What Do You Do When You Get Out of The Shower?

Recently, I found myself pulled into a conversation about what people do immediately after they exit the shower. More specifically, the drying-off process. My friend posited that people consistently do the same thing, no matter what. To further the point, no one taking part in this conversation could quite remember exactly what they did once the shower ended. With eyes turned up toward the ceiling and brows furrowed, each person thought to themselves, “What the hell did I do this morning?” It seemed (to us anyway) that people subconsciously commit to a habitual routine, developing a serious modus operandi—so serious that it’s become muscle memory and takes up no actually headspace.

But it made me curious, so I resolved to pay more attention the next morning.

Here’s what I do:

First, I step out of the tub with my left foot (goofy foot to you surfers?). Then, for sake of stability, I leave my right foot behind. Next, I reach for the folded towel I propped on the sink.

I brush the water off my left arm, topside and then underside. I do the same to the right arm, then step the right foot out and pick up my left foot to give my legs the same treatment as my arms—one at a time. Then, I gently rub my face in one soft, upward motion. After that, I wrap the towel around my chest and fold it over—never towel drying my neck, chest, abdomen, etc…

Next, I squeeze my hair into a roll, like a dish towel, and smooth out all the excess water from each strand. Usually, if I have my act together, coffee is brewing while I’m showering and the timing works out that I’m able sip a strong French press and get air dry all at once. Finally dry, I get busy with my Clarins Moisture Rich Body Lotion, dab some Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith’s Rosebud Salve on my eyelids and lips, and then wrap the same towel over my hair and twirl it up—that seashell wrap, or the croissant wrap, as I call it. What goes on next is as uninteresting and boring as what I just recounted to you, so I’ll just stop here. My point is…I do this every morning, without fail, the same exact way, and I didn’t even realize it.

Asking around the office collected different responses. While many don’t think about it, a few do. Associate Editor Emily Ferber, for instance, varies based on what treatment she’s doing post-shower. Moisturizing with oil? She skips the towel altogether, slathers on the oil, and waits around for it all to sink into her skin. Self-tanning? A rigorous brush-down with the towel before an even application of whatever formula she’s using that week. She’s still trying to figure out the perfect just-out-of-the-shower routine, she tells me, and recalibrates often.

So now it’s your turn.

What’s your routine? Do you even remember it? Drop me a note.

—Jen Steele

Illustration by Lucy Han.

Have your best ideas in the shower? You’re not alone. Read more from Water Week here.

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Turkey > London > Shanghai > London > New York City > St. Barths

Anna Gray (perhaps you recognize her from the Glossier mini campaign) just spent a month traveling the world. When she got back we had to know—”How was it!?” She gave us some insight to a few stories from her journey, and she also shared some pretty epic photos. Meet Anna—and her brother, mom, dad, boyfriend, and renegade girlfriends.

Dear ITG,

Let’s talk about my unexpected, last minute, month-long tour of the planet. In June, I went on a first date with this guy who asked me to be his plus-one to a wedding in Shanghai. He said, “Come meet me in London after you wrap up your family vacation in Turkey.” I said “OK, sure.” Played it super chill. I can’t tell you how many friends called me crazy. Then, I panicked about going on a trip with a near stranger. Now that I am back in NYC in one piece, I’ve got some amazing photos, better stories, and memories 4ever.

But before we get to the present, here’s how it all went down: I was in Turkey with my family for two weeks exploring the southwest coast by gulet (sleeping on the deck, waking up with the sun). Then we went to the beautiful, history-heavy mosques of Istanbul, guided by my architect mother. (Dude, Hagia Sophia was rebuilt in 537 as a Christian Orthodox cathedral. Think about that for a minute.) I flew to London afterward and caught up with two great, great friends over dinner at Andrew Edmunds before meeting the guy on the West End. We crashed at the very cute Portobello Hotel and took a 10-hour flight together to Shanghai the next day.

