Vanity tour: How to Look Expensive author Andrea Pomerantz Lustig

Glamour contributing editor and author of How to Look Expensive Andrea Pomerantz Lustig lets us peek inside her never-ending beauty storage, featuring a mix of prestige products and drugstore finds.

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As the author of beauty book How to Look Expensive and a contributing editor at Glamour, Andrea Pomerantz Lustig has made a career of finding the best beauty products on the market. Her home office, bathroom and closets in her Upper East Side apartment are brimming with skincare, makeup and hair care from high-end brands, including NARS and Dior, as well as drugstore favorites such as L’Oreal.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Having spent the past 20 years as a beauty editor at Cosmopolitan and Glamour, Andrea Pomerantz Lustig has amassed a wealth of pampering knowledge—and the products to back it up. In her new book, How to Look Expensive (howtolookexpensive.com), she spills her hard-earned secrets for appearing glamorous without breaking the bank and recommends effective items she’s personally tested on both ends of the price spectrum. “Just like how you shop at H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue, you can mix it all up [when it comes to beauty],” she says. She applies that ethos to her own routine, as evidenced by the prestige products and drugstore finds that fill nearly every nook and cranny of her Upper East Side apartment.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Half of Pomerantz Lustig’s home office is devoted to storing all of the new and yet-to-be-released beauty products that are sent to her for review. “I actually took another office while I was writing the book and I deliberately didn’t have any product there because it’s too distracting,” she notes. “So this is where I play.” A shelving unit and several natural-canvas bins from West Elm (1870 Broadway at 62nd St, 212-247-8077 • 112 W 18th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, 212-929-4464 • 75 Front St at Main St, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-875-7757 • westelm.com) keep everything organized and accessible, proving to be a better solution than the closet she had previously. “That was just a big disaster—I couldn’t find anything,” she recalls. “This system really works. I wanted to make it part of the decor, so it doesn’t feel like I’m walking into a storage room.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Handwritten tags scribbled by Pomerantz Lustig’s assistant, Molly Adams, give the space a whimsical feel. “I like it so much better than [printed] labels but my handwriting sadly isn’t as good,” admits Pomerantz Lustig. “I’ve also had my kids do it.” Each bin is dedicated to a particular category, such as skincare, eye and lip makeup, or miscellaneous—a catchall for cellulite creams, Visine soothing wipes, men’s products and the like—and gets cleaned out at least once a season. Pomerantz Lustig donates unwanted items to her synagogue and local shelters, including Women in Need (women-in-need.org), and can often determine what gets tossed within a single use. “If I don’t like the way it feels, that’s a killer right there,” she explains. “It’s not worth it to me; there are too many things out there so I move on.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “I travel a lot and I love to bring home interesting souvenirs,” says Pomerantz Lustig, who found this primitive basin on a recent trip to Ecuador. It currently holds jewel-toned makeup from L’Oreal and Estée Lauder’s Fall 2012 collections. “That’s how I come up with stories—I try to sift through and find the trends,” she explains. “This is just fall colors; if I put it all together, then I can see the trends easily.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    A white lacquer tray from the Container Store (725 Lexington Ave at 58th St, 212-366-4200 • 629 Sixth Ave between 18th and 19th Sts, 212-366-4200 • containerstore.com) keeps new polish colors from OPI, CND and NARS in line. “I love the way [the bottles] look—I even put them out on my foyer table because they’re so pretty,” admits Pomerantz Lustig. “I also like to have it this way so when I’m running out to get a manicure, I can just go into my closet and grab one.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    On the day of our shoot, Pomerantz Lustig had her toenails painted with OPI’s Dutch Ya Just Love OPI purple polish to match her dress. “I thought it was a great, modern way to do a pedicure,” she says of her advanced planning.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “All of my 14-year-old daughter’s friends want to come over and try things, so I have a rule that if they test something they have to tell me about it,” says Pomerantz Lustig, who often has her own pals serve as beauty guinea pigs. “I need all the help I can get and it really helps me do research.” She uses a leaf-shaped platter from now-closed store Surevolution to display new products that guests can sample, although the area’s purpose is ever-changing. “Sometimes I’ll just have lipsticks there, so that I can grab one while I walk out the door,” she notes. “It also becomes a dumping ground because if I love something, it can so easily get lost in my purse and then I won’t write about it. If I put it here, I know it’s in the works.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Pomerantz Lustig keeps a stack of the most recent issues of Glamour, where she wrote a beauty-advice column for ten years, next to Elizabeth Azoulay’s 100,000 Years of Beauty. The five-volume set was commissioned by L’Oreal, which gifted the tomes to Pomerantz Lustig. “They are just beautiful books that cover the history of beauty,” she says. “It’s a great resource.” 

