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Vanity tour: Polly Blitzer, founder of beauty website Beauty Blitz

Beauty Blitz founder Polly Blitzer organizes her beauty storage for maximum efficiency.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

When Polly Blitzer moved into her Upper East Side rental with her husband, Mark Wolkstein, last year, decorating their new apartment was about the last thing on her mind. “There was a ticking time bomb [inside me],” says the former InStyle beauty editor, who was eight months pregnant with twins at the time. “We still don’t have things on the wall.” After the arrival of now-17-month-old sons Sam and Miles, Blitzer managed to organize the many cosmetics, hair- and skin-care products she covers on Beauty Blitz (beautyblitz.com), the beauty website she founded in May 2008, into curated areas of her abode. “I used to be able to have bins for beauty storage everywhere, but now [space is taken up by] baby toys so I really have to streamline,” she says.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

After Blitzer’s husband was diagnosed with basal-cell carcinoma on his nose in 2012, she made wearing sunscreen a top priority for the entire family. “Applying it every day is a house rule, regardless of the season, weather forecast or length of time we’ll be outside,” she says. To facilitate the process, she stocks a repurposed straw fruit basket in the foyer with more than a dozen options from Clinique (clinique.com), Oscar de la Renta (oscardelarenta.com), Alba Botanica (albabotanica.com) and even baby brand Mustela (mustelausa.com) for her twin boys. “That way, you can never say you forgot.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

One too many gel manicures have weakened Blitzer’s nails. “They are like one-ply toilet paper now, so I checked them into Betty Ford,” she jokes. A porcelain hand-shaped dish from Urban Outfitters (locations throughout the city; visit urbanoutfitters.com) allows her to swatch polish colors without further straining her own digits. “You never know what’s sheer or opaque,” she explains. “Sometimes I’ll take this into the bathroom and test out a new collection.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

A Michael Aram tray (136 W 18th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-461-6903, michaelaram.com) displays some of Blitzer’s favorite fragrances, including Annick Goutal Petit Chérie ($200, at annickgoutal.com), which reminds her of “peaches and babies,” Stella McCartney’s discontinued Stella Nude and the erstwhile Vintage Gardenia from Jo Malone (locations throughout the city; visit jomalone.com). “I feel like I could swirl in it like in The Sound of Music—it’s such a rich but not too heavy floral,” she says of the latter scent. “I always like to come home and spray that because it just shifts the mood and is welcoming. I believe you can spritz your way to the kind of evening you want to settle into.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“Mark is very picky about fragrance,” says Blitzer of her husband’s sensitive nose. “Even though I have a treasure trove of [perfumes], there are only two that he likes.” The ones that made the cut: Byredo Green (100ml $220; at byredo.com), which Blitzer describes as “fresh and grassy,” and Bobbie Brown’s Beach (50ml $70, at bobbibrowncosmetics.com). “[Brown] did such a good job of replicating the smell of Coppertone from the ’80s and that nuzzly scent at the end of the day when your skin is a little warm. She’s a very beachy person and I think she nailed it.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

