This Tiktok No-Bleach Highlights Hack Is Kind Of

Any virgins in the house tonight? Hair color virgins, that is, with shiny soft hair the exact color at the tips it is at the roots. Maybe the thought of actually doing it (coloring your hair) gives you nervous butterflies, so you’ve just put it off. It’s A) expensive B) time-consuming C) can change the texture of your hair and D) you still might end up hating it. If only there was a way to change up your hair color without damaging or having to maintain it! It sounds like a pipe dream, but Tiktok may have a solution: faux highlights. No, they don’t involve clip-in extensions. Or bleach, for that matter! It all starts with a gloss.

Unlike most concoctions a hairstylist might mix up at the back bar, glosses come in peace. They’re non-damaging, safe for every hair pattern, and only semi-permanent, lasting about 20 shampoos before hair fades back to its original shade. They leave no line of demarcation (like you’d see with traditional dye) or obvious root situation as your hair grows out. And glosses don’t require any maintenance—if you decide your color is not something you want to continue with, it’s as easy as not making an appointment for a touch up to deal with. The caveat is, since glosses don’t contain any bleach, you just can’t use them to go lighter.

At Anthony Cristiano salon in Chicago, colorist and natural redhead Lauren Ashley doles out lots of glosses. But to add more dimension, sometimes she pairs them with a “faux highlight” process, which her client, model Madeline Ford, recently documented on her channel.

Ashley starts the exact same way she would when painting on regular highlights, weaving a comb through her clients’ hair to pick out and separate the pieces she’d like to be lighter. The big trick is that, instead of painting on bleach, she coats the “highlights” in a rich conditioner and tucks them up safe and sound in foil. On the rest of the hair, she’ll apply a gloss slightly deeper or more saturated than the hair’s natural tone. And when she rinses everything out, the natural toned pieces in the front appear like lighter highlights, while the rest of the hair looks more shiny and richly hued.

Since glosses are so gentle, you can even attempt a version of this at home, without having to worry about a majorly botched DIY color job. And when sunny nights and hot weather loop back around, your fall/winter hue will be long faded. If you’ve never experimented with hair color before, now’s the perfect time to start.

Photo via ITG

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Mary Allan Is The Skincare Genius You Didn’t Know

Selfishly, I live for an under-the-radar brand. Because then, just like whichever patron saint invented automatically transcribed voicemails, I get to say, “Look! I have given you something that will incrementally benefit your life.” Mary Allan Skincare is the latest in beauty to do that for me.

I first came across Mary Allan Skincare at my favorite and also under-the-radar beauty shop in New York, Takamichi Beauty Room. It was there I learned that Mary Allan cut her teeth as a product formulator at Jurlique, and then went on to a post at Dermalgoica. We’re talking a span of twenty years, and over that time she found a sweet spot in product formulation: natural ingredients married with serious science. Soon, Mary Allan Skincare was born.

Elixir Noir Cleansing Gel is my favorite Mary Allan product, hands down. It goes where few cleansers have gone before: it delivers a clear-pore, perfect cleanse (it really gets in there), it rinses well, and it softens instead of dries my skin. Looking further into her product lineup, both Moisture Molecules serum and Lipids of Youth Hydrating Moisutirizer are packed with not three, but four hyaluronic acid weights. As our President once famously uttered, “this is a big f$ing deal!” This means that both the serum and moisturizer immediately and overtime deliver meaningful hydration to skin, and neither feel heavy or much like anything at all. But wait, there’s more! Moisture Molecules is also equipped with a serving of niacinamide, to keep skin clear as glass, and Lipids of Youth is packed with squalane, three kinds of ceramides, a probiotic, and a dose of seabuckthorn and flaxseed oil for an emollient salve that gives “fancy facial” glow.

Maybe one of her most curious creations is Pressed Flower Milk. Inside each bottle is a who’s who of plant extracts: orchid flower to draw in moisture, grape seed and algae to bolster skin’s ability to protect itself from oxidative stress, and plant stem cell extracts for good measure. The result is a watery milk that looks and feels like a treat for skin. The instant glow is undeniable, but the long game of infusing my skin with so many good-for-yous is what keeps me coming back to it every day.

