Welcome to You Look Moist, a column in which Man Repeller asks cool people with glowing visages how they achieved their supreme hydration (amongst other things). Today’s installment features Christina Grasso, Digital Content Manager at Flesh Beauty.
How would you describe your skin?
My skin puts up with a lot and kind of just rolls with the punches. It’s definitely a middle child. I could be more disciplined when it comes to sticking to a routine, but it’s hard because I am constantly receiving, researching, and trying new products. As the social lead for Flesh Beauty and a content creator on the side, it’s a big part of my job, and it’s also my hobby. If I weren’t a devout Catholic, skincare might be my religion.
How would you describe your skincare approach in general?
I am a helicopter mom to my skin–constantly watching and doing the absolute most. Well, that’s maybe not true; I could always do more! From time to time I’ll hear from the interwebs that my several-step approach and vast product assortment are “unnecessary.” Of course it’s unnecessary! But it makes me happy and is working for me, so I’ll keep on keeping on with my maximalist crusade.
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Which skincare products are integral to your routine for achieving your ideal, glowing, well-moisturized complexion, and how/when do you use each of them?
I wish I were one of those people with a tightly-edited routine (do I really? maybe not); alas, as I said, I do the most. That being said, I do attribute my complexion to genetics and possibly my diet. I eat lots of vegetables and I’ve had a dairy allergy since I was literally a baby, so I’ve missed out on the joys of ice cream and cheese (sad!) but perhaps that’s contributed to clearer skin. I don’t have any science to back that up, though, so please don’t try that at home. Go forth and enjoy your cheese boards! Otherwise, yes. I am very grateful to have a well-stocked beauty cabinet and do not, by any means, have a simple routine.
Anyways! Here’s the full enchilada:
I wake up (no small feat) and splash my face with cold water, then I tone with Clinique Clarifying Lotion, which I’ve been using religiously since 6th or 7th grade. I follow it up with a few pumps of Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, which makes me look instantly glowy. I’ve gone through several bottles of it, and I can’t say that for too many products. If I’m feeling super puffy I’ll massage my face with a cold jade roller. While my serum is soaking in, I’ll take all of my supplements (currently, I’m taking a bunch of different ones by The Nue Co.–Mood, Metabolism, Immunity, Skin Filter–and Nutrafol) with a huge glass of water with–yes–lemon.
Then I’ll apply my moisturizer: either Elizabeth Arden Prevage with SPF, or The Cream by Augustinus Bader and then I’ll add an SPF. I also like to add a bit of Glossier Futuredew and Supergoop Glow Stick onto the high points of my face during the day for a dewy glow, especially on a no-makeup day.
I never leave the house without fragrance, and it’s rarely the same one. If I had a signature scent, it’d be Byredo 1996, which I’ve been using for years. But my favorite of all time is Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle–the scent is intoxicating but it’s so expensive that I ration it very conservatively. I’d bathe in it if I could.
In the afternoon, I just try not to touch my face, and I’m big on facial mists. I do love the Caudalie one that everyone has (it’s a classic) but my favorite is the Queen of Hungary mist by Omorovicza. The name is great, and it smells like summertime.
At night, my routine depends on what I have going on. On a quiet evening, I’ll take my time and maybe have a bath. I like to use Nécessaire Body Wash or Dr. Teal’s for maximum bubble-age, and add a bit of Molton Brown Rosa Absolute Sumptuous Bathing Oil.
And if I’m feeling dangerous (because I’ve literally lit my entire bathroom on fire once with Diptyque Baies), I’ll light a candle. Depending on the mood, it’s either Burning Rose, Woods, or Bibliotheque by Byredo; Rich by Sunday Forever, or Feu de Bois by Diptyque. Goes without saying: I’m too traumatized to burn Baies anymore, but it had a good run.
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Bath or shower, I’ll remove my makeup using the Elemis Rose Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm–it’s one of the only cleansers I’ve found that removes even stubborn waterproof mascara. Then I’ll cleanse using the Tula Acne Foam Cleanser. (I also love the Instant Facial Dual-Phase Skin Reviving Treatment Pads by Tula.) Up until this point, I’ve all but ignored the skin below my neck, but I’ve recently started using The Body Cream by Augustinus Bader, which is very, very rich. I also love The Body Lotion and The Body Serum by Nécessaire.
Once my face is squeaky clean and makeup-free, I’ll use Biologique Recherche P50 1970 to exfoliate and tone. My favorite serum right now is Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Acid, which, fortunately for my skin but unfortunately for my bank account, I’m obsessed with. I also love Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair and Caudalie Vinoperfect.
Masking is a whole thing for me. I do so religiously (at least 4–5 times a week) depending on what I feel like my skin needs. Some of my favorites, in no particular order: Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask, Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Mask, Glamglow Supermud, Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Mask, Dermovia Lace Your Face, Dr. Jart Hydration Lover Rubber Mask, Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, Loops Double Take (compostable!!), and Beboe High-Potency CBD Mask. And I have to say, I’m really into that Beboe mask. Initially I thought it sounded kind of gimmicky, but I swear to you, that thing is indeed potent and I feel amazing while–and after–doing it.
