Drink Switchel

At long last, I’ve finally found my trendy drink obsession. It’s been a long journey for me. Everyone needs a fancy beverage to splurge on now and again, but none of the popular ones really meshed for me. I couldn’t deal with the coconut water aftertaste, and really, why Jessica Alba and Rihanna? What is that situation?

Same goes for the lemon/cayenne cleanse drink I discovered via Yolanda Foster on The Real Housewives. It had me intrigued but wasn’t nearly tasty enough. Caribe was delicious but making it was a little too involved. Juice Press juices are just too damn expensive. Actually, anything labeled ‘cold pressed juice’ is just crazy expensive. And why? If it’s over-priced at Trader Joe’s then you know there’s an issue.

Honestly, I went through a period of really hating all those pressed juice/açai bowls/avocado toast/latte art/matcha Instagrams. There were (and still are) just too many. It all looks the same. How many more ‘models with juices’ roundups do we need?

But a few months back, my Sunday morning post-night-out coffee spot (a little place called heaven aka Scratchbread) starting carrying this thing called ‘switchel.’ It comes out of a tap, looks like beer, tastes a little bit like ginger ale, and is pretty reasonably priced. It’s refreshing, bubbly, doesn’t give you coffee breath, and has all those various health incentives that those trendy drinks tend to have. It’s made out of maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and ginger—three pretty damn chic ingredients if you ask me. You’ve got your maple, as in maple water—that’s got a frenzy around it at the moment. Then the apple cider vinegar, tried and true—we mix it with our aztec clay masks, we tone our faces with it, and now we can drink it. Then it’s slightly fizzy, which reminds me of seltzer, the drink of choice for chicy-chicsters who just can’t do tap water and like the look of those little San Pellegrino bottles. It’s the perfect concoction. Now let’s see if I can brew it at home…

—Tom Newton

Photographed by the author.


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ITG: The Outtakes

Here lies a photography graveyard of sorts. Not so much a cutting room floor—we’re digital, obviously, so everything ends up neatly organized on endless drives—but a similar concept. None of these shots got published even though I love them (to make a good story, you’ve got to learn how to edit). But this is the internet, which means there’s no page limit, and plenty of room to publish the outtakes as their own story. Here are some of my favorites, along with a little background on each shoot.


Montana Cox
Shot April 2, 2015
Montana Cox’s Pixie: Just Add Water

Montana had the most beautiful pixie cut that she really just hated. It was fascinating that she could look so good to me (or anyone) and still not be happy with it herself. She came to the office with it completely gelled back, and we shot for a bit (that’s what you see here) before I finally said, “Hey, I think we can make this better.” We went to the bathroom and washed it out and from that came the post you see up on the site now. What I like about this is how polished she looks—the perfect hair, the very crisp outfit, and those piercing blue eyes.


Sarah Brannon
Shot April 7, 2015
Sarah Brannon’s Unbreakable Bangs

This is Sarah’s signature smoky eye, created with a blended out Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in (Stone) Fox. It didn’t make sense in the final story since it was all about her hair, which is pretty bold on it’s own. It’s a beautiful makeup look though, right? Very severe, maybe not most girl’s idea of a spring or summer look, but an important one to have in your arsenal.


Jing Wen
Shot April 9, 2015
Nude Lipstick Is for Everyone

When it comes to cosmetics, and photographing them, black and white doesn’t really make any sense. But B&W photos do have a place in terms of a model’s and a photographer’s repetoire. Sometimes I miss them when shooting for ITG. I played with this photo in B&W particularly because taking the color out of it changes it so drastically—and I think makes it stronger. Jing’s freckles look even better here. I like that this is less about the lipstick or any makeup she’s wearing but more about her beauty.


Crystal Renn
Shot April 12, 2015
Crystal Renn After Dark

Crystal’s After Dark was a trip. We got to hang for a good long time during hair and makeup—things were really relaxed. Once her team was finished, we only had a few minutes to shoot before her car arrived to take her to the Save Venice Masquerade Ball. All the shots of her final look in the story were taken in the hallway on the way to the elevator, inside the elevator, and then a few in the lobby. This was like the last shot, outside right before she hopped in her car—it’s a little more dramatic than the rest of the photos but I think it shows the beauty look quite well.


