Klancy Miller is a pastry chef and the author of Cooking Solo, a cookbook all about the joy of cooking for oneself. Klancy grew up in Atlanta and Philadelphia, and now resides in Brooklyn. But she spent her early 20s studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she fell in love with French beauty — and French drugstore products. Here, Klancy shares her best finds and an amazing moisturizing trick…
How did you first learn about beauty and makeup?
My mom is my touchstone for beauty stuff. She’s a big believer in facials, and she religiously got them at the Christine Valmy salon when I was growing up. She encouraged me to get them, but you know, you always have to rebel against your parents, so I avoided them for a long time. It wasn’t until I went to culinary school in Paris that I realized how they give you a fresh start with your skin. I really like getting the extractions, weirdly.
What else did you pick up in France?
Many of the French women I know are into a no-makeup look, so the emphasis is on maintaining your skin. I used NUXE products for skincare (I loved their honey face wash). And I always used Phyto shampoo and conditioner for curly hair. You can get it here, but it’s much cheaper in France. My friends used to give me money to bring some home for them.
Now that it’s spring, are there any seasonal fruits and veggies you’re into?
I love asparagus. There’s a recipe in Cooking Solo for asparagus roasted with berbere, an Ethiopian spice, which is so good. I also love my friend Julia Turshen‘s recipe for asparagus salad with marcona almonds. Oh, and lemon risotto with asparagus or spring peas! I eat lots of vegetables and fruit; they make me feel energetic. I love pomegranates, rambutan, apples, cherries, mangoes, papaya and all of the berries. I got that from my mom, who is a major health nut. She’ll literally call me sometimes and be like, ‘Are you eating enough blueberries?’
What does your routine look like these days?
I wake up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. I look at Instagram. Sometimes I stretch to an old Jane Fonda video that my mom loaned me. Sometimes I do Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. I boil water, add the juice from half a lemon, and drink it. I make a to-do list for the day, and then I make breakfast, which is usually toast and tea, a blueberry smoothie or oatmeal. Sometimes I’ll whip up a breakfast taco with a sunny side up egg, avocado and tomatoes. Then I shower and get ready for the day.
Is the hot lemon water a digestion thing?
It’s just because I need all the help I can get drinking water. I’m just like, one glass of water down, seven more to go!
Do you have a morning skincare regimen?
Yes, Tracie Martyn is my go-to for skin care products. Years ago, I went to a beauty event, and she used her cleanser and a mask on me, and afterward my friend looked at me and said, ‘You look visibly different. You look better.’ I thought, sold! I use the Amla Purifying Cleanser and the Firming Serum. They work the way they say they will, and I love the way they feel and smell. I see a huge difference in my skin (my mom always notices, too!). But they’re expensive, so when I run out, I have a good backup: Weleda’s Gentle Cleansing Milk. It’s less pricey and smells great. I love any fragrance with sandalwood, orange blossom or honeysuckle.
Do you have a signature scent?
My favorites are Santal 33 by Le Labo and Zagara by Santa Maria Novella. I also like Aesop Spray Deodorant, which doubles as a perfume. I know that sounds weird, but it smells really good.
Are you a makeup person?
Yes! I swear by Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown products, which I’ve used for years. On a regular day, I start with Laura Mercier Hydrating Primer, which serves as my moisturizer. Then I put on Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer as foundation. I don’t use concealer; my sunglasses are my concealer! I use Tarteist Double Take Eyeliner and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Brow Pencil. I finish with Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara and Bobbi Brown lipstick in Red. That’s something else I picked up in Paris — a red lip.
What about special occasions?
Ha, well, the hardcore routine — which I only do if I’m going somewhere genuinely fancy — is to go to the Bobbi Brown counter at Bergdorf Goodman, and have them do it. It’s worth it to me on those occasions. I feel proud that I can do eyeliner, but that’s my only real application skill.
Do you do any other treatments?
I do get acupuncture if something needs tweaking. I started last year when I had a terrible stiff neck. I went to Yuka at Olo Acupuncture, and it was amazing! I also noticed that I was more chill and relaxed, which was an added bonus. I only go when I need to, but I love it. It’s kind of like meditation, but with a bunch of needles stuck all over you.
What about soap or body wash?
The one I use most often is Dr. Bronner’s. But I recently stayed at an Ace Hotel and fell in love with the Rudy’s body wash that they have in their rooms. It’s orange-scented, and it’s so freakin’ good. I was thrilled to find out you can buy it!
Any other body-care accessories?
In 2017, I was visiting a friend in Tokyo, and we went to the onsen, a traditional hot-spring bathing spa. Before getting into the bath, people will often scrub themselves down with mitts or brushes, pretty hard. I went to the pharmacy after and picked up a I use a Japanese silk bathing mitt for myself, and I use it all the time to exfoliate at home.
Do you use lotion when you get out of the bath?
Yes, Bliss’s Naked Body Butter. If I need extra moisture, I use argan oil. I also learned an Ayurvedic trick for moisturizing recently, which sounds very weird but I love.
I went to a talk by Shrankhla Holecek, the founder of UMA, an Ayurvedic skin-care line. She mentioned this thing where you put coconut oil in your belly button and it moisturizes your lips! I was like, that is wild — but I had to try it. So, I put a little coconut oil in my belly button overnight and when I woke up, my lips did feel good! I know! I don’t even understand how it’s possible, except that the human body is so mysterious.
Let’s talk hair care.
For a long time, I used tons of oils in my hair. But now I have a wonderful hairstylist, Flavia, at Vidal Sassoon. She was like, ‘You’re using way, way too much.’ She pulled out this magic bottle of Davines Oi Oil and said, ‘This is all you need.’ So, now I put a little on after I wash, and that’s the only hair product I use.
When cooking, kitchen burns are a hazard of the trade. Do you have any chef secrets for treating burned skin?
I recently got a tip from Carrie Ann Purcell, the food stylist for my cookbook. While working in the kitchen, she learned that you can put a raw tomato on your burns. I’ve tried it, and it does make it feel better. Otherwise, if I burn myself, I just kiss it and put ice on it and suck it up.
Speaking of your book, I love the idea of a cookbook designed just for cooking for oneself.
It’s been so gratifying to hear people’s stories. Recently, a woman came up to me at a party and said, ‘I just got divorced, and your cookbook has been so helpful during this time.’ I’ve heard the same from other single people or young folks just out of college who are living on their own for the first time. And interestingly, I’ve also heard a lot from people who are married and have children, but everyone in their household eats something different because of allergies or preferences. So, they’re often cooking for themselves too.
What do you make for yourself, when it’s just you?
My go-to is a large salad and a piece of seafood. Sometimes I’ll dress it up myself with preserved lemons, olive oil and salt. I also like Haven’s Kitchen chimichurri sauce. Sometimes I’ll put some on a piece of salmon, pop it in the oven, make myself a salad and call it a day. It’s easy, and it’s great.
Thank you so much, Klancy!
(Photos of Klancy in striped blue shirt by Jenny Huang. Headshot with pink background by Katie McCurdy. Photo of Klancy in an apron by Davis Thompson Moss. All other photos courtesy of Klancy Miller.)