Answer: “Yes, you can fix oily skin with the right skin care products,” says esthetician Shani Darden, whose clients include Jessica Alba and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. “The biggest mistake I see is that the majority of people are using the wrong products—people with oily skin are usually using face washes that are too drying and then following that up with moisturizers that are way too heavy and cause oil production and congestion.” Here are five things to consider in your routine.

1) Cleansers: “For patients with oily skin or those who wear heavier make-up, one cleanse is sometimes not quite enough and it’s important to properly purify your skin to avoid breakouts,” says Dr. Ellen Marmur, a proponent of double-cleansing. Use a cleansing oil on dry skin to rinse excess sebum oil off the face (it sounds counterintuitive, but oils actually draw out impurities), then use a foam cleanser with .05 to 1 percent salicylic acid, which will tackle oil without overdrying.

2) Masks: Red clay is a hero ingredient when it comes to purifying pores and soaking up oil. Try First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask with Red Clay ($30, once a week.

3) Moisturizer: “Most are always too heavy,” says Darden, “but a good rule to follow is if something says ‘for all skin types,’ it wouldn’t go on my face if I knew I had a tendency to break out or oily T-zone. I would start there and think, ‘this isn’t going to work.'” She recommends a light one with vitamin C. We like Dermatologica Active Moist Lotion ($58,

4) Sunscreen: Look for a mineral-based, physical sunblock over a chemical one. They contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, both of which are oil-free and sit on top of the skin rather than absorbing so they don’t clog pores or adverse reactions. Our pick: Drunk ElephantUmbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30 ($38,

5) Makeup: A silicone primer will create a barrier that shields makeup from sinking into the pores and a mineral powder foundation, like BareMinerals Matte Foundation ($28,, will give even the oiliest complexions a shine-free finish.


What if the very makeup you so carefully apply every morning is actually aging you? Consider it the beauty version of spinach in your teeth—despite how embarrassing it might be, few people will point it out to you. Here, the experts map out the simple tweaks that can take years off your look.

FLAWLESS SKIN: Nothing will age you faster than makeup that has settled into every line and wrinkle. “Skin tends to get drier as we get older, causing foundation to cluster in creases,” explains Gina Brooke, Madonna’s go-to makeup guru. To prevent foundation from morph ing into a road map of your fine lines, start with moisturizer or face oil and follow with primer to create a smooth palette. Try Jane Iredale Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener Primer($48). Avoid spackle-like foundation—you want a light formula. Try Kimara Ahnert Picture Perfect Foundation ($52). Skin color often changes as we age, so be sure that your foundation matches your current skin tone. (To find the right shade, take a hand mirror and stand by a window to check it in natural light. Be prepared to be shocked.) “Sun spots also confuse many women,” says Sandy Linter, a Lancôme celebrity makeup artist. “Look for a shade in between the spots and the rest of your skin.” Even if you’re spot-free, warmer tones can make you look younger. Finally, don’t use powder; it will amplify fine lines. If you’re truly oily, just powder your T-zone.

ROSY CHEEKS: Powder is also a no-no when it comes to blush. “The key to looking fresh is using a cream blush—it’s more blendable,” Brooke says. Warm shades with a hint of pink or rose gold in them work best for most skin tones. “To give your face a lift, put blush on the apples of your cheeks, then add a touch of highlighter on the center of the cheekbones and blend it up to the temples.” Try Nars The Multiple in Orgasm ($39) and Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat highlighter ($41).

YOUNGER-LOOKING EYES: Your dark circles may have gotten worse, but you actually need to use a lighter hand when applying under-eye concealer. “Choose a product that’s not too heavy or dry, and blend with a brush,” says Chanel celebrity makeup artist Angela Levin, who works with Gwyneth Paltrow. Try Chanel Lift Lumière Eye Contour Concealer ($46).

A good eye primer is essential for keeping shadow from settling into wrinkles. Try Smashbox 24 Hour Shadow Primer ($20). “If you were very dramatic with eye makeup when young, you have to tone it down a notch,” says Levin. “Harsh colors accentuate age.” Instead, look for more neutral hues; two complementary shadows are all you need. “If you keep your eye open when applying shadow, you can go higher in the eye crease with your contouring color and that will open and lift the eye,” says New York makeup artist Kimara Ahnert. Switch to a gel pencil for liner. It will stay put rather than drifting into lines. Try Sephora Collection Contour Matte Gel Eyeliner in Espresso Your Love ($14). Vincent Longo, creative director, recommends extending the line beyond the outer edge, then blend-ing it up and out to further lift the eye. Finish with an eyelash curler and a volumizing mascara. TryLancôme Hypnose Star Mascara ($28.50).

