Aside from being some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sophie Turner, and Thandie Newton all have one major thing in common: makeup artist Georgie Eisdell.
Originally hailing from Australia, the now Los Angeles-based beauty expert is one of the most sought-after makeup artists in the industry, known for creating stunning looks for the red carpet, all while keeping her clients’ skin looking flawless.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #23 series on my blog.
Her secret weapon? Clean beauty products.
“I threw myself into the world of clean beauty [when] one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer about six years ago now,” Eisdell tells InStyle. “When she was preparing for treatment, I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed to keep her skin looking and feeling great and to have some options for her for when she wanted to wear makeup.”
Plus, working with Paltrow on a regular basis has given Eisdell the opportunity to do a deep dive into the science around clean formulations. “Being around the team at Goop has made me a lot more aware of what we can and should be looking at when it comes to beauty,” she says. “I have had quite the education and I am grateful for it.”
While there’s definitely a misconception that clean makeup doesn’t offer the same results as traditional formulas, Eisdell wants to make it clear that in this day and age, that notion is quite simply a load of crap.
The makeup artist says she notices little to no difference when it comes to color payoff, blendability, and coverage when she compares clean and traditional formulas, which is exactly why she feels confident using them on stars for red carpets (during the pre-COVID days), or on set.
And even though the FDA has yet to officially offer regulations around what is considered to be “clean,” Eisdell personally feels more comfortable using formulas from clean brands on both her clients, and herself.
“Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so for me, it is important to know I am using skincare that isn’t penetrating into my skin with endocrine disruptors,” she explains. “I try my best to avoid powders that contain talc, a cancer-causing mineral, and lipsticks and glosses that don’t have lead or other toxic heavy metals in it.”
There’s a good chance that the decrease in temperatures this month have already taken a toll on your skin. And while switching to heavier moisturizers and exfoliating every night can help, one piece of the puzzle is often overlooked: diet. (That bag of salted pretzels isn’t exactly delivering a boost of antioxidants.) But according to Los Angeles–based nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, you can actually get a jumpstart on better skin in just a week by consuming these key natural ingredients, which provide the building blocks for a healthier complexion. After all, you are what you eat.
Snyder suggests that every client begin their day with some hot water and lemon. “It detoxifies the body by helping your digestive system and liver eliminate waste quickly,” she says. Continue drinking this throughout the day, and squeeze lemon on top of salads and in green juices.
Adding these beta-carotene-rich starches into your daily diet can actually combat lackluster complexions. This is due to “the magical skin-brightening combination of Vitamin A and Vitamin C,” says Snyder, that “work to neutralize cell tissue-damaging free radicals” that cause the dreaded dulling effect. Sweet potatoes are also full of biotin, which stimulates hair and nail growth.
While you probably already know that almonds are a healthful snack, they are also a beauty food, as they’re loaded with Vitamin E. Snyder names this nutrient as “the skin-beautifying antioxidant, since it’s present in human epidermal tissue, [where it] creates smoothness and suppleness.” There’s also research to suggest that Vitamin E may help fight signs of aging “by protecting skin against the damage caused by ultraviolet rays,” she adds, “while nourishing the skin from drying out.”
These free radical-fighting seeds are packed with minerals and fiber and the perfect balance of essential fatty acids—the latter which Snyder credits for giving that “glow.” (Taking an algae-based DHA supplement can help too, she notes, “to ensure you’re getting the proper amount of Omega-3 fats,” which contribute to a balanced mood and healthy heart.) Sprinkle them into smoothies and fruit salads, or soak them in almond milk overnight for a satisfying dessert.
“When your skin needs to look good, this fruit is a wonder food,” says Snyder, “and tastes incredible.” Pineapple benefits skin by improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and removing toxins from the body. What’s more, it also helps in the production of collagen.
“The powerful antioxidants in beets help fight signs of aging to keep skin firm and youthful,” says Snyder. Their combination of minerals and vitamins (folate, Vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium) stimulates cell production and repair, protecting skin from premature aging and wrinkles. Snyder recommends adding the root vegetable to your morning juice along with apple and a hint of ginger for a delicious cleansing boost.
This fruit’s tiny seeds are saturated with nutrients that help cleanse the digestive track of toxins and mucus, which, according to Snyder, may prevent important nutrients from getting to the skin. “This process is vital to enhancing that inner glow,” she notes. Since they are naturally high in sugar, Snyder recommends limiting your daily intake to only a few.
This leafy green is high in Vitamin A, necessary for growth in skin and hair. “Spinach is also loaded with Vitamin C, imperative for the building and maintenance of collagen,” according to Snyder—making it a no-brainer for any meal, juice, or smoothie.
Dates are high in fiber and a perfect sweet treat to aid in cleansing. “They are rich in copper,” Snyder says, “which is an important mineral that helps the body absorb iron and form collagen and red blood cells.” Plus, they make for a great sugar alternative in baking and cooking.
