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LESSONS:

CASSANDRA GREY’S
GUIDE TO
RE-ENTERING
POLITE SOCIETY

Having anxiety navigating life outside the comfort of your sweatpants? We’ve got a guide for that.


Written ByCASSANDRA GREY

Photography ByGUY AROCH


FROM THE DESK OF CASSANDRA GREY 

RE: LESSONS ON WHAT TO SHOP FOR YOUR RE-ENTRY TO POLITE SOCIETY 

MAY 26TH, 2021

When I was growing up, I spent summers with my grandmother, whom I never knew to have a hair out of place or a chipped fingernail. She said things like, “I’m practically dead...I may as well live the little bit of life I have left.”  And to her, a life without holidays, high heels, lipstick, and perfume was not a life worth living. I worshipped her. 

She was the epitome of glamour, nestled in her English estate furniture, always in prim white gloves, the scent of her Shalimar perfume lingering in every room, setting an example while doling out advice. She had a certain quiet brand of authority that commanded one’s respect and admiration, “Darling, read the newspaper and file your nails...you never know whom we might meet when we go out that door,” I recall her saying on more than one occasion.

As I now prepare to re-enter society as the 44-year-old face of your favorite beauty company, I can’t help but hear her voice in my ear, “Comb your hair, straighten your back, put on some lipstick. If not for you, do it out of politeness for everyone you meet today.”

Without further ado, for your shopping pleasure, here is my guide to everything you may want to PUT IN THE BAG to prepare for your re-entry into polite society à la my grandmother.

Re-Enter Polite Society In Just Five Steps

STEP ONE: do not neglect your personal hygiene 

STEP TWO: achieve a fresh face, appear well rested 

STEP THREE: embrace glamour, put on some makeup 

STEP FOUR: get effortless, red-carpet-ready hair 

STEP FIVE: mark the best summer ever with a new signature scent



STEP ONE: DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR PERSONAL HYGIENE

ESTRELLA RAIZ HERBAL ROOT-BASED MOUTH RINSE

I don’t know about you, but short of harm inflicted on my child, my literal worst nightmare is having bad breath. I use this best-in-class, beautifully bottled mouthwash religiously after I floss and brush my teeth and, naturally, I also scrape my tongue to be absolutely certain I won’t have bad breath.  

KNC BEAUTY ALL NATURAL COLLAGEN INFUSED LIP MASK

Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Oh wait, we haven’t been able to kiss our mothers in over a year. Make sure you are prepared. KNC Beauty’s All Natural Collagen Infused Lip Mask has you covered. Petroleum-free and infused with plumping collagen and moisturizing rose flower oil, vitamin E, and bitter cherry extract, plus it’s all natural!

KOSAS SERENE CLEAN CHEMISTRY AHA SERUM DEODORANT

This is a clean deodorant that actually works–and I can say this because we’ve tried ‘em all.  A few years ago when we were curating our deodorant category, our editors taught me more than I wanted to know about the damage the usual suspect deodorants can wreak on our well being.  It was kinda like when that food documentary, What The Health, flipped me vegan for a few months (until I couldn’t find a vegan cheese or a faux salami that could satisfy my charcuterie addiction).  I couldn’t unknow what I learned, but it was also hard to find a clean deodorant that actually worked. It took us a while, but we found four brands that were powerful (sans chemicals), and this one by clean beauty OG, Kosas, is my personal favorite.

DEODOC DEOWIPES INTIMATE

Ladies, you may not know you need these, but trust me, you need these. Made by doctors for anyone with a vagina, these hypoallergenic wipes are safe, free of parabens, and tested by gynecologists and dermatologists.  Available in three scents which provide a mild deodorant affect to keep yourself clean and fresh. 

C & THE MOON MALIBU MADE BODY SCRUB

Kimberly Kardashian said it and our guardians of the VIOLET CODE all agree, “This is the best body scrub ever.” C & the Moon Founder, Carson Meyer (also an actress and sought after doula!) was one of our first interns on the curation floor at VIOLET GREY.  She has a conscious outlook on what we put in and around our bodies and created this body scrub with our health and well being top of mind.  It does everything you want a body scrub to do while being free of parabens, phthalates, animal by-product, dyes, heavy metals, phenoxyethanol, SLS, SLES, and synthetic fragrances. 

MUTHA BODY CONTOUR SERUM

While those of us in Los Angeles live in one long, endless summer, this summer feels different. This summer feels like either that first teenage summer or the last summer of our lives.  We are all gunning for the Best Summer Ever and I personally plan on spending most of it next-to-naked by a swimming pool or at the very least atop a swan floaty. With plans to be mostly naked, I am obviously investing in MUTHA’s no-exercise-required Body Contour Serum. This multi-action formula features M-TIGHT™ technology, containing nourishing botanical oils and ceramides that help hydrate, fruit acids that help resurface, and plant-derived ingredients that aim to visibly reduce the appearance of unwanted dimples. This potent blend works together for the ultimate body glow up.  

