My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Hollister Hovey is an interior stylist and product designer known for her singular antique-meets-modern aesthetic (a cross between Hemingway and The Royal Tenenbaums). Here, she shares her beauty tips and tricks, including her complicated feelings on choosing a scent and a miraculous cleanser that turns you into “a real-life Benjamin Button”…

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

What’s your daily skincare routine?
I’ve become obsessed with the Bionova line. The marketing lingo is heavy on major science — nanotechnology, bioactivity — and you choose your products based on your sex, age and hormone levels. Their Bioactive Cleanser is nearly miraculous. You see the difference after one wash. It’s a gel, and I’ll let it sit on my face while I brush my teeth, then splash it off. It seems totally impossible, but you can really have a Benjamin Button moment with this stuff.

Do you do anything special to moisturize?
My skin has always been very dry, even when I was in high school. I tried so many things, including putting pure coconut oil on my face, and it was never enough. Now I use Bionova’s Anti-Stress Care Cream. The person at Barney’s sold me on their whole line, actually, and I’m a total sucker. But it really does work!

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

What’s one physical trait that you especially like?
I’ve always been proud of my teeth. I’m obsessive with whitening toothpaste, but I swap brands every time I need a new tube. I feel like my mouth acclimates to the mintiness, and I translate this to a loss of cleaning power. I should probably just have a stable of travel size tubes that I rotate constantly to keep up the thrill of the mint. I’ve found Crest 3D White is pretty good. And I always love Marvis because the tubes are so pretty.

I’ve also used Crest Whitestrips, which are so much better than they used to be. The early versions would slide all over your mouth and you would kind of eat the bleach and feel like a rabid dog with foam in your mouth. Now they stick to your teeth really well and you can walk around in them and not even notice they’re there.

What makeup do you wear?
My daily routine takes two minutes: I put a swoosh of MAC black gel liner on each eye and gobs of black drugstore mascara. If I’m going out, I’ll add more eyeliner and a few dabs of concealer. Then lipstick. I always wear lipstick — my closest college friends told me they’d never seen me without lipstick and I’ve tried to keep that up through most of adulthood.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

What are your favorite lipstick colors?
I love a great orange-red and a matte or satin neutral, depending on my mood or what I’m doing that day. For neutrals, favorites are Faux (a pinky nude) and Self Aware, a yellowier nude that looks nice when I wear bronzer. For orangey-reds, I like MAC Lady Danger and NARS Heat Wave.

Do you have any amazing drugstore finds?
I love the e.l.f. line, which is sold at Target and drugstores. It’s wonderful if you want to have fun with colors. The matte lip color in tea rose is one of the best neutrals I’ve ever tried — and it’s only three dollars!

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

What’s your getting-dressed philosophy?
I used to wear so many different crazy things, but these days, I only wear black basics. Getting dressed is so much simpler when all your pieces match. I like COS and Uniqlo for clothes. I’m obsessed with my micropuffer jacket, which has big zip pockets for keys, phone and wallet. It’s so liberating to go hands-free and not feel laden down with stuff. I turn to J. Crew for shoes. I wear a size 12, and it’s constant rejection and pain, trying to jam your feet into shoes that are too small. So thank you, Jenna Lyons, for making shoes that fit me.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

This is me being a goof with my ex-boyfriend in the Valley of Fires in New Mexico. I’d bought the indigo cloth earlier in the day at a flea market and wrapped myself in it every way I could imagine. I made the poor guy endure attempts of me with it as a head wrap, as a shawl and as a scarf while I practically drew blood from jagged rocks and cactuses.

Your nails are lovely. What’s your secret?
I get a simple gel manicure every couple weeks and have recently veered toward the translucent/neutral/bride colors. They seem to go on thinner than other colors and beautifully elongate the hands. I go to Primp and Polish, the chain that seems to be taking over Brooklyn, because it really is just miles beyond other nail salons. They have so many colors to choose from and the technicians are great.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

This photo was taken near the ocean in San Francisco… where it was VERY VERY WINDY and very very cold!

How do you style and care for your hair?
I use Davines Love shampoo and conditioner, because I love the scent and potency. I’ll also use Lavett & Chin Original Sea/Salt Texturing Mist. My only other styling tools are a towel and the wind. I’ll laugh and say, “It looks French!” but my sister Porter (who’s more of a blow dryer) says it looks like a mess.

