Welcome to What I Buy From My Own Brand—a special series spotlighting our favorite female CEOs and beauty bosses. Here, they'll provide context regarding what they look for and value while shopping for top-notch beauty products in addition to providing a list of favorite formulas they'd personally purchase from their own brand. Up next, Cassandra Grey, Founder of Violet Grey. Enjoy!
When it comes to the art of researching and investing in beauty products, Violet Grey is like a unique, highly covetable mash-up between a Bugatti dealership and Cinderella's fairy godmother. The retailer (which has just one brick-and-mortar store in the U.S. and is therefore fluent in online dealing) offers only the crème de la crème within the beauty and wellness spaces, all of which are tested, reviewed, and carefully chosen by the industry's most elite power players (translation: the makeup artists, dermatologists, estheticians, celebrity influencers, and hairstylists who cater to the glowing and gorgeous celebs we admire and screenshot on a daily basis). At the heart of the store's beauty pulse is Cassandra Grey, Violet Grey's very cool, very bad-ass founder.
"I have been trained by the Violet Grey committee to have a rigorous, OCD approach to my beauty routine," she explains to me. "Violet Grey is actually the Marie Kondo of beauty. We build our customers cosmetic wardrobes and maintain them. We don't think you should keep anything you aren't using, and we think you should be using only best-in-class products across your entire beauty wardrobe—skincare, makeup, haircare, bath and body, wellness, and fragrance."
The emphasis is placed on quality over quantity, a gem of a standard that feels few and far between within an industry which, quite frankly, is starting to feel overstuffed in unnecessariness. And while yes, the majority of Violet Grey's offerings are investment pieces as far as our bank accounts are concerned, the goal is actually to decrease spending in favor of fewer, truly special pieces you'll love and reap major bang for your buck.
"Before our customers let us take care of them, most of them are typically hoarding an average of 75 products they aren't using!" Grey continues. "Keeping a serum you bought but don't like doesn't make any sense. Cosmetics expire, and they are just there sucking out the joy in your medicine cabinet. It's not like keeping those Manolos you never wear. You can't leave an old serum to your children!"
That said, if Grey could leave a serum (or any holy-grail beauty product Violet Grey keeps stocked) to her children, we would most definitely want to know what it would be. Considering the innumerable beauty and wellness items Grey comes in contact with, reviews, and uses on a daily basis, we had to know which items she loves and, in a more dramatic sense, simply can't live without. Ahead, she's choosing her favorite Violet Grey product babies and sharing the 12 staple beauty products she absolutely requires as part of her own high-standard beauty MO.
"Especially beneficial for blemish-prone complexions, this face wash combines pure raw honey, royal jelly, and papaya enzymes to cleanse and exfoliate the skin. It's the best cleanser we have found for getting that instantly dewy baby skin."
"Carson Meyer (one of Violet Grey's first interns) created the body scrub to end all body scrubs in her home kitchen in Malibu. The nourishing formula mimics the shimmery, bikini-ready look of body oil sans body oil. Fun fact: Kim Kardashian, who knows her way around a nude photo shoot, calls C & the Moon 'the best body scrub ever."'
"There is a certain class of affluent ladies in New York City's Upper East Side that see Aida Bicaj every week for a Biologique Recherche microcurrent facial ($450 a pop). The electric-current treatment tightens, brightens, kills bacteria, accelerates cellular repair, and prevents the need for a face-lift in the future. Melanie Simon, the Aida of the West Coast, spent over a decade creating a nano-current device her clients could use at home for the cost of one Biologique facial. I recommend you use your Ziip three times a week."
"Violet Grey's expert committee agrees that hyaluronic acid should be a staple in your skincare routine. This particular hyaluronic serum was created by German physician to the stars Barbara Sturm. It is special because it is supercharged with purslane extract, an ingredient rich in antioxidants that helps to protect sensitive skin from free radicals."
"I consider this product a secret weapon. This gel strategically strengthens the skin, making it more resilient to blemishes. Powerful HAs, B5, and B3 help fight chronic breakouts and refine the skin's texture. The serum also decreases the size of your pores for a smooth, enviable complexion."
"Something unprecedented happened when we first introduced this to our committee of experts: I became their drug dealer. I received a flood of voicemails, emails, and text messages from our testers desperately asking for more. It was crazy how many new friends I made from being the sole supplier of this It cream. Bader is revolutionary, lives up to all the Hollywood-induced hype, and continues to be our best-selling product since launching in April of last year!"
"Since the '80s, supermodels have trusted Christophe Robin with their ever-changing, million-dollar locks. So it's no surprise that every red carpet hairstylist considers this mask a must-have in their arsenal. The treatment revives damaged hair and restores radiance; it's basically an antidepressant that won't kill your sex drive."
"If you can't be bothered to drink enough water or give up coffee, then for the love of god, please invest in a world-class dental hygiene routine. Do it for your loved ones. To me, there is nothing less attractive than chapped lips, bad breath, or neglected gums. Enter this magic lip loofah. For optimal results, brush your teeth with the Apa Clean White Sonic Toothbrush ($250), follow up with Cocofloss ($9), and apply the best lip balm in the world: Sisley Paris Nutritive Lip Balm ($74)."
"Hanacure remains our second best-selling skincare product since we launched it a few years ago. I call this a face-lift in a mask. After using it, I look significantly younger for two whole days. I'm not the only one. I recommend you sign up for replenishment, as these facial kits are often sold out."
"Out of 22 vibrators tested, this is the single one that earned our seal of approval. I think about this product as an important step, if not the most important, in your skincare routine for achieving that after-sex glow. Also, it doubles as an excellent sleep aid, and nothing makes your skin look as youthful as a good night's sleep."
"I'm not saying this is a natural alternative to Adderall. I cannot claim that. I can, however, tell you that I was able to organize, color-coordinate, and label my entire house in just four hours. Take two tablets once a day on an empty stomach."
"An at-home face-and-body booster that actually works, this micro-needling device is designed to trigger the skin’s micro rejuvenation response. The result: new skin cells. Who doesn’t want that?"
Next up: Celebs Are Obsessed With Violet Grey—Here's What's in Their Shopping Bags
Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.