Karley Sciortino, Writer

“I don’t have those stories where it’s like, oh my God I’ve known since I was a kid that this was what I was going to do. It was accidental—I started writing my blog, Slutever, when I was 21, and people liked it. I had moved to London when I was 17 to go to drama school, but I dropped out after one semester. At the same time, I met all these people who were squatting in a South London abandoned mall, and they were having amazing parties and doing a lot of drugs. And I was like, wait that’s so much more fun than going to school. So I literally just abandoned school and moved into their squat and lived in a stairwell for a year. It was a genuinely weird situation. There were 15 of us and we were all living rent-free, so there would be all these drifter people and artists who never made art coming through.

So I started the blog as a written record of what was going on in the house. I never like, had a long-term goal for it. But then I started freelancing for ViceDazed and Purple, too—and got a little bit more of an audience writing about sex. After that, Vogue started asking me to do a few one-off pieces because they were growing their site and wanted to have thoughtful commentary about sex that didn’t feel trashy. And that’s not really easy. So I did a few freelance pieces for them first and eventually it evolved into a column. I’ve been doing that for almost two years now in addition to Slutever.

My going out philosophy is about restrained YOLO—partially because going out can sometimes be a part of my job. Right when I moved back from London, I was working on a profile of a dominatrix for Vice, so I started following her around. We’d go to S&M parties and she’s like, ‘Hand me that butt plug!’ We actually became friends and would go to other sex parties that were more like swingers’ parties at hotels or at peoples’ apartments, too. There’s one that’s really famous called Chemistry that moves around—the last one was in Williamsburg, and it’s usually around a hundred people. There’s the first part of the party where you drink and you sort of like, mingle for a few hours, and then there’re allocated sex rooms and you go into those. As far as you can see, it’s just mattresses on the ground. And there’s a hundred people having sex on these mattresses. It was actually amazing. The first one I went to, which I wrote about for Vogue, was in joined penthouses of this hotel. And that was more classy—I preferred that one to others I’ve been to. It’s interesting—I was with a friend recently and we went to a party in a penthouse with close to 200 people.  I was like, ‘There’s so many people here!’ And she just said, ‘Yeah, but I mean, if you’re in this scene for long enough you’ll have fucked everyone who you’ve found attractive in this room already.’ You know?

Where I go at night depends but I like to have excuses to dress up. I genuinely believe it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. And I feel like there’s so many beautiful places in New York, and I should take advantage of them. I really love old school New York French bistros. Like, Lucien. Or Raoul’s. One of my favorite restaurants is a place called Café Loup on 13th and 6th Avenue. It’s really old and has a long literary history—a lot of my editors have taken me there. And I like places with age diversity, where you can go and be with students, or people in their 30s, or people in their 70s. And that’s not dive bars.

I go through phases with how I dress. For a while I wanted to look like a slutty first lady, and I was buying a lot of two-piece Escada power suits and pearls and heels. Then I wanted to look like an Italian movie star. I used to bring Monica Vitti’s picture to my hairdresser and be like, ‘Make me look like this!’ But it didn’t look that good on me. She’s like my ultimate icon still. And now I feel like I want to look sort of more ridiculous. Like, a bit of like The Nanny and a bit like Elle Woods. High/low, definitely.

When I’m getting ready, I usually listen to podcasts. I don’t like music that much—I feel like it dictates moods too heavily, and I just don’t care that much about it. Like, of course sometimes I appreciate great music, but I never know what music is good. Or what’s new. I just like don’t follow it. Instead, I listen to Radiolab a lot. Or watch The Daily Show. For me it’s about knowing what’s going on in the world. But I also like Dan Savage. I put that on and in 20 minutes, I’m ready.

But I’m actually a little obsessive about my skin at this point. I’m 29 and I feel like around 30 is when some people start to look old and some stay young. I went to my 10 year high school reunion recently and some people looked exactly like they did in high school and some looked like they could be my mom. And I think that the people who look like they could be my mom tanned too much. I really avoid the sun and use Jergens Natural Glow instead. [Laughs] It stains all my clothes. But if you put it on every day, it works. My tan right now is completely fake.

A couple times a week I use the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula and follow it with Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Boost. It’s like a vitamin C serum and I actually do think that it reduces fine lines because apparently it encourages the skin to regenerate. But it’s not a moisturizer really. It just immediately absorbs into your skin. Then I use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion on top.