Do you do any DIY treatments?
Soaking my hair in dry, warm olive oil is a horrifically messy process with lovely results. It’s disgusting looking while it’s on, but I’ll put my hair into a bun and leave it in for 15 minutes or so, and afterward it feels so much healthier. I’ve also started making my own salt scrubs, using Epsom salt, pink Himalayan salt, black lava sea salt, coconut oil, lemon essential oil and blood orange rind. I made up the recipe myself and will just whip it up whenever I need it, because it’s so easy to throw together. I’ve also started giving it as gifts.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Speaking of which, you and your sister Porter live and work together. 
We spend a lot of time together. We also share products, which is probably gross. But it’s been a whole life of sharing things. I am generally more of the makeup buyer. She’s better about always having eyeliner on, where I’m a little lazier. But we use all of the same brands, and that can be strange. We wind up looking more alike because we have the same paint on our faces!

Is it ever challenging spending so much time together?
We’ve always been close and rarely ever fought (even as kids). We know each other’s rhythms, we like the same foods and we have totally overlapping tastes. It’s been so nice to have our loft as a home base. Boyfriends (and lots of time at their respective apartments) have come and gone, but it’s nice to have this place to come back to. We’ve been here 11 years, so it really feels like home, which is a rare experience for many New York renters.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

At home in the Williamsburg loft.

How do you inspire one another when it comes to your apartment staging business, Hovey Design?
Of the two of us, Porter is much more outgoing with strangers and a natural flirt who can work a room like nobody’s business. I come alive around friends and clients I know well and adore. So, having her out, running around, being kind, smart and helpful is vital for bringing in new clients. I revel in doing great work. When we’re actually installing the furniture in these spaces, we work seamlessly on the aesthetics and the set up. You really need both personalities for this business to work and so far it’s been just so much fun!

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Are there any home goods you’re particularly into these days?
I just bought a Ghost Rose candle from Catbird, which smells amazing. I used to be into firewood-type candles, but this is a little more feminine.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Let’s talk about scents. You seem really into them.
I know a woman is supposed to have a single signature scent in order to send men reeling with nostalgic sexual yearnings for years after a single encounter on a train, but I ignore that rule wholeheartedly. I rotate a fragrance collection that rivals the first floor of Saks. I like to smell differently from day to night, from season to season. I feel naked if I go out without putting a scent on. It’s so nice when you can get a whiff of yourself and feel happy.

For my birthday last year, my aunt gave me Oud Immortel. It’s not something I would have bought if I had just whiffed it in the store, but the way it smells on is so good that I became transfixed with it. This year for my birthday, she got me Bal D’Afrique, which is citrusy and fresh and smells so good. It also comes in a hair perfume, which is the best product ever. It’s light, and you’ll smell it throughout the day. For years, I’ve loved Encens Chembur. It’s my absolute favorite for daytime, but a polarizing choice for sure. It’s supposed to evoke “incense from a Hindu temple,” but my handsome, tasteful neighbor compared it to “wet leaves and mold.” I ignored him.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Have you ever stopped someone on the street to ask what fragrance they were wearing?
No, but I’ve been trying to find a true apricot scent. I’ve smelled it on like two people in my life and have so regretted not stopping them and asking them what they were wearing! I’ve tried all of the florals and fruit fragrances and have never been able to find it.


You’ve talked in the past about how your late mom was a major influence on your aesthetic. I’m curious to know what she taught you about beauty?
Our mom was always adamant about Porter and I owning our tallness. I was 5’9” by the time I was in fifth grade. I was literally a head taller than everyone else; I never knew what it was like being small. My mom encouraged me to never shrink away from that. I think it impacted a lot of how I am as a person. She always advocated wearing some makeup, but was absolutely maniacal about self-confidence and good posture, which she said will always do more than the finest lotions or lipsticks.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Were there any other influential “beauty figures” in your life?
Our mom was mad for Gloria Steinem — that great mix of confidence, pride, personal style and natural beauty. Following Gloria’s example, she encouraged us to stand up for ourselves, not give a damn about keeping up with the Joneses and embrace oversized eyewear. (My glasses recently won out in the war of bangs vs. glasses.) Given how wonderful Gloria looks now – in her ’80s – Mom was so, so right.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Tell us about your Queen Elizabeth costume from this past Halloween.
I love Hendrik Kerstens’s portraits where a pale gal throws on a garbage bag and looks just like a Dutch masterwork. On the morning of Halloween — after a week of a totally empty brain — I figured I should try something similar and make myself into Queen Elizabeth. So, I folded up wax paper and tied it around my neck. For makeup, I put about half a stick of concealer on my eyebrows and hairline and covered my face with white eye shadow and then rubbed lipstick into my cheeks and lips. I pinned my hair into curls and added pearls and J.Crew earrings. I threw a gold skirt onto my shoulders. Porter took my photo with her iPhone in front of my black bedroom wall, which makes everything look like a piece of art.