A Tiffany & Co. crystal vase (727 Fifth Ave at 57th St, 212-755-8000 • 37 Wall St between Broad and William Sts, 212-514-8015 • 97 Greene St between Prince and Spring Sts, 212-226-6136 • tiffany.com) from the couple’s wedding registry holds nail polishes from Chanel (chanel.com) and NARS (413 Bleecker St between Bank and W 11th Sts; 646-459-2323, narscosmetics.com) mixed in with shells they collected on a trip to the Maldives. “We both feel so alive at the beach and in the ocean,” says Blitzer. “How people have that olfactive thing, where a smell can trigger them back to childhood—I have that visually with beach memorabilia.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer turned these plastic lipstick-tester wands from Make Up for Ever (makeupforever.com) into a game of blowing kisses to the twins before she leaves for work each morning. “It’s my little guilt-trip thing,” she admits. “Even if it doesn’t mean anything to them and they just think it’s funny when I tap them on the head.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“I’m addicted to lavender sachets,” admits Blitzer, who purchases them as travel souvenirs and on Etsy (etsy.com), and often receives them as gifts. “If I’m in a cab in traffic or on a plane and there’s turbulence, I’ll give one a squish. I also pack them in my suitcase so it doesn’t smell like airplane mildew.” Her collection of more than 25 scented bags is dispersed throughout different purses and at Beauty Blitz’s offices, but she keeps a handful at home in a Tiffany & Co. bowl from her wedding registry. Another ubiquitous calming agent is candles, such as the ones from NARS ($50) and Tocca ($20–$38, at tocca.com) arranged on a Christofle tray (846 Madison Ave between 69th and 70th Sts; 212-308-9390, christofle.com). A framed photo from the babies’ birth announcement and a watercolor portrait of Blitzer’s Lhasa Apso, Trixie, painted by friend and Beauty Blitz contributor Jane Kirby (hellokirby.wix.com/art), round out the vignette.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer’s mother dabbles in pique assiette, the art form of assembling found objects into a mosaic, and created this lamp for Blitzer as a birthday gift. “It has a secret hiding space inside an Orlane (orlane.com) eye-cream jar in case I have to stow diamonds or something,” she notes. Other items encased in the tile grout include Chanel lipstick caps, a half-used Bobbie Brown blush compact, seashells and jacks, one of Blitzer’s childhood pastimes.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“After you have babies, your hair thins because of the hormones, so now I have power alleys like my dad,” quips Blitzer, who has found a temporary solution in Rita Hazan’s Root Concealer spray ($25). “It has a needle-fine nozzle and covers up all of those patches until hair grows back.” Blitzer has a naturally thick mane, which she normally secures with a few mini claw clips from Goody (goody.com), but she discovered an unusual accessory one day while in a rush to get to the gym: her dog’s latex grooming elastics. “I couldn’t find mine and happened to reach for one,” she recalls. “They stretch perfectly without snapping.” When she’s not working out, Blitzer will adorn her tresses with something a bit more glamorous, such as this Jennifer Behr (jenniferbehr.com) Swarovski-crystal barrette. “I don’t know how to do updos, so if I put a little hair bling near the elastic or by the ear, it takes it from lazy to lovely.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

A Ballard Designs (ballarddesigns.com) side table in the living room displays a cookbook from chef Oliver Glowig (oliverglowig.com), brought back from a trip to Capri; a tome on Abstract Expressionist painter Hassel Smith; and Blitzer’s mother’s newly released memoir, Shocked. The books are flanked by another Kirby illustration, depicting Blitzer holding Trixie in a Chanel handbag; a Limoges vintage perfume bottle that was a wedding gift from a beauty PR firm; and blooms purchased at local deli Milano Market (1582 Third Ave at 89th St; 212-996-6681, milanomarketnyc.com). “I love Belle Fleur (134 Fifth Ave between 18th and 19th Sts; 212-254-8703, bellefleurny.com) but if I want to put bouquets all around my apartment, I’ll spend $20 at the bodega and have every room covered,” says Blitzer.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