You know what I think about a lot? That time Jason Momoa called out Chris Pratt for posing with a single-use plastic water bottle on Instagram by commenting, in part, “Bro … WTF.” Since then, whenever I scroll past a picture of serum-soaked polyester plastered to an influencer’s face, I can’t help but wonder: When will the sheet masks be Mamoa’d?
It seems the moment has come. Clean beauty retailer Credo recently announced it will stop selling sheet masks and other single-use skincare products, like makeup wipes and exfoliating pads, by June 2021—an industry first.
“‘Clean’ has to include sustainability,” Mia Davis, the Director of Environmental & Social Responsibility at Credo, tells ELLE.com. After all, what good is a product that’s supposedly safe for your skin if it’s unsafe for the earth, contributing to the health- and skin-degrading pollution particles that precipitate the need for “clean” skincare products in the first place? A 20-minute sheet mask, for example, is typically made of petroleum-based fibers, packaged in a non-recyclable foil packet or non-recyclable coated cardboard, sandwiched between two sheets of non-recyclable plastic, and covered in cosmetic chemicals—more of a sachet of superfluous waste than a skincare product, really. “We realized that prohibiting these items [at Credo] would, at a minimum, keep 3,000 pounds of trash out of the landfill,” Davis shares.
Yes, sheet masks are literal trash.
“Usually, none of these components are recyclable and all of them end up in the rubbish—at best, in a landfill; at worst, in the ocean,” Susan Stevens, the founder and CEO of Made With Respect, explains. Over hundreds of years, these materials break up into microplastic particles or break down and release greenhouse gasses, eventually polluting the air, water, soil, and bodies of all living beings (humans included). “Synthetic cosmetic chemical ingredients may make their way through waste-water treatment plants and into the ocean when they are washed down the drain, polluting marine life and causing environmental damage,” Stevens adds. But this visible excess—the foil packets, the plastic inserts, the product itself—only scratches the surface of the unsustainability of sheet masks.
The production of petroleum-based materials affects human health.
“Plastic affects our health way before it becomes a waste management issue,” Dianna Cohen, the co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition, says. She notes that the same goes for many cosmetic chemicals used in sheet masks, including petrochemicals (derived, like plastic, from petroleum) and the endocrine disruptors found in some synthetic fragrance formulas.
“When you look at the process of extracting crude oil, then converting it into hydrocarbon monomers, then converting that to plastic, you see that we’re polluting the environment and local communities by releasing greenhouse gasses and harmful chemicals into the water and into the air,” Cohen shares. Along that production line, potentially toxic substances like bisphenols and phthalates are added to the mix. “When we finally manufacture it and mold it into various products”—microfiber or polyester cloths, outer packaging, and cosmetic petrochemicals, just to name a few plastic products associated with sheet masks—“we are polluting the people who work at those factories and the communities surrounding those factories,” the co-founder says.
This pollution primarily impacts low-income communities and communities of color.
“These facilities are built in the neighborhoods where they live,” Cohen says, noting that this is known as environmental racism. “It’s a relic of colonialism and slavery and how we treat people as disposable and have built a culture around disposability with materials, but none of these materials are actually disposable,” she says. “Nothing is disposable.” Everything goes somewhere. The component parts of a sheet mask will live on in the environment, outliving the user.
Even “natural” and “plant-based” sheet masks present problems.
Davis points to the massive amount of resources required at the production level, “from the pesticides used growing cotton, to the water used growing crops [for plant-based materials].” For reference, producing just one pound of organic cotton demands 1,320 gallons of water; that means hundreds of gallons of water are wasted on each and every short-lived cotton sheet mask.
As for “biodegradable” or “compostable” versions? They are rarely biodegrade. “The unfortunate truth is that most people who are using those products are throwing them in their waste bin, and that’s going to a landfill, and nothing biodegrades in a landfill,” Davis says, confirming that Credo’s ban on sheet masks extends to these supposedly “eco-friendly” iterations as well. “We don’t want to lull anyone into a false sense of action. It’s not real.” Even if consumers plan to compost at home, ingredients matter. A plant-based sheet mask isn’t doing the soil any favors if it’s coated in a petrochemical-infused serum.
All of the above issues apply to regular beauty products, of course—it’s just that sheet masks have a particularly concerning product-waste-to-product-payoff ratio, no matter what they’re made of.
Can a ban on sheet masks really make a difference?
Like previous bans on plastic straws, bottles, and bags, a ban on sheet masks—even one from a small-scale retailer like Credo, which has proven to be a leader in the clean space—is more than a ban. It foreshadows a shift in the culture of consumption. The same way seeing a single-use water bottle on Instagram now calls to mind the plastic it’s made from and the marine life it could harm, spotting a sheet mask on social might soon signal the small pile of garbage sitting out of frame, the chemicals it leaches into the soil.
“When I see an influencer using a sheet mask, I do consciously think about the waste they’re creating,” Avery C. Banks, the beauty blogger behind The Boheaux, explains.(Banks used to sheet mask four times a week, but stopped earlier this year in an effort to be more eco-friendly.) “I don’t judge their sustainability journey, though. We’re all out here trying our best and maybe they simply haven’t thought about the environmental impact of that little mask.”