AUGUSTINUS BADER THE BODY CREAM

From the producers of what WWD reported to be “The Best Skin Care Of All Time,” this body hero is as smart as your smart phone. It not only moisturizes, it activates your dormant skin cells. And if you are over the age of 24, it’s been known to create younger, healthier-looking skin.


STEP TWO: ACHEIVE A FRESH FACE, APPEAR WELL RESTED

ZIIP NANO-CURRENT DEVICE 

I don’t feel particularly well-rested in spite of the fact that I’ve technically been splitting my time between my Cloud Couch and my Hästens mattress for the last 15 months. Because no one needs to know I stayed up all night watching serial killer documentaries (a coping mechanism I picked up in a bout of Covid-induced anxiety), this device acts as my secret weapon, making it appear to have a much healthier sleep routine than I actually do. I learned about the miracle effects of electrical currents from observing a certain class of ladies from New York City’s Upper East Side flock to see Aida Bicaj every week for a Biologique Recherche Microcurrent Facial (at $450 a pop!). The electric-current treatment tightens, brightens, kills bacteria, accelerates cellular repair, and prevents the need for a facelift in the future. Melanie Simon, the Aida of the West Coast, spent over a decade creating a nano-current device for her clients (and our customers) that can be used at home for years for the cost of one Biologique Facial. I recommend you use your ZIIP three times a week–that’s what works for me. 

ROYAL FERN PHYTOACTIVE SKIN PERFECTING ESSENCE

I didn’t know I needed another step in my skin routine, but it turns out I did. Royal Fern’s Skin Perfecting Essence has become the step I crave and never miss.  The carefully balanced combination of anti-inflammatory fern extracts, fruit acid, and gluconolactone nourishes and refines your skin in just seconds. The fruit acid and gluconolactone (a PHA) work to gently exfoliate deep into the pores, normalizing sebum production, fading hyperpigmentation, moisturizing, and balancing the complexion. The removal of dead skin cells enables active ingredients in follow-on care to be absorbed more effectively. Supported by the antioxidant properties of gluconolactone, the fern extracts in this formula also protect the skin against harmful environmental factors.  

Men who shave may also be glad to hear that the Phytoactive Skin Perfecting Essence’s exfoliating properties help prevent ingrown hairs while the anti-inflammatory ingredients are ideal for soothing the skin post-shave.

Translation: put it in the bag RIGHT NOW. 

DR. BARBARA STURM HYALURONIC SERUM

VIOLET GREY’s Committee of Industry Experts taught us that hyaluronic acid should be a perpetual staple in our skin care routines, but which to buy? Honestly, any of our VIOLET CODE APPROVED products (A.K.A., the best products), but our Committee unanimous turns to this one. Created by German physician to the stars, Dr. 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.

MUTHA UP ALL NIGHT EYE CREAM

A luminescent eye cream that combats signs of fatigue and diminishes dark circles instantly? Sign me up. If you’re like me, you may be staying up all night watching serial killer documentaries, or maybe you got pregnant and managed to give birth to a newborn in the middle of a pandemic, or maybe now that you are free to travel, you simply want to be prepared as you plan on taking a pill in Ibiza? Whatever the reason, if you anticipate being up all night, this get-up-and-go eye cream has you covered. Create brighter eyes instantly using a radiance-boosting combo of pearl powder, coffee seed, and botanical extracts. Developed with MUTHALOAD™ Core Technology, this deeply nourishing formula protects, hydrates, and repairs skin using a hyaluronic acid complex, kefiran, and a rice peptide delivery system. A bio-fermented blend of ingredients, this velvety formula also absorbs quickly, making it ideal for layering underneath concealer. 

U BEAUTY SUPER HYDRATOR

I know we aren’t meant to promote anti-aging as desirable anymore, so what if we just swap out the word “aging skin” with the word “stressed skin”, and promote anti-stressed skin as desirable? For the record, in my decade-long beauty career, I have yet to meet a human between the ages of 3 and 21 who desired to age. While we can do it gracefully, it doesn’t mean we have to white knuckle aging, like, without skin cream for example. I think I can speak for most of us when I say I think we aged-slash-stressed five years in one year last year.  This particular patent-pending SIREN capsule technology delivers anti-aging-slash-anti-stressed ingredients where your complexion needs them most to maximize efficiency and expedite visible repair. Once inside the skin, the brand’s new HYDRA-SIREN Capsule lures free radicals like a magnet and releases antioxidants and long-chain hyaluronic acid for skin-plumping moisture that’s clinically proven to last all day. This breakthrough face cream also features the original SIREN Capsule containing stabilized vitamins C and E, peptides, and alpha hydroxy acids to help stimulate collagen and elastin for a more youthful-slash-less-stressed glow.


