“My first memories of beauty go back to nail polish. That’s where it all started for me. At the time, being a child of the Eighties, I had a fascination with Rainbow Brite and everything that looked like rainbows, I wanted. When you walk down the beauty aisle at your local drugstore, the only thing you can really see the colors of, are the nail polish. They’re always laid out by color, like a rainbow. At such a young age, around 6 or 7, I told my Mom I liked that and she was like, “Oh, no way.” She thought I was too young for it. When I was around 9 or 10, mom finally let me have some nail polish to play with and I promptly spilled it everywhere. She was so nice about it and let me keep going. I remember vividly, I was 13 or 14, and in my Easter basket I was given two Hard Candy nail polishes. That was when Hard Candy was still fairly new. I had the iconic sky color and a pink glittery shade. I was just beside myself, I started collecting all the Hard Candy nail polishes I could find and haven’t stopped. At last count, I have 150 nail polishes. I used to paint my nails once or twice a week because I chip them pretty easily. I don’t get professional manicures all that often. I usually just do it myself, so it made sense to have all those polishes. At Refinery29, we do a lot of DIYs and nail art and I have, what I call skeleton fingers, that are long and skinny, and they look a little scary to me but they come across really well on film. So, I’m the hand model for all of our DIYs and find that I don’t polish my nails quite as often because we shoot so many that I always have to take it off and I don’t want to go through the hassle.
In terms of how I got my start in the beauty industry, it was all happenstance. I didn’t set out to be a beauty editor. I had known that I wanted to be a journalist and I had originally thought I had wanted to be a TV journalist. After enrolling in my school’s program and seeing their local news channel, I quickly amended that and went to print journalism and went into magazines, because I love magazines. I was lucky enough to snag an internship with the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). Their summer internship program is one of the most phenomenal in the industry because you get to see so many things, visit different magazines, and listen to prominent people in the industry talk and give you advice. So that was fantastic. I interned at SELFMagazine for different departments including nutrition, health, fitness, lifestyle, news, and beauty. While I was at the beauty department, I was under the guidance of the wonderful Ilana Blitzer, who was the assistant there at that time. She let me loose in the closet one time and said, “Ok, just play and see what the different brands are, learn what they are, and see if there’s anything interesting that you like. Just explore.” I opened this walk-in closet that was wall-to-wall full of beauty products and was instantly smitten. I had no idea this could be a job.
I started off my career at Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Biz and spent almost four years there. That was a great training ground because you literally learn everything at a trade publication. You see everything — every trend, every style, every product. I became very fascinated with the products and ended up doing a lot of the product writing for the magazine. Eight months ago, I landed here as the Senior Beauty Editor at Refinery29. Everyday I can’t believe I get to do this for a living. I get to play around with products and write about the things that I love. Seven years later, I’m still fascinated.
The makeup bag that I have is from Urban Decay and it’s purple sparkles, as sparkly as you can get because I’m a magpie and if it glitters, I want it. I like it because it’s quite deep. Most makeup bags you get really don’t hold a lot of product, especially things like eyeliners and mascaras that are longer.
I’m currently on a serum kick, so I’ll do a lightweight serum moisturizer to hydrate and on top of that, a moisturizer with sunscreen. Right now the one I really like is from a brand called Envie de Neuf and it’s called the Fullerene C60 Youth Recruit Complex. It’s an anti-aging moisturizing treatment; it comes out as a cream and when you rub it together, it starts to feel very watery. It doesn’t change texture but it just feels like water on your skin, it doesn’t feel like a heavy cream.
Usually I’ll follow that with moisturizer with sunscreen and I’ve been really into beauty balms and tinted moisturizers. I have this great one by Dr. Perricone from his Super line. It’s called Sun Kissed SPF 25 and it’s all about incorporating superfoods into your skin care. This is a tinted moisturizer with an SPF and it has turmeric and curcuminoids and it’s an anti-oxidant treatment so it makes your skin glow and tints as well.
