Friday, April 12, 2024

Hannah Baxter, Beauty Editor

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Once in a blue moon, ITG encounters a Top Shelf so rich that just one Top Shelf won’t do. Hannah’s decade-long beauty career puts her in this rare category. So today, read up on her career path and detail-oriented skincare routine. Tomorrow, she’s getting into makeup—and everything else.

“I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri—Karlie Kloss and Jon Hamm are our pride and joy—but I always knew that New York was the goal. My great Aunt Ruth, who’s my favorite person in the world and the most fabulous woman, lived here for over 70 years. She was married three times. She traveled the world. She booked talent for cruise ships. She used to buy weed from Dizzy Gillespie. I idolized her growing up. We would visit her every summer, so I knew that I would end up here and become a writer. I went to Mizzou, University of Missouri, and started off as a journalism major. I quickly realized it wasn’t for me when I had a class where the professor said, ‘If you want to do anything in creative writing, change your major now.’ So I did, and I ended up studying English and theater with an emphasis in playwriting.

CAREER

I moved to New York in 2013 and split my time between bartending and theater development, which is asking the government for money for the arts. It was soul crushing, but I got to see a lot of theater for free. At a certain point, I started applying for a million jobs at Condé Nast and Hearst—there’s probably some cyberspace place with 5,000 resumes that I sent in—but I wasn’t making any headway. Then I applied for a fellowship with Bust magazine. I learned about it from reading Tina Fey’s biography, Bossypants, and how they assured her they would retouch her armpit stubble but nothing else, which I thought was really cool. I later became their digital editor and was there for a year and a half.

When I joined Coveteur, I was definitely more of a generalist covering a little bit of everything, but I was really attracted to what was happening in beauty at the time. This was around 2015. I was reading Into The Gloss and xoJane—RIP—and really liked that they were publishing a different type of beauty coverage. When Katie Jayne Becker, my former boss and now one of my best friends, became the beauty director, she helped guide me and nurture my love of beauty. I stayed at Coveteur for five years before going to The Zoe Report, where I was the deputy beauty editor. I was there for almost two years, and it was such a wonderful experience.

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Going freelance was a very big decision. I’ve spoken to some editor friends who did something similar, and we all agreed that there’s this feeling that if you get off the ride, you’re never going to be able to get back on. So I sat with the idea of going freelance for a long time. It had nothing to do with the place that I worked or the people that I worked with—if anything, that’s what kept me in that kind of role for as long as it did. I was just ready for something different and I also wanted to prioritize my mental health in a way that wasn’t just a soundbite. So, after much soul-searching, and checking my bank account, I left TZR in October of 2022.

I launched my bi-monthly newsletter Anxiety Beer two years ago. The name came out of a joke from peak COVID when you couldn’t go to a bar, obviously, and we were all drinking probably more than we should have. And I’m a beer girl. I worked at a brewery in college and I would go up to the roof at 5 or 6 o’clock and say, ‘It’s anxiety beer time.’ I wanted to do some writing that wasn’t about beauty, and it was around the time that I started seeing a therapist. I was newly committed to prioritizing my mental health, and I wanted to be really open about it. The response has been amazing. I’ve had people reach out to me and say, ‘I didn’t realize other people felt this way.’ I have a sister publication called Beer Face, where I talk more about beauty, fashion, and style, but the crux of the newsletter is just wanting to have an open dialogue about mental health.

SKINCARE

Injectables

I’m a huge proponent of transparency in beauty. I go to Dr. Dendy Engelman at Shafer Clinic for Botox. As I was coming up in the beauty industry, I received treatments from other providers just because the opportunity presented itself and I loved seeing people’s technique, but I trust Dr. Engelman’s technique implicitly. When I sit in her chair, she’s like, ‘The usual stuff?’ I want to be able to move my eyebrows, but otherwise, I like being fairly frozen. I get it between my brows and the glabellar lines, and I just started getting it around my crow’s feet.