Other heroes of the line include the Vitamin C Cold Pressed Oil, which employs the “gold standard of vitamin Cs,” Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate. And then there’s the light-as-air Luminisoity Drops, which can turn a diehard oil hater into a lover (whenever I use this I feel just as even-toned as I do when I wear a tinted moisturizer). But the most surprising delight is Mary Allan’s Infused Beauty Water. Let’s not get confused here, we’re talking about a beauty mist. But it’s not only a mist: it smells like a spa and deposits the finest of plant extracts-hyaluronic acid-peptide infused particles. You know when you’re on vacation somewhere warm and breezy and humid, and take a dip in the water? You step out dewy and healthy-looking. Happy. Can you believe Mary Allan bottled that in a spray?

—Ashley Weatherford

Photo via ITG

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A Black Honey Dupe You Can Buy Right Now

Don’t go looking for Clinique’s Black Honey at Sephora: even though it’s been around for 20 years, the ultra flattering my-lips-but-better balm has never been harder to buy. Blame Tiktok and the 20 million and counting views for #blackhoney. And the nerdy teens who introduced the cult lipstick to a new generation.

Back in July, teen Lord of the Rings fans stumbled upon the fact that Black Honey was used on Liv Tyler for the movie. Videos trying the iconic shade started to circulate, then caught on because of how flattering it was on all different skin tones. These days, it’s basically impossible to get a tube. But guys: there’s a really good Black Honey dupe you can buy right now! We know because Liv Tyler told us so herself.

Here’s the scoop:

On the Lord of the Rings set, makeup artist Noreen Wilkie was tasked with bringing Tyler into its fantasy world. She toned down her naturally very pink, rock royalty pout and played up her porcelain skin and icy blue eyes instead for an otherworldly look. Right after the movie came out, Wilkie gave an interview to InStyle revealing that Black Honey was the plummy-brown key to a softened lip without lost definition. Tyler looked amazing, and suddenly, the hottest thing you could be was an elf.

Fast forward about ten years later, when she invited ITG into her New York apartment. A lot had changed in the decade since the first Lord of the Rings movie, but Tyler hadn’t shaken her affinity for lip-enhancing tints. “I had a couple of different ones I’d collected that were these kind of sheer, berry stains, like the Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick, only a bit deeper,” she explained in her Top Shelf. None of them were exactly what she was looking for, though: something slightly more blue than brown and with a transparent, glossy sheen.

What’s a girl to do when she can’t find her perfect lipstick? If you’re famous enough, you collaborate with a luxury brand (Givenchy Beauty, in Tyler’s case) on a concoction that’s just right. Then you stock up. “They produced it as a limited-edition Rouge Interdit lipstick,” Tyler told us, pointing to her own personal stash. She called it a “mood ring” shade because of the way it reacted to lips’ unique pH, which Clinique’s version does not. Still, it was a really close—and, like Black Honey, only intimidating in the tube. “If you look at it, it’s black, but it goes on really sheer.”

The limited run succeeded, so much so that Givenchy decided to bring the shade on as part of its permanent collection. They just renamed it: Instead of Liv’s Lips, now it’s called the Rouge Interdit Vinyl Color Enhancing Lipstick in shade 16 Noir Revelateur. It’s a bit more expensive than Clinique’s, but also better quality. And we’re willing to put money on the fact that it’s currently in stock at your local Sephora.

Maybe not for long.

Photo via ITG

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How A Celebrity Facialist Would Rehab Your Skin After

Thanks to The Great Pandemic Pushback, this year, all of New York’s biggest events happened all at once. New York Fashion Week started September 8th and ended on the 12th; picking up where that left off was the MTV VMAs in Brooklyn; and obviously, the Met Gala made up for lost time and naked dresses on Monday.

Are celebrities OK?! Skincare-wise, that is. Because if you’ve ever attended a wedding weekend, or had an important work week packed with meetings, you get it: wearing that much makeup for long, sweaty stints basically guarantees at least one juicy pore clog. And at the end of the night, when you wipe off your luster, you might notice your skin looks a little… lack. “A lot of events, parties, and travel can really wreak havoc on skin,” says celebrity facialist Shani Darden, who’s used to taking famous faces through the thick of it. Before an event, clients might visit her LA studio for a little bit of smoothing, brightening, and lifting. But the real seasoned pros also book time for after everything winds down—here’s how Shani recommends rehabbing your own post-event skin.

