San Francisco-based Courtney Klein is the founder of the maternity line Storq and one of the funniest, most effortlessly chic people we know. Today, she shares her tips, including the (organic!) lipstick that looks good on everyone and the sweetest lesson she learned as a kid…
What is your daily beauty routine?
It sounds silly, but my husband Zach and I created something we call the “Morning Captain.” The captain is responsible for our daughter Nell from wake-up until we leave for work, while the non-captain has the morning to do as they please. We alternate every other day, so on my captain days my beauty routine is pretty minimal. I’ve used Klorane’s dry shampoo forever. It’s one of those things I used once and was like, “This is my thing.” I used to use the spray-on kind, but started feeling guilty about the environment, so I like that this version isn’t aerosol. It kind of poofs onto your hair, as opposed to the powder kind you have to shake on. It’s not quite as awesome as the aerosol, but this is the best non-aerosol dry shampoo I’ve found.
After my shower, I spray on Glossier Face Mist, which wakes me up and makes me feel like I’ve done more than I have. Your skin looks dewy right after you use it. A lot of rosewater sprays can have super heavy smells, but this one dissipates, which I like. After I use it, I’m ready to face the day.
Last but not least, I use Keys Rx Moisturizer with SPF 30. I started using it after my dermatologist told me we should look at the zinc content when choosing a sunscreen, since that’s what protects your skin. This one has a high zinc content, but doesn’t go on white and rubs in very well. I use it on my face, and if there’s any left over I’ll put it on my hands to protect them, too. That’s another thing I learned, that sunscreen for hands is critical.
What about the days when you’re not morning captain?
The mornings I have to myself, I take my time getting ready. I have long, stick-straight hair, and it gets really tangled. I use the Tangle Teezer. It’s not a pretty brush; you don’t want anyone to see that you have it. But it’s amazing how easily it cuts right through. I brush my hair with it before I get in the shower, get all the tangles out, then finger-comb it when I get out. I use VERB Shampoo and Conditioner, which is made by two Bumble & Bumble alums and is one of the few sulfate-free shampoos I’ve found that doesn’t leave my hair feeling like straw.
I wash both body and face with The Dead Sea Warehouse Original Salt Bar. I have no idea how I first found it, but its quirky packaging and promise of “kissing the itchies goodbye” won me over. When I want to linger, I’ll use some Fig + Yarrow Sea Scrub, which I kid myself into believing is especially detoxifying because it has “sea” in the name. For moisture, I use Portland Apothecary Body Oil. It keeps my skin smooth and soft, especially when I use it right after the shower. It smells lightly of rose and cedar, but it’s not an overpowering scent, and you don’t have to use much.
Do you wear makeup?
Some days I do and some days I don’t, depending on where I’m going. On makeup days, I always use Stowaway Creaseless Concealer because it does double duty under my eyes and on any blemishes, plus it’s small enough to take along for touchups in even the tiniest of clutches. I’ll use Alima Pure Mascara, which is a natural mascara that works as well as any department store brand. It goes on smoothly and doesn’t clump. And then have you heard of this amazing blush called NARS Orgasm?!! Just kidding. I know everyone uses it, but it really is the best.
Do you have a “game-changing” beauty product?
Everyone says lipstick is a great pick-me-up, and it definitely is. ILIA Wild Child is bright, chic and organic. It just makes you feel good. I might have huge bags under my eyes, but if I put on red lipstick it changes my outlook for the day. I’ve given it to a bunch of friends, and everyone finds it flattering.
As a New Yorker who sometimes dreams of relocating, I’m curious to hear: Has California influenced your attitude towards beauty?
I’m not sure if it’s the relaxed vibes of California or simply growing older, but these days I’m more generous with myself and my appearance. Of course there are things I’m self-conscious about, but where my New York self tended to nitpick and obsess, my California self practices letting go. It might be a while before I achieve full enlightenment on this front, if ever, but I feel good about moving in this direction.
Did you have any cringe-worthy beauty moments?
I sported a side mullet in college. I wanted to get a pixie cut, but something got miscommunicated and I ended up with hair that was very short on one side, while the other side swept across my face, like one huge, long bang. There was also the terrible perm I begged my mom for in the fourth grade and all of the lipstick I ever purchased at Hot Topic. They’re not regrets, really, just moments in time. But I’m grateful for the absence of social media back then.
