I wish I had known Jane Larkworthy when we were both editors (her career path began at Glamour, then she moved on to Mademoiselle, Jane, and eventually W for 16 years). Why? Because she has a fantastic, self-deprecating wit and a best-friend warmth (without being overly gooey) that immediately draws you in. Her writing exemplifies her personality. Now she is the beauty editor at large of New York Magazine’s The Cut where she writes a regular column, The Beauty of It All, among other features and a brand consultant. Here she shares her favorite beauty finds (some unknown to me that I am definitely going to try), the career advice she has in common with Bobbi Brown, and her footwear obsession.
In a nutshell, describe your career path and how you got to where you are today: I got a job thru a temp agency working at Glamour magazine’s beauty department during Christmas break in college, and when I graduated, they eventually had an opening, so I got the job since I had two weeks experience!
What do you love most about covering beauty? It’s never boring, it’s a lot of candy (pretty stuff, fragrance discoveries) but also a lot of science that’s up to us, as journalists, to figure out what’s legit and what might be a bit of a stretch, claims-wise.
What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about your job? That we spend our days getting facials, manicures and blowouts. Not true. We spend our NIGHTS getting facials, massages and blowouts. I’m kidding. Yes, we do get to try amazing treatments as part of our job, but, for me, anyway, I’m very cobbler’s-children-have-no-shoes. Too often, I’ll pass on a divine treatment because I just don’t have the time! I know. Poor me…
How do you think the beauty industry has changed for the good? Transparency of ingredients, inclusivity of audiences (for the most part), mindfulness of excess packaging. And probably 90% of this is fueled by the consumer, driven by social media.
What companies/ideas excite you most now? Great question. I’m getting more and more into innovative clean brands, like Native Atlas. Their Zahara Rewind Tonic is going to give Biologique Recherche a run for its money. Deciem will be interesting to watch how it moves on after the tragic loss of its founder Brandon Truaxe. And then there’s the CBD movement, which is just overwhelming. Every time I meet with a brand, I’m like, “How does this work again…?” Particularly in skin care. So many brands are slapping those three letters on with no bona fide benefits.
Most common beauty mistake you see women make? Not wearing sunscreen is my biggest pet peeve. Wearing the wrong foundation shade is another big one (Guilty!) and I kind of miss the days when eyebrows looked (and were) real.
What’s the state of your medicine cabinet/beauty drawer? Are you a minimalist/maximalist? One ongoing conveyer belt. The weekly new promises are too tempting not to try. Fortunately, I have many friends who are not above taking my slightly used products, so the waste is kept to a minimum.
Your top beauty products right now: Kosas Foundation Oil is kind of a game changer. For skin, I’m loving Renee Rouleau’s line, Augustinus Bader Rich Cream and the aforementioned Native Atlas and their Zahara Rewind Tonic. I’m also really loyal to my scents: Serge Lutens Fleur d’Oranger, Le Labo Santal 33, Philippe Starck Peau d’Ailleurs and Imaginary Authors A City on Fire.
Three words that describe your work: Fascinating, bombarding, hopeful.
Three words that describe you: Honest, affable, (and yet), guarded.
One of your attributes that helps you succeed: Relatability, both in my writing and my personality.
Best career advice you received and/or would share with new someone starting out in your field: Bobbi Brown said this to me in a recent interview and I’d like to think it’s an ethos I’ve always tried to live by: Treat everyone the same. For decades, there has been so much snobbery in our industry, but it’s finally starting to get better and it’s such a relief. I only wish the turn began when I was an insecure 25-year-old…
What has been your biggest success? Other than finding the ideal mate, probably being tapped for the W job. At that moment in my career, it felt very validating.
What has been your biggest dud? What did you learn from it? Copywriting for a fashion brand. Writing about a purse’s interior zippered pockets KILLED MY SOUL. But the pay was good, so there was that.
What motivates you? Praise does wonders. I can’t lie.
Life goals: Staying healthy and understanding that I probably don’t really want the kind of fame I’ve observed some peers achieving.
Daily goals: Filing a story on time.
Women you identify/admire include….Stella Bugbee [President + Editor-in-Chief, The Cut, New York Magazine]. Her confidence and smarts stymy me.
You never feel dressed without….My seasonal fragrance combo, in which I combine two fragrances. I like to smell like a wet garden in Spring and Summer and a fireplace in Fall and Winter.
Three writers/books that opened up a new world for you….Nora Ephron, Maria Semple and David Sedaris. If I could write like them, I’d be an insufferable braggart. I’m currently reading Lauren Mechling’s new book, How Could She and she’s right up there with these others.
A perfect evening is….Dinner with a small group of friends on our porch with copious amounts of rose.
A table is never set without….Crafted Candles 36” candlesticks in white, Scandinavian candlestick holders and Canvas salt dishes.
Favorite flower: Is Eucalyptus a flower? Otherwise, honeysuckle.
Hand written notes or email? HANDWRITTEN. Cartier’s are perfect. I just found these chic notecards from a UK-based brand on Etsy called Cerulean Press .They use recycled brown kraft (that’s how they spell it…) paper for their envelopes, which I kind of love.
Favorite artists: Admittedly, I’m an art philistine. If I were a zillionaire, I’d love a Rothko, a Hockney or a Pollack. Personally, I enjoy having art that’s done by someone I know, like Donald Robertson. Shawn Fields is a local Berkshires artist who we asked to paint our standard poodle, Remy. (I dress her in fashion quite a bit, so I gave him a shot of her wearing a Jill Sander jacket and wool hat. He captured her expression perfectly. She looks like a sea captain.
Five things that make a perfect room: Warm, low lamp lighting (NEVER overhead), a roaring fire in the fireplace, an excellent sound system, large, wide windows and a huge, comfy sectional, preferably upholstered in muted gold velvet.
Always on your bedside table: Burt’s Bees lip balm, iPad, laptop and some form of CBD, even though I usually don’t need it.
Always in your handbag: The aforementioned lip balm, two Muji pens and a Muji notebook. iPhone is a given.
You can tell a lot about a woman by…..How she greets someone, and her handshake.
Do you collect anything? Clogs. Because they’re the most comfortable shoe and I kind of refuse to wear any shoe that’s not comfortable. Have I become an old lady…?
How many do you have? About 30 pairs. But some are in heavier rotation.
Travel wish list destination: Vietnam.
How do you unplug: Take a hike.
Hidden talent/hobby: I can sing, Broadway or Chrissy Hynde. Just give me a few months to warm up.
Favorite charity: ASPCA, American Cancer Society, Mt. Sinai Dubin Center.
Biggest splurge you don’t regret: My Zero Maria Cornejo belted coat. Every time I wear it, the compliments ABOUND.
Favorite small indulgence: 2+ baths every day. I am the fastest bather ever. I get too bored to just lounge. But it’s definitely a ritual on weekends , especially at night. I light a Nomad Noe or Burkelman candle, fill the bath with Kniepp Dream bath oil, then sink in and…scroll thru Instagram. Wash my face, then I’m out!
Album currently on repeat: Elbow.
Scent that brings back memories: Norell, which my mother wore.
Lucky charm: An old pair of Ralph Lauren cubic zirconium posts, which I wear to doctor’s appointments.
Favorite hour of the day: 6am, before everyone else has woken up.
Sunday morning means…Making bagels, cleaning the house and procrastinating as long as we can before driving back to NYC.