Ten hours is equivalent to at least three dates—even if we napped in the middle. Nothing tells you more about your compatibility with a person than spending 19 straight days together in various foreign countries. Again, the word crazy comes to mind.

Anyway, Shanghai is a weird, cosmopolitan, and international city that feels familiar in a déjà-vu way. Staying in The PuLi, we woke up and wandered the city every morning. The wedding was beautiful—it started on a roof overlooking the toy-like architecture of Pudong and ended at Le Baron Shanghai, which is exactly like NYC and Paris’—only better!

We went back to London for two days and stayed at the Chiltern Firehouse, where my love for Andre Balazs’ brain (however obvious and ubiquitous everyone’s love for him is) was renewed.

Then we came back to NYC for one night only. Jen and I co-hosted a party for Lyz Olko’s new clothing collaboration with Curve before I was off to St. Barths for 10 days to help with shoots for the first issue of L’Officiel St. Barths. I was with a crew of 10 (plus the guy from the wedding). The house we stayed in—appropriately named The Villa African Queen for its Moroccan influence—had the best decor details and swimming pool I’ve seen anywhere.

I’m running out of room on this “postcard,” so I’m going to let you browse the images in the slideshow and trust you’ll believe me when I tell you that this summer has been the best summer of all time. Sometimes saying yes to a stranger doesn’t result in a kidnapping at all—just adventures.


Photos by Matthew Frost and Anna Gray.

Anna’s got you wishing you were on vacation? Virtually travel to Cartagena, Seoul, and Anguilla in ITG’s Postcard series. Read more from Water Week here.

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Steam Your Way To Clearer Skin

Whenever I get an especially fat paycheck (happens almost never), I throw all financial prudence to the wind and buy myself a treat. I bought a boiled wool sleeveless coat in the dead of winter. This spring, I treated myself to a facial uptown. I went to the same place I’d been six years before—where I bowed prostrate before my mother, begging for a facial to combat my teenage acne. When I returned a few months ago, I just so happened to have the same aesthetician, Dasha.

Per usual, Dasha had me lie down and aimed an interrogation light at my face. But instead of examining my skin, she started texting. “My mother is here visiting me for the first time, and she’s lost in Brighton Beach,” she said apologetically. “She doesn’t speak a word of English. But somehow, she keeps calling from strangers’ cell phones, and I try to direct her home. I think she’ll figure it out this time, but I may have to take another call.” She gave my face a once over and turned on the steamer. Then her phone started ringing, and she scrambled up to answer it, the door clicking shut behind her. A minute passed, then a few more. After a while, I began to wonder if a layer of my face would just steam right off.

Finally, Dasha burst back in, yanked the steaming device away from my face and began giving me the latest update. The call had come from a concerned contractor, who was overseeing construction near her building and agreed to drop Dasha’s mom off at home. “This could be my future husband!” she sing-songed, explaining how she was going to drop off a bottle of vodka as a thank you/pretense to meet him. “And YOU can be the flower girl,” she said triumphantly, beginning to extract blackheads.

The rest of our time together was uneventful, but I’ve been thinking about the benefits of steaming ever since. Without a high-powered steaming device, it seemed like a boost was necessary. I found that boost in the way of floral facial steaming mixes, which you can buy from any brand with two natural sounding words connected by a conjunction or—more likely—a plus sign.

I tried Mullein & Sparrow’s mix first. I boiled a few cups of water and added a handful of flower petals, miniature sticks, and herb thingies. After it steeped for five minutes, I put the pot on the floor, wriggled myself into a modified child’s pose with a bath towel over my head and began to enjoy the benefits. For many beauty products that contain herbs and flower extracts, it’s less a case of seeing-is-believing and more one of fingers-crossed-there’s-actually-a-sufficient-amount-in-here. With facial steams, that’s not a problem, as you spend 10 minutes staring into a dense, petal-y mixture. Afterward, my skin felt dewy and clear.