Do you ever splurge on treatments?
Every now and then I’ll treat myself to a facial. I used to know nothing about them — and thought they were extraneous — until a good friend took me to get one. Having that hour where you’re sitting in a room and you can’t look at your phone because there are cucumbers on your eyes feels like meditation. I love that you walk out with glowing skin; I always leave with no makeup on and feel super confident.
Facialist Kristina Holey just relocated to California, and I’m eager to try out her holistic approach. She not only works on your skin, but also interviews you about everything in your life, like what you’re eating and drinking. I like when someone’s approach is not just about getting the blackheads out, but about having an overall sense of well-being.
What’s the one thing you always have in your bag?
I love Smith’s Rosebud Salve. I use it on dry lips and hands, even on my knees! Now that I have a kid, I wash my hands much more. They can get dry and cracked, and this is a great moisturizer. I’ve used it for so long now that I keep it in my purse and find it comforting to have around.
What is your nighttime routine?
Does wine count as a ritual? I’m not a wine expert at all, but I’m trying to learn more. One thing that my friend is doing is focusing on a different type of wine every month, so she can figure out what she likes. She’s learned a lot. I also use an app called Delectable. If you see a wine, you can scan it to see the cost, how other people have rated it, and keep track of what you like. One thing that’s awesome about California is the abundance of amazing local wines. Even the supermarkets carry them!
Have you read any good books lately?
When you’re running your own company, it can be hard to step back. So I’m trying to spend my evenings doing things that don’t involve my phone or computer. I like to alternate between reading something light, like The Girl on the Train with reading something more serious or nonfiction. It’s kind of like watching Boyhood, followed by a rom-com, followed by 12 Years a Slave. It helps me enjoy each book. I just finished reading Making The Mummies Dance, about the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was fascinating.
Your home looks beautiful. What are some of your favorite creature comforts?
The funny thing about home photos is that the photographers move everything unsightly out of the frame. Ninety-nine percent of the time it doesn’t look the way it appears online! Right now, I love my houseplants, which my friend Amy got me into. Another friend of mine is a shepherdess, and her goats graze around Berkeley to keep the chances of fire down. She started a company called Shepherdess. We just bought one of her fluffy, beautiful hides and I’ve been laying on it every night. It’s so comfortable and my daughter loves rolling around on it.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs, or anyone thinking about starting a business?
I feel like I’m still in the boat where I should be getting advice rather than giving it, but here goes! These are a few truths I’ve learned along the way: 1. You can’t do everything yourself. You just can’t. So find people you can trust, and give them the freedom to do their thing. 2. You will make mistakes. There’s no way to avoid it. Don’t waste time beating yourself up; just take stock, move on, and try not to repeat them. 3. Go with your gut. People will tell you a million different things you’re doing right or wrong. Everyone has an opinion, but it’s your company and you need to trust your instincts. 4. Don’t be afraid to hear the criticism. Don’t get upset. Don’t get mad. Just listen. Obviously this one is hard, but even if you’re rejecting it in your heard, you will have listened and that is never a bad thing.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
My husband somehow managed to import a Japanese snow cone machine for my birthday one year. Sometimes we’ll go out on the street with it, and our neighbors will gather and eat snow cones. We make flavored ones for the kids and boozy ones for the adults.
What lessons did your mom teach you about beauty?
I had an eye patch for a few years when I was younger [far right, above], which was pretty cute in retrospect, but definitely didn’t feel that way at the time. My impulse was to hide, but my mom took the opposite tack and encouraged me to flamboyantly decorate the patch (with heart stickers on Valentine’s Day, for example). Her reasoning was that it was going to be noticed either way, so if I celebrated the way I looked instead of being a shrinking violet, then others would perceive that and treat me with respect. I can’t say it always worked flawlessly, or that I always felt beautiful, but her message always stuck with me.
Last but certainly not least: Do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Go with the flow. Actually, it’s less of a philosophy and more of a reaction to what I see in the mirror everyday and learning to take it in stride. At this point, I feel like this is how I look. I do my best to view makeup as my ally rather than my dark master.
Thank you so much, Courtney!
(Photos courtesy of Courtney Klein. San Francisco trolley, dog walk, backyard garden and overhead couch shot by Jamie Beck of Ann Street Studio. Yellow dress shot by Noah Kalina. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)