Daphne Groeneveld
Shot May 8, 2015
The Look: Daphne In Tom Ford

We shot this at Daphne’s apartment. I was feeling super inspired by Elaine Constantine and Matthias Vriens—they shoot a lot with ‘fill flash,’ mixing bright sun with bright on-camera flash for a very surreal effect. That’s what I was going for here. I especially liked Daphne’s platinum hair against the bright blue sky. Tom Ford’s Lip Color Sheer in Skinny Dip looks fantastic here as well.


Stina Olsson
Shot June 1, 2015
What To Do With Felt Tip Eyeliner

So sometimes before we cast a story, we might do a ‘go see,’ which is sort of what you see on America’s Next Top Model but much less dramatic. A model stops by, she brings her book + cards, and you get to sit and meet. Sometimes I’ll snap a few photos while they’re in—this is one of those. Stina was the perfect girl for the story we did on colorful liners but damnit if people don’t deserve to see her amazing face sans pops of graphic makeup. Also, her brow shape deserves a moment.


Bhumika Arora
Shot June 8, 2015
The Beauty Look At Stella McCartney Resort

I shot this on the street before the Stella McCartney Resort Show 2015. For some reason, I was worried I might not get my press pass, so I was trying to make do with models outside the venue. Luckily for me Bhumika Arora was hanging around on the sidewalk with casting director James Scully, her hair and makeup all finished. These kind of shots give me hope—like, if for some reason I never got another press pass to shoot backstage at Fashion Week, my life wouldn’t be completely over. I could just do what I did when I first moved to the city and wander around outside the shows and photograph everyone on the street.


Isabella Peschardt
Shot July 1, 2015
A Very Early Preview Of Fall Trends

This isn’t just an outtake—it’s a behind the scenes outtake (ooooh). Isabella arrived to the shoot with her hair curly, but looser than what Neil Grupp gave her for the final photos. He rick-racked Isa’s hair around these pins and then set them with heat and left them in for a few minutes. The final result was beautiful, but the process itself made for interesting shots on it’s own I think.


Gabby Westbrook
Shot July 22, 2015
80’s Hair Now

This is a good example of natural light vs. flash what tone that sets. We do a lot with bright flash on ITG, but I often shoot both ways for options. While the flash feels very crisp and shiny, the window light photos tell a different story. In this case, they make the hair texture here look more romantic. I also think it makes Gabby look a little like Isabelle Adjani.


Héloïse Guérin
Shot August 4, 2015
The Beach & Blush—That’s It

There are so many outtakes I’m fond of from this shoot—it’s nice when you go somewhere beautiful and have a lovely day to then create something out of it. You also end up being very attached to the end product. This shot is not very conceptual or high-brow looking, but I love Héloïse’s expression and the way this softer light makes the blush look.

—Tom Newton

Photographed by the author.

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Trend-Mapping The Rise Of Face Oil

While “squeaky clean” might be the ideal state for some things in life (kitchen counters, teeth, criminal records), it’s not a useful endgoal when cleansing your face. Dewy, glowing, supple…you’ve seen the commercials (and you’ve read it on this very site)—your complexion should be on a constant quest for the plushest adjectives. To that end, there’s the tried-and-true moisturizer route, with Embryolisse and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream leading the hit parade, while the last decade has brought no shortage of face oils to smooth on day, night, or whenever else a dry patch nags you. And though Linda Rodin’s Olio Lusso possesses both the reputation and packaging to make it feel like a Fellini-era classic, its relatively recent arrival in 2007 was preceded by millennia of face oil usage. Here’s a quick look at those immemorial emollients:

Down Under, emu oil is thought to have been used by aboriginal tribes as a moisturizer for an almost-inconceivable length of time—more than 40,000 years. From burial sites and hieroglyphics, archaeologists have determined that ancient Egyptians used a variety of plant-based oils on skin including castor, olive, and sesame oils (the latter two being reputed favorites of Cleopatra). Though people rarely lived beyond age 40 in those days, damage from sun and sand was still considered undesirable. Such woes may have been treated with fenugreek and moringa oils, which boost circulation and deliver antioxidants. Oils were so valuable in ancient Egypt that records suggest they may have been used as a form of payment for labor.

