How Glossier HQ Gets Through Cold And Flu Season


"I’ll have what she’s having"—an iconic Meg Ryan x pastrami moment. And also the unintentional slogan for cold season, which is now, if you haven’t noticed. Here at Glossier HQ, folks are dropping like flies. So let’s say you’re a responsible adult, and you actually took the time to get your runny nose to a doctor. Great! That’s the first step. But it’s not strep, so a magical round of antibiotics isn’t in your future. While there’s no way to actually cure a cold—aside from rest, hydration, and time—there are a whole bunch of products out there that help speed up the process. Which leads to this roundtable. Several Glossier employees at varying stages of illness (perhaps unwisely) locked themselves in a closet to share germs and tips. Everyone survived, and now the conversation is typed below:

Ali Oshinsky, Editorial Intern: Welcome ladies. We’re about to talk about mucus for the next hour; hope you’ve all had lunch. To get started, let’s have everyone announce their current health state or the last time they were sick. I’ll go first. I’m Ali and I probably have a cold, but I’ll deny it until I’m literally on my deathbed.

Elly Penning, Email Marketing Coordinator: I have recently recovered from a severe cold. I no longer have it.

Kata Knezovic, Associate Manager, Paid Search & Affiliates: I have been dodging a cold for a few weeks.

Reed Redman, Communications Coordinator: I was sick for one day last week and quickly recovered.

Ashley Weatherford, Senior Editor: I have a little bit of a… [begins to cough]

Reed: Oh, we know.

Ashley: This is why I came to this! I need this knowledge. Badly.

Ali: OK so I’ll start with the question of the hour. Does anyone think Emergen-C actually works?

Ashley: No. Just ask my cough.

Elly: If you’re starting to get sick, Emergen-C is not going to save you.

Ali: That's what I thought. And you just pee the excess vitamin C out. It doesn’t help!

Reed: If you are going to drink it anyway, put it in orange juice. Then it doesn’t taste like gross orange sugar water, it tastes like fizzy orange juice.

Elly: But your body does need sugar and electrolytes to recover. My mom would always make me drink Gatorade when I was sick growing up, because I would lose my appetite.

Kata: I don’t like Emergen-C, but Vitamin IVs are so good.

Ali: Really? How did you feel after it?

Kata: Very good. It’s mostly hydrating. If you have a headache it’ll go away.

Elly: Isn’t it expensive?

Kata: Yeah. I had the flu before the first day of my first job, and I freaked out and got an IV. I paid $500 for it, but I went to work the next day.

Elly: $500?! I’d rather suffer.

Reed: The best natural remedies are these Chinese herbal pills called Yin Qiao. I actually discovered them through Camille Rowe’s video on Into The Gloss. You can order them on Amazon, but I live in Chinatown, so I get them from a pharmacy near my apartment because they’re much cheaper there. They’re just herbs—you’re supposed to take them any time you’re starting to feel sick—and they literally get rid of anything. They say to take four, three times a day—

Ali: You take 12 a day?

Reed: No, I never do that. I usually only take three in the morning and three at night.

Ashley: Have you ever taken them when you already had a full-blown cold?

Reed: Yeah, that’s what I did last week when I was sick for a day. I was back at work the next day, and went on a trip over the weekend. It was great.

Ali: Kata, someone told me you take colloidal silver to help with colds?

Kata: Yeah, it’s good for immunity, too. You can get it in a dropper or a spray, and you just put it under your tongue for a couple seconds. I’ve found that every time I take it, every tickle in my throat goes away. My sister will put a couple drops in her two-year-old son’s water when they’re going on an airplane or whatever.

Ali: So do you do it as a preventative measure? Or when you’re sick?

Kata: I do it as soon as I feel it coming. Once you’re sick it’s not that helpful, but I find that it really helps when you think you’re getting sick. When I don’t have it, I usually get sick.

Ashley: Liquid oregano oil sometimes helps to shorten my colds....I think. But it’s not exactly pleasant. The oregano oil droppers are super, super concentrated, to the point where it feels like it’s burning the cold out of you. And then you burp oregano oil all day. So you have to eat only Italian food if you don’t want this insane flavor combination in your mouth.

Elly: What about when you’re already sick. Does anyone think eating super spicy foods helps?

Reed: Spicy foods will obviously make your nose run and relieve congestion, but only temporarily. I don’t think it lasts.

