Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Courtesy of Violet Grey, Retailers
On the Beauty Group, a Facebook community co-founded by the Cut and the Strategist, people chat all day long about the products they love — the ones so good they’ll make you hit that little “auto-refill” box at checkout. Below, we asked one of our favorite beauty pros to share her own selections.
In the years since founding her luxury beauty retailer Violet Grey, Cassandra Grey has become known for curating the best — and often fanciest — products that the beauty industry has to offer. But her curation has a personal touch. Without Grey’s encouragement, many brands might not even exist — at least not in their current form.
Take for example, MUTHA. Founded by model and aesthetician Hope Smith, the brand’s hero product is its rich Body Butter. Initially created in Smith’s kitchen, she shared it with friends after finding that it helped prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. “Hope came to me, and I had the privilege of mentoring her and saying, ‘You should do this. Bottle it up,’” Grey says. “She did, and now she has a whole line of skin care.” It has since become a favorite among celebrities and editors like Elsa Hosk and Emma Roberts, and the Strategist’s Tembe Denton-Hurst.
Grey also exclusively launched Augustinus Bader’s The Cream (which has been dubbed “the secret to rich person skin”), was one of the first to embrace Melanie Simon’s nanocurrent and microcurrent ZIIP device, and was early to the success of Charlotte Tilbury and Dr. Barbara Sturm.
In short: Grey’s stamp of approval means a tremendous amount. Here, she shares more of the products that always stand tall — both on Violet Grey and her vanity. Read on for the highlighting fluid she uses as foundation, the blush she keeps in every purse, and the linen spray she spritzes on her bed every single night.
“Sarah Brown joined us from Vogue. She is our executive director, and when she first came on, her to-do list was like, ‘Do a full audit of our current products and what we’re missing, maybe where we’re saturated, what we can replace with something better.’ And this is the first product that she introduced to me.
It was founded by Dr. Antony Nakhla, a dermatologic reconstructive skin-cancer surgeon. He’s the doctor you never want to go to; he’s the guy you see if you have cancer and you have to have a chunk of your face removed and reconstructed. That’s his specialty, and through that process, he was able to study how the skin behaves when it’s healing, and he essentially replicated that process with this serum.
I have now been using this serum for over a month and I really see a difference in my skin. When the Violet Grey committee tested it, some people said they saw a difference in a matter of days. Their skin was more vibrant and plump.”
“Jillian Dempsey created my personal favorite lip and cheek product. I have it in every pocket and corner of my house because I need it before I get on any Zoom call. I especially love the shade Petal.”
“There are so many different ones, but I’ve never loved a candle as much as this one (other than the Santal 26 from Le Labo, but it has a very different vibe). This sounds very glamorous, but it’s a little dangerous and dark. When I light it, I feel like the woman that I imagine I could be. I’ve traveled all of two times in the last two years, but both times I took it with me to my hotel room. It’s also a great gift — why send flowers that’ll die in three days when you could send this and it’ll last for months?”
“You can use this in lots of different ways, but I use it like a foundation. It’s sort of translucent so you see the skin shine through, which is all the rage right now, but it still evens out the skin and gives you this sun-kissed, glowy look. It’s really easy to use.”
“I’m impatient so I won’t put lotion all over my body every time I take a shower. So maybe twice a week, if I’m feeling ambitious, I rub this body butter all over my body, and it keeps my skin moisturized for four or five more showers after.”
“There’s a lot of categories where you really get what you pay for, mostly skin care. With highlighters, absolutely, there are great highlighters that are a lot less expensive, and you certainly don’t need this one. Buy it when you feel like you can splurge. I use the Nectar shade. Well, sometimes I use the translucent one, too, which has a kind of purple undertone.
I put it on my cheekbones, eyebrows, top of my forehead, across my nose, my cupid’s bow, and my décolletage. I add it throughout the day like lipstick because I always feel like I look a little bit dry and a little bit gray or something. I always want to freshen up and you can do it in a matter of seconds with this.”
“I didn’t know I needed an essence. I thought maybe it was just another step that could be fun for people that really enjoy lots of steps. But this one? I am personally addicted to it. It quickly evens out skin tone and hydrates your skin. I put it on right after I cleanse my face, and it makes my skin feel so fresh and healthy and open, if that makes sense.”
“This is another product that’s a decadent luxury. I love a turndown service at home, and when I spray it, I feel like I’ve made it in the world. It smells like a bed of rose petals.”
“The ZIIP device is one of my favorite products. It’s a good example of something that really didn’t exist in the world before it was created. When I used to live in New York, I was very familiar with Aida [Bicaj]. She did these microcurrent facials that tighten the skin and clean up acne. Melanie Simon, the creator of the ZIIP, wanted to bring that experience home and have it be more accessible to people around the world, not just in these certain parts where you could go and get a facial. There are so many devices in this category now, but I prefer the ZIIP from a design perspective.
My only issue with it I guess would be that it’s a little bit complicated the first time that you use it. You have to download an app, and if you’re not tech-savvy, that could be intimidating, but once you learn how to use it, there are tons of videos that will help you.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. If you use it three times a week for 15 minutes — I do it while I’m watching TV or I’m on a call — it really makes a difference. There are a lot of makeup artists in L.A. that use the ZIIP for skin-care prep before the red carpet. Makeup artist Pati Dubroff is a big fan; she does like 45 minutes to an hour of skin-care prep before she does makeup.”
“I’ve been using this cream since we launched it at Violet Grey. People call it the best skin care of all time. And yeah, it works. I love the texture. I love the blue bottle. I love the whole thing. It does a very similar thing as the Eighth Day Regenerative Serum [above] in that it activates your dormant stem cells but with a different active ingredient — this one features Trigger Factor Complex, a.k.a. TFC-8. I don’t know that you need both products; you can alternate them or figure out which one you like the best.”
“This OG brightening concealer is in every beauty pro’s kit. I literally panic if I’m running low; it’s a pick-me-up-off-the-floor, instant glow wand. I use shade 2.5 Luminous Vanilla.”