“I’m a people person. In middle school, I got moved around my science class six times because I kept talking to people. Eventually my teacher put me next to the quietest girl in the class, telling me, ‘She never speaks, she’s all about her business.’ But then I got her to start talking. My teacher: ‘You’ve gotta stop, but also, wow.’ What can I say other than that I love to connect and communicate with people?
I went to Emerson for screenwriting, where I met my friend Hunter Harris, who ended up asking me to start a fashion-culture column for our school newspaper. I called it Dix Pix. I was always writing in some form or another in school, and eventually I put screenwriting on pause and studied journalism fully.
Post-college I started at The Outline, which was the most phenomenal experience as a young person. It was a really small company and I was the youngest one there. I remember the CEO requested to follow me on Instagram, and I had planned to block him from my Stories so he couldn’t see my normal going-out life. Well I forgot to do that, and that weekend, I was documenting everything in my life and giving my opinion about this and that. He sent me an email on Sunday night, writing, ‘Let’s talk about social media when you get in.’ Obviously I thought I had just gotten fired. Panicked, I met with him that Monday, where he told me, ‘You are funny, and I love your voice on social, and I think you could help with ours.’ So I moved into social that way, which I loved because it made writing more intentional for me. As a Black queer person, language online is so sincerely rooted in all of my identity. It made it easier for me to take on what ‘voice’ looks like, how to adjust it to storytelling, and since I had a writing background, it made it easier to package stories. This might’ve been 2017. I was there for about nine months.
After that I had a short stint at Babe.net, and then I went to Paper. I felt like Paper was a lovely fusion of the things I’d learned at The Outline and the freedom I had at Babe to make a cohesive voice that was both thoughtful and matured, and also fun and freaky and gay. I loved it so much. I was covering events, I was doing analytics, I was running our social. Paper was a place where you could try a lot.
A year or so ago, Laura Brown, the editor-in-chief of InStyle, reached out to me over some meme that I made, and then we just connected fast and hard. I was thinking about the things that I was saying and doing, which I thought were really important, especially coming from the voice of a Black queer woman, on a much larger platform. So I joined join InStyle as a special projects editor, which is just a fancy title for doing a lot of shit. My first day was the Golden Globes, which wasn’t stressful at all! [Laughs] It was so much fun, though. That job and title allowed me to step outside of social. Not only was I leading the social team, but I was also directing and producing videos. I was writing for the site, I was writing for print, I was working with the digital and video teams. People hear social media and think, ‘Oh, you tweet!’ But it’s so much more. So much work goes into being on a social team. It’s still a career that is only slowly but surely becoming more revered and respected. It’s a hard job to sustain because a lot of people just don’t know how to properly support a social team. It’s given the least amount of resources, and so much labor goes into it. Listen, I love being online, but not that much.
I recently left my job, and a large part of that was feeling like it wasn’t sustainable. It’s hard to work across sales, digital, print, video, and run social. It was time for me to take a beat, take care of my mental health, take some time offline, and it’s already been super helpful to have space for myself. That is intentional, and that sets my limits. ‘No’ is a sexy word. Never forget that. A hard, firm, ‘no’ is a beautiful thing.
‘No’ is a sexy word. Never forget that. A hard, firm, ‘no’ is a beautiful thing.
Using my own social accounts is still fun. My favorite social media app is Tiktok, where I have no presence. I’m only there to scroll and laugh—that’s pure digital freedom. I was using my voice for the accounts I was running at InStyle and Paper, but now I like that my voice belongs fully to me. My cultural commentary, my hot take, my thirst trap, whatever it is—that’s my voice, and I like that I’m not sharing it or splitting it between my work account and my main account. It’s made social media more fun.
In early quarantine, I was breaking out like there was no tomorrow. Maybe it was stress or masks in general, or because I was trying too many things on my skin and my face said no to that. I had to go to a dermatologist and beg for help. I was home in LA and I saw my mom’s dermatologist, Dr. Nita Patel. I swear by her. She is a woman who specializes in skincare for women of color, specifically with hyperpigmentation. For five months I went monthly for very gentle chemical peels. I’d never really invested in my skin until last year—I didn’t even know where to start. I feel like my face is a different girl right now. The chemical peels really helped. Also, shoutout to Hunter Harris because she got me onto the Sofie Pavitt facial that I like—I go to Dihan there. You know, let’s be real, these things are expensive. You have to have a certain level of income, which I felt privileged to have. Everyone’s like, ‘What’s the celebrity’s secret?’ It’s money! Really, it’s money.
Now in the morning, I wash my face with Cerave’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser. At night, I’ll use the Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil. Then, I use the AlumierMD Even Tone Brightening Facial Serum. I had a lot of hyperpigmentation and dark spots, and my dermatologist gave this to me. It worked wonders on my skin. I use it twice a day, day and night. After that, I use Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. When I first started using it my dermatologist told me that it’s a little thick and can make people break out. I was complaining to Hunter about my skin because I didn’t know what to do, and she advised me to do what works for me. If my dermatologist says [Kiehl’s] can make me break out, and it’s not making me break out, why would I stop using it? The Ultra Facial Cream is super light for me and actually works really well. I’ll use it on my neck and my face, and I don’t use that much—a finger dab’s worth. I just started using the Tatcha’s Silk Peony Anti-Aging Melting Eye Cream. Undereye creams are really just fluff—I feel like they’re supposed to make you feel good more than anything else. [Laughs] What I really like about it is that the packaging is so pretty!
The sunscreen that I use is Neova. It’s SPF 40 and water-resistant for 80 minutes. Again, this is what my dermatologist gave me. To think that I was one of those people who wasn’t wearing sunscreen before… It’s homophobic, it’s racist, it’s violent![Laughs] Now I wear sunscreen every single day, bring it with me, and reapply. There’s a photo-finish tint, so it’s a little bit matte, but it blends in right away.