A week later, I tried Fig + Yarrow’s Summer Herbal Steam after a really stressful day. It includes dried hibiscus, sunflower, and clover; doing something good for my skin that’s also de-stressing is a pretty winning combo in my book. FYI, whatever product you put on after a steam is able to penetrate much deeper. So after steaming, I used a clean makeup brush to apply moisturizer—a tip I picked up from none other than Dasha herself, who said it stimulates the skin, and you don’t lose any product to your fingers.

Since then, I’ve incorporated facial steams into my regular routine; I do one whenever my skin looks particularly dull or when a hormonal-induced breakout is imminent. When it gets colder, I imagine I might up the frequency to once a week or so. I found you need a bit less of Copper + Sage’s Ginger + Cornflower Facial Steam, so it works well for frequent use. As someone who detests potpourri, I was initially skeptical of these dried-flower mixes, but I’m now of the opinion that they rival a good face mask and smell nothing like my great aunt’s sweaters. The only problem is that you can’t take a cell phone into your steam tent, so no selfies allowed—but maybe that’s also a good thing.

—Alex Ronan

Photographed by ITG.

Amy Sedaris swears by a laxative facial steam. Seriously. Read why in her Top ShelfRead more from Water Week here.

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Beauty Products For Swimfans

Because my father has forever declared that I was “born an adult,” it did not surprise me that a guru I met told me I needed to nurture “child Mattie.”

When I asked her how, she shut her eyelids and “meditated on it.” She was still for three minutes, which is a long while to watch a person try to cure you. Looking at me, she wanted to know how often I swam.

“I splash around,” I answered, but I admitted that I had not swum a full lap since summer camp. She prescribed lessons. She said it would be good for me—restorative and important.

I do not trust shamans. I do not chant. A sample sale produced the most transcendent experience I have ever had. But I liked the guru, and I have always liked to swim. For at least seven summers, I took weekly lessons. I read Swimming Studies and loved it.

So I heeded the guru. I spent $25 on a black Nike one-piece and enrolled in an intermediate clinic for adults at the JCC Manhattan.

Within minutes, I was breathless.

“Every lap should make you feel like you’ve run a mile,” the instructor commanded. “You want to move—a lot.”

For 60 minutes that passed in what should be seconds, I do. I practice kicks and strokes. I learn to time breaths to move faster. I swallow a lot of water. As I did when I was very little, I trace the outline of my frame with my fingertips. It seems so alien and pale under the water that I have to marvel at all of it—it is so good.

Swimming is not the “new hot workout.” It will never be The Bar Method. I was glad for this. Every time I swapped street clothes for a swimsuit, I reveled in the dowdiness of it all. No matter how perfect she looks in spandex, even Karlie Kloss cannot elevate goggles and silicone bathing caps. They resist fashion. These goods are too practical to be chic. Be happy: It alleviates the pressure. When I pulled mine on, they gave me permission to be less impressive. There are very few chances to showboat in a swim class for grown-ups. Kickboards are just not for It girls.

But for all the freedom and child-like wonderment that these hours underwater promised me, they created new forms of unease.

Pool water is a ruthless, chemical marinade. Whenever I remembered that dozens of snot-faced children had splashed in it that morning, I was cheered to swim in a vat of Purell. That solution is inexact, though, as it zaps bacteria and microbes and moisture, too.

To save blond streaks, I got wet before I dunked in the pool. Rumor has it that hair is a total drunk—it soaks up whatever substance it touches. I wanted it to be too wasted for chlorine.

At the end of each session, I had to slather lotion all over. Once, I did not remember to take such precautions. The next morning, I found dozens of shreds of skin on my sheets. They looked like coconut flakes. Because I do not have açai-bowl ambitions, I invested in Bottega Organica Swimmer’s Body Oil. Aptly named, it smelled like Olympic victory and boasts vitamins from carrots, orange peel, and grape leaves. I slicked it on both pre- and post-swim. I resisted the temptation to use it in a vinaigrette.