Give yourself a clean slate

As Shani says, first things first: make sure you have a gentle cleanser you can really go to town with. You want your skin to be clean—no crusty foundation hidden underneath the jaw or bronzer behind the ears. “Your cleanser needs to remove all makeup and impurities without stripping the skin.” Not sure your tried-and-true softie can get everything off? Instead of introducing a new product, which could potentially irritate your skin even more, try supercharging the one you have with gauze. Shani explains, “I love to use cleanser on wet cotton gauze, which helps to lightly exfoliate as well.” You can do this with any gentle cleanser if you feel like it could use a grime-grabbing boost.

Exfoliate strategically

“A light lactic acid peel is one of my favorite treatments before and after events to restore glow,” says Shani, who includes it in all of her signature facials. Lactic acid is on the weaker side of AHAs, so it’s the perfect gentle exfoliator for all skin types that have been through the ringer. If you can’t make it in for a peel, Shani points out that it’s just as easy to get in on the good glow at home. All you need is a lactic acid toner or serum instead. You can find lactic acid in her cult-favorite Retinol Reform, where it’s paired with (obviously) retinol for a long-term recovery plan, and it’s also in another Top 25 winner, Sunday’s Riley Good Genes.

Seal with hydration

After you’ve cleansed and exfoliated, there’s only one step left to a total refresh. The whole process of applying heavy makeup and taking it off is drying—a hydrating mask or serum can help replenish what you may have lost. Some of our budget-friendly favorites include Mediheal’s NMF Intensive Mask and Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Mask, though Shani often recommends the Dr. Nigma Treatment Mask No. 1 to her clients post-event. The deeply hydrating sheet mask plumps and soothes, but what she really loves about it is that the pouch contains enough extra serum to use on your whole body. (Enough to justify the splurge.) The rest of you gets tired, too! And to that point: a glass of water and a good nap wouldn’t be the worst idea, either.

Photo via ITG

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Getting Naomi Osaka Ready For The Met Gala

How do you cap off a summer of champion tennis competitions? These days, it appears you co-chair the Met Gala—not bad for first time-attendee Naomi Osaka. The Australian Open champ wore a Louis Vuitton creation c/o Nicolas Ghesquière, and paired it with technicolor makeup, c/o makeup artist Jessica Smalls. The look was dramatic! Spunky! Loud! Just how the Met Gala likes ‘em. ITG caught up with Jessica just after she sent Naomi out on the red carpet last night. Want a sneak peek into the chaos that is Met Gala night glam? Let’s let Jessica take it away.

“Naomi wanted to pay homage to her Japanese heritage so we did a modern-day Geisha—she doesn’t have the matte finish we would normally see, but a really dewy glow, along with lashes to really pop off the vibe. As we were getting ready we listened to bomb 90s music that everyone could sing along to. We were feeling good, we were laughing.

I started off with Kinlò Hydrating Golden Mist, and then Kinlò Golden Rays sunscreen to prep her skin. I followed that up with Futuredew to help give the skin more glow.

In the center of the eye I used Monochromes, which is an unreleased eyeshadow trio from Glossier, in a shimmery, soft taupe shade. I used Boy Brow in Black to shape and fluff the brow, and I filled them in with Brow Flick in Black. Then I used Lash Slick on the top and bottom lashes, to support the false lashes by Kiss.

I used Perfecting Skin Tint in G6 all over her face, and G5 Stretch Concealer under her eye to brighten it up. I then used Haloscope in Moonstone to highlight the top of her cheeks. It was perfect.

Because I wanted the sides [of her face] to really pop, I used G5-G7 Wowder in the center of her face to keep it matte. To apply it, I dusted the powder in her T-zone side-to-side, gently brought the brush down to the center of the nose to the top of the lip, and I pressed it on top of the cheeks. Right alongside the nose I like to fold the brush and give a firm press, so that way I get the creases out.

I used a red lip liner, Charlotte Tilbury’s Kiss n Tell, to really shape the lip. And then Generation G in Zip on top. And then in the very outer corners of her eye I used the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Exagger Eyes. I added a mixture of Cloud Paint in Spark and Generation G in Zip on her cheeks—I layered them, first with Spark and then with Zip, using a fluffy crease brush.

It all took about 45 minutes to do. I really wanted everything to melt and blend in. So it was a lot of meticulous blending to help the look remain soft and delicate.”

—as told to ITG

Photo via Jessica Smalls

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The EU Alternative To Hydroquinone Is Gentler And

This is the story of two mothers: mine, who came to New York to visit me last week, and invention’s. Because when the best ingredient to treat hyperpigmentation is banned in a major market, you’re forced to get creative.

