Jennifer O'Brien is a friend from "way back when...." We could not be more different and yet, we have so many things in common. We grew up in the same small area of Western New York state, we both went to Catholic schools (hers; co-ed, mine; all girls) but I’m non-practicing and Jen has since converted to Judaism, we both worked at the J.Crew Outlet Store located in the Niagara Factory Outlet Mall (along with our dear friend Angela) and we are both obsessed with beauty. Also, allow me to be a little "hippie dippy" here - we also get along because Jen is a Cancer and I, a Scorpio. But, moving on with our story....
After college, we lost touch but thanks to social media, we reunited in 2008 when the three of us all lived in New York. Nowadays, Jen lives in Switzerland, Angela lives back in my hometown of Grand Island and I, along with the cockroaches and the Parker-Broderick family, still live in New York. When I visit Jen, I joke I feel like I am staying at a spa because her cabinets are overflowing with Chanel, La Prairie, Tom Ford and every other luxury brand one can imagine. I slap on layers of things I cannot identify and feel tingles and tightening I cannot describe.
Without further adieu, I bring you Jen, all the way from the land of the $10 Starbucks Latte (i.e. Switzerland).
LET'S JUST GET THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND PROFESSIONAL STUFF OUT OF THE WAY SO READERS CAN UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT YOU.
"I pay rent in Geneva for a lovely apartment, but I've been working from Zurich since October. I am a Tax Attorney. My job varies from day to day and generally involves advising individuals and financial institutions on issues that revolve around the US tax code and negotiating on my clients' behalf with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and DOJ (Department of Justice)."
SPEAKING AS SOMEONE WHO CAN'T DO HER OWN TAXES, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF HOURS SPENT POURING OVER DOCUMENTS - NOT MUCH TIME TO SPEND PERUSING INTO THE GLOSS, HUH?
"Right now I am insanely busy with work - I don't have much time for hobbies or passions, but I love to travel and the planning/research that goes into it. One of the biggest perks to life as an expat is the ease with which I have been able to explore Europe. There is still so much to see and I hope to cross a few more cities off my list before I move back to DC. I also really love interior design and home organization. If I wasn't lawyer and I could draw, I would have gone into interior design.
MOVING TO THE GOOD STUFF. WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN ALL THINGS COSMETICS AND SKINCARE AND FRAGRANCE?
"As an only child who was raised by a single mom, makeup and skincare were huge bonding opportunities for us. I don't remember when I started wearing makeup but I was probably 11 or 12 years old when my mom first introduced me to a "skincare routine." For years, I used the Clinique 3-Step Skin Care System with the bar of soap in that plastic travel case. I thought I was so cool. My nighttime routine is now fairly elaborate and the blame for that falls equally on you and my mom. Damn/bless you for introducing me to sheet masks!" (EDITOR'S NOTE: And, I blame my friend Jane, who is a skincare guru and responsible for a LOT of the skincare brands you find at your local Sephora).
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
"I don't know who would play me in a movie about my life -- maybe Michelle Monaghan -- but as long as you get Nancy Meyers to direct, produce, and handle the screenplay, I'll be happy."
I AM VERY IMPRESSED WITH YOUR PARED DOWN MAKEUP BAG. I WANT TO HEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU KEEP IN IT.
"Inner Light Calm Balm from Therapie, Terry's Chocolate Orange Bar (in case I need a chocolate fix), Glossier's Birthday Balm Dotcom, Boy Brow and Generation G in the color Like, a tube of Homeoplasmine, Chanel's La Creme Main and Baume de Rose from By Terry. And...I always have two hair ties and a Brow Tamer from Blink Brow Bar."
SINCE YOU LIVE IN SWITZERLAND AND ARE SO CLOSE TO FRANCE WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE FRENCH PHARMACY PRODUCTS? (all products available in the United States are denoted with a *)
- Homeoplasmine is a great multi-purpose product. I use it as a lip balm in the evenings before bed, on my cuticles and even on my nose when I have a cold. It's basically vaseline with plant extracts but it's a life saver.
- Caudalie Beauty Elixir*. I go through this like, well, water. I don't know what it is about this product but it upped my skincare game a few notches. (EDITOR'S NOTE: I would also like to take credit for this introduction, thank you very much!)
- Bioderma Sensibio H2O*. I had tried a few other micellar waters before but always found that they left a weird residue on my skin. Bioderma doesn't do that.
- Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream*. The skin on my legs gets insanely dry in the winter but is super sensitive. This moisturizer is great for sensitive skin because it sinks right in and calms any irritation. It has also been great for the keratosis pilaris (KP or "chicken skin") on my upper arms.
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50*. This SPF is so lightweight you can wear it under makeup with no issues. It doesn't leave my skin looking white, doesn't clog my pores which a lot of SPFs tend to do and it also comes in a tinted version.
- Klorane Dry Shampoo*. When I am stressed I have this small patch of hair just to the left of my part that is always oily, even fresh out of the shower. This is the only dry shampoo that works to de-slick it.
- Embryolisse Concentrated Lait Cream*. This moisturizer is pretty heavy but it's great for me at night in the winter or when I'm in the mountains (and the air is dry).
- Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray*. I keep a small bottle of this at my desk and spritz my face several times throughout the day.
YOU'RE A TELEVISION JUNKIE LIKE ME SO WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SHOW I AM NOT WATCHING BUT SHOULD?
"Younger has to be my favorite TV show. Season 5 premiers in June so I'll go back and re-watch the first four seasons again before then. I, of course, enjoy the premise of the show but the thing I love most about it is its costume design. The combination of Jacqueline Demeterio ("The Intern") and Patricia Fields ("Sex and the City") is a winner in my book every time."
DESERT ISLAND: YOU HAVE AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF WATER, CHAPSTICK AND SPF. WHAT IS THE ONLY OTHER ITEM YOU WANT WITH YOU?
"Bioderma Crealine (Sensibio) H2O wipes...without a doubt. I have never felt anything like them! The employees at Citypharma in Paris probably think I sell them on the side. I cannot leave Paris without picking up like 10 packs." (Editor's Note: These are now available in the United States. For New Yorker's, you can find them at Ricky's)
WHERE IS YOUR FAVORITE STORE OR SITE TO STOCK UP ON YOUR PRODUCTS?
"I love Cult Beauty. The beauty selection in Switzerland is sadly lacking, so when I discovered Cult Beauty shipped to Switzerland it quickly became my go-to source. I also love Space NK and the beauty departments of certain European department stores. The beauty departments at Selfridges, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Liberty (London) and Printemps and Le Bon Marche (Pairs) are amazing. Citypharma in Paris is also a must for French pharmacy products at discount prices. My favorite Bioderma wipes are only 5 EUR/pack there but can be as much as 9 EUR/pack at regular pharmacies in Paris."
YOU'VE HEARD ME BANG ON ABOUT YOGA CHANGING MY SKIN AND YOU ARE EQUALLY PASSIONATE ABOUT EXERCISE-AS-BEAUTY-PRODUCT....
"YES! love SoulCycle for cardio but my go-to form of exercise is apparatus pilates. SoulCycle is a good release and if you find the right instructor(s) it can quickly become addictive but pilates is the only form a exercise that has a real impact on the shape of my body. When I was living in DC, I tried to go 2 times a week. My favorite pilates instructor has opened her own studio in Georgetown since I've moved to Switzerland, so I'm hoping to get back on her schedule shortly after returning to DC."
IF YOU COULD NAME A LIPSTICK COLOR, WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT AND WHY?
"Last First Kiss. I'm not sure if it would be a 'your lips but better' color or a subtle red but the name - that I know! At my core, I am a hopeless romantic and I can't think of anything more romantic and full of promise than one's last first kiss."
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. If you haven't seen the trailer for RGB yet, you should stop reading immediately, check it out, and then come back. Even if you don't agree with her politically, you can't tell me you're not impressed. The part of her story that sticks with me the most is the relationship she had with her late husband. As she says in the trailer, 'He was the first boy I ever knew who cared that I had a brain.' The two of them have an incredible love story and, from what I have read, much of their individual successes were the result of their mutual admiration and support of one another."
BELOW ARE LINKS TO EVERYTHING MENTIONED ABOVE:
- RBG in theatres May 4th
- Clinique 3-Step Skin Care System
- Therapie Inner Light Calm Balm
- Terry's Chocolate Orange Bar
- Glossier Birthday Balm Dotcom
- Glossier Boy Brow
- Glossier Generation G in Like
- Chanel La Creme Main
- By Terry Baume de Rose
- Blink Brow Bar Eyebrow Tamer
- Caudalie Beauty Elixir
- Bioderma Sensibio H2O
- Bioderma Crealine (Sensibio) H2O wipes
- Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50
- Klorane Dry Shampoo
- Embryolisse Concentrated Lait Cream
- Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray
- Citypharma, Paris
- /kinesis/, Georgetown