Stephanie Danler, whose novel Sweetbitter is now out in paperback, shares her essential skin cream.
It’s not that I implicitly trust makeup artists. But this makeup artist had the most luminous skin I’d ever seen. When I asked her what her secret was, she responded, “Camellia oil and a little Skin Food around the eyes.” One of those frustrating answers that means, despite the pink marketing and cutting-edge technology, skin health usually comes down to genetics.
She pulled out a lime-green toothpaste-shaped tube of Skin Food, and it looked like a mistake. The cream was thick, balmlike, and billed under the product’s website as a treatment for excessively dry or rough skin. “My face can be oily,” I said skeptically, while she nodded. I’m going to look like a flashbulb, I thought, just before she handed me a mirror.
My skin was flawless, luminous even, and not at all greasy. Weleda Skin Food is an all-purpose, completely natural moisturizer that I now keep in threes: bedside, car, and purse. Nary a chemical in sight, it’s sunflower-seed oil, avocado oil, and pansy extract, and nurtures as it dissolves into your skin.
I’ve used it to heal scrapes and burns while camping; to calm frizzy hair; and to spot-treat cuticles, elbows, and heels. On a recent trip to an arid, high altitude, I slathered it on my face day and night.
And while I don’t prime my face with it (I prefer something lighter, see Embryolisse), it has replaced all my shimmery highlighters. “Ugh,” says my publicist when I tell her what’s responsible for my glow, “someone stole my last tube during a dinner party.” Yes, Skin Food may inspire your friends to theft, but it’s crime in the name of beauty.
“Through some Amazon sleuthing a few years ago, I stumbled onto something seemingly too good to be true — a Japanese face peel called Cure Natural Aqua Gel, which is the No. 1 exfoliator in Japan (apparently one sells every 12 seconds). On your dry, post-cleansed face, slather two or three pumps of this jelly over your forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, down the neck, or wherever, and let it sit for five seconds. In an instant, the gel will react with your skin as it begins to dry a bit, at which point, you’ll use your fingers to gently massage the product in a circular motion around your face. This is the wild part. The gel will start to shed almost immediately, much like the way pencil erasers leave those squiggly rubbings behind.” — Jinnie Lee. Read more about this exfoliator here.
“I am someone who’s had serious skin problems in the past. I’m an acne survivor. My skin is hypersensitive and I’m afraid of new products. But when I tried the oat wash for the first time, something amazing happened: My skin wasn’t ruddy when I left the shower. It was cool and calm.” — Chloe Caldwell. Read more about this facial polish here.
“This first caught my attention thanks to an old Goop newsletter. And yes, Gwyneth Paltrow was right. A313, formerly known as Avibon, is a low-percentage vitamin A cream. The amount of vitamin A is low enough so that it doesn’t cause the flakiness of typical Retin-A creams, but strong enough that you’ll notice a difference. I’ve used it successfully as a blemish treatment, dotting it on oncoming zits to find them completely gone the next morning. Note: The texture feels like a gluey Vaseline, so be sure to rub it between your hands to spread it evenly over the skin. And people who are allergic to wool, beware — it does contain lanolin.” — Kathleen Hou. Read more about this cream here.
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