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain ignorant of said impact, if Credo’s stance on single-use skincare (and the urgency of climate change) is any indication—not that it was necessarily easy to ignore before. Consumers need only gaze upon their bursting garbage bins to realize the product is problematic.
“I was taking out the trash and all I could see were mask packages,” says Clare Neesham, a recently reformed sheet mask obsessive. She was sheet masking twice a week at the peak of her habit. “After a while, I started thinking about all the waste that was being produced, not just the masks themselves, but all the serum [and] the package,” Neesham recalls; too much for a few fleeting moments of self-care.
Still, eco-conscious retailers may have a hard time convincing customers to give them up.
“We let go of a sheet mask because it wasn’t fully biodegradable, and people complained that we didn’t have it anymore,”says Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of green beauty retailer Beauty Heroes. Credo’s Davis anticipates a similar reaction. “I do think that there will be some customers that are really bummed, and it will affect our bottom line,” she says. “We’re hoping some of the larger retailers”—Sephora, Ulta—“will make the same commitments, so that we will increase consumer awareness” and decrease the industry’s impact on the earth. This push-pull between companies and their customers is “the chicken or the egg” of the current climate crisis: Who bears the burden of creating a more sustainable future? “Corporate waste is the majority of the problem,” adds Aja Barber, a writer, stylist, and consultant in the environmental space. (100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global emissions, as The Guardian reports.) “But corporations don’t change unless the general public takes an interest and holds them and our government regulators to account, and I think to do all of that, it starts with changing your own habits,” Barber continues. “A lot of people saying ‘I’m not interested in this product anymore’ changes the system.””In the comparison between individual action and corporation action, the question isn’t either/or,” Cohen agrees. “It’s that every action matters.”
Credo’s ban may be the catalyst to inspire that action, to make posting a sheet-masked selfie as taboo as posing with a plastic water bottle—to create a mass-scale Mamoa moment, if you will. It just may be the beginning of the end of the sheet mask.
Though tough to recreate, the looks at Haider Ackermann’s otherworldly show were impossible to forget. It saw bleached brows and gravity-defying hair sculptures, courtesy of make-up artist Lynsey Alexander and hairstylist Duffy. Drama reigned at Rodarte, Anna Sui, Fendi and Roksanda, too, where lips were painted in gothic deep-plum hues. Lastly, at Moschino, the Marie Antoinette-inspired hair and make-up was more theatre than catwalk.
The foil to sleek, polished moments of glamour? Lived-in make-up. The look was led by Gucci and its entry into the make-up arena – Thomas de Kluyver, Gucci Beauty’s global make-up artist, mixed the label’s new mascara with water to create a smudged, tear-stained effect. This was co-ordinated with chipped nails – the height of high-school cool. Pucci and Max Mara also favoured worn-in eye make-up, with the models’ black liner and mascara looking as though they had slept in it and woken up just in time to stride down the catwalk. At Lanvin, the two-day-old, chunky-but-neat lashes took the edge off the otherwise sleek look. Do note, imperfect make-up isn’t as simple as it looks – utilising remnants of make-up from the day before might be an easier way to tap into the trend.
Let’s Go Retro
“Hitchcock heroines” and “18th-century-inspired hair” were just a couple of the beauty references uttered backstage at the autumn/winter 2020 shows. In Paris, at Miu Miu, hairstylist Guido Palau created styles in homage to the 1940s, using an “old-school way of achieving curls” that were shaped into waves and flipped to one side. There was a similar theme at Chloé, with Palau crafting everything from boyish updos to set waves. In London, at Erdem, Anthony Turner’s lacquered S-shaped finger waves were set low on the side of the head with a severe side parting, for a modern take on the look. Meanwhile, at Shrimps, hair recalled a young Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s retro, but now.
The Mane Event
With the creation of colourful roots (at last, a way to conceal grey regrowth in a joyous spirit) and the return of the ponytail, hair became the ultimate beauty accessory this season. Slicked-back looks populated the catwalk. At Erdem, Burberry, Christopher Kane and Givenchy, Guido Palau pulled hair into strict middle partings or combed and gelled it into place, leaving the hair to hang loose at the back. “I’ve complemented the amazing clothes with some soft hair textures,” he explained at Christopher Kane. Bright roots featured at Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, where there was a nod to pop star Billie Eilish’s penchant for two-tone colour. Sam McKnight improvised with feathers to create the illusion of colour at Dries Van Noten. For a day-to-day hair trend, the humble ponytail took centre stage (see Carolina Herrera and Brock Collection) – perhaps the most mesmerising being McKnight’s half-up/half-down version, complete with a Chanel bow. Butter wouldn’t melt.