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

In the New Mexico White Sands — that’s sand, not snow! It’s the most mind-blowingly beautiful place on the planet. They sell sleds at the gift shop. You have to wax them and end up going down the dunes like a snail, but it’s still so much fun.

When’s one time in your life when you felt really beautiful?
Any time I use a wide-barrel curling iron and my hair goes all Lana Turner-y. It would only take about 10 minutes to have perfect hair every day, but then no one would notice when I’d put in “a lot” of effort!

My Beauty Uniform: Hollister Hovey

Last but certainly not least: what is your overall beauty philosophy?
Stand up straight, smile and never try to compete with anyone but your current self.

Thank you so much, Hollister! We love you.

P.S. 23 more women share their beauty uniforms and a trick for getting dressed.

(Portraits by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo. Additional photos courtesy of Hollister Hovey. Hollister and Porter at Home by Michael Weschler for The New York Times. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. Marianne says...

    Joanna and Caroline; I love how, despite lots of people asking the same question, you always answer in a kind, respectful way. Thank you so much for showing us all that the internet can be a good place too and for inspiring us all to be kind in our online lives!

  2. Sandhya says...

    Thank you for this fabulous series and I loved Hollister’s interview. Particularly grateful for the recommendation re: the Bionova cleanser, which I have just started using — it’s miraculous. And can’t wait to try Encens de Chembur — this is actually a Bombay suburb where many of my relatives have lived for several decades!

  3. kelly libby says...

    Stand up! I love that you “own your tall-ness”. I’m 5 feet seven but have always been taller than everyone and standing next to my long slender, small breasted sister, I always felt BIG. I’ve been working really hard and standing straight, shoulders back, and owning my height. :)

    Great post!

  4. Katrina blair says...

    I need to know more about this blood orange scrub!!

  5. Tasmia Akter says...

    I looked at the pictures and thought ” What a beautiful person she is!”

  6. Zara says...

    The Queen Elizabeth picture is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!

  7. Lovely!

  8. I couldn’t agree more about fragrances. I could NEVER stick to just one! I have a ton and I, too, will randomly decide that I must have a perfume that smells like something arbitrary… I also rotate my scent according to season, time of day, occasion, my mood, etc….

  9. Her aesthetic, her perspective, all of it — she’s so cool. Even her name is cool!

  10. Amanda says...

    I love how positive and supportive the comments section is here. So refreshing! (And this was my favourite Beauty Uniform so far – Hollister seems very genuine/magical!)

  11. Dana S. says...

    The bees knees, Hollister. Refreshing to read.
    And I will also show this post to my 15 yr. old, 6 ft. daughter.
    Dana S.
    Minneapolis, MN

  12. Jess says...

    Before I even read it I looked at the pictures and thought ‘she has great teeth!’. What a beautiful person!

  13. Cath K says...

    *shouts from the UK*
    please can you tell me where the duvet cover is from. Another great post! Thanks X

  14. Prudence says...

    Hollister and Porter never the names that come to mind for girls but they’re so perfect and the ladies carry them so very well!!

  15. Alison says...

    Maybe it was Fuzzy Peach from the Body Shop (jk). I wore that back in the early 90s. Is Barney’s the only place that sells the Bionova Line? I’m hoping to find it in Canada. Thanks.

  16. kp19 says...

    I think this was my favorite Beauty Uniform ever. I positively love her attitude! Also, that Elizabeth costume is… wow.

  17. Nina says...

    she’s gorgeous. I admire her having tons of perfumes. I usually have one for several years and then get sick of it and move on…I think I’m risky when I wear lotions that aren’t the same scent as my perfume. ha.

  18. Nicki Ittner says...

    I love this series!

  19. Is that her natural hair colour? I love it and want something similar for myself!

  20. Traxcy says...

    This is an absolutely wonderful post of a wonderful person. So lovely

  21. kate says...

    I so enjoy this series – please don’t ever stop them! :) What I like about this series is that each woman is interesting and beautiful but I love reading the commenters that support, enjoy and celebrate each other – its so uplifting to read other women loving on each other. I always feel encouraged after reading there posts!

    • Michelle says...

      I second your comment Kate! So great to read women supporting each other, this makes me look forward to this series for sure.

  22. emanuella says...

    She’s so cool. I love her style and philosophy.

  23. Siobhan says...

    Love this! What a beautiful, inspiring woman. “Never try to compete with anyone but your current self” – great advice.
    Your hair looks very London style too. Lazy hair styling is popular across Europe ha ha!

  24. Geraldine says...

    Your hair does look totally French. Love from Paris ;-)

  25. Sarah says...

    This has nothing to do with this post (sorry!) but I just want to tell you how much I’m looking forward to your gift guides this year. No pressure. None.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha thank you so much, sarah!

