Metalwork and Manual Labor: Female Artists on How Skincare Plays a Role in Art

Updated 04/09/18

The skin is our largest organ. So naturally, the conditions in which we live and work play a huge role in how it looks, feels, and the most effective way to care for it. Such is the case with these four female artists, as their work requires an interaction with manual labor, arid studio conditions, metals, and the drying effects of ceramics and toxic materials. And while those with a penchant for beauty often get a "vapid" and "vain" reputation (don't get me started), these products and an interest in skincare is a necessary accessory to producing their art.

That, and taking care of your face and body so you feel good and stay healthy is helpful for anyone with any job. So without further ado, find the products that cure their cracked fingers, heal their irritated faces, and soothe everything else.

Coco

"I work mostly with sculpture and lately I've been working with silicone and using a lot of Epoxy resin—which is quite toxic when it cures. I have to wear a respirator most of the time. My studio has no windows and the air is very dry, so I've been paying extra attention to my skin. Also, I'm 29, so I'm in that 'wrinkle prevention' phase.

"My hands suffer a lot (I've also been doing ceramics, which really dries the skin), so I've been using Weleda Skin Food Skin Cream ($10) on my hands every night and after working, as well as on my body if my skin is extra dry. After showering, I'll use Weleda Wild Rose Body Oil ($18) all over my body to moisturize my skin. I wash my face twice a day with Kiehl's Ultra Face Cleanser ($20). I've been using La Mer's Revitalizing Hydrating Serum ($195), which is amazing and La Mer's Moisturizing Soft Lotion ($260).

I use Niod's Survival 0 ($25) when I'm at my studio to protect against the toxins—another artist recommended it to me, and it's really great.

"I've been trying to do two face masks each week—my favorites are Renée Rouleau's Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($87) and Sisley's Black Rose Cream Mask ($162)."

Elizabeth

"I work mostly with ceramic, steel, and silk. The ceramics studio is in the back of a wood shop inside of a heavily heated industrial building, so just being there dries my skin out. I make sure to drink as much water as I can, even if I don't feel thirsty. There's a water cooler right outside my studio. If it runs out, I definitely notice the difference in my energy levels and skin within a couple hours.

"For products, I keep Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve ($23) in the studio to prevent cracking on my hands and then a jar of coconut oil at home. I use it for everything—even my face in the winter. Daily, I use Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 ($31) and their Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($47). I learned from an older friend, Juwelia, to lather moisturizer on and let it soak in even if it looks ridiculous for a while—and it works. She's in her 50s or 60s, and looks 32. She uses Nivea for everything and even rides a Nivea-branded bicycle she won around Berlin now.

I don't think I could handle this intense cream, but I use Dr. Hauschka's Rose Day Cream ($45), which smells amazing, if I feel like I need a boost, and I love it.

"For face cleansing, I don't wash my face unless I'm in the shower, and I stay away from toners, as I can't deal with throwing away that many cotton balls. I keep Kiehl's Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub ($26) and Ultra Facial Cleanser ($20) if I have clay or ink on my face I need to wash off (sadly, often), or if I feel the need to exfoliate, like for a party. I also recently bought a circulating scrubbing brush for my face for the shower, and on top of really scrubbing, it's also fun."

Anne

@annelibby

"I am a sculptor who works with a lot of different materials, often in dusty and cold environments. I've been working with a lot of wood recently, which can get very dusty, and I often wear a respirator so I'm not constantly breathing in particles. Additionally, I often wear latex gloves to protect my hands in the studio. My skin is very dry in general, so I try to keep it moisturized as much as possible to counterbalance these issues.

"I wash my face every morning with Dove Beauty Bar ($9) and apply a really thick layer of Dr. Hauschka's Rose Day Cream ($45) so that it's visible—and let it sit in for as long as possible (this is ideal after a hot shower as well). I have really fair skin, so I try to keep sunscreen on as much as possible. For this, I use La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid ($34) because it feels really lightweight and has an SPF of 50. In the shower, I use Dr. Hauschka's Lavender Sandalwood Calming Body Wash ($19).

"For my body, I like to use coconut oil and vitamin E oil if I am really dry—as well as Kiehl's Creme de Corps ($30), which works well if applied regularly. I don't really exfoliate because my skin is so sensitive. In the winter, my hair gets super dry, for this I apply coconut oil and let it sit overnight and use Kiehl's Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Conditioner ($21) when I can."

Pauline

Pauline Shaw

"My work is very materials and process studio-based work. The material range I use is really varied, from normal construction techniques to ceramics, mold making (resins, silicones, plaster, etc.) to textiles and felt-making. So my hands are constantly cracking, rough, and I suffer from fingernail problems like hangnails. I've tried everything from Bag Balm Ointment ($10) to O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream ($6) to Weleda Skin Food Skin Cream ($10), and I still can't find a great solution!

"I used to live in L.A. where I was working out of my two-car garage, so I was dealing with all the dry heat and other weather-related elements of California, but it at least did provide really great ventilation. Now, I'm in a windowless room, so ventilation and toxicity are real problems. Also, New York in the winter is so dry that I feel like my skin is drier here than in the desert in California. Because a lot of the work I do uses silica or other toxic stuff, I'm constantly wearing a rubber-masked respirator, so my skin gets really irritated where the rubber part touches.

I've never been a fan of harsh chemicals for cleaning my skin or doing the acid-based stuff for your face (I feel like I get exposed to enough irritants in my work), so I really try to focus on hydration with products that feel luxurious and enriching.

"For cleansing, I use basic products like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($7) for my face and Sebamed Liquid Face & Body Wash ($15) for hair and body. Then I use a body oil, which I make myself with jojoba, rosehip, vitamin E, apricot, and grape-seed oils as the base and a bunch of various essential oils mixed in (hinoki, cedarwood, frankincense, sandalwood, and lavender). I've tried multiple facial serums—the latest was The Ordinary's Buffet ($15)—but I haven't found The One yet. I follow this with Niod's Survival 0 ($25), which I love and wish they would restock, and Shiseido's Senka SPF 50 ($8) during the day and Niod's Hydration Vaccine ($55) at night."

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