Former Beauty Director of Vanity Fair Magazine and current Beauty Account Advisor at Cooperative Activity, a creative agency covering the spectrum of classical to contemporary media and strategy, Sunhee Grinnell spares nothing in her thorough, detailed and varied skincare and beauty routine!
Grinnell has applied her outstanding and inspiring expertise in beauty and products to her own skincare, hair and makeup regimens. She reminds us that while a busy life and demanding job has its constraints, self-care is a non-negotiable, and a process that she feels is critical for not only looking, but feeling your very best!
Name: Sunhee Grinnell
Profession: Beauty Account Advisor (Strategy + Creative) @ Cooperative Activity
Skin Type: Normal to Dry
Hair Type: Asian
What is the duration of your beauty routine?
Way too long! Like an hour, each night. But in the mornings, it’s 15 minutes, tops, unless I opt for a morning sheet mask before makeup or if I’m feeling calm enough for a little self-applied microcurrent facial. If not, I use a cold rose quartz face roller (I keep it in the fridge) while having coffee.
Walk us through your daily beauty routine:
AM: My morning skincare routine is pretty concise.
Step 1: Rinse face with water along with Reflekt face wash
Step 2: Apply Hyaluronic Acid
Step 3: Press in Essence
Step 4: Apply niacinamide and brightening vitamin C serum
Step 5: Apply hydrating and skin firming gel cream during warmer weather and actual rich face cream during colder weather months layered with hydrating face oil when needed.
Step 6: Apply non-toxic sunblock.
PM: It takes forever to get to bed as I do have multiple steps for my evening skincare routine!
Step 1: Wipe off my face with cleansing towelettes
Step 2: Rinse off using Reflekt face wash
Step 3: Cleanse one more time with micellar water on a cotton pad
Step 4: Skin brightening primer pad
Step 5: Face toner daily and Glycolic toner twice a week
Step 6: Slip in Gua Sha face massaging technique (when not too tired)
Step 7: Hyaluronic Acid
Step 8: Essence
Step 9: Vitamin C brightening serum
Step 10: Azelaic Acid Serum
Step 11: Face Oil (when using Glycolic Peels)
Step 12: Face Cream It’s a lot of steps, I know, but it’s worth it because I’m, like, 80 (haha!), but I think I look fab!
My Makeup Routine:
After all of the above in the morning, I apply Elta MD tinted sunblock, followed by a buildable and skin-correcting foundation to achieve an even skin tone. Then, light shadowing around the eyes and nose for a bit of contouring followed by a bit of cream or powder blush, refine my brows, dab on some lip gloss, and then set it all with a fast mist. Et voila! I am ready for my closeup.
My Hair Routine:
After having a thyroidectomy five years ago due to Thyroid cancer, I struggled with hair loss. After discovering Harklinikken four years ago, nothing touches my scalp except Harklinikken customized hair extract made just for me! And I use their Balancing Shampoo to cleanse and prep my scalp for the hair extract. But from ponytail down, I’m fair game to all non-toxic and nourishing hair masks, hair detanglers, and hair oils. I wash my hair every other day, and if I have the time, I will sit with a hair mask for hours before showering, which helps to hydrate my highlights!
What is your philosophy on beauty?
If I look good, I feel great! Feeling great radiates confidence, and having confidence is the meaning of beauty in my book. Therefore, do everything to take care of yourself and find methods that work for you. Aside from trying out different skincare products and facial tools nonstop, my go-to confidence booster methods are getting enough sleep, having a time-out for breathing, meditating and going for a run.
What is your best beauty advice?
One must cleanse, cleanse, cleanse every night before going to bed no matter how exhausted you are; this is a must to help delay aging.
What is the best beauty advice you've ever been given, and by whom?
I have three musts:
1. Over a decade ago, one of NY's top Biologique Recherche skincare experts, Aida Bicaj, baptized me with the brand's microcurrent remodeling face machine. I have been hooked on microcurrent ever since!
2. "Don't forget the brows!" Brows frame the face, and most women tend to forget about their brows, and it's the most important facial feature, in my opinion. This advice was self-realized.
3. "Daily flossing is a must!" A wise friend who is a skincare chemist and expert, Alec Batis, shared this tip with me. Poor hygiene in the mouth can lead to inflammation and trauma, affecting your jawline from a cellular level. So, no matter how exhausted I am, I never miss flossing at night.
What are your 3 must-have products and why?
1. That’s always the hardest question, but if I am stuck on a desert island or in the Antarctic, it would have to be a non-toxic sunblock like Elta MD UV Active Sports Broad Spectrum SPF50. I suffer from hyperpigmentation, so you’re talking to someone who wears sunblock even if I’m home all day!
2. I simply cannot live without Hyaluronic Acid, especially as my skin matures. I’ve been obsessed with Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Serum from its first day of launch!
3. It was love at first sight in the mirror when I woke up after using this cream the night before. Rich in antioxidants, Augustinus Bader’s The Cream provides deep moisturization (without any greasy feeling) for a firmer and brighter texture. This cream is magical and it’s very much a one-and-done!
Do you have any special tips or techniques for how you apply a product to get the best results?
Makeup will not sit well on the face unless the base of the skin is exfoliated and smooth. I do a gentle exfoliation daily and remove all peach-fuzz from my face at least once a week!
What's the biggest beauty mistake you've ever made?
Well, I have many...
1. Over plucked my eyebrows to no return, thank God for microblading, ha!
2. Not wearing sunblock daily in my early years.
3. Forgetting to moisturize my neck and décolleté.
You were the powerhouse Beauty Director of Vanity Fair forever, what was your biggest lesson learned there?
It's not a lesson per se, but it was my philosophy as a writer. There may be a story behind every brand, but it is how it's told that makes a difference.
What are you up to now?
I currently work as a strategy and creative advisor on my beauty accounts at Cooperative Activity, a stellar creative agency with a digitally native mindset producing classical to modern designs, and it's so much fun. I love it! As well as being a contributing writer to AsIf Magazine, and of course, I write for myself, sunheegrinnell.com.