Carly Cardellino, Beauty Director, Cosmopolitan


"Coming from a town of 23,000 people, who could have guessed that I would move to New York and make a name for myself? It’s so mind blowing to me still. I’m from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up—I liked writing and I would read magazines, but I didn’t ever consider that there were real people who wrote them. The summer before my last year of college I did an internship at Health in the beauty department, and suddenly I was going to all these events, and the whole beauty world was laid out for me on a platter. Then two months before I graduated I got a job at Shape—working at a magazine that my parents could see at Walmart was crazy. I was there for six years, and I’ve been at Cosmo for almost seven years now. A good beauty editor has to be up to date on products that are coming out, and technologies, and ingredients that can hurt people. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about, make sure you’re talking to people who do. It’s experience and expertise that separate you from an influencer. When Cosmo’s print and digital merged I was actually on maternity leave, and Jessica Pels promoted me anyway. People don’t do that—it was really nice to see that she believed in me.

When I was pregnant, I literally got rid of every single beauty product I had. I was not using any serums. No retinol, no salicylic acid, no benzoyl peroxide. You can use tea tree oil and willow bark. Not being able to use acne products was the number one thing I was worried about. Recently I wrote a story about my acne, and part of my research was going to see a dermatologist named Dr. Shari Marchbein. She told me I have deep comedonal acne, which isn’t really talked about—my pimples look like something between cysts and milia. She gave me a regimen, and that’s what I do now. But when I was pregnant, I was going to Christine Chin once a month for microdermabrasion and extractions. The only other facial I do religiously is microcurrent with Shamara at SB Skin, which you can’t do when you’re pregnant.

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Now, in the morning I either just hit my face with water or cleanse with this Simple Micellar Gel Wash. You go through face wash so quickly—you don’t need to spend $40 on cleanser when there are good brands for less. Then I use Onexton, which is a combination of clindamycin phosphate, and benzoyl peroxide. I put it all over my face, because as Dr. Josh Zeichner once told me, you never know where the pipes are going to get clogged. Then I use this Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart, which shields your skin from blue light and pollutants. Pollutants can break you out! It’s tinted, so it gives me a nice glow, and it’s SPF 50. I don’t put on any moisturizer when I use that—it’s so rich that it’s enough.

In the evenings, I use this Clinique Take the Day Off for my eyes, and then I use Simple wipes. Or any other wipes that are fragrance-free. I’ll do a swipe over my face, and then go back and wash with the gel, because wipes just don’t fully do it. If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’m layering Retin-A on first and then putting Aczone on top. Then I use Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore, which I live by. It’s made of ceramides and fatty acids, which are already in your skin, so it repairs your skin barrier so much faster than any other lotion I’ve ever used. It’s expensive, but I would still buy it even if I stepped out of the beauty world tomorrow. I also have Christine Chin’s cream as a backup, which doesn’t do anything crazy, just hydrates.

You don’t need to spend $40 on cleanser when there are good brands for less.

I really like this Kylie Jenner walnut face scrub—it’s very, very fine, not like the cracked walnut shell scrubs of yesteryear. And this Acure one has sea kelp and french green clay and—oh my God, I have to hide it because Gio, my husband, uses it all. He’s the Creative Director of Glamsquad, and he’s really into beauty—almost more so than I am. My friend Charlotte told him about the Nuface microcurrent device, and now I literally hear ‘beep beep’ every morning. And eye patches, pretty much every morning—Erno Laszlo is his favorite, but he also steals these Shiseido ones from me. When we do masks together, he likes the Erno Laszlo sheet mask, or the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel mask, or the Skinceuticals Phyto Mask. That one’s specifically for redness. And at night, he sleeps in either the Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe or the F-Balm by Drunk Elephant which I just got him into. In the morning he likes Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream with a few drops of the Sun Drops from Dr. Barbara Sturm mixed in. And then Futuredew—actually, one day Gio took the Futuredew to work. I only have one, and I was looking all over for it. At first he denied knowing where it was, but then was like, ‘Oh, it’s in my bag.’ [Laughs] And usually he uses the Make Up For Ever Step One Smoothing Primer, which is mattifying. Forty easy steps!