Winged eyeliner has had an overhaul. Yes, black remains a classic, but this season blues and metallics frequently featured, too. At Dior, Peter Philips, creative and image director of make-up, perfected a full-kohl look with thick outer-corner wings – it reminded us of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s own signature eyeliner, and was statement enough for the collection. Pat McGrath’s futuristic, cyber-esque take at Prada resulted in a block of metallic shadow that sat in and above the eye socket, extending out on either side, so as to expose a flash of molten colours. Whether you prefer a delicate flick, as seen at Missoni, or a more adventurous approach, such as Altuzarra’s, it was all about dressing the eyes for the runway.
The return of red lipstick has officially replaced the past few seasons’ run of natural hues, and it was paraded down the catwalks in a variety of textures, from matt to glossy to balm-like. At Carolina Herrera, make-up artist Lauren Parsons used the fashion house’s new lipsticks to reimagine “Spanish baroque beauty”. Punchy matt-red mouths were among the looks, with lips silhouetted in a crisp red outline on a canvas of clean skin. At Oscar de la Renta, Tom Pecheux was eager to turn the classic on its head: “It felt like the right time for red again, so we created a very precise lip that’s glossy,” he said (he went the extra mile and colour-matched the shade to a swatch of red fabric from the collection). Diane Kendal painted perfect rouge lips at Lanvin, Jason Wu and Proenza Schouler, and Pat McGrath returned to the red pout at Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, cementing the trend for the season.
As we dial back the chiselled contour in favour of a softer look, the runways inspired new ways of defining cheekbones. Subtle, flushed hues and bronze shading helped to create perfect skin. At Michael Kors, make-up artist Dick Page warmed cheeks with a creamy peach blush to give natural definition. At Tom Ford, the illusion of symmetry was created by playing with light and shade, and at Brandon Maxwell the make-up direction of “ultimately feminine” meant a blended cream to add warmth and highlight.
At Marni, there was extreme glitter application by Julien d’Ys, who painted over faces and hair. At Erdem, Lynsey Alexander created silver-foil strokes across the eye sockets to reflect the collection, entitled The Age of Silver. At Preen and Simone Rocha, broken-up textures in metallic colours abounded, while at Halpern, Giambattista Valli and Valentino, jewelled eye-halos and winged, crystal-encrusted crowns framed faces. It was a welcome touch of couture beauty creeping into the ready-to-wear runways.
Wind-flushed cheeks; flawless skin; and just-bitten lips: all hallmarks of the “English Rose”, the term used to describe a delicate kind of beauty long regarded as classically English. The likes of Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Ella Balinska, Emma Watson and now, newcomer Emma Corrin – who appears on British Vogue’s October cover as her The Crown character Princess Diana (another famous English Rose) – all share a certain innocent appeal.
“The quintessential English Rose look comprises berry-stained plump lips, ruddy, flushed cheeks and a dewy, invisibly-perfect complexion,” says make-up artist Neil Young. “The complexion should feel real and translucent, so as to reveal all the natural undertones of the skin.” Here, Young shares exactly how to achieve the look for yourself with the assistance of some cleverly applied make-up.
To create a harmonious balance of colour on the face, Young recommends using a multi-use lip and cheek product. “Creams and gels lend themselves to this look as they melt into the skin, creating a believable pink undertone to the lip and cheek – think royal flush and berry-bitten lips. Deeper complexions should opt for darker red and fuchsia tones,” he says. Look to Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge creams – there’s a shade for everyone – or Westman Atelier’s Baby Cheeks Blush Sticks for an ultra-natural, dewy finish.
Use your fingers
To create that natural, just-been-outside flush, use your fingers to apply your blush. “It pushes the cream formula into the apples of the cheeks, which makes it look like the colour is radiating through the skin, rather than floating on top like a powder blusher,” explains Young. “If your complexion is combination to oily, then a powder blush [like Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Blush] with light-reflecting particles will achieve the same effect.”
Where to apply
The aim is to make your flush look totally natural, as if it hasn’t been applied, so mimic where you would naturally redden: “Apply to the apples of the cheeks and pull down towards the jawline for a flushed appearance,” advises Young. “If you’re using a powder, sweep across the apples of cheeks and pull the brush down towards the jawline to create a ruddy effect.”
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #20 series on my blog.
Discerning what’s “real” or “fake” has become increasingly difficult in the 21st century. Make-up artist and model, Sasha Pallari, realised the dangers of Instagram editing techniques and proposed a call-to-action with the hashtag, #FilterDrop. It all started when Sasha saw that many brands had reposted stories and grid pictures that featured influencers who’d applied a filter. Some of the shares were obviously edited, but others were deceptive.
Keen to hear what her followers thought about filters, she posted a story that outlined her worry. Alongside a candid selfie, she wrote: “Have I lost my mind or? I lose followers every time I post an unattractive photo (and if you’ve been here a while you’ll know how often it is) and that shan’t ever stop. But there’s a kick in the mouth and then there’s a kick. in. the. mouth.” Referring to a heavily filtered cream blush tutorial she’d seen on the Instagram story of a “huge brand”, Pallari later expressed that companies should be more responsible. “It’s misleading”, she tells British Vogue.