But first let’s back up, to the part about my mom. She was in the city and booked a facial at SB Skin, the Soho studio best known for microcurrent treatments. On the agenda was a quick lift and a minute to relax—but when she got there, her aesthetician Agnes got a good look at her hyperpigmentation. It’s melasma, one of the most frustrating skin conditions because it’s associated with hormonal fluctuations and flares up with even the tiniest bit of stress, cycle shift, or sun exposure. My mom had tried almost everything to get rid of her patchy spots, including prescription hydroquinone, the gold standard for stubborn pigment treatment among American derms. She explained to Agnes that it helped for a while, but also left her with white spots of hypopigmentation, an irreversible symptom of irritation where the skin completely loses color. Agnes nodded, and said that her skin is probably too sensitive for hydroquinone. Instead, she recommended something with Thiamidol.

Agnes is Polish, and before coming to work at SB Skin she spent several years training and treating skin in Europe. Hydroquinone is banned in the EU (of which Poland is a part), and when Thiamidol hit the market a few years ago Agnes started suggesting it to clients in hydroquinone’s stead. She swore it worked even better at lightening melasma specifically, and was also suitable for sensitive skin and people who had adverse reactions to hydroquinone in the past. Agnes scribbled down some info on a piece of paper, along with a few products with Thiamidol in them and a website that would ship from Europe, handed it to my mom, and sent her on her way. Then my mom called me.

Thiamidol was discovered when the German personal care giant Beiersdorf set out on a quest to find a viable alternative to hydroquinone. Their scientists tested over 50,000 different ingredients, hoping one of them would do the trick. Thiamidol flew under researchers’ radar for a long time, because brightening skincare is usually tested on mushrooms (really!), and this stuff is useless on shroom pigment. Popular brightening ingredients like hydroquinone, arbutin, and kojic acid work really well on mushrooms, so at first Thiamidol might’ve seemed like a dud. But, as you can imagine, mushrooms are pretty different from skin, and when the Beiersdorf researchers swapped in human cells, their data painted a totally different picture. In study after study, Thiamidol worked better than hydroquinone. Partially because it didn’t seem to come with any of hydroquinone’s gnarly side effects, like redness, itchiness, dryness, or potential worsening of discoloration, that would cause a user to stop using it. Since then, independent researchers across the globe have confirmed Beiersdorf’s results. Not only does this mean Thiamidol is a fantastic tool to keep in your melasma-fighting kit, but it might also be a smarter brightening alternative for anyone with brown or Black skin. That thing where hydroquinone makes pigmentation worse is more common among darker skin tones.

You’ll find Thiamidol in products from European versions of Eucerin, Nivea (they call it “Molecule 630”), and La Prairie, because Beiersdorf owns them all. (FYI, in case you go looking, it’ll be on an ingredient list as its scientific name, isobutylamido thiazolyl resorcinol.) Agnes likes the Eucerin ones best, which are conveniently under 40 bucks each, and told my mom to start a regimen of the serum, night cream, and SPF day cream (Beiersdorf’s results were best when the Thiamidol was applied multiple times a day), followed by an extra layer of SPF 50. And with a few strategic clicks on Care To Beauty, followed by $5 in shipping, my mom’s order was on the way.

Photo via ITG

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The Best Beauty Tips We’ve Ever Heard

It’s ITG’s 11th birthday, and you’re invited to the party. Bring your dancing shoes, your best glittery shadow, and a notebook—because you’re going to want to take notes. It’s not weird, we promise! Especially when the other party attendees are the models, actors, makeup artists, and dermatologists who’ve shared their best beauty tips with us over the past decade plus. It’s not necessarily about buying something new, or splurging on a fancy treatment—these expert tips will make you look at the products you already own totally differently, or at least they did for us. Below, you’ll find every clever trick and not-talked-about industry secret that’s made us say, “Ohhhh, so that’s how they do it!” So go ahead—take notes! It’s our party, and we’re always down to share.


