Welcome to Zoom Date, our feature series where we get up close and personal (via Zoom screen) with our favorite celebs. They'll be giving us an honest peek into what their "new normal" looks like—from new rituals they've adopted since quarantine, to work projects in the age of isolation, to the beauty and health products they've been using to self-soothe.
A year ago, I might meet up for an interview with someone like Antoni Porowski at Laduree or Momofuku. But like most New Yorkers these days (myself included), Antoni is at home, wearing loungewear, and putting on noise-cancelling headphones so he can hear himself over the vacuuming in the the hallway right outside his door. "They never vacuum, and of course it's happening the second we start talking," he says. But despite the les- than-ideal circumstances of our virtual interview, his disposition is exactly what you'd expect from the Queer Eye star and OLLY ambassador—bright, positive, friendly, and humble. The moment he joined the call, he apologized profusely for being just a few minutes late, and thanked me for "giving him the time of day." I have to laugh at that because, of course, he's Antoni Porowski—he's giving me the time of day.
So how exactly does someone who has amassed so much fame in just a few years (Netflix's Queer Eye first aired in 2018) maintain his humility and positivity during a global pandemic? As it turns out, it has a lot to do with rituals, routines, and mega-sized medicine cabinet. Ahead, Antoni shares what his life looks like in isolation, spills about the buzz cut that broke the internet, and takes me on a virtual tour of all of the skincare products (including his favorite OLLY supplements) in his massive medicine cabinet.
You live in New York. For me, the moment I realized Coronavirus was going to be a very big deal was when those scary rumors started circulating that they were going to close down the bridges. Did you have a moment like that?
You just gave me a chill, because I remember that. My mind was like, what is happening? I still get those moments. I had a talk with my Dad's girlfriend—I refer to her as my stepmother—about his 70th birthday, which is November 30th. I wanted to come to Montreal—he has this favorite Flamenco-style musician that he loves. So I wanted to close this restaurant down and do this whole thing. But [my stepmother] was like "Eh, we're not doing that this year. Your family is way too affectionate." They're all in their 60s and 70s, the brothers, so we can't put them all in a room and expect them not to swing dance and have it be this love fest. We can save it for next year if it's safe. Send a nice card and we'll have to put [the party] to the side." And I was like, right! We don't know what's going to happen. Even three or four months ahead—we don't know what's going to happen or if there's going to be another spike. It's the old attitude of just taking everything a day at a time. Trying to make plans but being very open to the fact that they're probably going to change. That's really all we can do right now.
As someone who likes to plan ahead, it's stressful to not be able to make plans even a few days in advance. I have to give myself the illusion of planning by scheduling out walks or time to journal or I'll go nuts. Have you picked up any hobbies in isolation to fill the time? I know you're fostering a sweet pup right now.
Training her has been a hell of a thing. She had really strong leash reactivity at first because we found out that she had been in a backyard for the first couple of years of her life. So, socializing her with other dogs and learning all of the things about dog parenting. This is a TMI story about dog parenting—I have a white couch and she's had like three accidents where she's just peed a little bit. But she's very well house trained so it just didn't make sense. And I was talking to a friend of mine who also has a pit rescue and she was like, "Oh, that could be a UTI." She wasn't doing it out of spite because I wasn't giving her enough snacks—which is what I was convinced it was. So I had to take her to the vet and I learned that dogs can get UTI's and had to get her a prescription for that. But it's nice to have something else to focus on, because when I get stuck in my own head I start to freak out. I go through periods of like... I'm the only person in the world experiencing this and this is so hard. Then to the other side of the spectrum where it's like, everything is just meaningless. So routine for me has been something that has just really saved me, from the small things to the big things. And I swear this isn't a plug for OLLY, but a big part of my routine is I wake up in the morning, meditate, take my OLLY gummies, have my coffee, workout, then start my day. I used to say this when I've traveled in the past that it's nice to have things that remind me of home. But now that I am home, it's nice to have that routine, those things that are everyday fixtures. Routines bring me some semblance of calm in an otherwise changing by the day world.
Routines bring me some semblance of calm in an otherwise changing-by-the-day world.
Let's dig into your morning routine a bit more. I have insomnia so I have a love-hate relationship with the morning. Sometimes I'm relieved the restless night is over, but other times I can't bring myself to get out of bed. What's something you do in the morning to get going and set the tone for the day?
In terms of workouts, I would usually workout with my trainer Damon Bell in New York and we'd be at the gym. [Since COVID started], he started doing these free workouts using frying pans and whatever the hell people had at home, and wasn't charging anyone for these. And so I've started doing those. And now that I'm back in New York, I've started doing virtual sessions with him as well; I've done one in-person session now that some of the gyms have reopened. They're by appointment only and you can only go at a certain time, they only let in a certain number of people, and everyone has to wear a mask. So I did one session with him there—it's not something I want to do super regularly or every single day, but it's nice to change up and not have to move the dining room table and set up the weights every single morning. And knocking my head on dining room chairs.