The full caption reads:
The other night I noticed an influencer with close to 300k followers advertising a makeup brand with a beautifying filter on. Maybe she isn’t confident enough to talk to the camera without one and that genuinely makes me sad. There’s an endless list of reasons why that may be but I can guarantee the immense pressure this society puts on us to constantly look perfect is one of them. I so strongly wish you would realise the vast scale of damage the constant use of filters are. Flawless, poreless, scarless, wrinkle-less skin does not exist and it’s only because of the overuse of these we believe it does.
The brand shouldn’t be happy for their products to be advertised this way and for them to be described as ‘natural looking on the skin’ whilst those filters are applied. This behaviour, addiction and constant craving to BE beautiful is feeding into the insecurities of future generations and the damage is worrying.
Please ask yourself if you’d be happy for your children to only base their worth on how beautiful they are, the filter they need in order to even be beautiful. We are born with an abundance of confidence, but we grow up slowly having it chipped away by unrealistic beauty standards.
The way you talk to people, the way you treat people, the way you smile at people. Anything a filter can’t touch is where real beauty is.
“So many people have told me their personal stories about how it affects them and how they think they look horrible and disgusting and everyone else looks so polished,” Sasha remarks. As a reaction to the response, she founded #FilterDrop, an extension of her existing social message #BestYou. “Looking beautiful is an opinion, feeling beautiful is a choice,” she says.
Pallari encouraged followers to share unfiltered videos and images alongside the hashtag, which prompted thousands of users to post make-up free selfies (if they were “brave enough”). One woman told Sasha that sharing was “worse than having a baby”, while a 15-year-old girl thanked the make-up artist for her inspiration. “She mentioned that she no longer wakes up two hours before school to do her make-up. She still enjoys make-up but it’s for enjoyment rather than hiding and covering her face, which is just amazing.”
Fuelled by the momentum of the campaign, Sasha used her platform to repost #FilterDrop imagery, which soon caught the eye of the media. “It’s just been absolutely insane. I’ve had 9 radio interviews, two television chats… it’s been non-stop,” she laughs. “It’s all about spreading the message.”
Recognising editing usage on Instagram has become harder, and considering the subtleties of some of the filters available on the app, knowing if someone has adjusted their smile, whitened their teeth or slimmed their cheeks is practically impossible. To the trained eye, Photoshop is easy to spot. But for the young generation of users, whose daily routine includes avidly scrolling (and scrolling, and scrolling) through their feeds, filtered content has become the norm.
Investigating further is the next step for Sasha. “I currently have a case being processed with the ASA [Advertising Standards Authority]. It outlines that in the same way that a user would have to mark if something has been sent as a PR product, accounts should have to mark that a filter has been used on their stories or grid pages.”
The wonderful world of Korean beauty (or K-beauty as it’s known by beauty aficionados) has inspired countless beauty products in the UK and is responsible for improving how many of us approach our skincare routines. While once upon a time we simply cleansed, toned and moisturised, now we have serums, essences and a duo of cleansers to ensure our skin is spick and span – and that’s thanks to K-beauty. So what are the latest trends, tips and ingredients from our Korean counterparts that we can deploy for better skin? British Vogue spoke to Alicia Yoon, the founder of online K-beauty emporium Peach & Lily, to find out.
You may already have heard about glass skin, one of the biggest skincare trends from the past year. The term describes skin that is glossy, glassy, luminous and translucent, explains Yoon, who launched the first-to-market Glass Skin Serum on Peach & Lily. In Korea, glass skin is more about a general attitude to skin: “It’s an awareness that the skin is your largest organ and that you need to care for it from within. Through that you achieve skin that’s so healthy that ultimately it looks like glass skin,” she says.
“In Korea, people go to a dermatologist or aesthetician for facials once or twice a week – it’s like going to the gym – and now they want that facial experience from home for the days they aren’t in there,” says Yoon. For that, they rely on “home care”, which is created for them by their dermatologist and offers in-clinic results from home: cue post-facial skin literally every day of the week.
Referencing the Miwaji Hyalu Serum Veil (contains everything from copper tripeptide to brightening arbutin) as a go-to home care product, Yoon says that super-products like these offer results akin to the facials themselves: “This product in particular imparts a thin, glue-like veil over skin that feels super comfortable. It’s the result of a dermatologist trying to recreate a hydrafacial for home use so it leaves skin plumped with hydration. I love it,” she says.
We’re more than au fait with keeping our immune system in check – thank you, vitamin C – but the Koreans are also concerned with their skin’s immunity: “Our skin plays an immune function role in keeping out bad bacteria,” says Yoon. “There’s an awareness in Korea about what you need to do to keep your skin immunity up and that’s keeping your skin barrier really strong.” Look to ingredients, such as fatty acids and ceramides, to help reinforce your skin barrier, keeping the good stuff in and the bad out. Sunday Riley’s ICE Ceramide Moisturising Cream is an excellent product to consider in your routine and deeply nourishes while keeping the skin barrier healthy and strong.