I also get Botox in my masseter muscles because I grind my teeth. When I was a baby editor, I went to a breakfast with Dr. Barbara Sturm—who’s so sweet and lovely, but also very direct—and she was like, ‘Darling, your jaw’s insane. Your muscles are really overdeveloped.’ I took it hard, but then I saw photos of myself where, yeah, my jaw had started to get really large. It might’ve been Dr. Amy Wechsler who first started injecting my masseters, but they started to go down after that. It completely changed my face. Actually, my dentist loves that I get it because he’s like, ‘If you keep grinding your teeth, you’re going to have to get them all pulled.’

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I started getting filler when I was 31. Everyone’s cheeks start to flatten out with age, and I got to the point where I was looking at my face and knew something was changing, but I couldn’t figure out what. I get filler at the top of my cheekbones, maybe a little bit closer to my temples, now. Dr. Engelman also puts a little bit of filler right at the edge of my jawline, and we just started doing a tiny, tiny bit in my smile lines—everyone’s face ages differently, and I just know that’s going to be where I’ll see the most change over the next few years. I also get lip filler because my lips are a little bit uneven from side to side.

I see Dr. Macrene Alexiades about once a year to blast off my cherry angiomas. I also go to her for Pico Genesis to treat my melasma. I’ve definitely done stuff that hasn’t worked out for me. Dr. Dara Liotta gave me a lip flip, but my teeth are already small and I thought I looked crazy when I smiled. She did a really good job—I just didn’t like the look of it. And you can’t get rid of it—you have to wait for it to wear off. Beauty editors sometimes have to take one for the team. [Laughs]

Facials

Facials are one of my favorite things, and I’ve been so fortunate to see so many incredibly talented people. I first met Crystal Green maybe a year and a half ago. She has magic hands. She also has the most calming demeanor of anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve been seeing Elizabeth Grace Hand, the founder of Ställe Studios, recently. She’s like a walking billboard for herself because her skin is incredibly glowy. She also does buccal massage, and she’s really, really knowledgeable. Sofie Pavitt is another one. I met her years ago before she had her new studio or her own line, and she is the acne whisperer. She does the best extractions. She’s always the one that convinces me to do a peel, even though I hate peels—I don’t like the feeling and I think that we’re all over-exfoliating in general.

Cleansers

Cleansing has low-key become my favorite step. I love the ritual of it, and I get in there and do a knuckle massage—I think Aida Bicaj, another good facialist, was the one who taught me how to do it. I love the Epi.Logic True Calm Rosehip Gel Cleanser. The packaging is flawless and it foams up in the most beautiful way. I rarely get to the bottom of a product, and I’ve gone through two bottles. The texture of the U Beauty Mantle Skin Conditioning Wash is also absolutely fabulous. I use it when my skin’s particularly dry but still has some congestion.

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I’ll double cleanse if I’m wearing a lot of makeup. The Peach & Lily Ginger Melt Oil Cleanser is divine. It has the perfect amount of slip and grip, so you’re actually getting makeup off. Sometimes oil cleansers leave a film behind, but once you rinse this one off, it’s actually gone. The Eadem Dew Dream Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm is my absolute favorite. My skin actually feels more hydrated after I use it, which is rare for a cleanser. Bioderma Sensibio H2O is the OG makeup remover though. My eyes are really, really sensitive, so I can’t use anything if it has any sort of fragrance, and this one really works for me. The Shiseido Facial Cotton is also low-key the best cotton in the game. It’s silky, silky soft. It’s really worth the investment.

The Tatcha Rice Wash Soft Cream Cleanser is my favorite type of exfoliator. Like I said, I don’t really enjoy exfoliating, but this one has just the perfect amount of grittiness. It really feels like it’s getting rid of dead skin, but it’s not stripping. The Current State Salicylic Acid + Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser is nice if I’m getting a breakout. I like the combination of salicylic acid and green tea to calm everything down.

