As someone who was born in raised in Minnesota, went to college in Wisconsin, got my first job in San Francisco, and now resides and works in Los Angeles, I have absolutely zero business handing out NYC-geared beauty advice. That said, having been in the beauty industry for a little over two years now, I’ve met plenty of amazing East Coast editors who 100% do.
Between walking, subway-ing (yes, I’m inventing this word), and dealing with all kinds of crazy weather and environmental conditions (
snow! heat! humidity! pollution!), it’s safe to say New York presents a certain kind of obstacle course when it comes to nailing an A+ beauty aesthetic. So what does the NYC-based beauty set know about product shopping that we non–New Yorkers don’t? Below, some of my favorite women well-versed in East Coast beauty essentials are sharing the products they swear by—not only to survive crazy city life but to ensure they look damn good while doing so. Keep scrolling for all of their must-have products. (And trust me, this intel is helpful regardless of your locale.)
Maya and I used to work together back when we were both assistant beauty editors at Byrdie—she was based in New York City, and I was in Los Angeles. Now, she’s Marie Claire’s digital beauty editor, and she was one of the first people to come to mind when I started gathering intel. Her NYC beauty picks are as follows.
“It’s no secret that New York smells like trash 90% of the time. So fragrance is my invisible accessory. Like a designer bag, a few spritzes of this intensely sultry scent give me copious amounts of joy. It’s blended with masculine notes of musk accompanied by warm florals like lavender and orange blossom. This luxurious scent makes me feel like such a boss lady. Every single Uber driver and countless co-workers say the three magic words when I wear this: ‘You smell good.’ The fact that I’ve stuck with this scent since it launched says a lot. I’m perfume-obsessed and usually date fragrances like flavors of the week, but Libre has been my main attraction for a while.”
“A simple walk to the subway is subjecting your skin to a whole lot in New York. I’m constantly running around and don’t have time for touch-ups, so I rely on this full-coverage foundation to hydrate and protect my skin from environmental elements for hours on end. Thanks to the hefty amount of grape-seed oil in this formula, my dry skin feels so moisturized. And I must mention the glow that I get from this foundation is truly unmatched. All my fellow glow-chasers need this ASAP.”
“Red lipstick is my face’s power suit. Whenever I have a big meeting, celebrity interview, or presentation, I put on red lipstick. Sade has become one of my signature shades because it makes me feel unbelievably confident. Created by one of my favorite black-owned beauty brands, Uoma Beauty, this blue-based red pops on my deep skin tone. And it’s named after the legendary Sade, who is one of my favorite soulful singers of all time. It’s a cherry red shade that looks fire in photos and feels weightless on your lips because of its featherlight texture that won’t dry your lips out.”
Even though she just recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles (amazing news for me!), Jess once told me that together, the below three products basically equate to the ultimate “New York–girl starter kit.”
This brow gel is Glossier’s best-selling product. You can opt for clear to keep things super low-maintenance or grab one of the tinted options to boost your arches with a touch of color for extra oomph.
I wasn’t surprised when Jess mentioned this cult-loved serum. It’s jam-packed with amazing ingredients sure to help your complexion combat whatever city life throws at it. And if you want to get really fancy, pair it with its new(ish) cousin, Active Treatment Essence.
Consider this fragrance icon one of the most-wanted scents in the industry. According to Jess, it’s a New York beauty staple. Its instrumental notes play to the tune of violet accord, cardamom, iris, leather, papyrus, Ambrox, cedarwood, and sandalwood.
I met Sarah a little over a year ago (at the time she was an editor for Teen Vogue in NYC), and even though she has since moved to Berlin, Germany, she knows a thing or two about New York beauty essentials. She’s sharing her favorites below!
“This is my 10-minute treatment of choice when I’m hungover or occasionally forget to leave the club until lunchtime. Talika is more known for its reusable eye patches (also fantastic), but this face mask is what I always have to have on hand. It’s just so good at brightening, taking down redness, and flooding my skin with moisture when it’s clearly crying out for help.”
“All my friends and colleagues (and some random people I’ve told this to and never seen again) know that I love perfume and rarely wear the same thing two days in a row. But my most consistent scents are by Maison Francis Kurkdjian; they’re unfailingly beautiful and original. My favorite is Grand Soir, which is warm and sweet and enveloping. And expensive. It smells very expensive.”
“The mark of a really good highlighter is when everyone just asks about your skincare routine. This one is from Chanel’s summer collection this year, and I’ve been wearing it daily since it launched. It’s warm and iridescent and gives your complexion this glimmering quality that looks as mesmerizing in photos as it does in person. I love the accompanying matte bronzer too, but the highlighter is next-level.”