GROOMED BROWS: Brows tend to thin out with the years, especially at the ends. “Filling them in will frame your eyes and make you look refreshed,” says Ahnert. (On the off chance that your brows have stayed lush, beware of overplucking or creating too high an arch. Both are instant agers.) To contour brows, use a pencil that’s slightly lighter than your hair color. Fill in sparse areas with light, feathery strokes, blend well, and set with brow gel. Try Tom Ford Brow Sculptor pencil ($44). Dab highlighter under your arches to brighten your face immediately.

FULLER LIPS: To make thinning lips appear plumper, start with a gentle exfoliation (a bit of brown sugar will work), then use a primer to keep lipstick from bleeding. Try M.A.C. Prep + Prime Lip ($16.50). Linter recommends lining your lips with a neutral or rose-colored pencil to strengthen the borders; blend well. Try Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in Stark Naked ($20). “Avoid dark lipsticks,” advises Ahnert. “They look too severe.” Choose warm, medium-tone rosy shades. Try Clarins Joli Rouge lipstick in Rose Berry ($27). “Adding a touch of gloss in the center of your lips will give you a softer and more youthful look,” says Brooke. Now, if you can just steer clear of spinach, you’ll be all set.

This New Fragrance Line Wants to Cut the BS Out of Perfume


I’m guilty. I have a row of pretty fragrance bottles lined up at my desk so the pink, golden, and mint-green tonics in each catch the light from the window. But I’ve never once thought, Hm, I wonder what makes them be and stay those lovely unnatural shades (dyes and preservatives, in case you were wondering). When I met with Eric Korman, the founder of the Austin-based fragrance line Phlur, he explained how he’s changing not only the way we shop for and buy perfume but also how it’s made.

Phlur is a line of six unisex scents that smell as modern and sleek as the white-and-gray bottles they’re housed in. Instead of going to a store to spritz and sniff, however, customers explore the fragrances by reading their narratives on Phlur’s website. Based on descriptions like “reverent subtlety and a warm embrace” (Hanami), “arid spice” (Moab), or “rich, decadent, and undeniably enticing” (Siano), you choose two, samples of both ship out for $10, and if one is a match, a full-size 50-milliliter bottle is yours for $85 (minus the $10 sample fee).

It’s a unique way to shop for perfume, one that focuses on storytelling and adjectives rather than notes and accords. But what’s even more refreshing is the line’s commitment to health and sustainability. First, those dyes and preservatives are out. That’s why the bottles—which are made of recycled glass and printed with vegetable-based dye—are opaque. It keeps the formula inside fresh for one to two years.

Some of the ingredients used are definitely exotic, like Honduran styrax tree resin. But Phlur isn’t interested in sourcing materials that bleed the environment. In fact, it donates a portion from every purchase to conservation groups, like International Union and the Central Park Conservancy.

The most amazing part of Phlur, though, really is the scents themselves. You’d maybe expect ones this ecological to smell more like patchouli or essential oils. But whether they’re creamy, fresh, green, or spicy, the perfumes are impressively complex, chic, and conscientiously designed.

An Analysis of Brexit's Impact on the Beauty Industry


When you heard the news that the U.K. voted 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent in favor of leaving the European Union, the first thought on your mind probably wasn’t: What will happen to my makeup bag? (Maybe, like us, you feverishly Googled Brexit to get a crash course in what the heck it all meant.) But the truth is the makeup thing wouldn’t have been that off base.

As Leonard Lauder, then chairman of Estée Lauder, observed after the 2001 recession, beauty is a funny business. Rather than contracting, plummeting, and even folding like other markets, at times, cosmetic sales have actually increased in the face of financial crisis. He coined the phrase “lipstick index,” which theorizes that lipstick (and blush/highlighter/mascara/foundation), being less expensive than, say, designer dresses, helped consumers fill their psychological shopping void without emptying their wallets. And while the lipstick index isn’t foolproof, there’s something to it. When the world went bonkers in 2008, the nail-polish business went gangbusters (as we’re guessing your own collection of lacquers can attest to).

But what about this time around? Let’s start by saying the unstable situation across the pond is unprecedented, and it’s not clear whether the “exit” will even happen at all. Here’s what we do know: After the vote, the value of the pound fell 10 percent overnight. And in the short term, that may be a good thing for beauty lovers—who aren’t British, at least. “European and U.S. tourists can have a shopping spree [in the U.K.],” says Geoffrey Jones, a professor of business history at Harvard Business School and the author of Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry. In the long term, things could be a bit dicier. “If current projections are correct and the British end up 5 percent or so poorer than now within five years, it’s certainly not a wonderful growth scenario,” he says. Which is one way of saying that while our favorite Brit brands like Butter London, Charlotte Tilbury, and Boots No. 7 aren’t going anywhere, you might not see that many cool new launches for a minute or two.

Should You Add This Step Before Applying Your Next Nail Mask?