STEP THREE: EMBRACE GLAMOUR, PUT ON SOME MAKEUP 

BY TERRY LIGHT-EXPERT CLICK BRUSH

Taking our advice and investing in a VIOLET CODE APPROVED skin routine can be expensive, but at least you will be saving $$ on the foundation you will no longer have a use for.  I don’t wear foundation anymore, but I do love this foundation stick. This expert click brush is a unique interpretation of studio makeup, delivering that polished look, but with one click. This brush foundation is ideal for blurring imperfections, quick touch-ups on the go, and to beautify, smooth and sculpt the complexion to perfection. The bevelled kabuki-inspired brush spreads product evenly for a natural, fresh finish. Piece of cake. 

TOM FORD SHADE & ILLUMINATE

Leave it to Tom Ford to formulate the best contour palette of all time. From his point of view, the first step to beauty is understanding the architecture of your face so you can bring balance and symmetry to your features. This duet of highlighting and shading creams is designed to make sculpting and contouring the face remarkably simple. The super-sheer light shade can be used to draw light onto the skin to brighten and lift the face and the dark shade defines and contours bones while staying invisible to the naked eye.

WESTMAN ATELIER EYE PODS

Westman Atelier isn’t our best selling glam collection for no reason. Without reason, my go to glam look is a slept-in smokey eye, and I love, love, love Gucci Westman’s Eye Pods. She figured out how to formulate clean pigment that actually works, and it’s worthy of your vanity (or handbag) for the packaging alone.

JILLIAN DEMPSEY CHEEK TINT

Maybe putting on a full glam face isn’t your thing, or maybe you are just tiptoeing back in, or perhaps you give zero fucks. That being said, you may still want to look alive in real life, and if so, this product is for you. It gives you fresh cheeks, eyelids, and lips in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. I carry it around everywhere and use it multiple times a day for a little pick me up [off the floor]. 

MAC CREAM COLOUR BASE

If I could only choose one step in my daily glam routine, it would be this wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL original MAC Cream Color Base compact. Found in every celebrity makeup artists’ kit and designed to be easily applied to six areas, this will have you highlighting like a pro. Apply to the top of the forehead, below the brow bone, the center of the eyelid, the bridge of the nose, on the cupid’s bow (for fuller-looking lips), and of course, on the cheekbones to create luminous dimension to your complexion.

CHARLOTTE TILBURY AIRBRUSH FLAWLESS FINISH SETTING POWDER

IRL, you can’t hide behind the genius ‘touch up your appearance’ feature on Zoom. This skin-perfecting finishing powder basically acts like a filter, preventing excess shine while brightening your complexion. Rose wax and almond oil hydrate your skin throughout the day while ingredients diffuse and reflect light for a luminous complexion and even finish. It’s a full-coverage finish to your makeup that you can expect to hold up throughout the day.


STEP FOUR: GET EFFORTLESS, RED-CARPET-READY HAIR

CHRISTOPHE ROBIN LAVENDER OIL

Since the Eighties, supermodels have trusted Christophe Robin with their ever-changing million-dollar locks, so it's no surprise that every bonafide red carpet hair stylist considers this treatment oil as a must-have in their arsenal. One of Christophe Robin’s original products, this multi-tasking oil is a cult favorite, deeply repairing sensitive hair and protecting color with SPF6 and Vitamin E. Composed of 97.5% natural oils, the rich lavender balm oil can be used as a pre-shampoo treatment, a post-blowout moisturizer, or to protect hair at the pool and beach from heat, chemicals, and UV damage.

STARRING BY TED GIBSON SHOOTING STAR TEXTURE MERINGUE

When celebrity hair stylist to the stars (he has worked with the likes of Zoe Saldana and Angelina Jolie), Ted Gibson, came out with his own product, the Beauty Industry freaked out, and for good reason. Called ‘Meringue’ because its texture is much like the dessert’s–whipped, airy, and foamy–this amazingly versatile, non-sticky mousse can be used to achieve a ton of different looks. Use in wet hair for air-dried beach waves or for a voluminous blowout, and in dry hair for smooth texture and a glossy finish. Plus the product itself smells amazing.


STEP FIVE: MARK THE BEST SUMMER EVER WITH A NEW SIGNATURE SCENT

FRÉDÉRIC MALLE PROMISE EAU DE PARFUM

Scent never fails to trigger memories, taking me back to specific moments in my life. I love the idea of switching fragrances at the start of a new life chapter, literally creating an association between that period of time and that scent. This is my new, return-to-normal summer fragrance. Earthy base notes of patchouli and labdanum compliment the floral middle notes of Turkish and Bulgarian rose, helping to round out and deepen the top notes of pink pepper and rosemary. The result? A bright but deep, memorable scent that is both timeless and genderless.

THE NUE CO FUNCTIONAL FRAGRANCE

A study by the Brain + Behavior Laboratory at the University of Geneva found that we have neurological reactions to certain scent groups. This fragrance draws on this study, acting as an anti-stress supplement that can immediately provide relief for anxiety.  Anxiety is natural to the human condition and for me it comes on strong in literally any social situation. I used to take Xanax for relief, but now I keep this fragrance in my car. For immediate relief, I spray this on my wrists, then inhale for eight seconds, hold for four seconds, and release for eight seconds. It really works.