiders. I said to Emma, who was dating Jens [Grede, the co-founder of Industrie] at the time, ‘Could you please tell Jens I loved his interview with Katie Grand, it was so informative.’ She was like, ‘You should tell him yourself, he’s looking for a coordinator role and I thought you’d be great.’ To this day, it was hardest interview I’ve ever had. Industrie was such a specific publication—[Jens] actually wanted you to be into fashion, but also read Business of Fashion and Forbes. I worked there for three years—some of the hardest but best formative years I could have ever asked for. A complete exercise in common sense, competency, sheer winging it and self-belief. The boys had a major agency at that point—they were in the early days of creating what is now the juggernaut Frame Denim. By the end I became the Managing Editor of Industrie, and then I went over to i-D.
I was elated at i-D—this was the most mainstream niche magazine in the world. It was about diversity before that became a buzzword. It was about street fashion before all these fashion brands were making $900 hoodies. It’s such an amazing magazine that validates so many people who feel different. I was promoted to Deputy Editor after a year and a half. And then two years after that, I left for the freelance world. I did creative consulting and I was writing so much. I did an AnOther cover with Solange and Peter Lindbergh. Around that time I went to Condé Nast in New York for a round of meetings about writing and doing stuff out here. I had a great meeting there, and before I left I learned that Elaine Welteroth was looking for a Deputy Editor at Teen Vogue, and that she wanted to meet with me. We went into a meeting room, and she was like, ‘So, tell me about yourself.’ I went, ‘I’m a Virgo,’ and she started laughing. We just bonded. I think when it came to magazines, I wanted to empower, and she believed in that too. She convinced Condé Nast, which wasn’t sponsoring people’s visas at the time, to hire me. I did that until the magazine folded, and then I went freelance again. And then Alexander Wang. Stephanie, their Chief Strategy Officer, got in contact with me and was like, ‘Hey, there’s a job we’re trying to fill that you’d be great for—it’s using your writing and editing skills. You understand how to tell stories and you have great relationships with photographers and stylists and content creators, and we’d love that for our brand.’ [Wang] really wanted someone who had an eye on social, and who knew how to talk to people in different ways. I’ve been working with them for three months as VP of Content.
Right now I’m using this cleanser by Verso, which I really like—it’s quite light. And I use Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. Every couple of days I scrub with Aesop. There’s this charcoal mask by Origins that I love—it’s so consistently good. If I'm feeling dry, or need a perk up, I would probably say it’s the hero product of my [routine]. You just put it on, you wash it off, you look better. It’s not uber expensive, and it works. I don’t really dig this new sheet mask movement. Dr. Barbara Sturm has a line for dark skin, which, thank you God. I don’t have problems with texture, but I scar very easily and the line is especially for that. And then, I’m a basic bitch, but P50 from Biologique Recherche changed the game.
In the morning I start with DHC Cleansing Oil. I have different cleansers for night versus morning, seasons, hangovers... The Votary one is really luxurious-feeling—and hangover-wise, you’re back, baby. This Dr. Sebagh Rose De Vie Serum is really good, and so is the Dr. Sebagh Deep Exfoliating Mask. I’m probably not meant to go as chemically hard as I do, but fuck it. I want results! What does it do? It gives me life, that’s what it does. This Eve Lom Gel Cleanser is good. And then I take it all off with the Koh Gen Do Spa Water. Then I moisturize—different thicknesses for day and night. In the winter I use Magic Cream. Priming Moisturizer is very light, but it’s good. And then Bab’s! Her shit is expensive, but I think I’m going to come out looking like a zygote.
Stefanie DiLibero at Gotham Wellness does my facials. She does a combination of acupuncture and skincare. She taught me about microcurrents, and she puts me under an LED light. She’s so synched up to what’s going on in other parts of your body, so she does the acupuncture first, and then we do the facial. Whenever we do the acupuncture, she asks me about some things that have been going on in my life. I always sleep like a baby when I’ve done it, so I know it’s working. I’ve found her to be really great. And then when I’m in London I go to Pfeffer Sal. I like them.