This ceramic horse from home-decor flash-sale site Joss & Main (jossandmain.com) ensures Blitzer won’t misplace her Tom Ford (tomford.com) sunglasses. It also provides safekeeping for a vintage Chanel necklace that she purchased on eBay (ebay.com) as a bonus to herself after landing her first big advertising campaign on Beauty Blitz. “I think candles that have never been lit are sad,” says Blitzer, who often lights Annick Goutal’s Petite Cherie votive ($57) in conjunction with Fresh’s Sugar candle ($50, at Fresh, locations throughout the city; visit fresh.com). “Those are two of my favorites, and together they smell just like ripe peaches from a farm stand,” she says.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“My favorite wedding pictures are the ones where you’re primping,” says Blitzer, who displays a getting-ready photo from her August 2008 nuptials behind some everyday makeup essentials. “I can do my whole face in the back of a cab in five minutes because I don’t have time to do it here,” she swears. Cosmetics with thicker applicators, such as Clinique’s Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm ($17, at clinique.com) and NARS’s Soft Touch Shadow Pencil ($24), make the process easier. She also keeps Jao lavender-scented hand sanitizer (2oz $10, at jaoltd.com) with her for harried mornings. “[Makeup artist Mally Roncal] told me that when she works with Beyoncé, she’ll rub it in her hands, hold them up to her and say, ‘Deep breath,’ to calm her,” says Blitzer. “I’m not the only lavender addict!”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“Even though we love to sit on the beach, we want to be protected,” says Blitzer, who prefers to tan the safe way with bronzing products. Her top picks for creating a faux glow include Benefit Hoola powder ($28, at Benefit, 454 West Broadway between W Houston and Prince Sts; 212-769-1111, benefitcosmetics.com), “goof proof” St. Tropez self-tanner ($42, at sttropeztan.com), Guerlain Météorites Perles light-diffusing primer ($71, at the Waldorf-Astoria Guerlain Spa, 100 E 50th St between Park and Lexington Aves, 19th floor; 212-872-7200, guerlainspas.com) and Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR multiuse dry oil ($58, at us.nuxe.com). “I don’t want my skin to look like it’s dipped in disco glitter, and this just gives a sheen,” says Blitzer of the latter product. “It’s all-natural, so it smells like summer skin.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Makeup compacts from Dolce & Gabbana (dolcegabbana.com) and Estée Lauder (esteelauder.com) sandwich bangles from Hermès (15 Broad St between Exchange Pl and Wall St, 212-785-3030 • 691 Madison Ave at 62nd St, 212-751-3181 • hermes.com) and Blitzer’s great-grandmother. “She would wear them up and down her arm,” she recalls. Everything is arranged on a tray that Blitzer scored for $5 on her honeymoon to Mexico. “I don’t have time to polish silver so I love that it’s a cheap market find.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

The top shelf in Blitzer’s fridge is reserved for storing beauty products, such as Evian mineral-water facial sprays (three for $20, at beautybar.com), Koh Gen Do Refresh Spa aloe gel ($38, at dermstore.com), NARS Aqua Gel moisturizer ($58), La Prairie Cellular Revitalizing eye gel ($165) and a tube of hydrocortisone for soothing bug bites. “There’s nothing better than a refresher with these after a hot day or workout—it’s like faking air-conditioning,” she explains. “When I come home, I don’t want to hug the babies with makeup on so I’ll remove it with a Dickinson’s witch-hazel towelette (20 for $7, at walgreens.com) and maybe do an eye treatment. It’s not like I’ll have all evening to max and relax, but this helps me quickly go into Zen mode.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“Looking back, if Mark could have a prenup, it would probably be that I could only have five products in the shower at once,” jokes Blitzer of her well-stocked medicine cabinet. The bottom shelf is dedicated to items that she’s currently trying out for Beauty Blitz, while the middle two contain things in her regular rotation (the top two levels are for her leftover pregnancy products and her husband’s grooming goods). “I try to test things and then quickly get them out of the way because it’s just going to create clutter,” she says. “But then sometimes they make the cut into my makeup bag, and that’s a huge success product.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Among the items Blitzer is testing for her site is Bumble and bumble’s Thickening Dryspun Finish spray ($29, at bumbleandbumble.com). “It gives your hair that grungy cotton-candy texture that’s hot right now,” she says. Not all of the products she investigates can be found in the beauty aisle, however: A plastic fork was recommended as a teasing tool by hairstylist Oscar Blandi (oscarblandi.com), while the bistro chalk markers from restaurant-supply site Instawares (instawares.com) are Blitzer’s own experimental discovery. “I find that the hair-color chalks are so messy,” she explains. “If I used the orange, it would look like I was eating Cheez Doodles for a year and forgot to lick my fingers. With these, you can control how many strands [to coat] and it washes right out.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Having twins has not only changed the amount of time Blitzer has for pampering, but also how she physically applies cosmetics. “If a baby wakes up and I have foundation all over my hands, I’m going to be finger painting his onesie,” she points out. Rather than use her palms as a palette, she dabs a Beauty Blender sponge ($20, at beautyblender.net) into a Chinese spoon filled with makeup.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer had her husband bring back cotton swabs from Japan and South Korea after he traveled to Asia on a business trip. “I just love seeing how people do things in other countries,” she says. She uses the wood-handled Korean versions to remove leftover eyeliner and errant shadow flecks. “They are tightly packed, so they are good for precision,” she explains. Traditional American swabs are stored beside the black Japanese iterations, which Blitzer equates to Roto-Rooter. “I’m waiting to figure out how to best use them,” she admits. “For now, they just look cool.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer eschews unsightly plastic bins for a pair of apothecary cabinets from Joss & Main, which hold beauty products organized by category in the master bedroom. “My morning is not going to be reliably 100 percent about me getting ready,” she notes. “There are always going to be curveballs and I don’t want to leave someone crying, so I need things that I can find quickly.” The cupboards also provide more surface area for displaying trinkets, such as personalized hats from the boys’ first-birthday party and a candle from Missoni’s collaboration with Target (locations throughout the city; visit target.com). “The website crashed and I didn’t make it to one of the stores, so I got that on eBay the next day [after the launch] for an extra dollar.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