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I’ve been loving this new Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm. The pay off is great and every time I wear it someone compliments my skin. It gives me a more airbrushed look for when I need to be seen and want to look like I’ve actually slept. But you do have to exfoliate before you use it—it’s very matte, and it will highlight any flakes. For everyday I’ll use IT Cosmetics CC Cream, which has been my go-to for years. It’s so good. I’m a huge blush person, and this Honest Beauty Creme Cheek Blush in Peony Pink is a pinky-apricot that makes me look like a baby angel. Don’t you just want to look like that? I put it on the apples of my cheeks and work it downwards with a Pat McGrath brush. I think that looks more youthful. No one knows how old I am, and that’s how I want to keep it. Then I put Futuredew on just the top half of my face—my moisturizer is enough on the rest.

No one knows how old I am, and that’s how I want to keep it.

I curl my lashes and use mascara every day, but I’m not a loyalist. I don’t like them to look clumpy, but I do want it to look like something’s there. I’ve been going between Milk Makeup Kush, Stila Magnum XXX Mascara, and Nars Climax—those last two have bristles that kick out to really lift the outer corner of my lashes. After that I do lipstick, and it’s always a burgundy, a true red, or a nude. The nude that I really love is by my friend Violette for Estée Lauder. It’s basically my lip color, but it makes them look more even—I have it on right now. Otherwise, I’m a balm person. This KNC Beauty Supa Balm is very, very hydrating, and I also love this Primera lip mask. It’s comfortable enough to use during the day, but definitely thick.

I get my brows microbladed by Piret Aava—she’s the eyebrow doctor. My brows are great because of her. She brought them in a little, which I really liked, and then gave me a feathery moment. Then I use this Thrive Causemetics brow gel. The color that it puts on your brows is very true—it’s not ashy, and the pigment is good, and it can also fake hairs if you don’t want to get microblading. If I wasn’t in the beauty industry, I would buy it myself.

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My hair is a labor of love. Once I tried to ease into a more Gisele blonde because I was tired of the maintenance, but it was just not me—I’m either full platinum or my natural hair color. When I was pregnant, my roots actually worked in my favor. I didn’t bleach it at all in the first trimester, and after we were out of the scare zone of 13 weeks my doctor said I could do it if I breathed into a cloth the entire time. I started dyeing it five years ago after Marie Robinson took me blonde for a story. I went to her for a while—love her—and then I started going to Aura Friedman, who’s amazing as well. And now I go to Ryan Pearl at Cutler. I like to try different people—I feel like that’s part of my job. Ryan does my double process in around three hours, which is so quick. I’ve been to places where it takes six hours.

I probably wash my hair every three nights. I use Briogeo’s Color Me Brilliant shampoo which has a subtle hint of lavender to pop my color. I always have masks in my hair, dry shampoo, and after a couple of days it starts looking dull. Cash Lawless, this amazing hair stylist who does Bella Hadid and a bunch of other celebrities, told me that when my hair is looking dull I should wash it with Suave Daily Clarifying shampoo. It strips the brassiness, but not the color. I only use it once a week, so I’ve had one of these bottles in my shower for almost five months. Gio made this Glamsquad Re-Treat conditioner, and even if I didn’t know him and wasn’t married to him, I would still buy it. I leave it on for five minutes after every time I wash, and then rinse. It’s super hydrating. Then I put this Amika SuperNova Blonde Violet Moisture and Shine cream on just my ends so they don’t look like a broom by the end of the day. If I’m doing a middle part hairstyle like this, I’ll also put a little on my hands and rub it on. The violet tint just takes the color up a notch. It’s amazing. If I’m going to be in the sun, I’ll do this Joico Blonde Life Brightening Veil, which is a UV protectant, on my hair and my scalp. And then I’ll use a flexible hold paste to keep my baby hairs, the breakage from the blonde, down. I like this one from Fellow Barber, called Hybrid Clay, because it’s matte. I use Harry Josh or Glossier clips while I’m feeding Delfina, and then before I go to work I’ll take them out and everything’s smoother.

