Sean Santiago lives the kind of creative life in Brooklyn where Tumblr dreams are made. The Senior Home Editor at Refinery29 has a beautiful style blog, a new magazine called Cakeboy, a perfectly curated Instagram feed, and the kind of effortless style even a girl can envy. Whether high fashion or emerging trends, normcore or dandy, Sean dabbles with a little bit of everything. With the men’s shows in London, Milan and Paris in full force and the first annual Men’s Fashion Week in New York City kicking off next month, we’re turning our focus to men’s wear. If there ever was a time for guys to get serious about fashion, the industry is offering way more tools than ever to help. So we asked Sean for his top tips to help men step up their style game.
As the Senior Beauty Editor at Refinery29, Phillip Picardi has one of those dream jobs. He works in New York City with a cool crew and gets to try basically every beauty product on the planet. We’ve been loving his smart, funny approach to makeup and skin care ever since we stumbled upon his byline, and shortly after discovered he has the best eyebrows in the biz. (Sorry Cara! We’re on Team Phillip for that one.) So obviously we had to find out more. We chatted with him about career moves, writing for women and his favorite products of the moment.
WAS BEAUTY EDITING ALWAYS YOUR DREAM CAREER? HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START? It’s hard to say that editing was my dream career. When I was young, I’d accompany my mother to her favorite department store counters — Trish McEvoy, Sisley, Chanel, and Guerlain. I became obsessed with the thought of perfecting your face with product, so much so that I started stealing her foundations and concealers at age 11 just to hide my dark circles. In high school, I worked at a salon for two years planning events, doing the front desk, and helping with photo shoots and hair shows. Then, I helped my good friend, who’s an aesthetician, open up her own spa. All of this happened right before I went to college! I sort of ended up falling into the beauty department at Teen Vogue under Eva Chen, where I learned very quickly that being an “editor” meant being nimble — television appearances, events, desksides, shoots, extracurricular projects for the company… and, oh yeah, editing. That’s when I fell in love and decided I wanted that for myself.
WE ARE AMONG THE MANY WHEN WE SAY WE LOOOVE REFINERY29. WHAT’S THE SECRET SAUCE? I just started at Refinery29 four months ago, which is crazy! I feel like I’ve been here for quite some time. I was so lucky to come into a company that already has a very dynamic vision and a totally exciting aesthetic — Christene Barberich, our editor in chief, was instrumental in helping me move away from the more preachy, didactic magazine voice I was used to, and Piera Gelardi, our executive creative director, is really looking to challenge the norms of beauty and do things that are more outside-the-box. I think that they, combined with the entrepreneurial energy that runs through this place like electricity, and the incredibly fast pace of our work, really makes this a special operation.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART ABOUT BEING A GUY IN THE INDUSTRY, WRITING FOR WOMEN? I don’t look at it as a challenge to write for women… I look at it as an honor. The most influential people in my life — my mother, my grandmother, my sister — have all shaped me and helped me be confident in myself, despite the fact that I grew up constantly feeling marginalized and different. I’m privileged to be starting or furthering our conversations around beauty, and I strive to do so in a way that feels knowledgeable, sure, but also approachable.
YOU BASICALLY TRY ALL THE BEAUTY PRODUCTS OUT THERE. CAN YOU NAME YOUR PERSONAL TOP 5?It’s impossible to name my top five so soon in my career, but here are my current favorites:
- RMS Living Luminizer, which I talk about just about every chance I get. Other fans are Gisele Bundchen and Miranda Kerr, apparently, so take that as you will — it’s like instant dew and luminosity for your face.
- Surratt Eyelash Curler, which I also talk about just about every chance I get. I stepped off an elevator at an event the other day and a colleague literally came forward to touch my lashes. Someone even complimented them at a funeral once. Trust me, I was so not born with it. It’s all this bad boy.
- Bite Beauty Lip Mask is the easiest remedy for chapped winter lips. I apply it every morning.
- Sarah Chapman Morning Facial is the best hangover cure around — instantly glowing skin with two pumps and a quick massage.
- Purely Perfect Leave-In Conditioner, which somehow doubles as a styling agent and an all-day hydrator. It’s absolutely lovely.
WHAT BEAUTY TREND ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT RIGHT NOW? WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH WOULD GO AWAY? There were a lot of fun and wild rave elements at all sorts of shows this past season, which I totally loved — technicolor roots, neon in the inner corners of the eyes, graffiti nails, star appliqués… it was very fun. I’m into that “more is more” thing at the moment, for sure. I’m definitely growing weary of all the contouring we see on YouTube and Instagram and such. A makeup artist I love once told me it should always be about “shading, not sculpting” — enhancing, not creating. I think we could use that gentle reminder on a more daily basis.
Read more beauty insight from Phillip at refinery29.com.
Photo credits: (left to right) Leslie Kirchhoff and Evaan Kheraj.