The RHONY alum talks to VIOLET GREY’s very own Cassandra Grey about why she’s just getting started at age 55.
Name: Carole Radziwill
Job Description: Journalist, author, and TV personality
Long before Carole Radziwill was crowned a real housewife of New York—a title she held for six seasons—she was regularly on the phone with VIOLET GREY’s force and founder, Cassandra Grey. “Carole and I talk three or four times a day, so any new news is pretty rare because we know everything about everything,” says Grey, who has called Radziwill a close friend for nearly two decades. “When she first called to tell me she was going to be on the show, I started laughing because I thought it was a joke. I said, ‘That’s so funny! Hilarious.’ Then, I thought, Oh, she’s doing it because she’s going to be like an undercover mole in this sort of subculture of America. It’s going be really meaningful work.”
Radziwill is quick to dispute the fact that she operated as a secret agent during her seven-year stint on The Real Housewives of New York City: “If this is the craziest thing I ever do, I’m okay with that because I did a lot of serious stuff in my first career and I’m a single girl with bills.” And as Grey says, “Nobody can argue with that.” One of the many reasons Radziwill accepted the offer to join the hugely popular reality TV show was to support her beauty addiction. “I needed the paycheck to keep this all together,” she laughs, gesturing to her face. “It’s a house of cards!”
On a lazy Sunday in Los Angeles, the two pals cozied up in Grey’s bed and got real about beauty, bedtime staples, and Botox. VIOLET GREY listens in.
CASSANDRA GREY: MOST PEOPLE KNOW YOU FROM THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY, A VERY POPULAR COMEDY ON BRAVO. IT’S A COMEDY, RIGHT?
CAROLE RADZIWILL: Well, it’s a drama/comedy, so it’s a dramedy. There’s got to be a half hour of screaming and then a half hour of making up and laughing.
CG: IT SEEMS LIKE THERE IS ALWAYS SOME SORT OF CONFLICT. THAT’S REALLY THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW.
CR: I think in any friend group there’s always some sort of conflict. In this particular friend group, there was a lot of conflict.
CG: I’VE SPENT TIME AROUND A LOT OF FAMOUS PEOPLE, BUT THERE’S NOTHING LIKE YOUR FANS. I’VE HAD THE PLEASURE OF FLYING ON AIRPLANES WITH YOU AND EVERYONE’S BUZZING, ‘IT’S THAT GIRL! IT’S THAT GIRL!’ I ALSO REMEMBER GETTING OUT OF A CAB WITH YOU IN NEW YORK AND THE WOMAN WAITING TO GET IN ACTED LIKE SHE WAS AT A JUSTIN BIEBER CONCERT. SHE WAS IN TEARS BECAUSE SHE WAS SO EXCITED AND COULD NOT BELIEVE IT WAS YOU!
CR: Yes, that was funny, but I think the difference with real actors is that they are playing a character. Unless they are uber-famous, you don’t know their real name off the top of your head. We’re just playing ourselves on [The Real Housewives of New York City], so you walk down the street and people are like, “Hey Carole!”
CG: THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW YORK CITY IS A BIT LIKE A SPORT BECAUSE PEOPLE DEFINITELY TAKE SIDES AND CHOOSE THEIR FAVORITES. IT’S LIKE SEX AND THE CITY, PEOPLE IDENTIFY WITH YOU. INSTEAD OF BEING A CARRIE, THEY WANT TO BE A CAROLE.
CR: Yes, I hear “I’m the Carole of my friend group” a lot.
CG: IT’S COOL THAT YOU HAVE THIS HUGE FAN BASE THAT’S READY TO EMBRACE WHATEVER YOU DO NEXT, BUT YOU’VE ALREADY HAD FOUR DIFFERENT CAREERS.
CR: You know, I still identify as a journalist because that was my first love. You’ll always be whatever you do in your life. For example, you will always be an American business woman because that’s how you identify. After ABC News, I was in publishing. Then, I was on a reality show. Now, I'm reinventing myself for the fourth time. It’s exhausting. No wonder I'm in bed right now!
CG: WE SEE THE SAME ASTROLOGIST, SO WHAT DO THE NEXT FEW YEARS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
CG: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ANY OF THESE PROJECTS?
CR: They are top secret.
CG: IS IT ANOTHER REALITY SHOW?
CR: No, I think my reality years are behind me! I’m interested in more scripted television shows. One show is in the crime space and I would be the on-air talent for that. I’m also developing two scripted sitcoms…It takes a long time to get a project off the ground, so my strategy is to work on three or four different things and hopefully one will stick.
CG: AS A JOURNALIST, DIDN’T YOU COVER BOTOX BEFORE IT BECAME A THING? DID YOU KNOW IT WAS GOING TO BE A HIT?
CR: Yes, I did the first story on Botox on ABC. It was 1993 and I thought it was going to be a hit. It was a scandal at the time. Socialites were injecting poison into their foreheads to get rid of their wrinkles and nobody could believe it.
CG: WERE THEY BEING CRITICIZED?
CR: Yes, so we went out to discover what this drug called Botox was. We found a dermatologist in New York City who was one of the first doctors using it. It was actually first discovered in Vancouver by an ophthalmologist named Dr. [Jean] Carruthers. I also went to Canada to interview her and her husband who is a dermatologist. They found out about Botox because it was used to correct disorders like blepharospasm and lazy eyes.
CG: IT WASN’T BEING USED FOR VANITY PURPOSES?