  26. Julie says...

    I went to high school with Porter and she was confident, talented, and way too cool for the suburbs of Kansas City, even back then. I love seeing the success the Hovey sisters have found together. And love claiming one of them as an old friend. :) So fun to learn more about Hollister in this post!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a small world! so cool. thanks for your sweet note.

    • Kate says...

      Woah, she’s from KC? Cool!

  27. I enjoyed reading this so so much! What an inspirational mind and spirit, I love the amazing people you find working in NYC. I love her mothers philosophy “self-confidence and good posture, which she said will always do more than the finest lotions or lipsticks.” So true!!


  28. I love this series so much!! Every time you post one I think, ok THIS one is the best yet, but they’re all great. Developing so many admiration lady crushes.
    Also that is the best Halloween costume I’ve seen in years.

  29. Becky says...

    Hollister, what color is your lipstick in the first picture? I need it!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Hi Becky! It’s actually MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus 2.

  30. Leslie says...

    if I were to have any more children I know their names would now be porter and hollister! Love the tallness, glasses, everything! Off to make some salt scrub!!

  31. Emma says...

    My favourite beauty uniform post yet! I love how personal it was and how her confidence in the eclectic came through.

  32. AmandainAK says...

    Where oh where are the glasses in picture two from?! They are amazing! Wonderful article, and wonderful blog.

  33. Teree says...

    Love her philosophy, style and cool name. And Hollister, you do have great teeth!

  34. This is my favorite yet. Her beauty is confident and solid, not precious and fragile. I’m the same type of woman, but I’ve spent years trying to be the latter. This is the first Beauty Uniform column I’ve read and felt empowered by. I’m inspired to love myself, indulge myself, and basically just be myself and feel beautiful for it.

    • Oh, I love your reply! Yes, own your gorgeousness!

      Great post too, love her replies x

    • Liz says...

      “Her beauty is confident and solid, not precious and fragile.” LOVE this, and thought the rest of your comment was spot on.

    • Yes! My fav, by far. Your words summed up all the feelings I had while reading it. thank you!

    • Andra says...

      Well said

    • emanuella says...

      confident and solid… exactly!

    • lilly says...

      Yes!! Beautifully said, that’s exactly how I feel. I love these profiles, but this one especially. I’m the shortest of 3 girls at 5’10”. My mother’s motto for us was always “Walk Tall and Proud” no matter the occasion, and I thought it was silly as a sulky teen who wanted to be petite (or at least lithe, whatever that meant.) But it really worked. I have it engraved on the inside of a ring I wear daily now.

    • Steffi says...

      Hi, random stranger on the internet! I don’t know if you still get updated on replies to your comment ..from 3 years ago, but if you do I wanted you to know that your words “her beauty is confident and solid, not precious and fragile” have stayed with me ever since (yes, I read the article&comments the day it/they were published). Have a sunny day!

  35. “never try to compete with anyone but your current self.” This is my new life philosophy. I love it! And I’m mad for this beauty uniform series :)

  36. Sara says...

    Hollister, the lipstick/blush you used for your Elizabeth costume, what is that colour, please?? :) It looks so perfect, like it would go with my skin really well :)

  37. Christine says...

    I appreciate the size 12 shoes at J. Crew too! Thanks for another great Beauty Uniform!

  38. Debbie Kim says...

    Sienna Napa :)

  39. lee says...

    Love the statement eyewear? Who makes the glasses Hollister is wearing?

  40. Such a great interview ! I have never heard of her before, but seems like a nice lady, and it’s great that she and her sister live and work together.
    I also really enjoyed her 2 minute makeup advice :)
    I’m also a lipstick person! Lipstick is my weakness when it comes to beauty products!


  41. Thanks so much for featuring one of my favorite women, originally from Kansas City! Love her and Porter, have you read their book, it is full of fascinating tidbits!!

    The Arts by Karena
    The India Hicks Collection

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Yes, their book is wonderful! xo

  42. L8Blmr says...

    One of my faves! Thanks… I have always shunned the “signature scent” trend and love using different fragrances. Sometimes, as a mood enhancer, I’ll wear what I consider my cheery fragrance on a day I’m feeling blue – it totally works!

  43. Isabella says...

    Hollister, have you tried Daim Blond from Serge Lutens? It’s very apricotty, and quite elegant to boot!

    • No! I must! Thank you, Isabella!

      I love their scents. Cannot wait!

    • Rachel says...

      I second that. This is my scent. I LOVE it!

    • Zoe says...