I’ve used Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in Light 1 Porcelain Ivory for years, and I genuinely think it’s the greatest thing ever. I have dry skin, and this just feels really light on it. Whenever I get my makeup done, I feel like I’m wearing a mask, but this doesn’t feel cake-y. And I only use it under my eyes and lips. Or on my nose. I use Maybelline Full ‘N Soft Washable Mascara, too, but I go back and forth on mascaras. Waterproof is bad because it rips your lashes out—that I know.

This is my thing—Wet ’n Wild lipstick costs $1.99 and it’s the greatest lipstick on Earth. I have a ton of colors. All my friends didn’t believe me and now they all thank me. Because they’re matte, they stay on forever. Sometimes if I’m wasted, I’ll pass out in them, and I’ll wake up in the morning and they’ll still be on. Also Wet ’n Wild Megaliter Liquid Eyeliner is the best liquid eyeliner ever made. It’s like, perfect brush, precise little line, it stays on forever, it only costs $2.99… And I’ve bought like, Dior, and whatever. This one’s better.

I either do a cat eye or a lip. Or some kind of sparkle. L’Oréal Infallible Eyeshadow in Silver Sky is good for that. I’ve never bought blush in my life—I think it’s stupid because you can just use lipstick. My mom used to do that, too. When I was young, my mom used to put my little brother’s markers on her lips. And it would stay! I just recently bought a Sally Hansen Eyelash Curler. I’m trying to look more ’70s.

My hair is highlighted. There’s this woman, her name is Silvia Cincotta, and she’s the greatest hairdresser who works out of her house in the Lower East Side. She used to live with my friend Petra Collins, and she does a lot of people’s hair—a lot of good blondes. My color is better when it’s warmer instead of ashy, so I use John Frieda Radiant Red because I think it gives a golden tone to your hair. And I use SheaMoisture Superfruit Complex 10-In 1 Renewal System Hair Masque and a ton of Moroccanoil Argan Oil. And then I use René Furterer Vegetal Styling Glossing Spray to make it shiny maybe like, twice or three times a week. Before I go out I use a lot of Klorane Extra Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, too. So much. Really.”

—as told to ITG

Karley Sciortino photographed by Tom Newton in New York on September 2, 2015.

Next up, read Jenné Lombardo’s After Dark in honor of Fashion Week (she’s the founder of MADE). Then check out DJ Sosupersam’s, followed by designer Julia Fox’s.

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What Happens When You Only Use Aphrodisiac Products

There’s this really great passage in one of my favorite stories—”Pet Milk,” by Stuart Dybek—about aphrodisiacs. The narrator goes out with his girlfriend to celebrate his 22nd birthday, orders a dozen oysters and a bottle of champagne, and they proceed to slurp it all down. The story isn’t smutty (far from it), and I don’t know much about aphrodisiacs, but the rest of it is enough to make you only want to eat oysters and sip champagne for the rest of your life. Maybe it doesn’t help that my college boyfriend was the one to introduce me to Dybek’s book The Coast of Chicago. Whatever it is, I still really like oysters.

As for my personal experience with aphrodisiacs, I usually just spray on some Tom Ford Santal Blush and go out to dinner. (Have you ever woken up smelling that scent on your pillows? Magic, I’m telling you.) But a recent meeting got me thinking—perhaps I could be doing a little more to service the…mood when I go out with le boyfriend. Said meeting was with some PR reps (as many of my meetings are), and they introduced me to what they jokingly referred to as “date night lotion.” It was Neil’s Yard Jasmine and Ylang-Ylang Body Cream, both scents of which are considered sexy mood stimulators. “It works,” one of the reps told me. Hey, why not? I figured. I’m going to moisturize regardless, so why not do it with something that might make me alluring. Excuse me—more alluring.

For the purpose of literary effect, I didn’t just stop at the lotion, so herein lies what I hope can turn into the perfect date night (or any night, really) routine for when you’re feeling a little randy. I can’t say that I can share any of the concrete results of this experiment right here, right now, but I certainly felt good using all the products. And that’s probably half the battle. At least.

Leonor Greyl Masque Fleurs de Jasmin: Starting off strong with this one because, man, it is good. Pay no attention to whatever hair type this mask is meant for—just use it and discover the soft hair you were meant to have. That’s part of the sexiness right there: nice hair. Secondly, the scent—jasmine isn’t particularly girly, but it is a bit mysterious (especially to the untrained nose). And as we learned, hair has the best scent sillage. So let it flow, friends.