A pewter peace-sign statue from a Hamptons flea market holds Blitzer’s rings, and rests atop Beauty Blitz’s first mike flag. The bust is another Joss & Main purchase, strewn with necklaces from Chanel, Dannijo (dannijo.com) and Gap (locations throughout the city; visit gap.com). It’s fronted by Valentino’s Valentina Assoluto (50ml $88, 80ml $117; at store.valentino.com) and Valentina eau de parfum (50ml $80, 80ml $108) fragrances, the former of which Blitzer had engraved with her name. “It’s my first couture Valentino and it will always fit, so I don’t have to worry about it getting tailored,” she says.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer stores her makeup brushes in a footed vase that once held lemon-shaped soaps from Gianna Rose Atelier (giannarose.com). “It’s a bouquet that won’t wilt,” she muses. It rests atop a Tiffany & Co. journal that her mother gave her after the babies were born to document their monthly progress. Guerlain’s opulent Terra Nerolia bronzer compact ($69) is for more than just show. “You can dust a little bit of the gold leaf they emboss it with on the lids or cheekbone for some extra glamour and dazzle,” advises Blitzer.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer received her first Mason Pearson brush (masonpearson.com) from her mother just before she went to sleepaway camp. “You have them for life,” she swears of the splurgeworthy hair tools. A drawer in her apothecary cabinet exclusively holds her growing collection, including the original.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

“I’ll always look for weird, off-the-beaten-path ways to do something,” says Blitzer, who often finds new uses for beauty products beyond their original purpose. To wit, she cuts Crest 3-D White Whitestrips (20 for $56, at CVS, locations throughout the city; visit cvs.com) to fit nail beds and remove red-polish stains. “The peroxide will bleach out the yellow,” she says. She also wields L’Oréal Elnett Satin hair spray ($15, at lorealparisusa.com) as bug repellent. “If there’s a silverfish or fly, you spray [the insect] and it lacquers its wings and legs so you can get it,” she explains. “I bring this to the Hamptons to spray bees. Some people have deet; I bring Elnett.”

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer keeps a framed wedding photo and the first love note that her husband wrote to her on her nightstand. “It’s a math equation because he’s a nerd,” she says (the letter reads “Polly > all other women x ∞”). “My hands and nails are so dry because I’m constantly washing them [on account of the babies],” laments Blitzer, who now keeps Crabtree & Evelyn Somerset Meadow hand cream ($20, at Crabtree & Evelyn, 10 Columbus Circle at 58th St, 212-823-9584 • 30 Rockefeller Center between 49th and 50th Sts, 212-582-0190 • crabtree-evelyn.com) in a monogram ceramic dish from C. Wonder (Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle at 60th St, second floor; 212-956-9760 • 72 Spring St between Crosby and Lafayette Sts, 212-219-3500 • cwonder.com) by her bedside. “I like the smell and it’s very buttery.” A cup of chamomile tea and a Belstaff Black Absinthe candle ($110, at belstaff.com) complete her nighttime ritual.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Blitzer has amassed an impressive selection of high-end travel-size beauty products, such as Klorane dry shampoo (50ml $8, at drugstore.com), Deborah Lippmann nail-polish remover wipes (six for $12, at deborahlippmann.com), Fekkai Brilliant Glossing hair cream (1.6oz $9, at fekkai.com) and Oribe Superfine hair spray (2.2oz $19, at oribe.com). “When you check in to a hotel, you never know what the amenities are going to be like so I bring my own,” she says. She normally keeps her minis stashed in a clear plastic storage bag for easy viewing, and reserves her Iomoi (iomoi.com) monogram makeup bag for any larger bottles.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

