I Curate the Very Best Beauty Products for Violet Grey, But These 19 Are Beyond

Sarah Brown's favorite beauty products



The Lineup is a monthly series where we're giving you an inside peek at the beauty lineups of cool fashion people, editors, makeup artists, hairstylists, and aestheticians—all the people we trust the most. Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at all the can't-live-without products that make their worlds go 'round.

A true industry titan, the OG, a mogul—no matter which label you want to use, Sarah Brown is it. She's a big deal in the beauty world, and I'm just thankful she was tossed into the Elle beauty department as an intern all those years ago—because what would the industry be without her? "I just wanted to work at a fashion magazine. I was obsessed with fashion, magazines, photography, graphic design, and advertising. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a beauty department until I found myself working in one," says Brown. She became a beauty editor at Elle and went on to a 15-year tenure at Vogue, working her way up from senior beauty editor to beauty director. She's covered a variety of topics from personal essays on learning to love her fair skin to beauty reports on what's new and now. All of this is to say that the girl knows her products, and now she gets to channel her wealth of knowledge and experience into Violet Grey as the executive director of Violet Lab.

Sarah Brown's favorite beauty products



Basically, Brown curates the very best edit of the very best beauty in the world. With a job like that, you'd think she would have an extensive skincare routine, but surprisingly, it's the opposite. "I'm always trying a million things for my job, but I'm actually quite minimal when left to my own devices and like as few steps as possible. I like products that make my life easier, tangibly improve my skin and hair, and consistently deliver. Texture, scent (or lack thereof), and packaging also count for a lot," she tells me.

This is exactly why I insisted that she give us the scoop and share her current lineup of must-haves, from makeup and skincare to bath and body. Keep scrolling for 19 very thoughtfully curated products you need in your life—because Brown says so.


"This makes a difference in my skin to the point where I notice when I don't use it. It's the one step I have introduced into my regimen since we launched the brand last year that has become a truly permanent part of every day regardless of what else I am using."

"From one of our newest brands, FaceGym: Freeze-dried collagen mixed on the spot (in the palm of your hand, actually) and activated with a few drops of hyaluronic-based serum. I love folding this step into my routine as a sort of supercharger."

"I use L.A. facialist Angela Caglia's rich, antioxidant-packed serum oil as a last step to seal in all of my skincare (so after the other potions and creams). Skin feels soft and immediately nourished and looks hydrated and all-around glowy."

"Everyone has their favorite Bader cream. This is the one I've been using the most lately. I think it will be great in the winter when I'm feeling especially dry and sensitive, but I'm also loving it year-round, especially on days when my skin feels a little off and I want to reset with something soft and protective."

"You know that old Tina Turner song, 'Simply the Best'? I haven't found much that holds a candle to Isdin. It's a mineral formula that somehow feels more like a fluid than a cream. It's packed with skincare benefits and ingredients to treat existing photo damage. It's great on the body and face. It makes me almost look forward to using sunscreen (almost). And it's fair to say that team VG is properly obsessed."

Bath and Body

"I have a big, beautiful glass bottle hoarded away for when I really deserve a treat. I splash a few generous glugs of this decadent, absolutely divine-smelling stuff in the tub and feel utterly, properly pampered."

"I love this brand. The packaging chills me out. Everything is at a great price. The founder is cool. The formulas are clean. The sophisticated scents—fresh, clean, herbaceous fragrances that don't smell 'fragrance-y'—deserve an award of their own. It checks all my boxes. When was the last time you could say that about deodorant?"

"I love this after a bath in the winter and on my legs before going out. It's got the most otherworldly scent—something sort of spicy, sticky, sexy, sweet. There's nothing like it."

"There's something about U Beauty's unusual skincare formulations that I especially love. Like the Super Hydrator for face, this new body cream sort of has the consistency and look of Elmer's glue (bear with me here), but it sinks into the skin immediately without feeling sticky or leaving any residue. It's a substantial hydrator that avoids being heavy."