Is your skin dry… on the inside? That’s one thing that our Korean counterparts make it their mission to avoid: “We know that when our skin is dehydrated, it’s not caused by our lipid levels on the skin’s surface, but rather the moisture levels inside that are lacking,” says Yoon. It doesn’t matter what your skin type is – oily, dry, or sensitive – but if it’s dry on the inside, it won’t function at its best. Yoon explains: “When you’re dehydrated your melanocytes stay more activated and thus brightening ingredients may not work as well to reduce dark spots; it can also trigger an inflammatory response during which the hormone CRH is released, triggering more sebum production and breakouts; and your fibroblasts that produce collagen and elastin may not work as well. Hydration is the foundational to skin health.”
To ensure skin is hydrated from the inside out, incorporate plenty of humectants in your skincare regime as these absorb into skin and help bind moisture in. Yoon recommends her brand’s Wild Dew Treatment Essence, which contains niacinamide, a cocktail of antioxidants, firming adenosine and three different sizes of hyaluronic acid to bind moisture into skin and give you your most hydrated and dewy-looking skin yet. Alternatively, try Tonymoly Ferment Snail Essence.
The one-minute rule
The Korean one-minute rule refers to your skincare regime and the way in which you apply your product. The idea is to take one minute to massage your oil-based cleanser into skin (we love Sisley Triple Oil Balm Make-up Remover & Cleanser), spending time on getting the surface grime and day’s make-up to dissolve, and then to remove it and spend the next minute applying a hydrating formula. “If you don’t apply the subsequent hydrating formula within that minute, your skin becomes bone dry and formulas don’t absorb as much. It’s a great tip,” says Yoon.
Troxerutin, the new ingredient to know, might be difficult to pronounce but it has sure made its mark in Korean skincare regimes. A super-antioxidant that is lauded for its ability to soothe irritation, reduce inflammation and hydrate, you can find it in Troxederm’s Repair Essence Mist where it’s blended with cica and niacinamide for an ultra calming effect. Yoon says it has gone totally viral in Korea: “All the celebrities started talking about it and Korea’s George Clooney bought $15,000 worth of this product for his fans – that’s how much he loves it.”
By now you know the drill: Every few months a new wunderkind skin care ingredient is discovered in some remote locale, and pretty soon it’s everywhere—in your masks, serums, foot creams, insert-step-in-your-beauty-routine-here. But at the end of the day, there are only a handful of ingredients that have stood the test of time and truly become essential. “In skin care, they’re the holy grail,” says Cambridge, Massachusetts, dermatologist Ranella Hirsch.
You’ve probably heard of all these by now. (Retinol, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, peptides, and vitamin C all make the list.) But you may still be a little confused on what exactly each one does—and how you should be using them. Here, I break it all down.
Retinol: For Softening Wrinkles and Fighting Acne
If there’s one ingredient lauded more than any other for its wrinkle-fighting, complexion-perfecting abilities, it’s this derivative of vitamin A. “Here’s the deal with retinol,” explains Hirsch. “We were talking about it in 1975, and we’re still talking about it now because it works.” In study after study, retinol has been shown to build collagen, decrease fine lines, improve skin’s texture, and fight acne.
The prescription version (retinoic acid, or Retin-A) acts fastest, but it’s pricey—and it can be drying. Over-the-counter retinols take eight to 10 weeks to show results (compared with six weeks with an Rx), but are normally paired with anti-inflammatories to calm the redness, peeling, or dryness; they can also cost less than a prescription, depending on your insurance, generally starting around $100.
Whichever type you use, you’ll want to ease into your retinol use slowly. “I start patients on the mildest version, one night a week at the onset,” says New York City dermatologist Amy Wechsler. As your skin begins to tolerate a pea-size amount, you can eventually go up to two nights a week. But stay off harsh physical scrubs and peels while you’re using retinol; remember to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize; and use extra sunscreen for the first six months.
This tiny molecule helps lubricate joints and keep skin plump, and is one of the world’s finest humectants (elements that attract and retain water). What does that mean for skin? “Hyaluronic acid is awesome,” says Wechsler. In addition to being a terrific moisturizer, she says, it partners well with other active skin care ingredients (so you can layer it with retinol, for example, and use it daily). “The beauty of hyaluronic acid is that it doesn’t have any fine print,” says Hirsch. “It benefits any skin type, at any age. And the truth is that everyone looks great with hydrated skin.”
Doctors love vitamin C because it’s an incredible antioxidant and it stimulates collagen production—in other words, it increases glow and evens out spots. For best results, look for a high concentration, up to 20% in a serum or cream.
Vitamin C does have a downside, though: It breaks down when exposed to oxygen and light. Seek out truly airtight packaging, watch out for discolored formulas, and know that because vitamin C loses efficacy in the sun, it’s best as a nighttime product, says Montclair, New Jersey, dermatologist Jeanine Downie. But “use it on the nights you’re not applying retinol,” she adds. It’s also great in an eye cream to help soften fine lines and spots.
