It is a rare, precious occurrence to be able to sit down with the former beauty editor of Vogue, and was one of my highlights of 2015. I don't get tongue-tied meeting Brad Pitt, but Sarah Brown, well, I have to admit being a little shy and awkward at first as we sat down for tea. Luckily she immediately put me at ease and the conversation naturally turned to beauty, skin care products, dermatologists, treatments, hair color, and the like. Naturally, I couldn't help but to ask her about her favorite New York City beauty addresses. Below, in her own words, Sarah Brown's NYC favorites, and her perfect beauty day. Enjoy!
Best hair addresses: cut, color, style, blow-dry
Masterful, sunshiny Oscar Blandi has been cutting my hair forever and ever. When I met him, I had a shoulder-length nondescript cut. Now I have a signature. Tim Rogers, at the elegant Sharon Dorram at Sally Hershberger Salon on the Upper East Side, is another favorite. A super-charming Brit, he does a lot of magazine work, and looks like a young Yves Saint Laurent, to boot. Serge Normant--another powerhouse, especially great for long hair, and longtime stylist to Julia Roberts and Sarah Jessica Parker--recently opened a chic space in a Chelsea townhouse, with a wall grafittied by Donald Robertson. For more affordable cuts, with an infusion of East Village edge, the tiny atelier White Rose Collective is a model and fashion editor favorite. Teddi Crandford, trained by editorial hair wizard Guido Palau, and her team of stylists and makeup artists are my top recommendation for special events and weddings, as well.
Kyle White, at Oscar Blandi, is the king of believable color. His super-bright, beautifully blended blonde has never let me down. For edgier color, I recommend Victoria Hunter (the model whisperer) at Whittmore House in the West Village, and Aura Friedman (a celeb favorite) at Sally Hershberger Downtown.
Fantastic Georgia Louise, the reigning facialist to the city's A-List (models, celebrities, socialites and beauty industry insiders) just opened a beautiful new space on the Upper East Side. London-based Su Man is another guru (she applies Shiatsu massage technique to the face), who makes periodic guest appearances at the Carlyle Spa and Shen in Brooklyn. The Triad facial at Dr. David Colbert's New York Dermatology Group in the Flatiron District has been written about ten zillion times, probably because it really works. The treatment combines microdermabrasion, a light peel, and laser toning. The result is bright, smooth skin--great before an event.
I can't name just one, or two, or even three. A few of my favorites--who I trust for stories, and with my own skin--are: Patricia Wexler, Lisa Airan (bonus: her husband is the amazing plastic surgeon Trevor Born), Shereene Idriss, Ellen Marmur, Dennis Gross, and Elizabeth Hale.
Marc Lowenberg. The man behind NY's most dazzling smiles. Marc even has a reflexologist on staff, who works on your feet while he works on your mouth.
Best eyelash extension place
I think lash extensions usually look like lash extensions, so I say...skip...and go for one-night-only strips and singles (Ardell, Make Up For Ever, MAC) for evenings out.
Best brow waxing place
For me, the key to the perfect brow is the perfect (vegetable dye) tint. On my blonde brows, it's transformative, thanks to Dede and Maral at the Warren Tricomi salon at the Plaza. (My ritual: Afterwards I go downstairs for a cup of strawberry frozen yogurt with pomegranate seeds on top at Yoart, or, if I'm feeling decadent, a slice of Lady M's green tea mille crepe). For bikini waxing, my go-tos are Bliss SoHo and Spruce & Bond.
Best makeup and makeover: where to purchase and which artists to ask for
I don't know how the Make Up For Ever boutique on East 12th Street has remained an under-the-radar secret for so long, but this makeup emporium (where editorial makeup artists can always be found stocking their kits) is my favorite place for special event makeup. They can do anything--from luminous no-makeup-makeup to over-the-top theatrical looks. I've gone to their pros before the Met Gala and have a standing appointment each year before Allison Sarofim's epic Halloween bash.
Do you recommend anyone who makes "beauty house calls"?
I am wary of many of the order-in beauty services because it can be difficult to gauge the quality of the work ahead of time, but I completely trust the New York-based StyleBookings.com, recently launched by editorial veterans Vincent Longo (legendary makeup artist, and the nicest man around) and hairstylist George Kyriakos. Viewing each artist's portfolio before making a selection helps ensure the one you choose will be a good match for the look and aesthetic you're after. For a price, you can even order Vincent... Vensette, which currently operates in New York, LA, San Francisco, and Miami, has made it as foolproof as possible with a menu of specific hair and makeup looks from which to order. They'll come to your office, your home; they'll even do a wedding party.
For massage, I love Roland Davis, who I met when he paid us a house call one weekend in the Hamptons. He is fantastic and, dare I say, affordable (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fitness and wellness: best fitness studio, best wellness coach, best gym
Equinox (I've trained with Allison Kimmel, a dancer who also teaches barre classes at the 19th Street location, for years; I love Jeffrey Morris for private Pilates).
Chaise Fitness (locations in NYC and the Hamptons)--a method that combines Pilates and TRX. It's hard as hell and I love it.
If you're looking for legs (and arms) for days, plus the excuse to wear leg warmers and ballet slippers: Mary Helen Bower's Ballet Beautiful.
Punch Fitness Center: Boxing made really, really fun. Owner Adelino da Costa dances while he boxes. The music is amazing and the vibe keeps me smiling all day.
ClassPass is a great way to check out as many studios as you can drag your body to in a month--and it's a great gift.
A spa date with your mom: Spa Nalai at the Park Hyatt, Spa de La Mer at the Baccarat Hotel, the Carlyle spa.
A spa date with your love interest: Aire Ancient Baths (bring a swimsuit), Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel (again, bring a swimsuit--for an après-Shiatsu dip in their gorgeous pool).
A spa date with yourself: Dangene at the Core Club. This is where you go if you want head-to-toe results. Dangene once microdermabrated my elbows and the bottoms of my feet. She means business.
Most surprising beauty find in NYC
If you can get past the décor (which is admittedly asking a lot), those corner massage places aren't actually that bad...in a pinch.
Also, at e.l.f cosmetics, you can buy on-trend makeup and skincare for the price of a cup of coffee--less, actually. I'm talking about lip gloss for $2, inky eyeliner for $3, shadow palettes for $6.
Most overrated beauty find in NYC
If you enjoy it, and it makes you feel good, it's not overrated.
My ultimate NYC beauty day:
I'd make a quick apple ginger shot in the Breville, grab a chia pudding from Liquiteria around the corner, and dash uptown to a private morning boxing lesson with Adelino da Costa at Punch Fitness. Afterwards, I'd swing by Frédéric Malle's Editions de Parfum shop on Madison and pick up a refill of Lys Mediteranneé, my one and only perfume, and keep walking until I arrive at Dangene's spa at the Core Club for full-body microdermabrasion and a brightening peel. I'd have a tennis lesson at Midtown Tennis, after which I'd meet my mom for a pedicure at Jin Soon's Natural Hand & Foot Spa in the East Village. Jin's polish stays on forever (no chips, really), and they serve the best citrus tea with sugary bits of lemon rind at the bottom (anyone who's been there knows what I'm talking about). On the way home, I'd stop by Sunny's Florist, an extraordinary, tiny little shop (more like a stand, and open until 11 PM most nights) on the corner of East 6th Street and buy myself some fresh flowers--which in my book counts as beauty. I'd end the day with a candle-lit evening soak and massage at Aire Ancient Baths with my fiancé, David. We'd come home, make a fire, play backgammon, cook something delicious, and fall asleep early.
-Ada Polla is the Founder and CEO of Alchimie Forever skincare.