Stephanie Danler is the author of Sweetbitter, a novel filled with so much delicious food imagery that it'll make you want to treat yourself to oysters and a glass of wine immediately. Today, she shares her tried-and-true beauty tips, including the secret to glowing skin and the restorative powers of Campari.
Tell us about your daily skin care routine. What products do you love?
I remember being eleven years old and washing my face and thinking, "Now I'm a woman!" I used to watch my mother's and grandmother's routines and think it was the most luxurious and sophisticated way to end the day. I still think that! Life is hard. I don't underestimate small moments of self care.
I've never been someone that skips their skin care routine, no matter if I'm camping, exhausted, or partying. That said, it's fairly paired back. I wash my face with CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser — I used to use Cetaphil, but I love the Cerave products. It needs to be gentle, unscented. I have combination skin but I really cherish the oils in my face, I hate a cleanser that strips them.
I'm addicted to serums and oils, but I try to change them up after I finish them. My latest find is the iS Clinical Active Serum — a woman at Violet Grey sold me this product and I had so much anxiety afterwards, wondering if it would work. I noticed a difference after one night. It's great for resurfacing skin, getting rid of dark marks, and for any acne. I recommended it to a friend that found it too drying, but it's perfect for my skin.
I've been using oils for years (even though I have oilier skin, I really believe it's the secret to aging well) — people will ask about my skin and get annoyed when I say it's just argan oil, just almond oil, etc. My friend Ari Basile (of the flower crown company Thistle and Seed) just started making my dream oil from her line Orso Bruno — this one is "The Everything Oil" because you can use it for anything! It's a blend of jojoba, calendula, sweet almond and apricot kern seed. I have no idea how it works, but it legitimately takes redness out of your face immediately.
Also, The Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum is not even a primer! It's this delicious blend of essential oils, plant oils, and vitamins. The person who recommended it to me described it as a "vitamin pack for your face" and I totally agree. Plus the scent, it's amazing to put on. I can wear this without any makeup and my skin looks polished. I wear it morning and night.
To go back to my love of CeraVe, I use their AM moisturizer with sunscreen, and use their PM moisturizer if I'm feeling dry. The products are such high quality, you can find them in any drugstore, and they really work — there are whole beauty blogs that are also obsessed with CeraVe, I'm not alone!
I fly and travel a lot, even when I'm not on book tour. For years, every time I flew, my skin looked wrecked. I have a few tricks now. I use these crazy glycolic peel face towels, M61 Power Glow Peels. It takes one minute and wipes away the travel. My face shines afterwards. Also obsessed with Weleda's Skin Food and pile it on for flights. A makeup artist was covering my face with this thick cream before a shoot, and I was like, "Um, I have oily skin." And she said, "This product is going to make you glow, you will never need a highlighter again." And she was right. It's all natural, it absorbs so well. I use it around my eyes to highlight and moisturize daily, and also as a hand cream, lip cream, anywhere that's dry. I have the small one in my purse and another in my car, I am never without it.
You will also see evidence of my lip balm obsession. I can't get into bed or my car without one. It goes back to my fear of dryness! Hydration all around!
And after that insane rant, I want to say there are only two things that actually, truly, profoundly affect your skin: water and sleep. All the rest of this is just for fun.
What makeup do you normally wear?
I am the most boring makeup person; it's been the same since adolescence.
Tinted moisturizer and mascara. That's pretty much it. I have tried every tinted moisturizer and my everyday one is by Nars. I've come back to it a dozen times, and every time I start using it again someone compliments my skin. If I'm going out or wanting to feel "done," I use the Hourglass Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint. It's great for photographs, but it's a little heavy on me for running around town.
I've been wearing mascara since I was way too young, but the tips of my lashes are blond and disappear when I don't have it on. Maybelline Great Lash, in Blackest Black, always and forever.
How do you dress up your look for a special occasion?
I wear Lorac or Nars blushes and I use them as my eyeshadow as well — I don't ever wear a color on my lid that isn't a blush, I like to imagine it looks more natural. I line the insides of my eyelids with Coconut Grove by Nars or Night Breed — just dark, dark liner and I smudge it up.