A cautionary tale of over-oiling comes from the annals of one lone female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, who suffered from a severe dermatological condition. She may have caused her own premature death by slathering herself with a proprietary concoction of palm and nutmeg oils mixed with super-carcinogenic benzopyrene (a kind of tar). Suddenly, squeaky clean doesn’t seem so bad.

Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder had a lot to say about oil in his Natural History. It’s not exactly leisure reading, so here’s the Cliffsnotes version: Almond oil “effaces wrinkles on the skin, improves the complexion, and, in combination with honey, removes spots on the face.” (FYI: It will also treat the small worms that breed in the ears—here’s hoping that stays a #firstcenturyproblem.) Like the Egyptians, Pliny touts the use of castor oil for the complexion. Later on in Italy, the crafty Dominican monks at Santa Maria Novella mixed up a Nourishing Night Oil with avocado and macadamia oils that’s still being sold today.

Galen, an early Greek physician, is credited (among many other great accomplishments) with making the move from oil to cream to mass-marketed beauty product. The famed “Galen’s Wax” is considered to be the world’s first cold cream and was a blend of olive oil, beeswax, and rosewater. It was a sensation, and its essential recipe is the forebear of modern-day Pond’s, Nivea, etc.

From the Middle Ages on, things leaned mostly creamy and waxy in the world of facial moisturizers—they also got a little bit gross (see: Empress Elisabeth of Austria’s Crème Céleste made with spermaceti and Queen Elizabeth I’s ceruse, made of white lead and vinegar). Mineral oils had their day in the sun in the burgeoning cosmetics industry of the late-19th/early-20th century with the advent of petroleum-based creams (aforementioned Pond’s), jellies (Vaseline), and baby oils. Such products dipped in popularity when widespread (and eventually unfounded) rumors suggested they could be pore-clogging (i.e. comedogenic) and cancer-causing. In truth, cosmetic-grade mineral oil is safe, moisture-locking, and found in many beauty products beyond your beloved Johnson’s.

The organic obsession of the last 10 years has likely revived collective interest in plant-based oils for face and body. With the advent of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, there is suddenly a plethora of nicely packaged oils to easily introduce oneself to. The artisanal movement likely spurred on interest in at-home mixology; Google’s always there in a pinch for a recipe.

Of course, there are pioneers and royalty to be mentioned in the high-end face oil revolution. Shu Uemura, for one, introduced a cleansing oil to Japan in the late ’60s—a move that spawned a number of contemporary variations for different skin needs. In 2007, model-turned-mogul Josie Maran brought argan oil from Morocco (by way of the South of France) to America with her eponymous, all-natural skincare and cosmetics line. And of course, there’s the inimitable Linda Rodin and her holy grail, Olio Lusso. She concocted the brew with a coffee cup in her bathroom, just for herself. But there’s no denying hers is a face (and a bottle) that would launch way, way more than a thousand shipments.

—Lauren Maas

Photo by ITG.

The best face oils according to ITG’s community, right here.

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A Brief Analysis Of Lipstick Shapes

Through experience, time, and the careful, conscientious examination of other people’s habits (in an attempt to steer away from analyzing my own), I have learned a few funny, odd, and unimportant things. One of these things is about how people use lipstick.

People who love lipstick—and I mean really love it—wear it down, but not everyone wears down their lipsticks the same way. I’ve noticed three distinct archetypes among lipstick users, and they are The Flat, The Curve, and The Slope.

The Flat lipstick shape comes from a hard-pressed, quick-and-dirty style of applying lipstick. The inner psychologist in me wants to believe that this lipstick shape is created by a girl on the run with a no-bullshit attitude. This person usually applies lipstick throughout the day—and often. It’s probably a nude color or a red that’s been saved for years—the classics.

The Curve is that of the rare user. The roller, the color-curious person ends up with a bullet-like shape here. Lipstick is trivial to this girl—she considers it something to try once in a while, occasionally for shock value, sometimes for trend. She usually finds more pleasure in the process of selecting the right color rather than the wearing it all day.

Then we have The Slope. This is the dramatic drop-off only created by a serious lipstick-committed individual with a solid collection of both the best, most-luxe, and drugstore-priced options. She takes care in the application, spends time considering lines, but she doesn’t press so hard that she ends up with the aforementioned Flat.

For proof, I’ve gone around the office and asked our editors to show their the lipsticks. The results are quite pretty, actually, and very real. Nothing looks as good as a lipstick loved. With that in mind—what does your lipstick look like?

