The Top Shelf Has Some Really Great Beauty Advice


Everyone’s the CEO of their own beauty startup: when it comes to figuring out a routine that works, there’s a lot of learning-by-doing. What do you budget for? Where should you splurge? How do you get this to work like that, or even just run smoothly? There’s a whole vocabulary to learn, processes to get familiar with, and at the very beginning, no one knows what the heck they’re doing. True to form, it helps to network. Through The Top Shelf, we’re constantly learning new tips to navigate our way through the beauty aisle—think of the interviewees as beauty mentors, and you their bright eyed and bushy tailed beneficiary. Beyond just product recommendations, there were so many nuggets of wisdom from this year’s Top Shelf cohort that made us say “ohhhh.” Just some we have bookmarked:

Beauty, at its best, should help you feel more like yourself

“One of the best tips a makeup artist gave me was to decide on three things in your routine that matter the most to you, and make them a part of your consistent casual look. My three things are mascara, lip gloss, and eyebrows, for sure.” —Poppy, Musician

“When I wear a red lip, I can’t wear any cheek color. I like for my face to feel very matte, almost like a cross between that dramatic Gwen Stefani look and Snow White. If I don’t wear a red lip, the only other lip product I’ll use is balm. And that’s when I’ll do a more flushed cheek.” —Athena Calderone, Interior Designer, Author, + Chef

“When I was younger, my mom would say, ‘Don’t wear red lipstick because it looks garish on dark skin.’ But as soon as she said that, it made me want to go out and buy all the red lipsticks. I actually think that bright lipsticks and really bold, dark lipsticks look really cool with dark skin tones. And especially because I don’t know what to do with everything else, makeup-wise, lipstick has always been a way to feel like I’ve put a look together.” —Zeba Blay, Writer

It doesn’t have to be expensive

“I think people always want to think they got a steal, but just because two creams are good doesn’t mean they’re dupes! It just shows you that cheaper formulations can be excellent.” —Charlotte Palermino, Founder, Dieux Skin

“The Body Shop is my small secret. If I want to buy beauty and don’t want to go broke, I go there—everything is so affordable and so good.” —Molly Goddard, Co-Founder, Desmond & Dempsey

“I alternate between using a makeup wipe or Pond’s Cold Cream to take off my foundation. Pond’s you can buy for just a few dollars, and it’s amazing. [And] I wash my face with the original Dove Beauty Bar. Dove bars are 25-percent moisturizer, so it cleanses while protecting the moisture barrier of your skin.” —Toni Ko, Founder, Nyx Cosmetics & Bespoke Beauty Brands

“My grandmother used [Pond’s], my mama used it, and it’s very inexpensive. Same thing with Vaseline, which is my favorite eye cream—I will fight crow’s feet at all costs. [Another thing I love is] to get in a warm bath covered in Johnson and Johnson jelly baby oil, and let that soak.” —Lala Kent, Vanderpump Rules

But a lot of it is

“I’d never really invested in my skin until last year—I didn’t even know where to start. You know, let’s be real, these things are expensive. You have to have a certain level of income, which I felt privileged to have. Everyone’s like, ‘What’s the celebrity’s secret?’ It’s money! Really, it’s money.” —Peyton Dix, Social Media Strategist

There’s always something new to learn

“The best tip I’ve gotten from a makeup artist on set was to wet my Beautyblender with warm water, not cold water. It makes such a difference in the way it distributes product.” —Tabria Majors, Model

“Over winter break in college I went to work on a Manuka honey farm for fun because I’d always wanted to go to New Zealand. It was so much fun, but I got really sunburnt. The mom of the family that owns the farm told me to try the honey we were harvesting on my face. Every night, we’d sit in front of the TV with Manuka honey dripping off our faces.” —Michelle Li, Stylist + Creative

“There are only a few gemstones that you have to be careful about oils and alcohols with, the most common ones being pearls, coral, and turquoise. They’re porous, so anything you put on will get absorbed and damage or discolor your jewelry. You don’t have to take off gold, or faceted gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, and garnets when you wash your hands, but I take them off before applying hand cream. Oil will stick onto the gemstones and make them look dull.” —Joanna Gong, Private Sales Director Specialist, Sotheby’s

And a solution to even the most persistent woes

“A lot of Black women suffer from seborrheic dermatitis and just don’t know it, but, fun fact: [ketoconazole] is usually prescribed as a shampoo, and those shampoos are not formulated for highly textured, Black hair. Eventually I learned that it’s also available as a foam, which is great because I can spray it directly on my scalp, even if I have braids.” —Rinny Perkins, Comedian, Writer, Visual Artist

“Lily wanted to go blonde, but what we did was highlight it and then root it. I lightened up the whole head and then put dark ammonia-free hair color on the roots, so her own color never went red. I toned the middle with a level 8 or 9, and then I just left the bottom area raw. It was fantastic because she could go six months without a touch up.” —Tracey Cunningham, Colorist + Owner, Mèche Salon

“Every two weeks I dry brush. My legs can get flaky no matter what I do, and when I do dry brush I see all the flakes go away. That’s the only reason why I do it.” —Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye, Founder & CEO, Ami Colé

“I have lots of baby hairs, and it’s taken years to figure out how to slick my hair back. V76 by Vaughn Molding Paste really helps. I put a little bit on the surface of my hair, especially on the top around my part where it sticks out most, and really press it down. Then I use a regular comb to slick it back. That holds better than hairspray for me.” —Mistress Iris, Dominatrix

But if you can’t find one… most rules are meant to be broken

“I put on [Milky Jelly Cleanser] before I shower, leave it on in the shower for about five minutes, and then I take it off with water. Also, I don’t know if this is right, but if I have small spots, I put some on in the night and then sleep with it on. My spots are always gone the next day. It just balances my skin in some way—it’s very good for me.” —Julie Fagerholt, Head of Design, H2OFagerholt

“Take a chunk of your hair in a straightener, flip it, pull it away from your face, and let it glide away from you. That creates a perfect corkscrew curl.” —Emily DiDonato, Model + Founder, Covey

“People always ask me if I use The Ordinary, and I do, but I never want to tell them how I use it. It’s a body brand for me—their Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution goes on the back of my arms too, and I use the red AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution on my feet to get rid of calluses.” —Charlotte Palermino

“I’ve been playing with RMS’ Beauty Eye Polish in Utopia on my cheeks, because I don’t like how it looks on my eyes. I do the same thing with the Givenchy Ombre Couture Waterproof Cream—I really like products that are multipurpose.” —Youri Park, Co-Founder & CTO, Newness

Photo via ITG





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