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What Maya Erskine of PEN15 Can’t Live Without

Photo: Courtesy of Maya Erskine.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Maya Erskine, co-creator and star of Hulu’s PEN15about the eye mask, coffee maker, and natural deodorant she can’t live without (and read about her co-creator Anna Konkle’s essentials, too).

This might be oversharing, but it really works. It’s a Japanese deodorizer for the bathroom. I hate going to the bathroom in public, so I bring it with me everywhere, and even just having it gives me such a sense of security. Just in case I’m met with a bout of diarrhea all of a sudden. You do a drop in the toilet before you go, and then you do one drop after you flush, and it neutralizes the scent. Maybe it works or maybe it’s in my mind, but I do like it best. I tried Poo-Pourri because someone gave it to me as a gift, but it doesn’t really work. It just adds a scent on top of another scent. This stuff seems to really deodorize from the source itself.

I truly cannot live without coffee. I have one every day, and it’s the ritual I look forward to the most. The AeroPress is the easiest form of coffee-making, and it produces great results. You can do espresso or coffee, but I’ll do espresso and heat up the milk, too, and the whole thing is so fast and simple. You just heat up your water and fill it up to whatever line, put in your scoops of espresso, stir, press down, and it’s done. My next goal is to be able to do make flash-brewed coffee, because I like iced coffee and have someplace I go, but I’m not going to be measuring my coffee and ice and water at home myself. I don’t want anything that labor-intensive. My favorite coffee — I’m going to sound like an asshole — but every time I use Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso with Westsoy Original Organic soy milk. It has to be the Original Organic. It tastes like chocolate together. And I know we’re not supposed to have soy anymore, but I’ve been having soy milk my whole life and I’m Asian, so I feel like it’s okay.

I don’t like to wear makeup, but this is the one thing I depend on to feel somewhat presentable every day. I’ve been using the Utowa curler since high school because it’s perfect for my eye. My eyes are flat and my eyelashes are stick-straight, and this curler just opens up my eye. I used to do the Shu Uemura, but really, it’s too curved for my eyes.

Some people prefer some light pressure on their eyes but I like pockets over my eyes, so it feels like the whole room is dark as opposed to having a pillow on my face. I use this mask most nights because I don’t have blackout curtains, and of course, I like using it on the plane. It’s like opening your eyes in a completely dark room.

I believe this is a French nipple cream to prevent chafing for breastfeeding mothers, but it’s amazing as a lip balm, and the perfect consistency. I hate it when a balm is greasy and doesn’t soak in. This is almost like a less greasy Aquaphor, and it’s really good for chapped lips. This smells a bit milky, almost like breast milk, but I like it.

I am always looking for a natural deodorant, and this is the first one I found that genuinely worked for me. It’s not an antiperspirant so it doesn’t prevent the sweating (for heavy-duty days, I’ll do a Dove antiperspirant), but it is surprisingly good. I don’t smell with it because it just smells like rose. I know when it first came out people were going crazy for it, but now it’s on Amazon, which is nice.

Who knows if this actually works or if it’s in my head, but any time I feel a scratch in my throat or I’m around someone who’s sick, I pop three of these herbs, and I promise I don’t get sick. If I take it in a preventative way at the right time, I’m good. I saw a lot of Chinese doctors growing up because even though my mom is Japanese, we would go to Hong Kong and take alternative herbal medicines.

This was a present from Anna and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received because I hate flying, and it was a game changer. I put them on and I feel like I’m not even on a plane, because it cancels out all the white noise and sounds that scare me when I’m taking off.

I have small breasts, and these cover up your nipples so if you don’t want to wear a bra, you don’t get headlights. Nipple covers are definitely a red carpet thing, but I like to wear them daily because they’re really helpful under anything whenever you don’t want to wear a bra. They’re great for backless dresses. And they’re reusable, too. You just wash and put them on again.

I’ll use these masks when I travel, because in Japan I’m not a crazy person when I wear one. I am definitely a hypochondriac, so this is a new habit I’ve adopted and I’m obsessed with it. If I have a friend traveling with me, I feel more confident about doing it. Because if someone is laughing about it with me, it’s cool. But I don’t do it if I’m traveling alone. If I’m in America on some Southwest flight, I am not using one, obviously.

I like Korean market kimchi — not Whole Foods kimchi, because that doesn’t have the umami I like. I like the fishy, fermented kimchi. It’s probiotic, too. I’ll put it on everything, like eggs or noodles or pho. I’ll grab chopsticks, and do one bite of the noodle and one bite of the kimchi. I learned that from watching mukbang videos. I get a lot of ideas from those. I like making these nori wraps with kimchi and avocado and egg.

There was a bit of a controversy with the creator of these, but I just want to say that I bought these before I knew about that. They are so helpful with periods, and it’s so nice because it’s like wearing a diaper but really comfortable. And it’s helpful with preventing leakage onto clothes, which is something that can happen a lot with traditional methods.

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What Maya Erskine of PEN15 Can’t Live Without