I use the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel about two or three times a week. Three to four times a week, on the days I’m not doing that, I’ll use this really amazing mask from Image Skincare called Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque. I swear by it. One, it’s super lightweight and you don’t need to use that much. I normally use it just on my cheeks where I have the most hyperpigmentation. It smells really good, too. I just started using the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops. I was on Tiktok and everyone was swearing by it, and it was selling out over and over again. So I finally got one. I mostly use that on my cheeks, too. It does smell a bit strong, but [the scent] doesn’t last all day. It makes my skin very very dewy. For that reason, though, I don’t use it every day. Nighttime is pretty much the same. The only thing that I do differently is that I also use the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate Face Oil, just about three drops all over my face. I love how it looks and feels.
Everyone’s like, ‘What’s the celebrity’s secret?’ It’s money! Really, it’s money.
This isn’t even a plug, but Glossier Boy Brow has been my best friend forever. It’s been my side piece, my girl, my day one. I use Black. I also have like six different shades of Cloud Paint. I have Dawn, which is my favorite one to use in the summer, because orange looks great on me. Haze is my other most-used shade—these tubes are hanging on by a thread. My most recent girl is Beam, which is very subtle, but I really like using that on a no-makeup makeup day.
My favorite Hourglass lipstick is this shade, Let Me. I don’t get the names, but I’ll take it. I don’t really wear that much lip color because I eat a lot, so lipstick ends up being useless for me, but I like that one. I’ve had this other Chanel lipstick forever. It’s the only red I like on myself. I’m not really a red person, but it’s called Rouge Allure Velvet No. 38. It’s actually not even mine: it’s my friend’s mother’s, and I borrowed it and kept it. Shoutout to Tara, my friend Leela’s mom. [Laughs]
I want to learn how to contour. All of my friends’ little sisters, who are like 14, know how to beat their face, and I simply do not. One day, maybe, I’ll learn. Until then, it’s the basics here. [Laughs] It’s not because I’m minimalist or feminist, I’m just lazy. The only foundation I use is the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick in Natural Amber. I love their packaging. It feels very sleek and looks pretty in an open makeup case. I have a Marc Jacobs palette that I sometimes use for eyeshadow, and I also use the Lancôme eyeliner, the Artliner Precision Felt-Tip Liquid Eyeliner. I kind of rotate between Ilia’s Limitless Lash lengthening mascara and Glossier’s Lash Slick. My lashes tend to clump a lot, and I feel like those really help separate them.
I use the Supergoop Glow Stick for my shoulders and my chest, which, to be honest, I should probably be wearing more of. Then I use the Bask SPF 30 Lotion for my legs and if I’m at the beach. I love this sunscreen. Not only is it so cute, I actually met the CEO when I bought it. They have these two-hour delivery outposts in New York and LA. So I went down[stairs] to receive it, and it’s the CEO who said, ‘We were out so I brought an extra one!’ I used it when I went on vacation to Jamaica every single day I was in the sun.
My Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant is the deodorant I would get in trouble for because I borrowed it from my mom as a young person. Now, she’ll still be like, ‘Is that my deodorant?’ Me: ‘No, it’s not, because I’m an adult that can afford things now!’ For lotion, I use the Aveeno Positively Nourishing Calming Body Lotion. It has lavender and chamomile, and I borrowed it from my roommate in college one time and I’ve worn it ever since. It’s super light, and everyone who touches my hands says that they’re insanely soft. And for body wash, I’ll just use Dove soap. Again, I am both lazy and simple there. If I’m feeling crazy, I’ll use a loofah.
HAIR + FRAGRANCE
My hair is a different thing. Before, it was buzzed, so I didn’t really need to do much. But two weeks later, the minute I started having any growth, I still had to maintain it! I thought cutting my hair off would be easier, but it turns out you still have to take care of a fraction of an inch of hair. For that, I have DevaCurl One Condition. Like most other Black people, I don’t shampoo my hair every day. If you’re Black, you get it. I use the Ouai Leave In Conditioner, which I love, and it smells so, so good. Sometimes, I wake up with my hair frazzled, and it just holds my hair down without any kind of extra weight. I like their conditioner as well. I rotate between that and the DevaCurl, but I use DevaCurl more. When I first get my hair done, I’ll use any kind of purple shampoo to keep the blonde in. Now that I know I can look good bald, I just shave it off when I’m done and grow it back again. It’s really easy to commit to color when you can just cut it right off. When my hair’s a little bit longer than it is right now, I’ll just use Eco Style gel to lay down my edges.
I thought cutting my hair off would be easier, but it turns out you still have to take care of a fraction of an inch of hair.
Christine McInerney from Stag and Hen Hair Studio colors my hair. They’re the best. It’s a small studio in Bed-Stuy, and Christine also did my original big chop, when I went from my longer hair to bald. Or if my hair grows out pretty long and I’m doing braids, I go to Helena, @slayedinbraids. I almost don’t want to put her on because I don’t want people to steal her! She’s already getting so booked because she’s so talented. I love her so much.
I want to be the Rihanna of my own life, and I like finding scents that mix really well together, on all of your body. So that’s The Ouai Leave In Conditioner, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant, and the Aveeno chamomile and lavender lotion, which isn’t super scented, but feels really good. For perfume, I use Diptyque’s Doson, which is perfectly musky. I just bought another Diptyque scent, Fleur de Peau. It’s a more feminine scent that I like to use as well. I swear by smelling good. It gives me anxiety to feel like I might not, and that’s for me to unpack at another time with a therapist, maybe.”
—as told to ITG
Peyton Dix photographed by Alexandra Genova on August 5, 2021 in New York.