Toners + Essences

After I cleanse, I always use a moisturizing toner—your skin needs to be a little bit wet when you’re using a humectant afterwards, so that’s how I set the stage. I like to switch them up. I got to go to Korea with Laneige when they were launching their Cream Skin Toner & Moisturizer, and the clinicals are insane. It’s like a liquid moisturizer. I’m absolutely obsessed with it. I like Environ’s Botanical Infused Moisturizing Toner at night. Environ’s a brand I really, really love. You’ll spot it at every single dermatologist’s office.

If I am going to exfoliate, I will use an exfoliating toner. The Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 is the classic. I get a lot of bumpiness on my forehead, so once that starts to pop up, once or twice a week, I’ll grab the P50. I feel like I beat my face into submission at this point so the stinging doesn’t really bother me. The Danucera D22 Tonic is a gentler version of P50. It’s lovely. Getting a facial with Danuta Mieloch, who’s the founder of Danucera and Rescue Spa, is a religious experience. She somehow gets you so snatched. And then I keep the Tata Harper Floral Essence in my living room so my boyfriend and I can spritz each other. He’s becoming a full-fledged beauty boy.

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Actives

I always use an antioxidant serum to protect my skin from free-radical damage because we live in New York City and it’s a gross, disgusting mess out there. I love Protocol’s Vitamin C Superserum. The issue with vitamin C is that it’s so unstable and the shelf life is short, so you have to use that shit or it will turn. Protocol formulates in a facility that’s free of oxygen and light and also used by NASA, which is so cool. I’ve gone through five bottles of the Superserum. It’s one of the best on the market. The SkinBetter+ Alto Defense Serum is pricey, but it makes a huge difference in fighting dark spots. I’ll use anything from SkinBetter+ honestly. They have clinicals for days. Recently, I’ve been using the Matter of Fact Brightening + Firming Serum. I’m wary sometimes when a product has such a high percentage of vitamin C—this one has 20 percent—but it works and it comes in a bottle that protects it from light and oxygen. And Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum is an alternative to vitamin C. I think it’s a sleeper hit from the brand. It’s so brightening. It’s usually what I use when my skin’s a bit irritated and I need to pare everything back.

I’ve been using prescription tretinoin since I was 25. I use it five nights a week. Lately, I’ve been using a custom mix from Agency that has tretinoin, niacinamide, and azelaic acid. Meanwhile, growth factors are all the rage right now. Anytime I’m not using a retinol at night, I’ll use the SkinMedica TNS+ Advanced Serum or the Epi.logic Master Plan. They’re pricey, but I do feel like they’re whipping your skin into shape. I think if you’re really concerned about signs of premature aging, investing in one of these as opposed to getting a million other things is a good idea. You’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck.

At this point in my life, I’m pretty lucky and don’t get a lot of breakouts, but when I do, they come out with a vengeance. I love the Starface Acne Patches—it’s genius to rebrand acne as something that’s fun and cute. Otherwise, I like INNBeauty Project’s Medicated Acne Serum. It’s salicylic acid-based, and it helps my pimples go away quickly. Good old benzoyl peroxide from the drugstore does the trick, too. Honestly, I’m more concerned about the hyperpigmentation after than the breakout itself. Mandelic acid is the AHA that everyone needs to know about. It’s great for all skin tones and it’s really gentle. I used Sofie Pavitt’s Mandelic Clearing Serum for two weeks after I had a really gnarly breakout on my cheek, and it got rid of the crazy mark it left.

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Hydration

I always apply some sort of hydrating serum. The PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum and Alastin HA Immerse Serum are basically interchangeable—they both prompt your body to produce more hyaluronic acid. I know that hyaluronic acid is everywhere right now and you can get a more affordable version, but I like a really science-backed brand for this step.