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “My parents bought this in the ’70s— the artist lived near us in New Jersey—and it somehow was passed off to me when I got my first apartment,” says Pomerantz Lustig of the geometric painting by Richard Anuszkiewicz (richardanuszkiewicz.com) propped up on her office storage unit. “Last year, I was at the Armory Show (thearmoryshow.com) and I ran into a bunch of them from a dealer; they were selling for thousands of dollars. I always loved it because it looks like a blush compact.” To illustrate her point, she displays palettes from Chanel (chanel.com), Jouer (jouercosmetics.com) and Vincent Longo (vincentlongo.com) at the artwork’s base.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    For those intimidated by wearing red lipstick, Pomerantz Lustig suggests trying crimson-tinted lip balms, such as Pixi Tinted Brilliance Balm in Rosy Red ($16, at pixibeauty.com). “[Makeup artist] Romy Soleimani compared this to YSL red,” notes Pomerantz Lustig of Nivea’s A Kiss of Cherry salve ($2, at drugstore.com). “It’s more wearable and modern-looking because it’s sheer.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “I’m not a big perfume wearer,” admits Pomerantz Lustig. “A big part of my book is about being simple and not overdoing it, and there are already scents in all of my products.” Although she prefers wearing fragrances in the form of hair oils, such as the one from Rodin Olio Lusso (oliolusso.com), she keeps several perfume bottles around for their aesthetic value. “I used to cover the whole place with fragrances,” she says. “But they’re just decorative—I think the theme here is beauty as art.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Stackable clear-plastic boot and shoe boxes from the Container Store prove ideal for storing beauty products. Pomerantz Lustig uses a P-Touch label maker (brother-usa.com/ptouch) to clearly mark each bin’s contents, such as the discarded makeup she reserves for her nieces to play with in her office bathroom. “They go nuts in here,” she says.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “This is the stuff that I use often,” says Pomerantz Lustig, who keeps tried-and-true products in a master-bedroom cabinet just outside her bathroom. Much like her office storage, items are neatly grouped together by category, including a bin devoted entirely to fake hair. “It’s all of my false eyelashes and extensions,” she says. “I like to have them for parties.” Although many of the faux locks are prestyled clip-ins, such as a HairDo by Jessica Simpson (hairuwear.com/hairdo) long ponytail that she wore to her sister’s wedding, one set has slightly more custom origins. “My brother-in-law’s 50th-birthday party was during Fashion Week and I was backstage at one of the shows Wella (wella.com) was doing,” she recounts. “The extensions they had dyed looked exactly like my hair color and they let me take some, so I wore them straight from the runway.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    While Pomerantz Lustig may have a bin full of colorful, printed cosmetic cases, she prefers using clear plastic zip-top styles from Ricky’s NYC (locations throughout the city; visit rickysnyc.com). “You can see everything,” she explains. “Honestly, I don’t like fancy cosmetic bags; it distracts me from the creativity of the makeup. I want the colors to inspire me, not the bag.” These more ornate versions are reserved for storing toiletries when she travels.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “Alba Botanica (albabotanica.com) makes great products at reasonable prices,” enthuses Pomerantz Lustig, who purchases the all-natural items at Whole Foods (locations throughout the city; visit wholefoodsmarket.com). “When I buy products, which I do, it’s because I really love them—that’s how I know.” Among her favorite goods are the line’s Natural Hawaiian 3-in-1 towelettes ($6) for removing salt, sand and sunscreen after beach days, and Colorific Plumeria shampoo ($11) for color-treated hair. “My hair gets really knotty, but this totally detangles and I don’t have to pull,” she says. “Generally, if a product [creates snags] it’s because there is so much silicone in it, so I know this is silicone-free, which makes me feel good.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Pomerantz Lustig swears dry texturizing sprays, such as this Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture and Volume Spray ($25; at Oscar Blandi Salon, 545 Madison Ave at 55th St, second floor; 212-421-9800, oscarblandi.com), are primed to be the next big thing. “I call it a hair dresser in a bottle because it gives you instant Victoria’s Secret waves,” she gushes. “They don’t make your hair feel gooky or crunchy like beach sprays.” Aveeno’s Pure Renewal dry shampoo ($8; at Ulta, 61-35 Junction Blvd between 62nd Dr and Horace Harding Expwy, Rego Park, Queens; 718-699-9004, ulta.com) is another recent hair care find. “It makes you feel tingly, like you’ve cleaned your hair,” she says.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Multi-tasking BB creams, which combine the properties of moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock, have slowly replaced tinted moisturizers in Pomerantz Lustig’s arsenal. “I love that it has everything in one,” she enthuses, citing Dior Hydra Life BB Crème and L’Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier as her top picks on the high- and low-end, respectively. “Lately I’ve been using them on my legs [in lieu of tanning spray] because they give you a little coverage as well as color.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    The master bathroom is entirely Pomerantz Lustig’s domain (her husband has his own water closet), and is reserved for products she uses on a daily basis. “I’ll try things but I often go back to the basics,” she admits. Her top-right cosmetics drawer reveals that plenty of items from NARS (413 Bleecker St between Bank and W 11th Sts; 646-459-2323, narscosmetics.com) have made it into her inner sanctum. “It’s a streamlined collection and the colors are classic,” she explains.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    The beauty connoisseur keeps assorted bobby pins, hair elastics and barrettes, including Spiral ZannClips (zannclip.com)—a precursor to Goody’s Spin Pin—organized in acrylic dividers from the Container Store.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “Women don’t realize this, but you can go into places like Space NK and Barneys New York (660 Madison Ave at 61st St; 212-826-8900, barneys.com) and just ask for samples,” reveals Pomerantz Lustig, who herself amasses product packets and stores them in her top-left bathroom drawer. “Rather than buy the expensive product, I collect the samples and I’ll make the most of them. They are also great for travel.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Not all of Pomerantz Lustig’s secret-weapon products come from the beauty aisle: she dabs Afrin nasal spray (afrin.com) on pimples to remove redness.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Silver shell-shaped dishes, picked up on Pomerantz Lustig’s travels, provide a safe repository for jewelry near the sink. “I love the beach, so whenever I see something shell-related I pick it up,” she admits. The vessels currently hold an Indian necklace purchased from a street vendor; Adele Dejak dyed-cowbone-and-brass-disc earrings purchased on the Indagare Souk (souk.indagare.com); and souvenir shells from Nantucket, Florida and Caribbean beaches.