“Think of peptides as Legos—they’re protein building blocks,” says Hirsch of the skin strengtheners. Studies show certain peptides can boost collagen production and speed wound healing; or they can mimic the effect of Botox when applied topically. That means you’ll likely want to introduce peptides in your 30s, when you notice your skin doesn’t feel quite as firm or bouncy as it did in your 20s. They can also be used on your body to smooth and firm skin, and they may fade old scars and stretch marks. There’s emerging science that some peptides have been found to safely treat eczema.
Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide: For Eradicating Acne
Okay, these are technically two ingredients—but the pair is name-dropped so frequently in the same acne-fighting sentence that it seems a shame to split them up.
“Salicylic acid is a lipid-soluble acid, so it penetrates into oily pores to clean them out, and it’s anti-inflammatory too,” renowned dermatologist Fredric Brandt once told us. “Benzoyl is antibacterial, so together they work synergistically.”
Look for bacteria-zapping benzoyl peroxide in face washes or spot treatments. It’s widely available in drugstores, ranging from 2.5% to 10% concentrations. (To minimize irritation, start with the lowest.) Try salicylic acid in an allover toner or cream to prevent breakouts, or on pimples if you have sensitive skin—it’s gentler than benzoyl, explains Wechsler.
“My patients love, love, love AHAs,” says Downie, who explains that the powerful exfoliators are genius for clearing up sun damage, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines. Multiple AHAs exist, but the most popular (and potent) is glycolic acid, which penetrates damaged skin to spur fresh, new skin cell production. Glycolic acid does its exfoliating work in everything from once-monthly in-office face peels to nightly washes, but it’s best not to use glycolic acid while you’re on retinols. And if your skin is sensitive, try glycolic’s less intense AHA cousin, lactic acid, which also chemically exfoliates but isn’t as drying.
Sephora became the first brand to join the 15 Percent Pledge. The initiative, created by Brother Vellies designer Aurora James, asks major retailers to pledge at least 15% of their shelf space to black-owned businesses. “So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” James wrote in the post that launched the pledge.
“We recognize how important it is to represent Black businesses and communities, and we must do better. So, we’re starting now,” Sephora wrote in an Instagram post, announcing their participation. This is hopefully only the beginning of real change to come within Sephora, and other major brands like it.
If you’re looking for what brands to support even before the 15% pledge kicks into full gear, here are 7 Black-owned beauty brands you can shop on Sephora to continue to support the Black community.
Fenty Beautyby Rihanna
Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty after years of experimenting with the best-of-the-best in beauty—and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones. She launched a makeup line “so that people everywhere would be included,” focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades.
“This is the golden age of makeup. PAT McGRATH LABS is my Golden Revolution. The entire planet is just as cosmetics obsessed as I’ve always been. Makeup is a movement. Makeup is mesmerizing. Makeup is major. Mantra-esque, three words have repeated over and over in my mind ever since I was young. Obsession. Inspiration. Addiction. Those words became my guiding principles, my manifesto as I brought this brand to life . I wanted to capture, in a quartet of exquisite palettes, 50 legendary lipsticks, a divine dozen eyeliners and five fetish-worthy lip pencils, The Power of Transformation, The Power of Beauty; The Power of Makeup.” – Pat McGrath, CEO & Founder of PAT McGRATH LABS
After an early-twenties move to New York City forced Nancy to trade out her homemade essentials for the store-bought variety, she quickly realized that the natural hair care on the market simply did not live up to its performance claims. Armed with a tiny East Village studio apartment, her grandmother’s coveted beauty recipes and a rockstar natural chemist team, Nancy Twine founded Briogeo Hair Care.
“Adwoa beauty is a modern, non toxic, gender neutral beauty brand catering to multi-cultural hair textures. buying hair products is a choice, not a command. we empathize with your experience in using tons of products that failed to deliver the results. we’ve created a highly effective collection of products with ingredients that are concentrated, working with nature and science to bring you immediate results. we are committed to being transparent with our ingredients.”
“Our products are daily essentials for inner and outer radiance, because beauty and balance start from within. Golde was founded by Trinity Mouzon in 2016 with the vision of making self-care more inclusive, engaging, and fun. Our products are infused with single-origin turmeric, a potent super-herb recognized for its beautifying, healing, and mood-boosting properties.”
“Whether it’s with an eye mask, a lip mask, or a lip scrub, we’re all about keeping you naturally cute and effortlessly fresh. We think you’re dope just the way you are, but we’re here to give you that little bit of extra. Chill with us for 15-20 minutes, and we’ll put stars in your eyes and kisses on your lips.”
Considered the secret behind Hollywood’s most flawless faces, expert esthetician Shani Darden sets herself apart with her results-oriented approach to skin care. Her passion for simple, yet effective solutions has earned her clients’ trust and respect in a town where beauty, health, and wellness standards are high.