Then there's skincare. Skincare for me is incredibly important. Obviously there's the OLLY Skin Bright Gummies, which I usually take during the day. Actually, do you want all of the specific products and brands I use?
Definitely, talk me through your entire skincare routine from start to finish.
"Holly, I'm going to show you." [Walks the laptop into his bathroom and opens up his medicine cabinet.]
I'd show you mine since you're showing me yours, but my boyfriend is on a conference call in our bathroom.
[Laughs.] My boyfriend is on a call in our bedroom. So funny. But here we go—I'm a little aggressive on the skincare.
Wow, you have an entire shelf of Byredo. I'm very impressed.
I love my Byredo scents. I didn't wear any fragrance for the first couple months, and then I realized that even doing a little spritz makes me feel good. I think scents are very important and actually make me feel good. So I've been wearing fragrance during the day. There's actually a really good one—Mojave Ghost is my absolute favorite Byredo scent. It's really grassy and sweet. It's nice. For toners, I switch between three: I use Biologique Recherche P50. It has a bit of worcestershire in it which is really weird, so it kind of stings. Then Dr. Hauschka is really good, and then I use my really fancy La Prairie that's kind of mild. And then my three favorite brands—my cleanser is Tata Harper. There's one that's strawberry-ish that's an exfoliant; it's fantastic. The La Mer, I use this one during the day, it's matte—I sweat a lot so this helps.
And then at night I do my really fancy regimen. I put my toner on, then I put on Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster from La Prairie, then the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, then the Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Cream. I just slather that on.
If I'm traveling, I use the La Mer Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream, $345. This is a gel consistency—my skin gets very dry. When we were in Jackson and in Aspen my skin basically started flaking within two days. I had dry skin everywhere, and that La Mer gel just hydrates really well and leaves my skin plump. And weirdly enough, I always lose chapsticks, but they have a lip balm tin that actually moisturizes your lips. It's incredible.
Getting a tour of your medicine cabinet is truly a dream come true! Your routine is definitely Byrdie-approved. Outside of your typical routine, have you had any interesting beauty adventures since the start of quarantine? I think you know what I'm getting at—I need to hear about your buzz cut, Antoni.
The buzz cut was years in the making. It's something that I really wanted to do for a long time. I just finally one day said, you know what, I'm shaving my head. We're not going to production anytime soon. And I'm so glad I did it. It's one less thing to worry about. I've been loving it.
The buzz cut was years in the making. It's something that I really wanted to do for a long time.
There's another thing I've really tapped into. I gave this to my boyfriend—he has a really busy 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., sometimes later, job. I gave him the Irritability Oil from Tata Harper. Let me go see if he has them. [Antoni walks into his bedroom]. Wow, he actually has them by his desk! So you roll it around in your hands, smack your hands together, and then you breathe in and just take in all of the oils. Like I said, I'm a big scent person and it just kind of helps me get a little centered and nice and relaxed. But I've tried so many new things since I started being at home all the time.
I can't even begin to imagine the product stash you might have exploding out of a closet somewhere in your apartment.
Oh, I'll show you. Wow, I'm really showing you a lot here. [Antoni takes the computer into a pantry-sized closet]. So, this is where I keep the extra stash of stuff. I am a skincare hoarder. It's embarrassing. Whenever my sister comes, she literally brings an empty suitcase and fills it up. She doesn't even ask, she just takes everything.
There's one thing in here I really wanted to show you, let's see if I can find it. Here! I still have some of these [sheet masks] from when we were in Tokyo. My friend came to visit and these are actually South Korean, but these 3D face masks. Other than '3D' there's nothing written in English on this packaging. But they're awesome. They really plump up your skin. It just insanely moisturizes my face.
Then of course I have a huge OLLY stash. The main ones that i've always talked about are the Goodbye Stress Gummies and obviously the Sleep Gummies. They've expanded their range too—they didn't even ask me to talk about this but they've started formulating supplements that target multiple concerns together. The Sleep Immunity + Elderberry, and the Bedtime Beauty for example—oh my God, so good. [The OLLY team] must get so annoyed with me because I change my favorite one every single week. But they're all just so freaking great. Everything about it—the packaging, the brand, it's all very clean-looking and easy to understand.
And it's a pretty affordable price point. I'm really passionate about accessible wellness.
100 percent. It's not the price of La Mer or La Prairie, I'll tell you that.
Credits: Photography by Ben Levine. Grooming by Kumi Craig. Products: La Mer and R+ Co.