The Dr. Loretta Intense Replenishing Ceramide Serum is one of those ‘if you know, you know’ serums. It feels like cashmere on your skin. It’s actually an occlusive serum, and it’s my last step before I go in with a moisturizer. The Of Other Worlds Light Beams Barrier Treatment is chock-full of glycerin. When my skin is freaking out with inflammation and I don’t know why, I pare back everything and just use this, and it makes my skin so happy. The Dieux Deliverance Trinity Serum is also so good for calming. I travel with it because it hydrates, it protects, and it calms everything down. And the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex is my old-lady serum, but I’ve gone through six bottles of it. I love using it at night and slathering on some moisturizer afterward.

I believe that if you want to save money on your routine, you don’t have to invest in an expensive moisturizer. Like every other beauty girly, I am guilty of going to City Pharma in Paris, and they have Eucerin’s UreaRepair, which is the best moisturizer. It’s simple, it doesn’t pill, it leaves you with a nice glow, it’s light enough for the summer, and it’s thick enough for the winter. I came back to the US with eight bottles of it in my suitcase. In the summer, sometimes I switch over to Tata Harper’s Superkind Fortifying Moisturizer. It’s really lightweight, fragrance-free, and makes you glow like a disco ball. If I want a really fancy night cream, I like Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Super Anti-Aging Night Cream.

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I know that everyone’s obsessed with slugging, and oh my God, the Futurewise Slug Balm is really good. I put it on religiously every night. Everyone should be locking their moisturizer in with an occlusive if you want to prevent moisture loss. And I’m not really an oil girl, but I remember learning about the Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil years ago—well before Chrissy Teigen posted about it—and it’s perfect.

Homeoplasmine is another French pharmacy staple. I keep one in my bag because my nose gets dry for reasons I still can’t understand. It’s great for the lips, too. And Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm Lip Balm is the least sexy product I own, but I will ride for it until the day I die. It has a very small percentage of hydrocortisone—and it’s only $5.

Masks

I definitely think we should be masking at home. Biologique Recherche’s Masque Vivant is a cult favorite for a reason. It really deep cleans your skin, but it sort of smells like garbage juice. [Laughs] Orveda’s Deep Clearing Mud Mask will suck everything out of your pores, too. That shit is crazy. And Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is another good one. Renée, the founder, is such a wealth of knowledge. We’re also birthday twins.

SPF

You might as well throw away any anti-aging stuff you’re using if you’re not using SPF. I like mineral sunscreens because there are some studies that suggest they can help prevent melasma. The EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is sort of the industry standard. It rubs in well, and it doesn’t sting your eyes. Summer Fridays really nailed the formula of their ShadeDrops SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen. I did not think I was going to like it for reasons I don’t really understand, but again, it blends in seamlessly. The same goes for Colorescience’s SPF 50 Total Protection No-Show Mineral Sunscreen—I thought it was going to be very heavy and chalky. You have to work it out a little bit more, but it has a beautiful texture—it’s very velvety. If I do use a chemical sunscreen—probably if I’m wearing more makeup that day—I like Charlotte Tilbury Invisible UV Flawless Primer SPF 50. It sits really well, and it’s a nice primer for makeup so you don’t have to add an additional step. Then I actually keep Vacation’s Chardonnay Oil SPF 30 on my dresser—I put it on my hands before I go outside.

Tech

I love a good tool, even though your hands are ultimately the best. I get very puffy if I so much as look at a piece of sushi, and I love using Joanna Czech’s Facial Massager. It refuses to break. The NuFace is something that you have to use all of the time—you can’t just one and done it—but it’s good and really does lift everything. I was so skeptical about the Droplette when it first came out, but when my skin was really dry last year, I was using some of their Collagen Hydrofiller Capsules and my skin felt like a bouncy marshmallow afterward. When I have it out on the sink, it sort of looks like a vibrator—that’s actually a common problem in the beauty world. Is it a vibrator or a facial tool? Who knows? [Laughs] That’s the fun part.”

—As told to Daise Bedolla

Photographed by Alexandra Genova in Brooklyn on December 2, 2023

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