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Pomerantz Lustig uses everyday colored-glass tumblers from La Terrine (1024 Lexington Ave at 73rd St, 212-988-3366 • 280 Columbus Ave at 73rd St, 877-837-7463 • laterrinedirect.com) to neatly store brushes, lip pencils and her favorite Beautyblender makeup sponge (beautyblender.net). “I use it to blot in my foundation, to blend eye shadow in the creases, to remove eyeliner when I mess up—it just gets into all the nooks and crannies,” she enthuses. “It streamlines everything but also can be used to erase mistakes.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Despite the fact that this L’Oreal Professionnel Mythic Oil spray is designed for detangling and smoothing hair, that doesn’t stop Pomerantz Lustig from repurposing it. “I use this on my legs and skin to give me a nice sheen,” she says. “It also smells nice, so it’s like a fragrance.”

  • Pomerantz Lustig has two cosmetic bags: a high-end version that stays in her makeup drawer and a less expensive replica she uses on the go. “These products are the best of the best,” she says, referring to the former kit. “When I added up how much they all cost, it was $500 and I realized that was a little bit insane.” By color-matching testers at Sephora, Target (locations throughout the city; visit target.com), Duane Reade (locations throughout the city; visit duanereade.com) and CVS (locations throughout the city; visit cvs.com), Pomerantz Lustig was able to find affordable dead-ringers for all of her pricey items. “To be honest, some of the inexpensive ones have become my new favorites,” she says. She also recommends combing the discussion boards on Makeupalley (makeupalley.com) to more easily track down so-called dupes. “A lot of crazy women have done the research for you,” she notes. “There are a lot of makeup junkies out there who want what they want even if they can’t afford it, so you can find many shades that way.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “This is the runway mascara that everyone uses,” notes Pomerantz Lustig of Dior’s Diorshow mascara, a staple in her high-end makeup bag. “I use it when I want real drama—when I’m going out and I want major lashes.” Although she normally wears the classic black formula, this Royal Blue hue is not without its merits. “Blue mascara makes your eyes look whiter,” she reveals. “Another trick is to use the blue just on your bottom lashes and black on top so you really can’t see [the color].”

  • When she wants more coverage, Pomerantz Lustig reaches for By Terry’s Light-Expert foundation with a built-in brush ($62; at C.O. Bigelow, 414 Sixth Ave between 8th and 9th Sts; 212-473-7324, bigelowchemists.com), and has found L’Oreal Paris’s Visible Lift Smooth Absolute version ($16, at lorealparisusa.com) to be a suitable stand-in. “I think foundation brushes are the secret to making your skin look glowing,” she says. “You need a foundation brush to help you blend, and if it’s in your makeup, then you’ll always have it with you.”