For concealer, I use Benefit’s Erase Paste . I use Shade #1, very fair. It is basically spackle for your under eye circles. It hides them like nothing I’ve ever tried. It’s creamy without being greasy, it’s really great.
I’ve also been obsessed with Urban Decay’s 24/7 Concealer Pencil. I use the shade, DEA. All their shades are named after government agencies, like the CIA, the FBI. I like this one because it doesn’t budge or wipe away easily. It covers without getting that cakey, layered on effect.
I’m a big cream blush person. I blame Jake Bailey, the makeup artist, for getting me on these. He was raving about them. I was using powder up until then, as I was wary of creams because if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you don’t want to put any more creamy, oily things on your skin. But what I like about them, is that they give you that dewy finish. Your skin looks alive, it doesn’t look flat. I use NARS The Multiple in Orgasm, because it’s a great universal shade. I also like Laguna in the summer, when I have a tiny hint of a tan. Tarte also has some great cream blushes.
With my eyes, I like to play around with colors and I’ll wear a different eyeshadow pretty much every day. For summer, the one I’m using right now is one from MAC called Retrospeck. It’s a gold shimmer and more champagne-y. Then I’ll take a really bright eyeliner and put that on my top lash line. Or a neat trick I just learned from makeup artist Raychel Wade, she works with La Prairie and she also has this fantastic company here in New York called Cheek To Chic, is to take the liner and run it along your inner lower water line and really dig that color in, so you get this great pop of color on the bottom as opposed to the top. I’ve been using NARS Larger Than Life Long Wear Eyeliner in Abbey Road, a great turquoise, but you can use it with a bunch of different colors. It’s so unexpected that it looks really cool. I’ll put liner up top to balance it out and I like Hourglass Script Precision Liquid Liner with the felt tip. It’s really easy to use. I’ll trace a line with a lighter taupe liner first, to get my line where I want it, and then I’ll go over it with the black eyeliner. That’s one look I’ll do and sometimes I’ll use just the Retrospeck and liquid eyeliner, but I’ll do more of cat eye. I have deep set eyes so I don’t like doing a full cat eye. Instead, I’ll do a kitten eye, a trick that I picked up backstage at Fashion Week from MAC makeup artist, Gregory Arlt. He called it a kitten eye because it’s just a little up-tip, instead of a full swoop. It’s a teenage girls’ version of the cat eye. When doing a winged eyeliner, it’s important to go up before the shape of your eye goes down. Your eye has a natural high point before it goes down and at the very end, if you follow that line and keep going down, you’re going to drag your eye down and it’s going to make your eyes look droopy. Before the lash line ends, swoop it up so you don’t get that droopy-eye effect.
I’m also loving Chanel’s Quadra Eye Shadow in Mystic Eyes. It has taupe, pink, a bronze, and a burgundy shade. I really love Chanel’s quads because I use every color. A lot of the time when I use a quad, I’ll use one or two shades and it feels like a waste. I’ll use the pink across my lid and a little up above it to give a bit of a highlight, and then I’ll use the taupe on just the lid, the bronze on my contours, and then I’ll use the tapered foam applicator, dip it in water and then in the burgundy for my top lash line. I’ll give it a smudge for a smokey eye look, for a little drama that’s still appropriate for work.Total black looks too harsh on my skin, but one smokey eye that I do love doing is a black-gold smokey eye. I use three products for that. I first take Bobbi Brown’s Metallic Long Wear Cream Shadow in Antique Gold and put that across my lid. It’s a warm burnished gold that livens up my skin tone. Then I’ll layer over top of that with MAC’s Mineralize Eyeshadow in Gilt By Association, this really cool black-gold that I will put all over my lid. Then I’ll take Laura Mercier’s Black Gold Kohl Eye Pencil. I’ll line my upper lid and then use a soft eyeshadow brush and go over the line with the MAC powder eyeshadow to set it and intensify it. I try to do my inner water line with the pencil but I wear contacts and my eyes get watery real quick, so if I’m going for the full drama effect, then and only then I will do my water line. What’s important, and what I learned from Jake Bailey, is to really push the color into your lash line because you don’t want gaps between the liner and your lashes. A neat trick I picked up from our Chicago editor, actually, is to use two Post-Its under your eyes when using powder eyeshadow. The powder will fall on the Post-Its and not on your cheeks.