Nars Monoï Body Glow II: I’ve read a good deal about how straight-up, non-branded monoï oil smells incredible and makes you want to take your clothes off immediately. If I were more egalitarian in my product selection, I’d jump on Amazon and buy it right now. But if packaging makes you feel all warm and tingly on the inside, then the Nars version it is. Just don’t get too excited when applying. The bottle is definitely not kid-proof, so overzealous application to you and your loved ones may happen on accident.

Moon Juice Sex Dust: This one I can’t really speak for (tried it but can’t say my night went any better or worse than usual), but Gwyneth Paltrow endorses it, and she’s living her best divorce of all time. That’s enough for me.

Tata Harper Love Potion: If I’ve learned anything from a) dating men and b) articles like this, it’s that perfume in its fanciest form is irrelevant when it comes to attraction. It’s one of those things (like all things) that you buy and keep and love for yourself. But Tata Harper’s Love Potion is not particularly fancy. It comes in a tiny little rollerball—like her Be Well: Aromatic Mood Therapy Collection—and packs what claims to be 10 of the world’s most powerful aphrodisiacs in one convenient essential oil formula. So I’m assuming it’s things like free rent and home-cooked chicken piccata on Sunday nights. Either way, it’s sort of a nice, personal scent for when you want a break from your big, bad atomizer.

Fuchsia lipstick: Years ago, Tom Ford released what was possibly the most perfect fuchsia lipstick…called Aphrodisiac. Like all good things, it was limited edition and can now only be found on the back-est of Amazon back channels. For those unwilling to compromise the brand (and health code) integrity of their lipstick, there are a number of dupes out there. Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in L’Exubérante is my favorite. Just enough comes off when you make out to make it really worth your while.

—Emily Ferber

Image via Getty. Now that you’ve got your aphrodisiacs on, set the right mood music.

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You Want Me To Put That Jade Egg Where?!

A few days ago, I was invited to a class on “yogic beauty secrets.” Um, yes I’ll go to that. I’ve been on a yoga cruise, haven’t I? I had no idea what it would entail, but I figured that my many yoga teachers over the years have been pretty good-looking people, so there was probably something to be learned.

When I showed up, our teacher, a glowing, smiling woman wrapped up in tunics and turbans made of white linen introduced herself as Guru Jagat. She looked wise and beautiful. She seated us on sheepskin mats and proceeded to lead us in a series of breathing and meditation exercises intended to help with everything from toxin elimination to wrinkle reduction. Then, just as class was wrapping up, she mentioned one last secret: jade eggs. Apparently, it’s an actual egg-shaped tool, made from jade, that ladies stick up there for the purpose of things like improving their sex lives, giving them better posture, and increasing their skin elasticity. OK…what?! But, before I could blurt out my many questions, class was dismissed.

I accosted our teacher after class. In no world had I ever even vaguely considered that my vagina might in any way be linked to my skin—though when I think about it, both are things that I am pretty committed to keeping in good shape. Here’s our conversation, recreated for your amusement and enlightenment:

Victoria Lewis: So about those jade eggs…

Guru Jagat: They’re small—actually, they come in a range of sizes—egg-shaped pieces of jade that have been used for hundreds of years. Originally, they were part of Daoist sexual practice, developed by courtesans in the courts of China who were trying to keep themselves healthy for the emperor.

VL: Why jade?

GJ: Jade itself has tons of healing properties. Putting it inside of you’re really lets that healing go deep—pun not entirely intended. So for women who have had issues with their periods, with painful sex, with UTIs, or any other chronic stuff, this is going to help with that.

VL: How exactly does one go about using this thing?

GJ: So, there’s a string attached for you to insert and remove it. You can put it in while you sleep, you can put it in while you’re at work, or you can put it in for an hour at night while you’re watching TV and just gently lift and release it. Women in the courts of China used to attach weights to the string and they were so strong in their pelvic floor muscles that they could weight lift with the jade egg, like a sport!

Fun fact—when you start to isolate and strengthen the pelvic floor of the vaginal wall, it changes the level of pleasure you can experience in sex and opens up better orgasms.

VL: And what does any of this has to do with my skin?

GJ: So, basically, the teaching is that the internal tone of your vaginal walls is directly related to the collagen production and the tone of your face. It’s an essential yogic beauty teaching that’s been passed down for hundreds of years.