CR: No, not for vanity. Dr. Carruthers’ patients would come back and say, “Can I have some more Botox?” And she was like, “No, your eyes are fine.” They would say, “Yeah, but my wrinkles go away when you inject my eyes.” So, she went home to her husband who was a dermatologist and said, “This is kind of strange, but my patients have been saying [that Botox helped smooth their wrinkles].” The first person they tested cosmetic Botox on was Dr. Carruthers’ receptionist in the ’80s. We did the story on 20/20 in 1993. It was scandalous, but I knew Botox was going to be huge because it made sense and it was being FDA approved. At that point, so many doctors were using it off label and my only regret is not investing in Allergan in 1992.
CG: PEOPLE REALLY WANT TO HEAR THESE STORIES. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THEY ARE A MAN, A WOMAN, OR A VERY SERIOUS PERSON YOU NEVER IMAGINED WAS INTERESTED IN BEAUTY.
CR: That’s the beauty of it. You can be a serious and intellectual woman or man and also want to look good. It’s not one or the other. It can be both and we should be both.
CG: I AGREE. IT HELPS TO FEEL CONFIDENT IN YOUR SKIN. YOU KNOW A LOT ABOUT BEAUTY AND YOU’VE COVERED IT AS AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER. LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS YOU’VE DISCOVERED, LIKE AT-HOME MICRONEEDLING.
CR: I was going to a place where they were doing microneedling facials, which is the same concept but much more intense. It’s kind of like jackhammering your face with thousands of little needles. When you have a wound, your body produces collagen to help heal it. This [process] makes thousands of little micro wounds to trigger your body’s natural response. Intellectually, it makes sense. It also makes my skin look great.
CG: HOW OFTEN DO YOU GO FOR A PROFESSIONAL MICRONEEDLING FACIAL?
CR: About once a month. People started asking, “Your skin looks so good, what are you doing?” I told them about microneedling and of course their response was, “You’re sticking thousands of needles in your skin? That seems crazy.” It reminds me of what people were saying about Botox 30 years ago. Between [appointments] I wanted the effects to keep going, so I found this microneedling device that I could use at home after I washed my face.
CG: I REMEMBER YOU TELLING ME THIS AND SO WE GATHERED ALL THE MICRONEEDLING DEVICES WE COULD FIND AT VIOLET GREY AND STARTED TESTING THEM. THE ONE THAT WE APPROVED AND I KNOW YOU LIKE THE BEST IS THE GLOPRO. WHY IS IT YOUR FAVORITE?
CR: A couple of reasons: The GloPRO is light, so it’s easy to travel with. It’s also easy to use. And in addition to the needles that create channels that help your serums and moisturizers sink deeper into skin, it comes with a built-in red light, which is my other obsession. You can never have too much red light because it helps stimulate collagen.
"My whole life I’ve been underweight and kinda scrawny and didn’t care,” says Carole. “Then about eight months ago, I started lifting heavy weights and running. That’s when I started taking Epsom salt baths, which really helped my skin and achy muscles. You get it in a 10-pound bag but it doesn’t look good in your bathroom.” The upgrade: lemongrass and juniper-infused salts from African Botanics, housed in a sleek, vanity-friendly jar. Add a scoop to your bath water as it’s running and double up with Suzanne Kaufman’s witch hazel bath oil, below.
“I’m not into body wash. I use whatever’s in the shower. And sometimes, I use shampoo,” admits Carole. “Is that terrible? My theory is there’s hair all over the body so why not use shampoo.” We’re not here to judge. The thing about shampoo is that, sure, it’ll clean your skin. But it’s not designed to replenish it. This gentle hydrating body wash is infused with vitamin C and E and eucalyptus, as well as Omega 6 and 9 for lasting hydration benefits. While it’s not super foamy, you can easily up the suds using a loofah or washcloth.
“My skin is really dry,” says Carole. “My calves are like alligator skin.” Enter this sugar/coconut/sweet almond oil scrub adored by KKW and created by former VIOLET GREY intern Carson Meyer. Think of this as step two of the double cleansing routine for your body. It promises to leave the roughest skin—knees, elbows, heels—super smooth, even silky.
“Yes, I still shave my legs. I’m old school. Though if I exfoliate first then shave, it stings,” says Carole. Cutting out the burn and ensuring baby-soft limbs every time comes down to three extra (but worth it) steps: prep with a few pumps of DeoDoc’s pre-shave oil, wait three minutes then add the shaving foam and razor away. Rinse, then apply the soothing post-shave balm. While these products were designed for the bikini area, the trio also does wonders for your legs.
Après bath or shower we’re all for layering up. Carole has been using body oil on its own but for lasting suppleness, add a few drops to this rich cream and massage well into skin. The pale blue hue of the cream, from an extract of the Japanese Indigo plant, will disappear as you do so, while it imparts a subtle, lingering scent.
Carole helped introduce the GloPro micro-needling device for face to VIOLET GREY. “To be able to create micro channels in the skin to let serums really sink in just logically makes sense to me,” she says. “I do micro-needling on my face with the red light at night when I’m watching my shows.” To up the ante, she can use the body attachment two to three times a week all over—neck, décolletage, thighs—for an immediate tautness and lift.
“I discovered by neck and chest area about five years ago—fifteen years too late,” says Carole. “I tell all my 30-year-old girlfriends to bring skin care down to the neck and chest.” Not greasy at all, this age-defying formula boasts sweet almond seed extract, hydrolyzed quinoa, and Vitamin B5 for smoothing those tech neck lines at any age. The perfect finish following a session with the GloPro.