“Nothing is going to work a miracle on my short lashes, but this gets pretty close. It holds a curl well and gives me that fanned-out, fluttery look. I always have one in my bag. It’s a good five-second hack to looking more awake than I actually feel.”
“In full honesty, I almost gave it to someone else to test. I have a lingering fear of retinol after prescription Retin-A left my face a peeling mess. (I primarily blame my doctor, who didn’t give me proper instructions for usage.) That’s over now. This moisturizer, which smells like Creamsicles, gave me a complexion that looks more flawless by the day. I already used up my first tub, and I’m about to go in on the next one.”
“Philip B. is forever giving me excellent advice, both about life and about my hair. Obviously, I try everything he tells me to, and the best beauty tip he ever gave me was to treat my hair with his Conditioning Water. I don’t get it because it feels like you’re spraying straight-up water on your hair, but then all of a sudden it’s glossier, silky-soft, has major volume, and smells like a countryside garden retreat.”
“Nail artist Steph Stone turned me on to Essie’s gel couture formula, and now it’s all I use. Previously, I thought all polish brushes were more or less the same, but now I see I was wrong. This one is cut so it glides down your nail perfectly and gives you a nice clean edge, no matter how much you suck at painting your own nails. It wears forever (particularly if you pair it with the Gel Couture Top Coat, $12), and there’s a shade for every mood. Usually, I go for Good Knight, which is the deepest maroon imaginable.”
“When I was at Teen Vogue, I would always come back to my desk to find my co-workers hunched over this palette and covertly doing their makeup. I didn’t think this combination of reds, oranges, and megawatt glitters would become something I reached for daily, but it’s too gorgeous to only wear on occasion. I love all the Huda palettes, but this remains my favorite.”
Even though she’s not technically a beauty editor here at Who What Wear, Nicole still regularly schools me on amazing NYC-approved beauty picks from across the country. (Just look at her hair and makeup guides for reference.)
Not only does Nicole swear by this particular dry shampoo from Living Proof, but she also says plenty of other NYC-based beauty lovers she knows frequently spritz it as well. Unlike so many dry shampoos on the market, this formula plays well with all hair types and truly cleanses the hair sans shower. (Seriously, sweat, odor, everything is gone in under one minute.)
No shame, I’m pretty much obsessed with Erin’s beauty aesthetic. (And it’s not just because we share the same name!) She regularly contributes amazing hair stories for WWW’s beauty vertical, and she also has the best makeup recs.
“Several of my girlfriends keep this little guy in their bags while out and about. The teensy size makes it an ideal on-the-go beauty essential, and the versatile, two-in-one formula creates a subtle, natural flush for that less-is-more city-girl aesthetic.”
Jasmine just moved to New York from L.A., but when she used to sit across from me at WWW HQ, I always wanted to know what she had in her hair, on her face, etc. Creepy? Perhaps, but now she’s sharing all her beauty deets since making the jump to city life cross-country.
“Moving to New York changed so much about my life, including my day-to-day beauty routine. I never was heavy on my makeup routine, but now that I live in a city with extreme shifting weather (your face can literally melt off in a subway car) where it seems like everyone is always on a time crunch, my routine has minimized even more. That’s why I swear by Fenty’s trusty Gloss Bomb. Not only does it give my lips a little pop, but I don’t have to worry about finding a random restroom to reapply my lip color. Plus, I’m supporting RiRi in the process.”
“Okay, this isn’t just a plug because Versed is WWW’s sister skincare line. Honestly, I never had problems with my skin in L.A. Maybe it was the relaxed lifestyle, or maybe it was the fact that my face wasn’t exposed to the filth that coats this city. But either way, this serum has made dealing with the little pimples that pop up from time to time so much easier.”
“Styling curly hair is already a process, but moving from a dry climate to humidity has made my hair, well, interesting. The product that has been keeping my curls hydrated and the least frizzy they can be on a rainy day is this amazing hair mask from SheaMoisture. I put it in at least once a week, or whenever my hair needs it, and let it soak for 10 minutes. The results allow my curls to stay defined come rain or shine.”
“Yes, it’s gross, but let’s be real here: NYC isn’t kind on your feet. Somehow, you end up walking 10 miles in a day without realizing it—something my L.A. feet are not here for. So upon moving, I had to change my pedicure routine to not only be more frequent (cause your feet to need some love) but to also include a foot file. Any New Yorker can attest to how life-changing a good pedicure is, especially with a file.” Up next: Red, Chapped Skin Is Officially in Season—These Foundations Will Have Your Back