"I’m from Winchester in Hampshire originally, and then moved to London to go to the London College of Fashion and I’ve stayed in London ever since! I studied what was called Fashion Promotion back then, but I think it’s now called Fashion Journalism. There was a big dissertation and we had to produce a magazine, and I interned at Tatler at the time. I graduated in 2000, and from there I went to Women’s Wear Daily at the London office, then W, and then started at Vogue as a fashion features writer, then editor, and now director. I’ve been with Vogue for 10 years now.
I was 16 or 17 when my hair first started going silver. I was pretty mortified at that age, but my mum was completely silver when she was young. She used to always dye it. I remember the root re-growth used to come through once every four weeks. It was insane, she’d always be at the hairdressers, dyeing it brown, dyeing it brown again…but it never lasted for long. She did it for three or four years and then she just stopped and went full-on silver, so she’s been grey for a long time. Although I thought it would happen to me, I didn’t think it would happen when I was 16.
But it’s gotten a lot more grey recently, I look at pictures of myself from even three or four years ago and it was a lot darker than it is now. And suddenly it’s become its own thing! It’s funny. So often I have young girls come up to me in the street and they’re like, ‘Who’s your hairdresser? What dye do you use?’ I’m like, ‘What dye?!' And not many people believe me—unless it’s a hairdresser who’s like, 'Yeah, you can’t get that color out of a bottle.'
I’ve only ever dyed it for fun. I’d use those at-home wash-in-wash-out dye kits that you’d get from Boots on a Saturday afternoon with my two best girlfriends. We used to do that from when we were about 14 to 17—it was always some hideous shade of copper, I’ve never dyed it properly to get rid of the grey. I’ve always just used whatever shampoo I have at home, it’s stuff that I pick up at beauty sales. We have them once every six weeks, they’re always great for picking up new things.
At the moment I’m using Unite U Luxury shampoo and conditioner, but sometimes I’ll use whatever my husband’s using at the time. My hairdresser says that I’m quite lucky because most people with grey or silver hair will have changes to their texture, and it will get really coarse and dry. He said it might change as I get older but it might not. Actually, my mum’s got very soft, grey hair and she’s in her sixties. She’s never had that wiry, coarse thing that some people get with grey hair. So hopefully it’ll stay soft, but who knows? I wear it down a lot.
My hair always looks its best when I’ve had a blow dry, but it’s really at its best the day after the blow dry, after a night sleeping on it. I loved the hair at Chanel’s Autumn/Winter show. Those kind of ponytails which were full of rags and plaits—I loved that. And it’s Céline for clothes—such a friggin’ cliché! But, yeah, I love what she [Phoebe Philo] does, it’s the one that really gets my heart racing.
So I have certain style icons, but I don’t think I really have beauty icons. My mum does nothing. She washes her face with soap and water and uses a moisturizer. That’s it, that’s all she does. She’s probably never had a facial in her life; she’s not a beauty addict. And the same with my grandmother, she’s exactly the same. I’m a bit like that to a certain extent but I like to do a mask, or I’ll have a facial. The only thing I have never done is go to bed with my makeup on. Never! Even when I get home at 4am—not that I get home at 4am anymore—but even when I used to, I would always properly take off my makeup and moisturize and then go to bed.
I don’t use that much makeup anyway, but products, I’m a little bit obsessed with. I like nice products, I always have since I was really young. I have a great facialist who I see probably not quite as often as I should but her name’s Ferre. She works out of Neville Salon on Pont Street. I like her whole take on anti-aging, and she never does anything invasive. It’s a very natural approach. I like to see her once every six months or so.
As far as my everyday routine goes, I get up in the morning and wash my face usually with Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. That’s probably my favorite cleanser. Then first thing I do after I brush my teeth is put on lip balm. It can be anything from Vaseline to Sisley Nutritive Lip Balm, or the one from Crème de la Mer—from one extreme to the next! I’m not fussy, Vaseline is fine. Then I moisturize. At the moment I’m using Úna Brennan’s Superfacialist Tea Flower Deep Clean Mattifying Moisturizer, which I really like. Úna’s a great facialist, too.
Then I’ll do makeup. I don’t often really love foundations but there’s this one that I’m using called Rodial BB Venom Skin Tint in St. Barths and it’s really nice. I don’t know what it’s got in it—venom or something!—but it makes your skin feel quite dewy and moisturized. I’m not mad on that kind of matte, flat look. I prefer a dewy look to powder; it feels fresher. Sometimes I put on a bit of Bare Minerals bronzer or blush, then Sublime De Chanel Mascara and that’s it. Chanel and MAC mascaras are my favorites.
I don’t curl my lashes. I don’t know, maybe I should, but I hate that little contraption! I feel like it’s going to pull my eye out or something. If I wear eyeliner, I use a black eyeshadow from Chanel—it’s the Irreelle Silky Eye Shadow Duo in 80 [ed note: discontinued], but I never use the gold one, just the black. I take a brush and just draw a line. I’m not very loyal to any brands otherwise, unless I find something that I’m completely in love with. Working at Vogue I see so many new products all the time that I like to always stay open to trying new stuff.
For going out in the evenings it’s exactly the same routine, probably just a bit more application. A bit more foundation, a bit more bronzer, a bit more eyeliner. Before bed I like the Carita Fluide de Beauté 14, or I use one from my friend’s line called Pearl of Opale Anti-Aging Face Oil. I prefer face oils more so than creams, especially for the evening. You can get it in Monaco in Paris in all of those French pharmacies. I’m a real junkie for a French pharmacy! I love those places, all of that stuff. It’s things you can’t often get over here—quite inexpensive, a lot of it, but it’s good, nice stuff.
For nails, I always do the Leighton Denny Nail and Cuticle Oil before I get into bed. When I have the time I get manicures; it’s the biggest treat ever. I like the manicurist at Daniel Hersheson on Conduit Street and the salon Harvey Nichols. Neville and the spa at The Dorchester are great for manicures, too. But I find it quite relaxing doing it myself on a Sunday evening. I love nudes; Nails Inc. The Perfect Nude is a pretty one. I love either that or Essie Mademoiselle, whichI always have on my toes.
I’ve tried lots of perfumes along the way. I like Chanel Jersey, and also really like the Mor Perfume Oil—the Snow Gardenia is lovely. But I’ll always wear Yves Saint Laurent Cinéma perfume. It’s the one that I’ve had the longest, and it’s still my favorite. I started wearing it when I was 16 or 17, as soon as I started wearing perfume. It was always that one; I don’t know how I came across it, but I really do love it.” —as told to ITG
Sarah Harris photographed by Laura Allard-Fleischl at her home in London. Interview by Alexandra Rhodes.