In case you haven’t noticed, there’s now a mask for nearly every part of your body. Hair masks, face masks, and most recently, nail masks. And for every revitalizing treatment, there’s a mandatory prerequisite. Before applying deep conditioner, hairstylists recommend giving your hair a good cleanse to strip it of buildup. According to dermatologist Dana Stern, your nails deserve the same pre-pampering attention.

“The concept of a moisturizing nail mask is great. Nails can become extremely dehydrated from product use, the environment, hand-washing, and so on, so you do need an element of moisture,” she says, adding a caveat: “But moisture alone is not enough if you’re looking for increased growth and strength.” Stern’s recommended first step? Exfoliation. “I’m a big believer in exfoliation so that your nails can absorb the mask’s ingredients.”

But just as you would when it comes to your skin, it’s important to be mindful that you’re exfoliating gently and properly. Read: Quickly buffing and filing your digits doesn’t cut it. “Many buffers that are available at beauty-supply shops are designed to be used on acrylic nails, so the levels of abrasiveness are often damaging to natural nails,” says Stern, whose dermatology practice specializes in nail concerns. “I see damage from these devices every day in my medical practice.” Instead, Stern has recently formulated Dr. Dana Nail Renewal System($40), which includes a glycolic-acid-based exfoliator as the first step of the treatment. “Glycolic acid works similarly for the nails as it does for the skin. It’s a chemical exfoliator derived from sugar cane and works to remove surface damage.”

Unlike skin, however, which according to the American Academy of Dermatologysheds up to 40,000 cells each day, nails do not have regenerative properties. “Exfoliating the skin has some real benefits, like speeding up the growth of cells and making skin look younger and rejuvenated,” says dermatologist Phoebe Rich. “But when you take off a layer of the nail plate, which is ultimately dead, you won’t be able to stimulate new nail growth.” Rich recommends limiting gentle exfoliation to the cuticle area before applying a nail mask or moisturizing treatment to promote healthy growth. “Nail cell plates form under the cuticle,” she says. “That’s why the nail [in the half moon area] is the thickest, strongest it will ever be. So building a healthy nail before it even emerges from under the cuticle is very important.” To ensure that your cuticle area is well groomed, Rich advises removing any excess cuticle that is attached to the nail plate. “You want to get rid of some of the dead cuticle because it’s not going to allow the polish [or nail treatment] to adhere properly. Just don’t break the seal by pushing the cuticle back or cutting it. Then you are asking for trouble.” Rich recommends massaging dead cuticles away after a shower as an easy fix. You can also try a physical treatment, like Eve Snow Aqua Nail Exfoliation Scrub ($22), to get your tips mask-ready.

Tracking the Rise of Customizable Beauty

The 2016 beauty consumer is hard to please. Thanks to a little invention called the Internet, we’ve become more informed and certainly more discerning when it comes to what we let into our makeup bags and bathroom cabinets. In addition to forcing brands to work harder for our attention, consumers’ fastidiousness has forced brands to rethink the idea of “one size fits all” beauty, slowly providing us with the ability to buy made-to-order cosmetics, skin care, and fragrances, whether online or in stores. “Our beauty client today is more educated and engaged than ever before,” says Artemis Patrick, Sephora’s senior vice president of merchandising. “She is selective, and more important, she is informed and intrigued by beauty offerings. She has a strong knowledge of ingredient and formula benefits, so she is seeking personalized products that meet her distinct needs.” So what exactly can you customize and where can you do it? We investigated the growing trend across all the different categories—and, of course, gave a few of them a try.

customizable beauty products

FragranceYou can’t talk about personalization in beauty without bringing up fragrance, the OG of customization. Perfumers and perfumery shops have tailor-made scents for the rich and insanely rich for centuries. Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth of Hungary, Grand Duke Orloff of Russia—you basically weren’t a real royal if you didn’t have your own eau. Even as fragrance became more widely produced, luxury perfume companies, like Dior and Krigler, continued to craft customized scents for their high-profile clientele. But as the industry grew and fashion designers, lingerie companies, and pop stars jumped on the perfume bandwagon, the idea of personalized scent slowly became a thing of the past—until recently, that is.

“There was a general unhappiness among perfumers, and I think even with consumers, about the fragrances on the market, so I felt there was an opportunity for a brand that was more luxurious, more exclusive, and more personal,” Clara Molloy says of her niche fragrance brand Memo Paris. And Molloy was not alone. In the past few years, luxury brands, like Dior and Guerlain, have launched lines of “couture scents” that are higher-quality and higher-priced than their regular fragrances, while Los Angeles–based retailer Fred Segal has launched a Custom Fragrance Blending Kit at Sephora, offering consumers the opportunity to experience the store’s bespoke-fragrance service in the comfort of their living room.