And yet for all my preventative measures, chlorine would not be underestimated. The L’Oréal Kids Tangle Tamer that I so craved when I was 10 would have been no match for it. It outstripped the most extravagant conditioner I have ever known. Three lessons in, my legs were stronger, my abs were tighter, and my hair was straw. To combat what it wreaked, I alternated David Mallett’s Mask No. 1 L’Hydratation and Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak. They turned each strand into spun gold. No—really. I tried Christophe Robin’s Cleansing Purifying Scrub With Sea Salt, for which I scoured each square inch of my scalp like it was an HGTV renovation project. When it was over, I understood Ty Pennington better and had more refined follicles.

Venturing into the great and humid outdoors, I devised looks for wet hair that did not necessitate power tools. While I the GHD Air Hairdryer is more beloved to me than most humans, I preferred to leave it at home. For now, I have weak arms. Talk to me when I have mastered the backstroke. To the pool, I instead lugged Bumble and bumble’s Don’t Blow It—a so-called “(H)Air Styler” that is supposed to enhance natural textures. It made mine wavy and more attractive in its messiness, which thrilled me. A generous spray of Shu Uemura’s Wonder Worker helped on particularly humid days.

And while I was reluctant to turn heavy moisturizers into a form of modern embalmment, I started to double down on Jurlique’s Nutri-Define Superior Retexturising Facial Serum—a long name for a product I like that saves skin from the outside world.

It is almost too awful to realize that summer will be over soon, and these lessons in “how to be in water” will end. The fact is that no workout or treatment for existential and reckless abandonment is so wonderful that it excuses wet hair in the winter. Pneumonia is even less chic than swim caps.

—Mattie Kahn

Photos courtesy of the author.

Post-swim, protect your hair from the sun with hair SPF. Read more from Water Week here.

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Cool Pools

I believe that you can make it onto any pool deck, no matter how exclusive, with a little confidence. Now, I’m basing this off of one afternoon spent with a 100-percent success rate sneaking in (and then swimming in) three Manhattan pools. Maybe I’m not the absolute expert here, but the advice still stands. Dress for the occasion in a one-piece suit (better for all those laps you’re about to swim and more versatile for the walk to and from), and layer a lightweight, sheer (if you’re into that kind of thing) dress on top. Now that you’re on board, schedule stops at:

1. Gellert Baths and Spa, Budapest: It’s likely not near your current location (Oh, hey to the couple ITG readers in Budapest!), but it’s still one of the best public pools around. There are indoor pools and outdoor ones, plus everything’s heated.

2. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur: Coming to our attention via ITG writer Victoria, this place is peppered with small, heated pools that look out onto water, water, and more water. Good for finding your inner peace or whatever.

3. La Piscine at Hôtel Americano, New York: OK, so maybe you don’t want to get a hotel room, and you don’t want to sneak in—that’s totally reasonable, normal, and understandable. Here you can pay $40 Monday through Friday to get in (free on the weekends on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as you order from the restaurant), sit back, and enjoy from the hotel’s somewhat-convenient West 27th Street location.

4. Amangiri, Utah: Three words: King. Sized. Daybeds. You’ll have plenty of room to sprawl out and also have the benefit of being surrounded by desert rocks, which doesn’t really offer much particular benefit other than being really cool—practicality isn’t exactly top of mind when it comes to luxury daybeds, and that’s not a problem once in a while.

5. LeCrans Hotel & Spa, Switzerland: This appears to be more of a giant hot tub experience, which actually sounds like a great thing. Put a big, heated pool in snowy Switzerland, and that’s kind of the effect you’d expect.

—Claire Knebl

Photos courtesy of @from.yourstruly, @PostRanchInn, @HotelAmericano, Aman Resorts, and @LeCrans_Hotel.

Here to help you sneak in, five cool hats for going stylishly incognitoRead more from Water Week here.

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