      I am also hunting for apricot scents! Weirdly the Closest Ive come is the burts bees talc and The commes des garçons perfume with the red heart. Neither say they are apricoty but they both feel apricoty to me

  44. Christine Z says...

    Hovey Sisters for the WIN every time —> best style that simply shines from them naturally; their talent exudes all around them and their gorgeous environment.

  45. HJM says...

    I’m curious about the dry, warm olive oil. Is there a dry oil? Or is it her hair that is dry? Would love to try this treatment.

    • HJM – it’s actually just kitchen olive oil on dry hair! A horrible mess, but with great results. It’s like those Hot Oil treatments from back in the ’80s only you smell like pasta.

  46. Amy says...

    I always love this feature, but Hollister’s style is so great. She’s beautiful! And her beauty/life advice is very attainable. I’m buying the tea rose matte lip color on my Target run later today!

  47. niamhroisin says...

    Great interview, love this series!

  48. Talia says...

    Love this! Loved her beauty philosophy as well. Great series!

  49. Hollister, where did you get those lovely cat eye glasses?

    • Kipin (what a great name!!!) – they’re from Anne et Valentin, this WONDERFUL little shop in Nolita. These are from their own house brand, but they also have lots from really great, rare European designers in limited edition. They’ll let you spend hours there trying on until you find a perfect pair. I’ve found three “perfect” pairs there over the years!

  50. Diane says...

    Great interview, beautiful woman. I like Fresh Fig Apricot perfume, have been rotating it for years.

  51. KT says...

    My favorite beauty uniform by far. I love the fact that her mom instilled confidence in her. And I am happy to get advice from another sufferer of severely dry skin. I am always looking for that miracle product, so may have to check out the skincare product line she uses.

    • KT says...

      Also, forgot to mention: My sister and I have a similar relationship as the Hollister sisters. We don’t share an apartment, but we live in studio apartments in the same building, so we basically hang out together in the evenings then sleep in our separate spaces, drop by to borrow something (or let ourselves in to each others apartments to borrow something), share friends, etc. I love it. She’s my best friend.

  52. Monica says...

    Loved this one! Stand up straight and smile. So simple and so true!

  53. My favorite part of Hollister’s beauty uniform is she exudes confidence! That’s hard to capture…something about her makes me think I need to be more like this woman!

    Xo Lendy

    • That is exactly how I felt about her too. Amazing woman.

  54. Lisa says...

    Yay! A fellow former Midwesterner (the Hovey sisters are from Kansas City)! Down-to-earth beauty.

  55. LOVE! – From a fellow tall girl

  56. A says...

    Wow, Hollister, I love your navy sweater and I LOVE your lipstick in the bottom photo! Is it one of the ones referenced in the article? I must have it! And the sweater too! Your confidence shines through these pictures. I’m very inspired.

    • A – It’s very close to Lady Danger, but actually the Miley Cyrus 2 Viva Glam. I got the sweater on sale at COS over the summer. I don’t see it on the site now. Shoot! It’s got a cool indented section on the back and it feels kinda slinky in real life. They need to bring it back!

  57. Betty says...

    Love love love her glasses!! Will she share whose they are?

  58. Meg says...

    My Beauty Uniform interviews are literally my favorite thing on the internet. Please never stop doing these!

    • Julie says...


  59. Julie says...

    She sounds like such fun. I loved the beauty tips, but her writing voice is what really strikes me as warm and full of flair!

  60. Allegra Liu says...

    I love the beauty uniform series. So fascinating and fun to hear about real, stylish women’s beauty routines. The Queen Elizabeth costume is amazing and so well done!

  61. She’s awesome! Love her lipstick, hair color, glasses, style…everything! So fun. Thanks for featuring her!

  62. I love your Queen Elizabeth costume! That photograph is absolutely gorgeous. Downright genius actually!

  63. Kellie P. says...

    Great interview and interview subject — I feel like I learned so much from her!

  64. Ava says...

    I too have spent quite some time searching for an apricot scent! I’m convinced I’m searching for something that doesn’t exist.

  65. RKBC says...

    I love Comptoir Sud Pacifique’s apricot fragrance!

  66. This is a lovely feature! Hollister is a beauty, and I love the advice to only “compete with your current self.” I struggle with stranger-envy constantly! Thanks for the Benjamin Button tip! I’m afraid to go into Barney’s for skin-care, though, for fear of having to take out a second loan on the house! XO and happy Thanksgiving!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha caroline said the same thing!

  67. rach says...

    One of my favorites yet! Porter and Hollister?! What amazing names! Hollister is my spirit animal. <3 What a babe!! I'm tall too, always have been and I LOVE IT!