—Jen Steele

Illustration by Julie Houts.

Let your mouth do the talking. Four takes on the 90s lip that aren’t all about lip liner.

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Your Korean Skincare FAQs, Answered

If there’s a trustworthy source when it comes to Korean beauty, it is Alicia Yoon. The Harvard Business School grad was already a trained aesthetician and full-time consultant by the time she had the idea to start Peach and Lily, a website dedicated to bringing the best of the Seoul-based beauty world to the masses. There’s a lot of information out there on Korean skincare (and the multi-step routines it inspires), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more questions to answer. Always eager to talk product, Alicia ran through some of the most pressing FAQs that come across her customer service desk on a daily basis. Got more questions? Leave ’em in the comments.

Since we launched Peach and Lily in 2012, we’ve received thousands of questions about Korean beauty and all that it entails from consumers and retailers alike. The general consensus is that the Korean approach to skincare can be as overwhelming as it is compelling. Given that so much of what we share—both products and content—can be unfamiliar and new, a big part of our job at Peach and Lily is provide information. That can be about ingredients, about rituals, or about skincare in general.

To give you a sense of what people are wondering (and what might be on your mind, too), we dug through our records to find the most popular K-beauty questions—along with their answers. Without further ado…

What’s the next-big-thing coming out of Korea? What am I missing out on?
We think it’s the mask movement. There are sheet masks, rubber modeling masks, splashing/patting masks, overnight sleeping masks, steaming masks, masks for various body parts, and the list goes on. We’re seeing sheet masks and overnight sleeping masks take off more Stateside, but are excited to see such an overwhelmingly positive response to all kinds of other masks, too.

We’re seeing consumers and retailers really responding to this Shangpree Gold Premium Modeling Mask that is literally straight from a leading spa in Korea (the Korean government calls them the “model spa” for their renowned techniques). Basically, this luxurious goop is slathered onto the face, which turns into a malleable, rubbery texture that stays moist for up to 72 hours so that the mask doesn’t dry the face through reverse-osmosis but forces these nourishing and hydrating ingredients into the skin. It comes off in one piece, and you’re left with supple, super soft, glowing skin.

What is a pack vs. a mask vs. a sheet mask?
There are lots of exceptions to rules when vocabulary isn’t regulated. We interviewed 10 big and small beauty brands and asked their product developers and copywriters how they define these terms. To keep it simple, “pack” is typically interchangeable with “mask”—and sometimes the terms are combined. These usually reference wash-off masks, sleeping masks, or even DIY masks that don’t necessarily need to be washed off: for example, fresh cucumbers sliced up and placed on the face. Sheet masks are usually and most conveniently called out as sheet masks, but to further confuse matters, they are sometimes also just called masks. Your best bet is to read the directions to confirm how to best use the product. (As an FYI, US-based retailers are required to have ingredients in English and will usually try to provide directions in English, too, so the labels will be friendly for non-Korean-speaking maskers).

OK, so the Korean beauty routine seems really extensive. Do I really need to do it all?
In short, no. The Korean beauty routine isn’t defined strictly by the number of steps and including every single step. In Korea, people don’t really talk about a “10-step regimen” per se. Having said that, the routine tends to include more steps than what might be done Stateside. We interviewed 30 women in Seoul and 30 women in New York City on how many steps their skincare routine included, and the average number (rounding up) was seven and three, respectively. Broadly speaking, the steps that all the Korean women we interviewed all included were an oil-based cleanser, a moisturizer, and a SPF-product. The rest of the regimen was different for each person. The Korean beauty philosophy emphasizes personalization—developing a routine that fits your skincare needs, whether that’s four steps or 15 steps, and a regimen that fits your lifestyle. After all, consistency is half the battle.