If I'm doing a lip, it's one of my Nars lip pencils, in Mexican Rose (hot pink) or Burnt Siena (brick red), and I love their Dolce Vita color — I have it in a pencil, a lipstick and the gloss.
Recently, I got into doing my brows, especially in the winter months. I am addicted to Glossier's Boy Brow pomade, as is everyone. They had a crazy waiting list.
What are your go-to haircare products?
I use The Everything Oil from Orso Bruno on the ends of my hair, especially in the summer when my hair gets blonder.
My hair is very fine, so I'm always looking for dry shampoos and texturizers — I am loyal to Klorane's Dry Shampoo, but the best — when I can afford it — is SachaJuan's Volume Powder. And I'm obsessed with Oribe's texturizing spray, even though I know it's only because of the scent. I hate having flat hair. I'm always messing it up, even just out of the salon.
Are there any DIY beauty treatments you swear by?
Exfoliating — with these little scrub cloths from Koreatown, or with a body brush. I love exfoliating and then covering myself with coconut oil. (Obsessed with oils, not a joke).
Do you have any regular practices that make you feel great?
In the mornings, I read poetry and handwrite in a notebook. If I skip it, I'm frantic all day. The writing isn't ever profound, it's more about the practice of it.
I have to exercise — it's not just vanity (although, that's real!) but for my mental health. I sit at a table alone most days, and I have to refresh my blood. I love to run — I know it's bad for me, but I don't care. I'm very grateful to be in LA where there are trails next to my house and I can be in nature in a second.
Lastly, I am a firm believer in the lost art of aperitif. A glass of something — for me it tends to be Fino sherry or a Campari soda, served at around 4 or 5 p.m. with a small snack. It's a pause button. Hopefully it's the end of my work day, but often it's more of a break where I step away from my screens, sit outside, and downshift in my brain.
What's the best meal you've eaten recently?
I was recently in my favorite city, New Orleans, and I have all my usual haunts. But Kenton's just opened uptown and I was blown away. Grilled oysters, fried oysters, chilled oysters, shrimp toast, smoked whitefish mousse... there isn't another restaurant like it in New Orleans.
How about the best glass of wine?
Just last night, I had a stunning bottle of Chenin Blanc at Spago in LA, the Dominique Tessier, Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers 2009. Spago has this insane wine list, bottles that are going for hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and this was a hidden gem at $40. It had a touch of petrol and honey on the nose, lots of bitter almond, and was bone dry. It went with every stage of the meal and was so satisfying. I'm always looking for wines that are affordable and exceptional.
What are you reading right now?
I live in a land of too many books... I have two travelogues I'm reading that complement each other beautifully, Simone DeBeauvoir's America Day by Day, which describes her travels through America in the 40s and Sybille Bedford's A Visit to Don Otavio, which describes her travels through Mexico in the 40s. The books are so slow, thoughtful and nostalgic, giving me lots to think about for nonfiction.
What have you read recently that you'd recommend?
Recently I loved Jana Prikryl's debut poetry collection, The After Party — there's something dark and urgent in her work that stays with me.
Do you have any beauty inspirations?
My grandmother, of course. She was a complicated woman, but terrifyingly intelligent and elegant in everything she did. Wild blue eyes. I have so many objects of hers scattered throughout my life. An Hermes scarf, her copper pans, pieces of jewelry, her vintage Louis Vuitton duffels, her writing desk that I use as a bedside stand... she wasn't superficial and didn't spend tons of money, she just slowly collected beautiful objects and treasured them. I try to do the same.
When do you feel most beautiful?
Be sure to follow Stephanie on Instagram and read her fantastic novel, if you haven't already. Check back next week for our latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights a real woman's beauty routine. If you missed last week's interview, we spoke with Summer Rayne Oakes, a model, an eco-activist and an avid gardener. Find out which all-natural deodorant she recommends and which grocery store beauty buy she habitually uses until there's not a drop left.