the cut on tuesdays

Eva Chen Shares Her Vault of Beauty Secrets

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The Cut on Tuesdays

A weekly podcast from the Cut and Gimlet Media, with host Molly Fischer.

As a young editor, Eva Chen got her start in magazines. And then, five years ago, she made the leap to social media: She took a job overseeing fashion on Instagram — which was quickly becoming the place where money and taste were made in the industry. Today, she’s got 1.2 million people following every outfit she posts, every beauty product she uses, every meal she makes her kids.

It’s a pretty public way to live, especially for someone who was a shy kid growing up. She still identifies with that bookish younger self — that’s partly why she’s written three children’s books (the latest, Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure, is out now). But when Eva sat down with Stella Bugbee to talk about how she gets it all done, she said that her time in magazines taught her to open up. She realized that, especially when it came to beauty routines, people were always eager to hear details.

Eva Chen: People are always asking you questions. Not people from the industry — like, your aunt’s cousin at your best-friend-from-growing-up’s wedding. Someone will always want to know, what’s your favorite eye cream? Which shampoo are you using? So I think beauty definitely brought that out in me — the sharing aspect. Also, you do these meetings with dermatologists for, like, 45 minutes. And the dermatologist tells you all the secrets that most people pay, like, $1,800 to learn. 

Stella: What’s a secret a dermatologist has told you that you would be able to pass on to our listeners?

Eva Chen: It’s like that vault in Indiana Jones — I have that vault. One of the things I learned recently is — I don’t remember what it’s called, but that massage that people do where they put their hands in your mouth. 

Stella: I’ve done that. 

Eva: It really does contour.

Stella: It hurts like crazy. 

Eva: It hurts like a mother, but it really does temporarily change the shape of your face a bit.

Stella: When I had it done, this British torturer put her fingers so deep up in my gums and mouth that it felt like the tissue on my face was being torn. 

Eva Chen: That’s literally what they do. They basically put some rubber gloves on. They put their hands deep into your mouth, almost where your cheekbone meets your eye socket and they run their fingers and pull the muscle in different directions. I started doing that recently and I have a love-hate relationship with it. 

Stella: All the celebrities do that before the Oscars.

Eva Chen: Exactly. Yeah, they do. They really do. And the other thing is, the most important skin-care ingredient is the least sexy one — retinol. I mean, right now CBD is trending in skin care. But retinol, it’s been around forever. 

Stella: I use retinol and my entire face peels off.

Eva: But do you moisturize after?

Stella: Always, yes. People say, Give it three weeks and you’ll start to see the difference. And by three weeks I literally look like the Sahara desert. Like, I look like a piece of beef jerky.

Eva: I will say, most dermatologists — even when they’re endorsing a face cleanser — will then be like, Don’t buy the $600 cleanser. It’s not going to make a difference. You wash it off. 

Stella: But the fancy creams do make a difference. 

Eva: Fancy creams do make a difference. Oh, the other thing is when you’re flying — this is the beauty rule I am crazy religious about. I don’t fly with makeup on. The other thing that I really believe in is, you have to clean your airplane seat.

To hear how Eva cleans her seat, why her method gives Stella anxiety, and how she found her path in the fashion industry, click above, and subscribe wherever you listen.

Eva Chen Shares Her Vault of Beauty Secrets