  • This Sonia Kashuk Eye Definer pencil in Plummy Bronze ($6; at Target, locations throughout the city; visit target.com) is one of the lower-priced doppelgangers that have outperformed their pricier counterparts. “I put it on and my eyes look awake,” enthuses Pomerantz Lustig, who uses it to rim her top lash line in lieu of black liner. “I think bronze is a great eye pencil color—it looks less harsh. There is a big trend in Hollywood of using metallics. Blake Lively sort of started it, and it’s a way to highlight your eyes without it looking dark and heavy.”

  • Even though she’s found cheaper stand-ins, Pomerantz Lustig always returns to NARS’s The Multiple stick in Orgasm ($39). “It’s the one product that I couldn’t live without,” she declares. “Lots of people love the powder blush, but I like the cream. Powder sits on top of your skin and can make you look cakey, whereas creams appear as if the color came from within. It looks more alive and natural.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    “When my daughter became a teen, I put together a bin of appropriate makeup for her so that she couldn’t get into trouble,” says Pomerantz Lustig, whose 14-year-old, Anna, has her own Container Store bins filled with foolproof cosmetics. “It seems to be working; she’s really tasteful with makeup.”

  • Photograph: Mimi Ko

    Among the goofproof items that Pomerantz Lustig has given her daughter are Sonia Kashuk’s eye shadow quad in Fair and Square, and L’Oreal Paris Studio Secrets Professional the One Sweep eye shadow. “It’s a smoky eye in one sweep,” she explains of the latter compact. “I try to give her things that she’s not going to make a mess of.” Although there’s no shortage of beauty products in their household, that doesn’t stop Anna from occasionally striking out on her own. “Believe it or not, she and her friends like to go to Sephora as an activity and I’m like, ‘What are you coming home with makeup for?’”

Photograph: Mimi Ko

Having spent the past 20 years as a beauty editor at Cosmopolitan and Glamour, Andrea Pomerantz Lustig has amassed a wealth of pampering knowledge—and the products to back it up. In her new book, How to Look Expensive (howtolookexpensive.com), she spills her hard-earned secrets for appearing glamorous without breaking the bank and recommends effective items she’s personally tested on both ends of the price spectrum. “Just like how you shop at H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue, you can mix it all up [when it comes to beauty],” she says. She applies that ethos to her own routine, as evidenced by the prestige products and drugstore finds that fill nearly every nook and cranny of her Upper East Side apartment.


Her favorite NYC beauty resources

DS Studio
74 E 79th St between Madison and Park Aves (212-879-5555, dsstudionyc.com)
Pomerantz Lustig often stops by this boutique salon for a blowout. “I walk my son to school and go straight there afterwards to get my hair done,” she says. “The owner [Demetris Potamianos] is Greek and his private-label products all smell like Santorini. It’s very low-key.”

Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spa 421 E 73rd St between First and York Aves (212-249-9144) • 23 Jones St between Bleecker and W 4th Sts (212-229-1070) • 56 E 4th St between Bowery and Second Ave (212-473-2047) • jinsoon.com
“I discovered [owner Jin Soon Choi], or I should say she discovered me,” says Pomerantz Lustig, who first met the nail guru while she was the beauty and fitness director at Cosmopolitan. “She was a manicurist at a little salon in the East Village and she contacted me and said, ‘I want to do your nails.’” The two became friends and Pomerantz Lustig eventually hooked Choi up with an agent. “Within a week she was doing Cindy Crawford’s nails. She turned it into a real business, and now she has her own polish line. It’s a very edited collection and they are all expensive-looking shades.”

Sephora Locations throughout the city; visit sephora.com
This beauty megachain is Pomerantz Lustig’s preferred resource for finding duplicates of expensive products. “I love the Sephora Collection for that reason because the items are all really affordable and you can match things up easily,” she explains. Pomerantz Lustig, who served as Sephora.com’s pioneer editor-in-chief, is also a fan of the store’s Beauty Insider rewards card. “You can save so much money by signing up for that,” she notes. “It’s like frequent flyer miles and you really get free products.”

Space NK 968 Lexington Ave between 70th and 71st Sts (212-288-3212) • 99 Greene St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-941-4200) • 217 Columbus Ave at 70th St (212-362-2840) spacenk.com
Pomerantz Lustig picks up many of the high-end products in her expensive makeup kit from this modern apothecary, which she swears is generous with samples. “You can get away with going in there and not even buying anything and you’ll get a month’s worth of products [for free],” she declares.

Tracie Martyn Salon 101 Fifth Ave between 17th and 18th Sts (212-206-9333, traciemartyn.com)
Socialite-approved hair and makeup stylist Paul Podlucky (paulpodlucky.com) first turned Pomerantz Lustig on to this cult British facialist. “He told me girls who don’t want to go for plastic surgery go to Tracie Martyn,” she recalls. “The facials are amazing but they are such a splurge, so you can’t go very often. If you’re going to spend the money, it’s good to go somewhere where you’re really going to get results.”

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