"I have never, ever, ever been a foundation-stick person and only tried this because Gucci promised, insisted, decreed that if used correctly, it was not heavy, cake-y, or foundation-y. It would blend in seamlessly. It would be like wearing nothing. And predictably, she was right. I dab just a little bit on each quadrant of my face where I feel I need it and gently buff outward with a brush until it disappears, and my skin suddenly looks nearly flawless."

"I am a maniac about pedicures (of the DIY variety) and require scarlet toes year-round. If my feet look good, all is well in my world. We found the most glamorous shades of red from British brand Nailberry, which, of course, we snatched up immediately and very proudly introduced to the U.S. this past year. Rouge is a cheerful, true Hollywood red while Le Temps de Cerise is the rich burgundy of my dreams—not too dark, just right."

"I am an evangelist for this product. I actually don't know what I would do without it. The spooly is tiny, slender, and easy to use. It deposits the exact right amount of color and manages to magically and naturally fill out and define neglected brows in even the sorriest state (mine, usually)."

"I have been searching high and low for a cream/gel cheek tint—the kind that packs real color but truly becomes one with your skin so it never looks like you're wearing blush—to replace a long-lost favorite that was cruelly discontinued. I think Carrie Barber might have done it at Make with her new Heat Stroke stick. I use a shade called Stimulated, which looks like absolute screaming fuchsia, but I'm telling you it blends right in and leaves the slightest cherry flush. It's just right."

"I love an invisible tweak. This is the sort of thing that makeup artists and those in the know have been using forever, and now, Victoria Beckham—lifelong fan of the waterline, the inside edge of your lower lash line—has come and given us a luxury version. One shade works for every single skin tone. It glides seamlessly and without irritation (I have very sensitive eyes, so you can trust me on this) along the waterline and immediately makes eyes look whiter and complexions brighter. When we exclusively launched it at Violet Grey this past summer, it sold out in hours. Now it's back in stock. It costs $26, and all I can say is you're welcome!"

"Victoria Beckham has nailed low-maintenance luxury with this one. I'd describe her Bitten Lip Tint as a weightless gloss-stain hybrid that leaves a hint of color and just looks good. It's less drama than a lipstick and carries a bit more heft than a colored balm. It doesn't transfer or feel drying, and after a minute, I forget I'm wearing it."

"I am a fan of shadow singles because I usually use only one or two shades in a palette and feel guilty about ignoring the rest. These chic monos from YSL deliver great payoff with just enough shimmer for day. I love that they went the extra mile with their names to make the quotidian neutrals sound a bit more thrilling—yep, it's Scandalous Beige and Transgressive Taupe for me!"

"I never thought I would be dipping my finger into a pot of whipped, molten gold (highlighter? bronzer?) every day, but here we are. I love this stuff from makeup artist Rosemarie Swift. She designed it to be used anywhere you want a little light. I use it high on the cheekbone over blush to make it look like I'm casually smoldering. It's a true secret weapon!"

Hair and Accessories 

"Philip Kingsley's entire Density line (shampoo, conditioner, protein spray, etc.) is amazing. The way I know this is twofold: 1) My hair truly looks and feels fuller when I use said products, and 2) my husband asked, 'What's that new stuff in the shower?' He generally stumbles through his morning oblivious to his surroundings, so the fact that he wanted more info on the new green tubes in the shower means they are nothing short of extraordinary. But about this foam: I'm singling it out from the rest of the range because I have never come across a true treatment and styler that was something I actually wanted to use with any regularity. This foam—which I apply on wet hair at the roots, comb through, scrunch, and leave to air-dry—sets my style and leaves no residue. Pretty much a guaranteed good hair day. I am obsessed and also fascinated."

"We make a pretty epic makeup bag. In glossy black or white, it's just the right size, fits pretty much everything, resists looking beat-up, and lets everyone know that what's inside is world-class and #VioletCodeApproved."