But the real clue that bespoke fragrances have taken off is the number of new brands dedicated to customization: Persephenie in L.A., Yosh in San Francisco, Joya, MCMC, and Nova in Brooklyn, and most notably the Parisian brand Ex Nihilo. A trip to the Ex Nihilo shop-in-shop at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City or its boutique in Paris involves picking one of the brand’s nine scents and sitting in front of the company’s fragrance-dosing robot, the Osmologue. Then, depending on your scent preferences, you can tweak the fragrance you choose in one of three variations to end up with your own demi-bespoke fragrance. “Customers want something different—they want something unexpected and personalized,” says Benoît Verdier, one of the three founders of the brand. “I really think that customization is the new definition of luxury.”


Skin CareLike many of the big beauty innovations of the past five years, the first customizable skin care to make its way to the U.S. originated in Asia with the Japanese brand Skin Inc. Dedicated to crafting a simple, effective regimen based on your specific needs, Skin Inc. created My Daily Dose, a custom-blended serum that allows the user to select three targeted serums (out of nine) to mix. Ushering the idea into the digital age is the brand’s Skin Identity service, which can be done entirely online, catering to digital consumers’ propensity for Internet quizzes. The brand designed a questionnaire in which users rate, on a sliding scale, skin concerns (like sensitivity, hyperpigmentation, dullness, etc.) and lifestyle factors (like sleep habits and stress levels) that affect their complexion.

Kiehl’s may be the first major skin-care brand to bring personalization to the counter level, with its Apothecary Preparations initiative. Paying homage to its pharmacy roots, the company’s flagship store in New York City’s East Village offers customers the opportunity to create custom-made serums (or as Kiehl’s called them, “concentrates”) based on their specific skin concerns. Each custom-blended concentrate is composed of two complexes from a lineup of five that each address a different concern: Brightening, Texture Refining, Wrinkle Reducing, Visible Redness Neutralizing, and Pore Minimizing.

To nab your personalized concentrate, you first have to sit down for a consultation with an on-site Kiehl’s representative who will measure your skin’s hydration and oil levels. Once you’re given the results (which can be a bit depressing—my hydration levels clocked in at a very sad 26 percent, and the ideal is more than 50 percent), you give your Kiehl’s rep a rundown of your skin-care routine and your biggest complexion concerns. In the end, you walk out with a personalized box—custom-printed label and all—including the two targeted complexes plus a base of Kiehl’s Skin Strengthening Concentrate, composed of a blend of squalane (a botanical lipid derived from the olive fruit) and a skin lipid complex, to hydrate and protect the skin barrier. Mix all three components at home and voilà—the serum of your skin-care dreams.

bite beauty

MakeupOne of the earliest purveyors of the personalized-makeup experience was Susanne Langmuir and her team at the Bite Beauty Lip Lab in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. “I think that’s the big thing in customization with cosmetics or fragrance: There’s this interactive nature to it that goes so far beyond the actual product itself,” says Langmuir, who also recently launched the brand’s Amuse Bouche line of covetable lippies. “[We’re] making something that is normally not accessible, in terms of creating things that are one-of-a-kind-experience-driven beauty products [that are] interactive.” It’s a sentiment that Patrick believes is beginning to apply to Sephora customers as well. “We’re finding the products that best bring a ‘fun’ factor by allowing our clients to mix, play, and get their hands dirty,” Patrick says. “We love elements that bring clients, either through the product or accompanying technology, into the creation process as a way to teach us about their preferences.”

Speaking of mixing, playing, and getting your hands dirty, it was Cover FX’s Best of Beauty–winning Custom Cover Drops that made customizable makeup a veritable “thing.” The drops made waves in the industry last year with an impressive range of shades and the option to tailor the coverage level (one drop for a sheer finish, four for full coverage). The drops were closely followed by a skin-care equivalent, the Custom Infusion Drops, and most recently, the glow-boosting Custom Enhancer Drops, which are formulated with ultrafine pearl particles and add a touch of luminosity to any foundation or skin-care product.

For those who don’t want to play cosmetic chemist in the morning (and live on either the East or West Coast), there are a growing number of premixed, personalized foundation options. At the Kevyn Aucoin counter at Bergdorf Goodman, clients can meet with specialists who create an exact shade match of the brand’s cult-favorite Sensual Skin Enhancer. (The foundation is carried by several retailers, but the customization service is a Bergdorf exclusive.) And perhaps the latest power player in the only-for-you foundation game is Lancôme, which debuted its Le Teint Particulier service at select West Coast Nordstrom locations, with East Coast locations to follow in August.

So the next time you’re feeling unsatisfied at the beauty counter or exhaustively scrolling through online shopping sites with little to no success, don’t give up hope. Because whether you’re looking to stand out from the crowd or simply searching for your dream product, take solace in the fact that there’s a perfect red lipstick, foundation, mascara, or perfume out there that’s quite literally just for you.