Once upon a time, in 2015, writer and longtime Cup of Jo contributor Caroline shared her beauty uniform. Naturally, a lot has changed since then. Here, she shares her updated routine, including a miraculous (vegan) red lipstick, a natural deodorant that stands up to any workout, and a moisturizer that smells so good someone chased her down to ask about it…
What’s your current daily skincare routine?
Everything starts with a gentle cleanser. I used to think cleanser didn’t matter much, since it touches your face for an instant before making its way down the drain. But my friend Jordan Samuel taught me that it’s actually one of the most important parts of your routine. (If your cleanser is too harsh, you’re fighting an uphill battle right out of the gate.) At night, I remove any excess makeup, sunscreen, and assorted city grime using LaRoche Posay Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin. Then I cleanse, using The After Show Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, an oil-based gel formula that has become my go-to. I apply it to dry skin, massage it in for longer than is necessary, and rinse.
How about moisturizers?
I love to discover new things, but when it comes to my everyday routine, I find less is definitely more. Over the last couple years, I’ve become quite loyal to Monastery, a spa and skincare brand out of San Francisco that makes incredible botanical products. During the warmer months, I use Gold Botanical Healing Oil Serum, morning and night. It moisturizes and balances my skin and helps keep breakouts at bay. (It also smells like a luxurious garden.) In the colder, drier months, I opt for a thin layer of Attar Floral Repair Concentrate. Their products are pricey, but a teeny bit goes a long way, and a jar lasts for months. Since discovering Monastery, I haven’t been reaching for anything else. One and done.
How has your beauty philosophy changed over the years?
If there’s anything time has taught me, it’s that the true essence of beauty is less about aesthetics and more about kindness. That sounds like something printed on an overpriced yoga T-shirt, but in this specific instance, I’m talking about kindness to yourself. Early this past summer, I woke up one morning to discover my dominant hand was numb. I couldn’t hold a pen or pump a soap dispenser or type for more than a few minutes at a time. (Needless to say, working an eyelash curler or hairdryer was out of the question.) It persisted for a day, a week, a month, eight weeks. But that experience forced me to reevaluate my priorities — what was absolutely necessary? What did I have to say no to? Where did I need to ask for help? In a way, it was the best gift. It reaffirmed that my value isn’t based on exterior things — neither my appearance nor my output — which seems to be a lesson many of us are learning.
How have you been styling your hair these days?
Over the past 18 months, I’ve become shockingly low-maintenance when it comes to my hair. I get a proper cut every six months or so (I’m currently very overdue). Most days, I’ll let it air dry, then smooth it out and play up any existing waves with a curling iron. (Occasionally, if I’m seeing other humans, I’ll still break out my beloved hot air brush for a smoother, straighter style.) The grays are steadily marching in, snow white and very curly. I am trying to make peace with them — I love gray hair on other people — but haven’t yet decided whether to cover them or just let them invade. I guess time will tell.
Are there any body care products you’re into?
I have keratosis pilaris (bumpy “chicken skin”) on the back of my arms and have tried everything — medicated creams, lactic acid, scrubs, exfoliating mitts — but Poppy and Someday Palochouli Salve is the only thing I’ve found that makes a visible difference. I’m also a fan of Soft lotion. It has notes of eucalyptus and patchouli, and smells warm and fresh at the same time. One day, while I was wearing it, someone actually chased me down the street to ask about ‘that amazing scent.’ Now there’s an endorsement!
The million-dollar question: What deodorant are you using?
I’m currently using Native natural deodorant. As a person who has done a lot of testing in this area, I can say that it works the best out of everything I’ve tried. I’ve been using it for about a year now, through many stressful days, with no complaints. I was also excited to discover that Maison Louis Marie — makers of beloved candles — makes deodorant. It’s not quite so long-lasting (I’d definitely pick the Native before a workout) but worth a mention!
Do you still wear makeup every day?
Yes. Even if I’m not going anywhere, I always take five minutes to put on my daily face. The ritual helps me feel ready for the day. I start with Saie Slip Tint, which is a sunscreen and tinted moisturizer in one. Like legions of others, I fill in my eyebrows using Anastasia Brow Wiz, which is the teeniest of pencils, and brush them up using the attached spoolie brush, which helps blend it all in. Finally, I’ll top it all off with Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara, which is the best clean, cruelty-free formula I’ve found.
How about lipstick?
I adore Violette’s makeup tutorials (and style… and overall vibe…) and unsurprisingly, her own line is incredible. My two favorite products are both for lips: Bisous Balm in Bêtise is the perfect, your-lips-but-better color, while Petal Bouche is a matte liquid lipstick inspired by the color and texture of rose petals. I’ll use just the tiniest dab (we’re talking infinitesimal — this stuff is loaded with pigment) and blend it with my finger to create a vibrant red stain that lasts all day. I also love that all of her products are cruelty-free and vegan.
Do you have any beauty “secret weapons”?
I’ve written about my tiny shaver, which remains among the most important items in the medicine cabinet.
What nail colors are you into these days?
My nails are almost always painted, which has less to do with aesthetics and everything to do with being a reformed nail biter. It also makes typing more fun. For years, I wore only red (Essie Geranium for an orange-red and Russian Roulette for a true red), but lately, I’ve been venturing into neutrals. I love a good beige or brown or muted olive. Zoya has some amazing shades, like Cho, Ireland and Chanelle.
Who are your current beauty inspirations?
There are many, but here are three that immediately come to mind: Norma Kamali, who walks the walk when it comes to wellness at every age. I especially appreciate her advice on ignoring societal myths around ‘timelines’ — she met her soulmate at 65 — and how wonderful things can happen in different seasons. Next up is Jeffrey Marsh, who is the definition of luminous. I love their teaching, and how generously they share their own stories with the world. Finally, I am always inspired by Mary O, an athlete and trainer who I am lucky enough to know in real life. After working out with Mary (even virtually), you can’t help but absorb some of her strength and positivity.
Do you have any rituals that help you feel your best?
I feel the best — physically, emotionally, spiritually — when I’m in motion. So, weather and schedule permitting, I try to take a morning walk and/or engage in some kind of movement, every day. Recently, I went into my phone settings and limited my Instagram usage to 15 minutes a day. (Full disclosure, sometimes I’ll still go over, requesting additional 15-minute increments.) It’s prevented me from getting lost in that mindless loop of scrolling and comparing. For a small change, it has had big benefits. Sometimes self care is about what you’re not doing, as much as what you’re doing.
What are you working on these days?
I spent the last year working as a ghostwriter on three very different books, which was good in many ways, but also left me wanting to write more on my own. So, these days, I’m writing my novel (the project that fell by the wayside for all the other deadlines) and a very casual newsletter. And on the personal front, my boyfriend and I may or may not be planning to get married in the near future. But more on that soon!
Thank you so much, Caroline. We love you.
P.S. Caroline’s week of outfits and more beauty uniforms, including a hair stylist and a serious makeup enthusiast.
(Field and rock photos by Nicki Sebastian. Kick and pink background photos by Christine Han. All other photos via Caroline’s Instagram.)
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