I have a couple of favorite moisturizers. Currently I’m using Augustinus Bader The Cream–my friend Linda Wells turned me on to it and I’ll try anything she likes. I’ve always been a science nerd, so I appreciate that Bader products were born out of regenerative science. I’m a big La Prairie stan, and love their Skin Caviar, which I keep in the fridge. I started using their Platinum Rare Cellular Cream a few years ago when I heard it was a favorite of Stevie Nicks’s, who has the skin of a thriving baby vampire, and she’s in her early 70s. (I’ll let you know in 40 or so years if I, too, resemble a thriving baby vampire.) A full Platinum Rare Cream was actually a notable casualty in the fire which was, as you can imagine, devastating. Truly gone too soon.
I never, ever go to bed without doing this entire routine or without slathering my face and décolletage in oil. Supernal is my favorite, and I love Vintner’s Daughter. If I have time, I like to use the MDNA Face Roller, which visibly lifts skin immediately, and feels like a face workout.
What about makeup products?
I tend to be a bit more adventurous when it comes to makeup. But my signature look, if I can call it that, is a brushed-up brow, a little feline flick, fresh skin, and a coral-y lip. I always start with Fresh Flesh Illuminating Primer—I was never really into primers until this one came along. Then I’ll fill in any sparse areas of my brows using Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Taupe and Glossier Boy Brow in Brown. I’ll curl my lashes and for mascara I use Thrive Causemetics. In terms of liquid liner, my favorite is the waterproof one from Stila. I always do my eye makeup first in case there’s any fallout–that way it doesn’t mess with my face makeup. Then I’ll apply NARS Soft Matte Concealer under my eyes and Flesh Thickstick Foundation around my nose and on my chin, and set my under-eye area with Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. I have the curse of being both Italian and anemic, so no matter how much concealer I use, I’ll always look a bit exhausted thanks to the half-moons under my eyes.
For blush, I’ll use Swipe Flesh Lip Color in Puffy or Chanel Joues Contraste in Malice. If I do highlighter, it’s always Touch Flesh Highlighting Balm in Startle. And lips! That’s a big category for me. Some of my all-time favorites are: Giorgio Armani Ecstasy Shine in Pop Orange, Chanel Rouge Allure in Vibrante, Fleshy Lips in Chew and Drool, Swipe Flesh Lip Color in Tremble, Flesh Hot Sauce Lip Gloss in Wind Whirled, and Proud Flesh Matte Liquid in Brazen.
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What’s the cheapest product you use regularly and love?
Is there anything you try to avoid, skincare- or makeup-wise?
The sun. I avoid the sun like the plague, truly. It can’t be trusted! Most people would never assume that I’m Sicilian and tan incredibly easily. I also don’t usually wear a full face of foundation or powder unless I have an event or am being photographed. I like being able to see, you know, actual skin.
Any next-level tips, tricks, or services that you swear by to help you look “lit from within”?
It’s rather basic and boring, but skincare, at least for me, starts on the inside. If I’m not eating enough, or drinking enough water, or getting enough sleep, or really frazzled, it shows. I know I have a really product-heavy routine, but if I’m not taking proper care of myself, nothing will work magic (sigh!!!!). And last year I added a little gratitude exercise to my morning routine–not for the sake of appearance, but I do think grateful people have a certain glow.
Beyond that, I try to get a facial at least once a month. If I’m in the mood to treat myself, I love going to Rescue Spa, Knockout Beauty, or Tracie Martyn for a treatment. Otherwise, Heyday is really efficient and consistently good for routine maintenance. And I see my dermatologist, Dr. Josh Zeichner, every couple of months. I try to do some sort of mask 4-5 times a week, which beyond giving my skin some extra tszuj, forces me to be still and breathe, which I often forget to do. (Oxygen is also really good for your skin, I hear.)
What’s your go-to product or trick for fixing a skin disaster?
It depends on what kind of disaster we’re talking about. If it’s a zit, I swear by Starface and a prescription topical I got from my dermatologist. If I’m super dry and peeling off like a snake, I’ll up my water intake and apply creams and oils more liberally. If there were to be an actual disaster–like if my entire face were to fall off–I’ll circle back and let you know.
Do you do anything differently skincare-wise when you travel?
I just amp up the moisture while traveling with masks, heavier creams, and lots of water; otherwise, consistency is key. It’s so tempting to just toss whatever travel-size products I have in my carry-on, but I know I’ll be better off sticking to what I, and my skin, know (which, frankly, is already chaotic enough). I also try to really avoid drinking alcohol, especially while flying, because it is so dehydrating.
What’s something you wish your teenage self knew about taking care of your skin?
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I worked as a lifeguard throughout high school and college and worshipped the sun. I didn’t wear much SPF because I just wanted to be as tan as possible. I looked like a Wendy Peffercorn/Tan Mom hybrid which is fine if that’s your look, but I do wish I would’ve taken sunscreen more seriously.
Photos provided by Christina Grasso.