I mean, think of it this way—the jade egg is basically a Chi generator. And if you’re generating Chi in that area and connecting the energetic element to the musculature, then there is going to be more youthfulness and vitality running through your system. You can see it in everyday life. I mean, everybody knows that one hot grandma who looked great and was super active and liked to have sex into her old age. She physically ages differently than the woman who stopped having sex thirty years ago and let those muscles atrophy a little. There’s just not the same vitality in the face. So, more sex is a great way to keep your vitality, and you can look at the jade egg as an even more advanced tool in the same vein.

VL: How did you even learn about this?

GJ: I was really into Pilates and Kundalini yoga for a long time and both are very centered around Mula Bandha, or core strength. I knew from my own experience that when my pelvic floor and core muscles felt strong, everything felt better. My workouts changed, my orgasms changed, and I just felt sexier.

I’m a question-asker and a researcher, so I started to look into it. I found that Yogi Bhajan, who is the founder of Kundalini yoga, had tons of teachings on this stuff. I started looking into it, and then a few years ago, my boyfriend bought me a jade egg.

VL: And since you’ve been doing all of this, do you actually notice a difference?

GJ: I started doing Kundalini yoga when I was 21. I’m 35 now, and I look younger than I did when I started. There’s maturation of course, but in terms of the tone of my face and the clarity of my skin and things like that, I absolutely look better now. For me, the proof is in the pudding.

Maybe you’re into it; maybe you’re not! But always fun to read about something a little different—though crystal objects for use down below does seem to be a bit of a trend now. If you’re intrigued, you can get your own jade eggs here. Extra credit to anyone who can learn to weight lift with them.

—Victoria Lewis

Illustration by Lucy Han.

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Tinder Portraits: A User’s Guide

It’s ironic that I should be advising you on how you should look for your Tinder portrait. I’ve been in a relationship for six years, and the last time I dated, the “poke” option still existed on Facebook. “Tinder Portrait” is a term I first heard from my roommate, a photographer also in a relationship. He joked that if he started taking Tinder portraits (and only Tinder portraits) his business would boom. But there’s a certain truth to that. Almost everyone I know is on Tinder, Hinge, or Happn. The photos are singular representations of how attractive you are (which is a completely subjective thing), how much fun you promise (also subjective), and how great of a one-night-stand companion you can be (you get the picture).

Currently, two important women in my life are dating at opposite ends of the life spectrum: One of my best friends, who’s a pretty young thing at 24, and my mother, whose birthday this month will make her 58. Like clockwork, I’m there to hear their woes, their glories, their successes, and their failures. The idea of putting yourself out there to be criticized and matched is like small technological warfare with not just the pool of men on your radar, but also yourself. Though I may not be well versed on touch-screen swipes to a possible mate, I’m there to listen and empower them with stylistic choices, terminology I learned from some expensive feminism degree, and of course beauty tips. Here are some of my observations that may or may not help you.

First Impressions Are The Only Impressions
“For your first photo, you should not use a picture of a pineapple of fire.”

I recently had coffee with the author who runs the Tumblr, Tinder in Brooklyn. A vivacious, attractive, and quick spoken woman, she has had a number of fun dates, strange dates, and a date with a male model whose friend had mistaken her for the dog walker. “Without fail, there’s always the photo of the girl who looks like she dropped a coin casually over her shoulder.” Enacting the dropper, she turns her head over the side, and says, “Oh, what’s that? I must have dropped a penny!” In case this pose doesn’t work for you, I suggest a well-lit portrait in natural light with only you in the image. I’m partial to selfies and really enjoy when portraits are compositionally balanced and the subject stands in the center. There’s a dynamic quality to seeing you as the focal point. If you have time, have a friend take an image of you in late-afternoon light about 3-to-5 feet away. It’s hard not to look good during the magic hour.

Makeup
Flawless skin is key. My mother has never touched Botox. Instead, she regularly uses face masks and serums. Yes, she has wrinkles, but her skin is still clear as day, partially from genetics but also from her skillful usage of foundation. In photos, you can tell when foundation is too heavy, so opt for a light hand that covers imperfections. Then add a little highlighter and some blush (maybe it feels weird in person if you don’t use it, but it’s going to photograph well—trust). You don’t want to look too shiny, so some powder is always a good idea. When in doubt, VSCO Cam for an undetectable layer of filter.