My look is a natural glow. If I am going out, I wear foundation and something on my eyes. There are two foundations I literally love. Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Crème—ugh! Stunning. And then Nars Sheer Glow. New Orleans, love it. There’s this quad by Tom Ford which I really like, and I’ve had for years. Sometimes if I’m doing a nude or a brown lipstick, I put that same lipstick on my eyelids. I do use highlight, but it’s not that ultralight beam powdery shit that people put on. It’s a Fenty Beauty stick. Thank God for that makeup line. Those Match Stix? Espresso and Sinamon are amazing. They’re so versatile—just how matte they are, the consistency, they’re brilliant. I wear concealer every day—a combination of the Stretch Concealer by Glossier and Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, or Creamy Concealer by Nars. I use Boy Brow in Black, which is becoming a desert island thing. I actually lost my Boy Brow just before I was supposed to meet with Anna Wintour, so I got it biked to me. I needed it. There’s this Avon lipstick, not very glamorous, but it’s the best shade ever. It’s so random, but I’m telling you. There’s no good nude for brown girls—it’s either too ashy, or too pale. This is sheen-y, but not too thick. It is called Rich Rum! Also Flower’s Miracle Matte Lip in Dark and Stormy. This is such a weird color, but I really like it! Milk’s Face Gloss is good for a party. Fenty Beauty Stunna Paint in Uncensored, if you want to be that girl. Speaking of reds, this Pat McGrath red called Supermuse Elson, after Karen Elson, is fucking incredible. Like, blows Ruby Woo out the water. I used to be a big MAC girl, but as you can see it’s all been phased out.
I love Audacious mascara by Nars, and I love Grandelash Serum when I’m trying to be my natural self. These are inserts, shout out to Lazy Lash in Williamsburg, where I get them done. When there’re not that many left—and you’re not meant to do this—I put mascara on them just to fill in gaps. Audacious or Lash Slick. For cheeks, Shade and Illuminate is my favorite, but I feel like it’s fallen out of fashion now. I use all of my things down to the end—yes, I have money, but I fucking paid 120 pounds for these two, I remember paying for them! I’ll use them till the wheels fall off. I did [get a lot of stuff for free], and of course that’s why I have stacks and multiples of things. But yeah, I use them until they’re done.
I wear Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream and everyone loves it. And then also one by Robert Piguet—I think you can only get it at their perfumeries. I have had cab drivers ask about this for their wives. It’s gorgeous. And then there’s the McQueen fragrance, which I really like. That’s the richer one, but I actually prefer the eau de toilette better. It’s solid if you just want to smell nice. Wonderwood by Comme des Garçons is so imposing and heavy... and I really love that. When you smell all of these, there’s no correlation—I like what I like.
Le Labo Shower Oil in Mandarin is really good. So is the Bronner’s—whatever one, I just like the tingly sensation. I scrub myself with anything, really. I have a pumice stone in the shower, and I don’t necessarily care about the products, but I care about that stone. What I’m using on my body at the moment is the Le Labo Hinoki and Avocado Oil. And then I also use some argan oil that I got from Morocco. It’s straight from the nut. You can’t go wrong with that.
My hair is just so odd, so I do one of two things. Charlotte Mensah is my hairdresser, and she has a salon in London where I see her every time I go home. She just innately understands afro hair. When she straightens it it’s perfect, when she curls it it’s perfect. She’s just a very talented woman. And she has a product line that I’m actually obsessed with. When I wear my hair out, sadly, I have to think about if I’m going to take photos. I don’t want that—I just want the headspace. So I wear it slicked back in a bun, with lots of hair gel. This is her hair oil—smell it. It’s just really good. She was in Kenya for a client’s wedding when she heard about this nut people use. The nut’s something else, but the oil’s called Manketti oil. I think you can only buy it from her, and the people who know, know. If you have any texture to your hair, I cannot think of a better product. She’s the three-time afro hairdresser of the year—she’s a hall of famer. This is the mini one, this is the oil, this is the conditioner, that is the shampoo—I paid for all of it. She just launched a mist, which I was like, ‘OK, cool, sign me up!’ I guess it just gives luster and shine. Then I have all the ugly stuff. Shea butter—my parents are from Sierra Leone, and you can get big boxes of shea butter, so my dad brings those back. I use it on anything—dry patches, hair—it’s the best.
I’m really happy that the beauty industry is as inclusive as it is right now. It’s really encouraging. When I was growing up in London, I would go into Boots and they didn’t have anything for me. I would come out looking like a clown and I’d just have to make do. I don’t think people understood how disheartening that was. I’m glad that a young generation of women of color can actually see themselves in beauty advertisements. I think in terms of diversity, and in terms of ambassadors that are different, I really can see the change. Nice advertising is cool, and I do take it in, but word of mouth is better. I know that’s how me and my friends all wear makeup. We don’t buy anything until someone else has told us to. That’s the trend I’m seeing with so many other people as well. It ties back to beauty being a way more democratic process. And then when you find something that you like, it’s not $2000. It’s a low investment, and it’s so friggin’ fun.”
—as told to ITG
Lynette Nylander photographed by Tom Newton in Brooklyn on July 27, 2018.