“Get a routine and figure out which products you like. Nobody can use three retinols, three night creams, and two day creams. If you’re going to deviate from your core products, only do it one at a time.”
—Patricia Wexler, Dermatologist

“People get obsessed with what moisturizer they should be using, but moisturizer is to keep the hydration in your skin. There are lots of different ones that have all these active ingredients, but honestly, just use Nivea. To me that and La Mer are one and the same.”
—Sofie Pavitt, Aesthetician

“A facialist in London told me to leave any jade tools in a glass of ice water in the fridge, and it will help instantly with depuffing. So anything I use for depuffing—eye masks, mists, certain moisturizers, and my tools—all stay in the fridge.”
—Bec Wilson, PR Beauty Director

“I’ve also been going to the Tribeca Medspa for dermaplaning for years. I started when I was on billboards for Estée…When the photos are so close-up, you have to take care of the peach fuzz that you don’t always notice on your face. No one really knows about it, but I was reading some stuff about how, back in the day, movie stars like Sofia Loren would shave their faces and it actually is really good exfoliation for your skin.”
—Hilary Rhoda, Model

“Because I like my work, I treat myself when it comes to Botox and fillers. Not trying to sound like a narcissist, but it’s the truth. I tell my patients to look at their doctor and the office staff, because that’s the aesthetic they’re going to get.”
—Shereene Idriss, Dermatologist

“I wear SPF, which is key because people think that Black people don’t need SPF, but SPF is key, key, key, in everything, every day. When I hit 40, Patricia [Wexler] said I needed SPF 45 and I said, ‘I’m not white!’ And she said, ‘No, you do.’”
—Iman, Model



“As a makeup artist, I’m not the type to say, ‘Less is more,’ but I think if the skin and the brows always look natural, you can wear as much of the other stuff as you want, because there’s balance in the face. That’s my kind of ethos.”
—Katie Jane Hugues, Makeup Artist

“When you use foundation, you have to think about the neck, ears, and scalp matching—I spend a lot of time prepping the skin so I can just spot correct. I blend out a full perimeter, and then I’ll use setting powder to mattify just the shiny part of a pimple.”
—Shayna Goldberg, Makeup Artist

“If I want an even, more kind of translucent look to my foundation, I take a piece of Kleenex and I just pat it on my face lightly to remove the extra product on my face, and it’s a more breathable look.”
—Victoria Loke, Actress

“I tell people how to remove the shadow around the lips with concealer, or to put highlights on the top of your cheeks, to lift them, and on the cupid’s bow above your lips, to make your lips look bigger. All these little tricks, like using a creamy blush, which catches the light so it will look like you have no shadows, like you slept for 20 hours.”
—Violette, Makeup Artist

“The secret with makeup is that it has to look three dimensional. I’ll do foundation like burnt toast—lighter towards the center of my face and darker around the perimeter.”
—Nam Vo, Makeup Artist

“I use By Terry Touch Expert Ultra Radiance Active Concealer under my eyes and around my nose and I draw a line straight down my face, then blend it with a sponge. I learned that from Kevyn Aucoin—that little highlight straight down the middle of your nose instead of contouring.”
—Cindy Crawford, Model

“I once had my makeup done in London by a woman who did Kate Moss, and she only uses shadows—she never uses any line. That’s the real secret weapon of the fashion industry and these people who do makeup on beautiful people when they want to look normal, but better than the rest of us. She used seven different types of skin-toney powders and eyeshadows…all those colors that are not colors and look like they could have been pantyhose.”
—Sally Singer, Vogue Creative Digital Director

“I don’t love eyeshadow because I find that it can age me, but one of my favorite makeup artist tricks is to contour my eyelids. I put a little bronzer in the crease, and it gives my eyes some nice depth. I look made up, but not makeup-y.”
—Lily Aldridge, Model

“I learned everything I know about makeup from artists like Pat McGrath. I now use my fingers to apply lipstick. She never uses the brush—ever. Even applying eye shadow sometimes—she’s literally hands on.”
—Karen Elson, Model

“I use my fingers a lot for foundation and concealer, because the warmth of your hand helps blend it in. I always do it with this pat-pat-pat-pat motion. By putting the moisturizer on and patting the foundation or concealer in, you’re livening up the skin and giving it a mini-lift by increasing circulation; the skin does really glow afterwards.”
—Charlotte Tilbury, Makeup Artist

“Normally, it’s some mascara and Colour Riche on my lips and on my cheeks for a glossy sheen. A lot of times, I’ll put the residue on my eyelids, too, if I don’t want to deal with eye shadow. A good lip color will go everywhere. It looks shiny and healthy and pretty and kind of sun-kissed.”
—Mila Jovovich, Actor