Ashley: Someone told me about Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath last year, and it did not help me. It has a sort of spicy aroma, and you’re supposed to sweat out the cold or whatever. Everyone has written about it like, ‘This is a miracle bath!’ but I didn’t get it.

Reed: I am partial to an infrared sauna though, like Higher Dose.

Ali: What’s that process like?

Reed: You go into this little box, and it’s like a sauna. The way that infrared has been explained to me is that instead of heating the air, it heats your body. You just go and sit, and sweat a ton, and when you leave you continue to sweat because your body temperature is so high. You really do sweat out the cold.

Ashley: I don’t know. I think it’s more so the magnesium in baths that’s helpful.

Elly: When I was sick, Kata told me to take a bath with Epsom salt. I think I took four baths over the course of the three days that I was sick, and it made me feel a lot better. It’s kind of a temporary relief, but it gets your sinuses open and functioning, and it also helps with muscle aches.

Kata: Then you can make really good tea by just boiling raw ginger slices in water. Or, garlic in honey is a little bit more neutral tasting than the ginger, surprisingly. The garlic is antibacterial, and the honey helps with your throat.

Ashley: How do you know all this stuff?

Kata: There are a lot of old wives’ tales about being sick in Croatia, where my parents are from. Like, if you slice onions the long way, put them on the bottom of your feet, and put socks on, it’s supposed to pull the toxins out through your feet. And if we had fevers when we were younger, my mom would soak socks in a Croatian moonshine drink and put them on our feet. It would help—I don’t know why it needed to be alcohol, but it would help cool you down and level out your temperature.

[Everyone processes this for a few seconds.]

Ali: Do you think change in weather temperature actually makes you sick?

Reed: It’s definitely the change and not the cold itself. Like, it’s the change going from hot to cold—it’s drastic for your body to adjust to that, so that’s why you’re more likely to get sick. But when your mom tells you that you shouldn’t go play outside when you have wet hair because you’re going to get a cold, that’s completely false.

Ashley: My brother never gets sick. It’s so irritating. I’m like, ‘How?!’ He’s not even careful! I’ll wash my hands so many times a day. OK, I sound crazy now, but after I finish washing them, I won’t touch the faucet again. I’ll turn of the tap with my elbow.

Reed: I think I know what your issue is. You’re preventing your body from interacting with all these bad germs, so you never build up a tolerance to them. So any time you interact with them, you get sick. Whereas your brother doesn’t do anything, probably is in contact with a bunch of germs all the time, but his body is so used to being in contact with them that he’s developed an immune system that’s much stronger than yours.

Elly: That’s like when you get the flu shot, they’re injecting the flu virus into you. It’s probably the same thing with interacting with these mild germs. So don’t over wash your hands.

Kata: What do you guys think about people who come to work sick?

Ashley: It drives me crazy! [Continues to cough]

Kata: I think it’s nice when people are considerate. Like, if you’re sick, don’t put your fork in my food or whatever.

Ali: I’m so fine with it, I don’t care. I never even think about it. Like, would you make out with someone who has a cold?

Elly: Hell yeah.

Reed: If I liked them enough.

Ali: I just feel like I’m going to get sick anyway. It’s either going to happen or it isn’t, I’m not going to let it dictate who I can and can’t be around.

Ashley: [In between coughs.] The other day I left work early because I just wanted to be able blow my nose in private, you know?

Reed: Oh, I hate when people blow their nose in public. It’s my pet peeve.

Ali, [who shares a desk with Reed]: I’ve been blowing my nose for the past three days. I’m so sorry.

Ashley: At one point this week I did the thing—this is so gross—where you plug your nose with tissues. I was just so sick of blowing my nose! So I just walked around the apartment with things up my nose! Don’t tell me you guys have never done that.

[The room remains quiet.]

Reed: I get annoyed when people have just a slight runny nose or something mild like that, but they won’t stop complaining how they’re sick.

Ali: My dad is the biggest drama queen when he gets sick.

Ashley: Men.

Elly: Also they won’t pursue any solutions, or go to the doctor or whatever.

Ashley: It sounds so basic, but when I get sick I just sleep a lot and drink a lot of water.

Elly: That’s the backbone of curing a cold. Or any illness, really.

Ashley: My work here is done. [Another coughing fit begins.]

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Photo via ITG.