Brand Yourself The Way You Want To Be Branded
Suit your wardrobe to your current place of residence. I tend to advise that if you live in New York, make sure not every picture is of you in a bikini. But then again, if you live on the beach or if that’s your most confident self, who am I to tell you otherwise? When in doubt, go with options: A friend of mine has a well-curated photo gallery starting with a well-lit portrait, then a photo of her during July 4th in a bikini top, jean shorts, and a flower crown, and a stylish picture of herself in a button-up floral top and a leather skirt. It doesn’t hurt that she looks like a cross between Charlotte Rampling and Sofia Coppola, but the images together offer a more complex idea of what she’s like. There’s personality. But with my mom, she does not want to look cute. Instead, she wants to read sophisticated. I helped her with her Match.com profile to which she receives multiple emails a day, so something’s working. There’s a photo of her enjoying afternoon tea in Hong Kong, a 35mm portrait of her by the water La Jetée-style, a photo—my favorite—in which she’s taking apart a lobster, and image of her wearing an amazing coat visiting the Met.

On that note, I want to say that these quick observations are very general ones that seem to work for two women out of many. In New York, there’s a running belief that single men and women are always looking for the next best thing. So how do we make an impression that last for more than a few seconds? What has worked for you? Share away, dear readers.

—Connie Tsang

Illustrations by Montana Azuelos. On a more morbid note read How To Break Up When There’s The Internet.

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Sexual Healing, Powered By Crystals

I don’t accessorize when it comes to sex. If it’s not naturally attached to a human body (or readily available at Walgreens), I’m not interested. It’s not so much that sex shops are awkward or intimidating—I just don’t find them sexy. Yes, sex shops are sexual and have an army of toys flopping and buzzing at you from the perimeter of the room to prove it. But for the most part, they’re made of rubbery silicone and batteries and come in the same secondary colors you’d find in your sixth-grade sticker collection, or solid flesh tones anatomically correct to a life-sized Ken doll. They look more “toy” and less “sex.” Sex is raw, imperfect, and different each time—and the thought of introducing a vibrating Minion into the mix really kills my mood.

Then came Chakrubs, a sex toy line made of 100 percent pure crystal intending to, “make sex sacred.” If only for aesthetic quality, the striated, multi-tone Indigo Chakrub (pictured) has your average sex toy beat. You could easily leave this thing on your coffee table, have your parents over, and they’d be like “Oh! Is this from that gift shop at the MoMA?” (The Custom Rose Quartz “Diletto”…not so much.)

But you shouldn’t have sex with anything just for looks—there needs to be a deeper connection. “Crystals have been used for thousands of years because they’re believed to have healing properties within them,” says Chakrubs founder, Vanessa Cuccia. She was working at a sex shop when she began studying crystals with her mentor, the creator of Spirit Science, an animated video series that explores the connection between, well, spirituality and science. “Crystals have perfect molecular structure, which is why they have a positive effect on our electromagnetic field. They’re really good conductors of energy—the first radio was a crystal set, we use quartz in our watches, and computers use major crystal components to get them to work. And it’s becoming widely known and accepted that our thoughts hold energy, so we can put our intentions into crystals with our thoughts. With Chakrubs, the idea is to create an intentional practice. So if you have some kind of block with sexuality, or negative feelings, or trauma that you have experienced, putting an intention in the crystal during your practice is therapeutic to overcome these things and to open oneself up to love.”

Simply put, when you get that feelin’, you need sexual healing—in the form of a crystal phallus. The Indigo Chakrub promotes inner strength, earns respect, and is good for those with issues communicating—sexually or otherwise. The rose quartz Heart Chakrub opens you to all forms of love and is considered a comforting stone. The jade White Lotus filters out distractions, so it’s good for somebody who can’t quiet their mind during intimacy. To get over an ex, reach for the Onyx.

But Vanessa doesn’t expect every customer to be a crystal-collecting neo-hippie, “It is just a really good sex toy, regardless of the benefits! It’s beautiful, first of all. It’s something that you don’t have to be shameful of—very elegant, very heavy and sturdy, and it also conducts temperature really well, so you can heat it up or cool it down. Just by having a crystal and being open to it, you’re saying to the universe, ‘I’m ready to go on a journey, I’m ready to accept love into my life and to show up for myself and be ready to experience life’s simple pleasures.’” Positive vibrations—no batteries required.

—Annie Kreighbaum

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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