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I was using the Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant—I love how powdery it is, I love how it feels—but I switched to natural, and now I use either Schmidt’s Waves or Megababe Rosy Pits. My body skin doesn’t break out, so I can be a little bit more adventurous in the shower. Right now we have the new Ouai shower gel, we have a Peter Thomas Roth one, we have the Nécessaire, Neutrogena, Cerave… I’m not too precious with body stuff. I do love this one body wash from Frédéric Malle, Musc Ravageur. It smells so good, and you smell like it for the rest of the day. But I usually want my scent to be a perfume, so my body lotion I like fragrance-free. I use this Honest Face and Body lotion, and Acure also has a 24 Hour lotion that’s fragrance free, which I used a lot when I was pregnant. And of course the Néccessaire one.

I love to see Jin Soon for manicures and pedicures. She’s such a sweet woman, and I love to support her. Or I go to Tenoverten. My water actually broke while I was getting manicures with Gio there, which is very beauty and very us. When I was pregnant I always made sure to use nail polishes without as many chemicals as possible. I love Smith and Cult’s Leave Him On Red [Ed note: discontinued], and Obsidian from Jin Soon. Right now I’m wearing Chanel Organdi, which is a nice nude that doesn’t make my hands look red.

My water actually broke while I was getting manicures with Gio [at Tenoverten], which is very beauty and very us.

I’m not really a floral person—I like scents that are warm and musky and cozy. My friend Lily Aldridge just launched a new fragrance line, and my favorite one is called Summit. I love Byredo Gypsy Water, and Gold from Commodity [Ed note: discontinued]. Gio’s go-to fragrance is Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille—he likes to say he’s very old-school Italian when it comes to scent. And Kilian Love Don’t Be Shy is a very vanilla fragrance that I love because it reminds me of my grandma in a good way. Everyone always asks me if I like the Cosmo scents we launched with Ulta and this one, Love Unfiltered, is actually so good. I took the sticker off because it’s obnoxious and red, but the scent itself isn’t obnoxious—it’s really rich.

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Gio and I are both obsessed with candles. I love when you light a candle and it actually fills your home with the scent—we don’t waste time on candles that don’t do that. I like Le Labo, Byredo, Christian Dior, Simple Goods… And they basically all have some sort of musky, spicy scent. I’ll even go for things that smell like a pumpkin pie cooking—this Pumpkin Cupcake one is new from Bath and Body Works, and it really smells like that. They actually have good candles, and they’re cheap.

With Delfina, I obviously want to be as conscious as possible about the things I put on her. For the first five months, we just used water and sponges—one for her body, and one for her face. At five months, we started using the Weleda Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash and this Erbaviva Lip and Cheek on her. This Honest All-Purpose Organic Balm is so good—she’s never had diaper rash. Ever. Then at six months I put sunscreen on her—either Supergoop or this Babo Botanicals mineral one And I put Dr. Sturm’s face cream on her before we go outside in the winter, because it’s thick enough that her cheeks won’t get red. Dr. Sturm actually said to me once, ‘People think it’s so cute when little kids’ faces get red, but what they don’t realize is that they’re putting a water-based lotion on their kid’s skin, and it’s actually freezing and bringing the redness out.’ Isn’t that so mind blowing? An oil-based cream or even Vaseline is better. Little Martin’s Electric Nail File is epic. It’s the only thing that we can groom her nails with—it has four speeds and a little light, so you can see what you’re doing. I use the Kate McLeod Mama Stone on my nipples when breastfeeding because you don’t have to rinse it off before feeding the baby, and I put the Naked Stone all over Delfina. It’s the best. With me as her mom and Gio as her dad, Delfina will have plenty of beauty products in her life. Or she’ll hate beauty—she could go the other way. You know those people who don’t even wash their face? She might be like that."

—as told to ITG

Carly Cardellino and Giovanni Vaccaro photographed by Taylor Jewell in New York on October 23, 2019