Why is Korean beauty so popular lately and why are there so many innovations coming out of Korea?
There was a tipping point in awareness around 2011 when BB cream, a product re-popularized in Korea, was first introduced to large US retailers. In the last couple of years, Korean beauty has gained better traction because of access via US-based e-tailers and major brick-and-mortar stores like Urban Outfitters and Sephora. I think the other part of it is that the Korean approach—respecting the skin and improving it from the inside out through innovating products—resonates with people. And then, of course, the products speak for themselves. Because Korea is a hyper-competitive market with some of the most globally demanding and skincare-savvy women, beauty brands in Korea need to deliver on all fronts to stay competitive. Couple this population of extremely skincare-savvy people with a high-technology platform (according to many sources, Korea has the fourthfastest internet speed in the world; the US ranks 11th as a frame of reference) and super-connected digital communities, and the result is viral and prolific online (and offline) beauty conversations that democratize beauty in some sense. Many brands have told us that because consumers’ expectations and thoughts about beauty brands/products are so quickly shared with each other, they constantly innovate to create more memorable and popular beauty products—all to meet and exceed the expectations of these skincare-savvy and communicative consumers.

How are the beauty products coming out of Korea actually different than what we see in the US or Europe?
The biggest differences are the formulations. Korean labs are well known for their ability to create incredible texture breaks—you have powders that turn into liquid without water; solids that melt instantly into an oil upon touch; liquids that turn into fibrous, solid pieces—all to enhance the application experience.

Then, within the formulation, there are differentiated niche ingredients that are included. This can range from fermented components to snail secretion filtrate. Products might use interesting bases like maple tree sap rather than water. There are a lot of ingredients that are well-loved by Koreans that aren’t as common Stateside and discovering that is probably the best part of all the beauty-hunting that we do.

I’m not Asian. What’s right for me?
With color for the face, it’s trickier. Cushion compacts from Korea, for example, typically come in two to three shades. I’d say that the range spans only from very pale skin with pink undertones to something a little more olive-toned. So, that’s a limitation, for sure. On the other hand, eye, lip, and blush products can be used by everyone, Asian or not.

When it comes to skincare, the products are great for all ethnicities. It’s more important to pick a product that’s right for your skin type (e.g. dry, oily, normal, acneic, etc.) and skin concerns. Once that’s a match, you’re all set.

I don’t want to lighten my skin. Do you have hyperpigmentation products that don’t bleach skin?
Rather than using ingredients like hydroquinone to address hyperpigmentation, I love the botanical alternatives like arbutin extract to deal with dark spots. Many Korean beauty products are labeled as “whitening,” but the formulation typically is focused on combatting hyperpigmentation and/or boosting radiance and not bleaching skin. These ingredients can suppress melanocytes to prevent excess melanin production with sun exposure. However, the result is skin that doesn’t look bleached, but rather more even-toned and radiant.

Are Korean beauty products more natural and organic? What does that even mean?
Yes and no. This question alone opens up a can of worms since these words aren’t regulated in beauty. To start with the yes part of the answer: Some of the most unique and most-loved ingredients coming out of Korea are straight from nature—like snail secretion filtrate or fermented botanicals. These can often take the place of synthetic ingredients that may not need to be included for product stability or efficacy.

Having said that, similarly to the US, “natural” and “organic” can mean many different things and, therefore—in some ways—don’t stand for anything. When seeking products in these categories, our customers seemed to be seeking ingredients that are going to be somehow healthier—so the ingredients should rank super low on the toxicity and health-hazard scales. A good place to start is this database where many ingredients’ toxicity/hazard levels can be looked up.

Not unlike natural or organic brands in the US, some Korean brands that market themselves in that vertical can include ingredients that actually are high in toxicity. So, yes, there might be more natural/organic brands in Korea because of the ingredients that are highlighted, but it’s hard to draw a conclusion that Korean brands are generally more natural (whatever that means) than anything else. Whether it’s a Korean or Western brand, when a beautiful formulation is created with every ingredient hitting a 0-3 out of 10 on the toxicity/hazard scale on EWG’s Skin Deep, they’re granted champion status à la Ilia, RMS Beauty, and Aromatica.

Can I combine Korean beauty products and rituals with what I’m doing now?
Absolutely. Layering products is big in Korea, and many of these products can be combined with what you’re currently using. Korean beauty products can be incremental additions to your routine and don’t need to replace everything or anything that you’re currently using. Just watch out for mixing ingredients together that might be a bad combination, whether the products are all-Korean, all-Western, or a combination. And we always recommend swapping out or adding in one-to-two products at a time, testing them out for two-t0-three weeks rather than swapping out an entire regimen all at once.

—Alicia Yoon

Photo by ITG.

Want more from Alicia? Read her Top Shelf here.

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