Jemma Kidd’s Lash Tint is the most amazing mascara, I love it to death. It’s my most favorite thing in the world. Apparently they’re reformulating it at the moment. That’s one of the worst things a beauty editor could hear, a). that a product is being reformulated or discontinued and b). they’re out of samples and can’t get any more of the old formula. It makes my lashes look so long and it gives them that glossy black look. I don’t like that full, thick look. I like definition – that length and separation. Now I’ve been using Le Metier de Beaute’s Mascara. It stays on and it doesn’t smudge, which I really appreciate. I don’t do my bottom lashes because it’s a little too doll-like. If I’m doing a smokey eye, I’ll do my bottom lashes, but for an everyday look, it’s a little too much personally. I always curl my lashes with Shu Uemura’s Eyelash Curler. That was one of the first things I learned — how awake and wide your eyes can look by curling your lashes. Molly Stern [celebrity makeup artist] taught me to hold the curler long enough to say, “I love myself, I am pretty,” which is 10-15 seconds and that gives you the curl you really want. It’s also a little self confidence boost for the day.
I feel like you should always have a white gold or a gold shimmer if you’re going to use a highlighter otherwise it ends up looking like Queen of the Frozen North. It isn’t as flattering. I put that on the tops of my cheek bones, just above my brows, and a little on my cupid’s bow to make my lips pop.
I just recently got into brows. My hair is lighter but my brows are dark, so I never thought I needed to do anything with them. I was at an event with Sonia Kashuk and I took her advice by trying her taupe brow pencil and a spooly brush and I combed my brows and penciled them in with light, feathery strokes, and lo and behold, it was such a transformation. I do my brows everyday now.
I have a bit of a bold lip obsession and I’ve been playing around with a couple different ones. Tom Ford is my go-to luxury buy. If you’re going to spend $50 on a lipstick, that’s the one to drop it on. The formula is amazing, the color stays on, it leaves a stain behind on your lips so if it does rub off, you still have a bit of color. I love Cherry Lush, the red, which is probably the most perfect red ever. I really like Dolce & Gabbana The Makeup. They have this orangey-red called Fire that is just phenomenal. It’s bright orang but flattering. My ultimate go-to, is unfortunately unavailable, from the Iris Arpfel collection at MAC that just launched this spring. The one I like is called Scarlet Ibis. I get so many compliments when I wear that color. I can wear it in the fall, summer, spring, and it’s one of the most perfect colors ever. There’s another MAC color called, Watch Me Simmer, from the Shop MAC Collection. That’s a pinky coral color that’s really bright and I get a lot of compliments when I wear that too. I don’t wear gloss because if I’m going to do a lip, I’m not going to half-ass it. I’ve been wearing a lot of Shiseido’s Shimmering Rouge. They are very pigmented lipsticks but they have that glossy finish. If I’m feeling super low maintenance, I’ll use Tarte’s Lip Surgence because they still give a color but you don’t have to be as precise with them. Their hot pink, Amused, is a pink that looks good on me.
No matter how many nail polishes I own, if I see a color that I have to have, I’ll get it. Ji Baek of Rescue Beauty Lounge combines these gorgeous colors with the most unexpected shimmers. A beautiful example is this turquoise she just released called Aqua Lily. It’s this tropical Caribbean water turquoise but she has infused it with a violet shimmer and it’s so pretty. She was one of the first brands I was introduced to at Women’s Wear Daily and since then, I’ve been devoted. I haven’t had as much time to paint my nails, as I’m in the midst of planning a wedding. Nail stickers have come in handy. I really love using those. Incoco has some amazing patterns that I really, really love. Sephora has a line of nail stickers that are fantastic too.” -Megan McIntyre; Senior Beauty Editor, Refinery29.com
*photo: Grace Sun