“I’ve used Eight Hour Cream for years and years. I put it on my cheekbones for a little highlight, and I put it on my eyes, because it keeps your eyebrows in check. Liv Tyler was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s what you do!’ That’s my top tip.”
—Rosemary Ferguson, Model

“I use eye cream on my lips, because the skin on your eyes and the skin on your lips are similar. If you wear matte lipsticks you don’t want to use them over a lip balm like Carmex or Chapstick because the texture will change. Eye cream conditions and softens, but it also sinks in.”
—Sir John, Makeup Artist

“I think the thing with nude [lipsticks], if they’re not sheer, is you need to put a lip balm on first and then pat it in with your finger. There is nothing worse than a chalky, dry nude lip.”
—Fara Homidi, Makeup Artist

“I have this tray with all my makeup on it so I can bring it anywhere the light is good. Don’t put your makeup on in the bathroom unless you have a good window—without the right light and a magnifying mirror, you’re going to walk out of the house with streaks.”
—Linda Evangelista, Model



“People always ask me if I use The Ordinary, and I do—their Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution goes on the back of my arms too, and I use the red AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution on my feet to get rid of calluses. I’ll cover myself in a chemical exfoliator before I use self tanner, and then the tan lasts a really long time.”
—Charlotte Palermino, Dieux Skin Founder

“I put little drops [of fragrance] on my fingers and put some under my arms and in my belly button. My dad taught me that—if you put it where you heat up, the smell stays with you.”
—Liv Tyler, Actor

“I still use scented soap to wash my panties and bras. I buy my undershirts in Italy—usually silk, cotton, or cashmere. I like to have my underwear and undershirts smell of my soap. It’s nice because your skin never smells like the stuff you use in the shower, but when you wash your underwear in it, if you sweat a little bit you kind of smell it coming up from your clothes.”
—Debi Mazar, Actor



“My hairdresser, George Northwood, and I came up with the idea of ‘Future Cuts.’ For example, the plan was to grow out my fringe and then cut it short, so during that process he’s done less layering so it grows nicely. ‘Future Cuts’ are about planning ahead instead of being reactive, so it grows into the thing you want it to be.”
—Alexa Chung, Host and Designer

“True to form, I didn’t have curly hair until puberty. At like, 24, I decided to learn how to take care of it on my own. One of the biggest revolutions was using a low-suds, sulfate-free shampoo and a really juicy moisturizing conditioner.”
—Harling Ross, Writer and Brand Consultant

“For [curly] hair, it takes a lot longer for the sebum from our scalp to reach the end of the cuticle, because it’s battling against all these bumps. It’s like climbing a mountain. You don’t really want to use [oil] on the scalp. That’s why people battle with dandruff.” —Cyndia Harvey, Hairstylist

“Take a chunk of your hair in the straightener, flip it, pull it away from your face, and let it glide away from you. That creates a perfect corkscrew curl. I always straighten the ends, because perfect corkscrew curls are not cool. If I’m ever going somewhere, I at least do that to the front of my hair so that I look presentable.”
—Emily DiDonato, Model

“Buns are pretty awful on our hair. We use so many bobby pins—it’s insane how many cases of bobby pins I have—and I get a lot of hair breakage. One trick I’ve learned is to use conditioner instead of hairspray to make my hair stay back.”
—Misty Copeland, Ballerina

“I used to get frustrated when I had to detangle my hair, and [Vernon François] taught me how to do it with no products, no tools, no nothing. You just do it with your fingers. It takes time and patience, but you don’t lose any hair. And not only does it detangle, it gives you amazing texture. It’s the antithesis of everything you’ve been taught as a curly girl.”
—Elaine Welteroth, Host

Photo via ITG

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A Two-Hour Train From NYC Plops You Straight In

Something I love about living in the city is that I don’t have to drive. It’s a real convenience, except when you want to get out of the city for a day or two, in which case it’s not. But I’ve finally found the perfect place to take a day trip when I want to fill my lungs with something other than car exhaust and hot garbage, and it’s easy to get there without a car. It’s the small town of Hudson, just two hours upstate on an Amtrak train. Hudson is probably best known for farms and antiques, and the main drag feels kind of like Brooklyn with a lot more green space. What I really love is that it’s filled with amazing beauty buys.

