'The Cut' beauty director-at-large shares all of the products she's loving right now.
Welcome to I Swear By This, an interview series where we chat with our favorite fashion and beauty insiders about the beauty products they use down to the last drop. This week, we asked Maya Allen—beauty expert and The Cut’s beauty director-at-large—to share all of the beauty essentials she's loving right now.
If there was ever someone who truly embodied the idea of beauty as self-care, it would be Maya Allen. So it comes as no surprise that the beauty expert’s routine is incredibly restorative. “I really enjoy the process of getting ready and unready,” she tells Coveteur. “We are pulled in different directions every single day. When you have time to beautify yourself [and] nourish your skin or hair, it’s really therapeutic.”
Depending on Allen’s mood, this could mean hyping herself up with a playlist or creating a calm environment. “When I'm getting ready to go out with my girls or to a nice dinner, I always have the vibes right. Sometimes I might have a little champagne next to me and it’s like I'm having this makeup party with myself,” she says. “When I'm winding down, I go through my routine very slowly. I sit there and look at myself in the mirror, admire my skin progress, and affirm myself in those moments.”
Allen was recently named beauty director-at-large at The Cut and has previously held positions at InStyle, Byrdie, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire. Needless to say, her product stamp of approval goes a long way. At the center of Allen’s vetting process is a strong attraction to intentional brand stories. “What really drives me to try something and incorporate it into my routine is a thoughtful founder who seems deeply dedicated to the work behind the brand or their product. Then, in turn, they were probably really thoughtful about their formula," she explains. "Like the rest of the world, I see products that go viral on social media and those have an allure to me as well. But I'm more so loving a really thoughtful brand, which is why I love BIPOC- and female-founded companies."
Below, Allen shares the beauty products that have earned a top spot in her current beauty regimen.
“I am a lipstick maximalist. For so many years I’ve been obsessed with a bold, blue-based red [shade]. Red lipstick makes me feel so fierce and feminine. This Dior formula is a classic. It looks so good and never dries my lips out.”
“Lately, I've been embracing my inner '90s baby when it comes to makeup, so I've been lining my lips with this cinnamon brown shade. It pairs so well with my deep skin tone and it has a velvet texture that doesn’t feather or bleed. It really does last all day and makes my lips feel voluminous.”
“I love this mascara; it gives me a feathery-winged effect and doesn’t clump. Usually when you use a clean formula you expect a more subdued or natural finish, but this one gives you all the drama. Sometimes I'll double up on my lashes when I'm going out. I'll put on Kjaer Weis as a base and then I'll apply the Pat McGrath Fetish Eyes Mascara for a little extra pizazz.”
“This lightweight moisturizing lotion is the perfect texture during a heat wave. It's full of ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ginseng extract, and vitamin E. You don’t need to apply very much; a little bit of product still gives my skin this beautiful dewy glaze that I'm always looking for.”
“I lean really heavily into using brands that were created by experts, whether that be via makeup, skincare, or haircare. I just feel like since they've dedicated their entire careers to this craft, they would know how to create a damn good product— and Joanna does. Her C+ serum is the best vitamin C I've ever used. It's a beautiful nourishing oil that is fast absorbing, so it doesn't feel too heavy. It’s really anti-inflammatory, increases collagen production, and brightens my dark spots and hyperpigmentation. She is one of the estheticians that I trust so much with my skin.”
“This is my end-all-be-all toner; it's a year-round staple for me. As soon as I cleanse my skin, I tap it in and it instantly illuminates my skin while also prepping it to absorb all of the products to follow.”
“When I want a beautiful curl or a wave, I reach for this product. It’s lightweight yet still really creamy. When my hair is damp, I’ll rake it through from root to tip and let it air dry. It just gives me the juiciest curls, especially with second-day hair. Plus, it doesn’t weigh my hair down, but gives such a good hold—I'm obsessed.”
“I've been really into oils lately. I brought this on set for the stylist to use on my hair. It's so nourishing and gives my hair the perfect amount of shine without making it look greasy or weighing it down.”
“I usually wear vanilla-scented fragrances to bed. It’s one of my more dramatic beauty habits, but there's something about it that just helps me sleep better. This fragrance beautifully blends vanilla with more heated notes like woody musk. It smells so sexy, but it's lightweight enough to be a daytime scent. In every Uber, meeting, or dinner I go to, someone asks me about it. It’s a show-stopping scent and my new signature.”
“Every time I'm doing my skincare routine, I light this candle. I know we're in the heat of summer, but it just gives me cozy vibes. It makes me want to have a glass of red wine and lay down because it's just so comforting.”
“I usually apply a moisturizing face mask first, then use this steamer to help open up my pores. I swear my skin glows like crazy after. It's probably a habit that I'll keep up all year.”