Cassandra Grey, Founder, Violet Grey

Into the Gloss

“I had a very unconventional childhood. I grew up in San Francisco and my parents were hippies—my father isn’t really anymore, but my mother very much is. We lived in a Quaker community and on a Native American reservation and I lived in a tipi for a year. But my whole childhood was spent trying to get to New York. I got here and worked for nine years as a creative consultant before I married my husband and moved out to Los Angeles. I did a lot of creative consulting, advertising, and influencer marketing. With everything I did, I was always really into image making and the creativity with hair and makeup—the theater of it. So when I moved to LA, the glamour and the aesthetic of Hollywood really fueled what I wanted to do with Violet Grey.

I always knew I was going to start a company in my early 30s. I wrote the business plan for Violet Grey when I was still living to New York but I didn’t start it right away when I moved to LA. First, I had this little studio on Melrose Place because I felt I needed to learn about the industry and become more of a credible authority in beauty. The studio was the size of a little apartment and I would work with stars who had new movies coming out and build brand books for the whole event tour they were about to go on. The books told a story about who they were from the perspective of hair and makeup and style and jewelry… That’s when I was exposed to a lot of the makeup artists and hairdressers that I still work with today.

Hair and makeup artists are the new chefs in terms of influencing people’s purchasing decisions, so I realized there was a real opportunity in content and commerce and beauty specifically. Because there wasn’t really a trusted source of beauty e-commerce yet, and I was working every day with the real authorities. A brick and mortar was also a crucial part of that because it’s an integral part to how we tell our story. Everything we put in front of people we consider content, including the store and the products. The big initiative right now for us is to pull back the curtain and to really show people our shoppers, our clients and show them our process and our struggle to find the best of the best.

Since working with Violet Grey I’ve changed my skincare every three months. I like to be able to try things. Typically, I can’t believe how good my skin looks because you go through maybe a week where you might have a reaction to it but then it starts to work. Recently, I was using this French pharmacy regimen that the makeup artist Violette put together for me. It was a 12-step routine and she had to label everything for me because I would forget what was what…but I liked it a lot! Particularly Embryolisse because of the smell and it works on everything. I put it on my body and my face, so I have to buy a lot of it.

Right now, I’m using Royal Fern almost exclusively. His products are great—our customers love it. He has a Phytoactive Cleansing Balm that I use at night and it helps the other products work really well, followed by a great anti-aging serum, which it’s never too early to start using. And step three is his Rich Cream for winter. If I switch out anything, it’s for the Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser. It makes my skin feel so clean, like nothing is on it but not dry. I’m addicted to it and use it with my Foreo once a week.

There are a few constants in my routine. Like, my favorite sunblock is from Révive—it’s the only one that I don’t have a bad reaction to. Omorovicza’s Queen of Hungary Mist is really addicting. Amanda Lacey’s products are really great, particularly the Miracle Tonic which is great on an oily t-zone. Vintner’s Daughter is as amazing as everyone says it is, but I heard you weren’t supposed to use it during the day because it’s active and works better at night. And the greatest lip balm I’ve ever had is the La Prairie Eye and Lip Balm, and I try never to run out of it.

Violet Grey actually launched the Ziip Nano Current Device exclusively and the founder's, Melanie Simon, story is really amazing. It was created by an aesthetician who used to work with Aida Bicaj and Biologique Recherche. She was the only one on the West Coast who did that, so a lot of people saw her for facials. The Ziip is essentially the evolution of the Biologique approach to microcurrent technology, and you can use it at home on yourself. I like to do it when I’m watching TV. Normally, I do a program that works on diminishing fine lines, but there are a bunch of different settings because she’s intent on helping everyone, whether you’re looking at wrinkles or acne. She just showed me one that you can use to plump your lips! It only lasts eight hours, but it’s really amazing. That’s why I always keep it in my purse.

When I do my own makeup, it’s almost always the same kind of look. I use Koh Gen Do Foundation because it makes me feel like a new girl. Then I use a Charlotte Tilbury or a MAC palette on my eyes. And I use Boy Brow. The best mascara I’ve ever used is from Serge Lutens, but it doesn’t come off so you need to buy the matching makeup wipes to get clean. Sometimes I’ll get my lashes done, but the Serge Lutens Mascara makes them look just as good.

For concealer, I’ve learned you need to have a bunch of them for different reasons. I have Cle De Peau, Chanel, and RMS and I authentically use them all. The Cle De Peau is pretty thick, so if I’m having my picture taken I’ll use that—but it feels a bit too thick for during the day. Then RMS Un Cover-Up feels nice for everyday use. Then the Chanel Éclat Lumière I think is great for when you have under eye circles. That’s the essence of what we want to do at Violet Grey… Out of 20,000 concealers, how do you know which ones to pick and for what?

I just started taking baths actually. January Jones told me she takes like two baths a day and gets a lot of things done in the bath, so I started thinking that I have to start doing that. It’s hard, because you need a lot of patience. We’re also starting to curate more products for that kind of experience. My favorite soap is from the Carlyle Hotel—it’s a comfort thing, and because bar soap feels fancy. And then I exfoliate a lot. I’m a little bit like a doctor fanatic so I read a lot of doctor books. Most of them say that it’s very important for your circulation and lymph nodes to do some sort of daily circulation. I’ll use a rough cloth and do it all over my body in the shower. Other than that, I’m a very quick shower-er.

After the shower, I use the African Botanics Firming Botanical Body Oil, which is amazing to firm the whole body. Then I just started testing Legology Air Lite Legs, which is supposed to tighten and lift the legs. Or I’ll use the something like the Cle De Peau Body Lotion or the La Mer Reparative Body Lotion. The La Mer I used while I was pregnant to help prevent stretch marks. It’s good, obviously all the time. Then I do spray tans every 10 days at home. I tried to do a self tan but it was too dangerous.

I’ve always had really short hair—for most of my adult life, I had a pixie cut. I might have to do that again because you feel really cool and people always compliment it. When I was pregnant I had grown my hair out because it grows really fast when you’re pregnant. There is an awkward phase when you grow it out, so I got extensions to get through the mullet stage. The thing about extensions is that to look really good, you need someone to really do your hair all the time. Jen Atkin would do mine, and she still cuts my hair while it’s long. But for short cuts, I got to Lea Journo at the Beverly Wilshire. She cuts men’s hair, so she does a really good job.

For products, I use the Beautiful Color and the Magnificent Volume lines from Oribe. I’m also using Jen Atkin’s Treatment Masque from Ouai. I use a lot of her stuff lately. And I love Leonor Greyl because it’s just great for your hair. She made coconut oil chicer. Coconut oil is the best thing ever. Eat it, drink it, you can really do anything with it. It’s not a trend! If Lauren Hutton uses it all the time, you know it’s not a trend.”

—as told to ITG