To start, head down a flower and brick-lined alleyway to find The Quiet Botanist. Most beauty stores these days are light and airy—made to look like a Malibu kitchen, a yoga studio, or Bloomingdales. The Quiet Botanist is cozy and chaotic, like a pied a terre for woodland fairies who frenziedly fly in and out. Inside, there are natural, imperfect wood floors and sage green painted walls. Look up, and you’ll see what I assume is the building’s original moulding (many homes and buildings in Hudson date back to the late 1700s and 1800s). Antique weathered wood shelves and cabinets take up most of the free wall space, and are bursting with dried floral bouquets, which The Quiet Botanist specializes in. And then, underneath the petals, you’ll find a meticulously curated assortment of beauty products. J. Hannah nail polish sits by the register, a cake stand of French soap cubes in pastel hues by the entrance, and skincare products from plant-based lines like Furtuna (which I love) and High Sun Low Moon (which I’m intrigued by) in the back.

But the best thing you’ll find here are candles. There are so many good ones, at all different price points. Under delicate glass domes is the entire herbal assortment of Carrière Frères, the sister line of Cire Trudon. (Tomato is my favorite, but mint is unmatched for the bathroom.) It’s one of few places that carries Le Feu De L’eau, including their mix-and-match tea light set, which we included in our holiday gift guide a few years back and is still fantastic. They also have a brand I’ve never seen before called Samo, whose candles smell fresh, juicy, and a lot more expensive than they are. (The giant jars will only set you back $45.) Candles not your thing? Consider the stacks and stacks of Papier d’ Armenie incense, Hibi incense matches, and Incausa columns that burn slowly and satisfyingly. There is not one place to sit in this little jewel box of a store, but if there was, I’d have curled up there with a book.

Of course, you’ve got to pace yourself. The Quiet Botanist is not the only place in town to get a good whiff! Take a quick jaunt down the street and you’ll find Finch, an antique store started by two Brooklyn transplants with roots in the fashion industry. You must make time to ogle the fantastic finds, like a jawbreaker of an Italian Murano pendant light, or a perfectly refurbished mid century modern desk. All the way at the back of the store is a barber shop called Pugsly’s, which is open Tuesday through Sunday by appointment, and right outside of it is an edit of unisex personal care items. There’s a big Malin + Goetz display which doesn’t have everything, but does have the three best candle scents (Cannabis, Dark Rum, and Mojito) which is really all that matters. I spend more time than I should in front of the DS and Durga counter and leave a cloud of I Don’t Know What. Finch also has their own line of locally made candles, in angular votives of oceanic ceramic.

Another place to stop for unique scents is Source Adage, a niche fragrance house actually based in Hudson. Walking in feels like stumbling onto a juicy secret—the scents, all created in-house, are the kind of thing you’d smell somewhere, not stop thinking about, and never be able to match at a department store. Find a cheap pick-me-up at the apothecary bar, full of products scented with only essential oils: a hand lotion is just $9, while the square soaps are perfect for a powder room and cost under 20 bucks. Explore the eau de parfums, which feature unique notes like smoky pineapple and green apple fir. Then settle into the home scents, which they call their signature collection. My favorite is Great Plains, which is so, so green and sap sweet, which is the only kind of sweet I like in fragrances, and addictive. I also love Hudson 314, inspired by the town and slightly warmer and smokier—better for the coming months of burning wood and crunchy red leaves, maybe. The custom black vessels are elegant and design-y without screaming their presence.

Grab a quick bite (Baba Louie’s is solid sourdough pizza, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis somehow fuses every international cuisine in a way that works, Cafe Le Perche has the prettiest patio in town) then keep going. There’s even beauty at the Intentionally Blank store, the only outpost for the cool, reasonably-priced shoe brand that makes my favorite pair of fall boots. They’ve got Maison Louis Marie fragrances and Boy Smells candles. Batterby House general store is the spot for indie incense, bath salts, and a golden chunk of soap from Golda called the Hiba Cube, which I found to smell so delicious I couldn’t put it down. It’s made with fragrant and anti-microbial oil from hiba trees, and ancient and valuable Japanese cypruses that were historically used to build temples. Who knew!

On your way back to the train, make one last stop at Face Stockholm. Though it’s stocked all over, and had a landmark location on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 90s, for some reason the Swedish brand’s only US store is now in quiet Hudson. Explore the cream blushes (so smooth and pigmented) and consider a cult-favorite green correcting pencil, which spot-corrects breakouts by neutralizing redness. But don’t leave without their Cranberry Lip Veil, which, legend has it, was Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s go-to 90s sheer berry-brown lip. Just in time for fall back in the city.

Photos via ITG

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