What does it mean to be beautiful on planet Earth in 2020? In search of clear skin, a mellow demeanor, the perfect eyebrows, and a high vibe, what are we reckoning with? From sheet masks to disposable salon sandals to plastic lining in the shipping of even eco-friendly materials, waste permeates the beauty industry in ways that can no longer be overlooked. According to the United Nations, half of all plastic is designed to be used only once, and environmental scientists are suggesting that plastics will serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era, despite becoming ubiquitous only within the past hundred years. It’s not cute that Styrofoam takes up an estimated 30% of space in landfills and lingers for about 500 years, that trash floats in the oceans, and that microplastics exist in our food supply. With packaging accounting for 40% of plastic usage, beauty brands are turning to a natural solution: mushroom mycelium.
“Mycelium is the root structure of mushrooms,” explains Loney Abrams, florist, artist, and co-owner of Wretched Flowers. “Mycelium networks can take on any form and once they colonize a form, it’s incredibly durable, insulating, and flame resistant”—properties which make mushrooms an ideal substitute for Styrofoam and plastic. Abrams and her partner, Johnny Stanish, have considered mycelium in a variety of settings. It was the material that made up their Bondage vases (also designed in special colors for a collaboration with the sustainable clothing brand Eden), which function conjunctly as vessels and shipping containers. Stanish and Abrams dream of a day when mycelium can replace Styrofoam in the shipping of large pieces of art, and make the case that mycelium could benefit myriad industries, from art and flowers to beauty. Wretched Flowers sources from and is inspired by Ecovative Design, the company that has been growing mycelium in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand to combat single-use plastics since 2007.
“Mushrooms are nature’s recycling system,” explains Gavin McIntyre, cofounder of Ecovative Design. “They’re decomposers. Mycelium grows really quickly, and for the industrial process, [we’re able to grow it] in days.” Many compostable products, such as the compostable cups that you see at coffee shops, are made from polylactic acid (PLA), a corn sugar fermented by bacteria, and are only industrially compostable. Mycelium products biodegrade within a month in a home compost, meaning they don’t need to be sent out to a facility. I asked McIntyre about composting in New York City, where the mayor has recently suspended the composting program, and he pointed out that you could technically cut up the packaging and put it out next to a tree or—though he doesn’t recommend this—a local body of water, as the product is safely marine compostable and used to protect scientific buoys in oceans around the world by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mycelium acts like a glue and is grown into molds (no pun intended) fitting any shape, from packaging inserts to sculpture to beauty applicators. Ecovative Design grows mycelium beauty and skin-care products, including eye masks, sheet masks, and makeup wedges. They are also partnering with beauty, fashion, art, and technology brands to customize packaging.
One such brand is Hudson Hemp, a farm and CBD company built on land owned by Abby Rockefeller and her family in the Catskill mountains. I spoke with cofounder Melany Dobson about how and why she decided to integrate mycelium packaging into Hudson Hemp’s CBD line, Treaty. Dobson’s team grows hemp as part of a dynamic crop rotation alongside grains that supply flour to local bakeries, livestock feed for dairy farms, and rye and hops for brewers and distillers. Part of the mission of Hudson Hemp is to develop soil that relies on nutrients that come from the farm itself; since mycelium goes hand in hand with soil health, it was already in mind. “I learned about Ecovative through Seed—a probiotic brand that has used Ecovative since 2018 in their original packaging—and decided to go for it,” Dobson says. This ethos of open-source sharing when it comes to sustainability is one that is inevitably moving the industry forward. Since its launch, all Hudson Hemp CBD has been shipped in custom Ecovative packaging.
How does change happen in the beauty industry? I think about my own brand, Masha Tea, and how the transition to more thoughtful packaging finally happened when I saw an Instagram post by Nu Swim (which, incidentally, fills my bathing suit collection with perfect fits made from regenerated ocean waste) about the biodegradable packaging company Ecoenclose. The fact of the matter is, companies are always looking to one another to see how they can improve. On a larger scale, as Dobson notes, “Multinational companies [look to] small brands once they get attention. It helps set trends. If Treaty uses Ecovative, L’Oréal starts thinking about it too.”
This idea was at the heart of my conversation with Rodrigo Garcia Alvarez, founder of Amen, a vegan line of candles produced in the historic fragrance capital of Grasse, France. “The new luxury is when things are done by ethical and sustainability standards and not just by how things look,” he says. Amen candles, which are sold at Dover Street Market, 10 Corso Como, and The Conservatory, are all shipped in mycelium grown in Amsterdam. In fact, Garcia Alvarez sees mycelium as the future of luxury, with the goal of inspiring 10 major brands to incorporate mushroom materials, then 100, and eventually a world in which mycelium can “reach the economics of scale and efficient cost,” making mushrooms more accessible in the way that plastics are today.
Eyes are on mushrooms as the future of our reckoning with waste. “Why is CBD a beauty product?” I asked Dobson toward the end of our conversation about Hudson Hemp. “Because it brings the inner-outer beauty conversation full circle,” she answered. “If you’re feeling how you need to feel in the moment you’re in, that is beautiful.” As beauty brands consider how best to meet the needs of the earth alongside those of their consumers, mycelium reminds us that there are exciting alternatives to a wasteful existence.