When it comes to the twins, Blitzer sticks to organic and natural products from Mustela and Burt’s Bees (burtsbees.com). “I don’t put perfume on them, but sometimes when I’m going away on a trip I’ll spray the Musti scent on their socks and take them with me,” she says of Mustela’s alcohol-free scent ($29, at soap.com). A pair of rubber duckies from their first birthday and Maison Francis Kurkdjian pear-scented bubbles ($20, at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave at 58th St; 212-753-7300, bergdorfgoodman.com) bring some fun to the changing table.

Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

While she was working at InStyle, Blitzer met Essie Weingarten, founder of her eponymous nail-polish line (essie.com), for a desk-side meeting and the two became fast friends. When Blitzer got engaged, Weingarten custom-made her a pink shade called Just Say Fiancé that she gave out at her shower and wore on her wedding day. “Even if it decays, I’m going to keep it forever,” she swears. After Blitzer first had the twins, she had trouble telling them apart for the first six months. “We couldn’t keep their hospital bracelets on because they outgrow them, but someone said, ‘Try painting polish on one,’” she recalls. With her pediatrician’s blessing, Blitzer brushed a tiny dot of Essie Blue Rhapsody lacquer ($8) on Sam’s toenail until they could distinguish him from his brother. “I love that when I used a polish to tell my kids apart, it was an Essie—she’s part of the family.”

As the founder of beauty website Beauty Blitz, Polly Blitzer has made a career of discovering the best makeup, hair- and skin-care products on the market. The foyer, bathroom and bedroom in her Upper East Side apartment are filled with tried-and-true goods from beloved brands such as NARS, Kiehl's and Rita Hazan.

Her favorite NYC beauty resources

Barneys New York660 Madison Ave at 61st St (212-826-8900, barneys.com)
“The displays alone make me want to buy everything—I could spend all day playing at the NARS and Kiehl’s counters,” gushes Blitzer of the high-end department store’s ground-level beauty floor, although it’s not the only area she gravitates toward. “The candle selection in home decor on [the eighth floor] will make you projectile drool.”

Dr. Fredric Brandt323 E 34th St between First and Second Aves, second floor (212-889-7096, drfredricbrandt.com)
“Dr. B is the MVP of my epidermis,” declares Blitzer of the dermatologist to the stars. “He’s thorough and encyclopedia-level smart, with innovative treatments and gentle-soul warmth. When I’m lucky, he sings me a Broadway show tune. He is the best.”

La Prairie SpaRitz-Carlton Central Park, 50 Central Park South between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-521-6135, laprairie.com)
Blitzer adores this Swiss beauty brand’s luxe spa for its decadent setting and services. “I love sipping tea swaddled in a fancy robe, then relaxing while a totally unlucky therapist works through my knotty muscles and dissolves my Type A,” she says.

Rita Hazan Salon720 Fifth Ave between 56th and 57th Sts (212-586-4343, ritahazan.com)
“She ‘gets’ hair color and how it fits into a woman’s life,” says Blitzer of the celebrity colorist, who gave her low-maintenance highlights after she had the twins. “I love pit-stopping at the salon for blowouts with Sean James Decoers and facials with Arsi Tavitian. I’m convinced Rita pumps Prozac into the air—that place just has the best vibe.”

Follow Cristina Velocci on Twitter: @cvelocci