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Who I am and who I’ll be
Melissa Sansone started her career in PR at Paul Wilmot Communications in New York City, before moving on to work in-house for top beauty brands and global fashion PR agencies. Now the VP of Beauty SEEN, Melissa shares her insider favourites and hands-on experience with the beauty industry.


19/99        Take us through your daily beauty routine, morning & night. 

Melissa Sansone        I love this question. I have tried so many different beauty products over the years and I continue to get really excited about trying new products so one of my goals recently has been consistency. I want to know what works with my skin. My skin is reactive, so identifying and simplifying my routine has been key as of late. When I wake up I splash my face with cold water, pat dry and use the Pai Skincare Back to Life Hydration Serum and La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster. After about two minutes I add on a hyaluronic based moisturizer, lately it’s been the Dr Jart Water Fuse Ultimate Hydro Gel Moisturizer. To be honest, while being in quarantine during COVID that is really it for the morning because I haven’t been applying makeup. When I do have a video meeting I will re-apply moisturizer, and tap on a little concealer such as the RMS Un Cover-Up and swipe on a red lip to look a little more polished. Evening is more of the treatment time for me. I wash my face with the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser which I love, it is so gentle and smells incredible! SEEN just signed them as a client and I had a Virtual consultation with them; they were the ones that suggested I simplify, and see how my skin reacts to different ingredients. Pai has this beautiful organic muslin cloth that they include with the cleanser, which I use for a gentle exfoliation and to really get rid of the rest of the day’s gunk. Then I apply their Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil, which is really beautiful and I’ve found has helped calm my skin, treat pigmentation, plus it is brightening – truly a triple threat product and has claimed a place in my forever beauty routine. It’s strong and very pure, so two drops is all I need and I definitely wake up with a more radiant complexion. Then the Drunk Elephant C-Tango Eye Cream and that is it. Every other night, I’ll use the Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels which are life changing – a desert island product since it treats so many skin concerns. And once a week I do the Drunk Elephant’s Baby Facial because I’m obsessed with it.  

19/99        How has your beauty routine changed over the years?  

MS         I’ve been always a really big product junkie, trying new things, learning about ingredients. On the agency side when I started in my early 20s I was blown away by the amount of products we would get as a perk of the gig, so from a really young age, I started using Perricone MD (one of my first clients) which is obviously really strong in terms of anti-aging, and was probably a little too much for my young skin, but it taught me how to take care of my skin and what I can expect 5, 10, 15 years down the road. From then, I was always using really high-quality ingredients, which I 100% learned from handling communications for that brand. The biggest shift the last few years has been my dedication to exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. I’m sure both of you remember back in the day there was Clearasil and the St Ives Apricot Scrub; it was really harsh and would always leave my skin red and wasn’t helping with any of the break outs I was experiencing -- if anything it would irritate them further. Once I joined Dr. Dennis Gross in-house I learned about the beauty and power of acids, how they help the skin, how to use them properly, what chemical versus manual exfoliation looks like. I now pulse exfoliation into my routine at least once a week, if not twice a week, to really fuel cell turnover. I have definitely learned about the invaluable use of eye cream and that you must use one in order to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Not to say that having them is bad, but being able to hydrate the skin is really important, and taking care of the area around the eyes – learning that the eyes have a thinner layer of skin around the orbital bone was something I didn’t think about when I was younger.  

19/99        Do you feel pressure to look a certain way? 

MS         I think there is an expectation with what I do, because I work in beauty specifically, to be at the very least, polished. I believe it is important, especially in PR, to maintain a certain image because you are representing beauty and wellness brands. There must be an impression that I am interested in beauty and I take care of myself. Lucky for me, I’ve always been deeply devoted to beauty and educating myself about products, retailers and the wider industry trends and consumer behaviors. Self-care is something that is very important to me, and as I’ve gotten older it has become increasingly front and center because if I don't take care of myself (both physically and mentally) it will undoubtedly affect my relationships with friends and family, my relationship with work, it will affect the output I have on both a personal and professional level. If I am being honest, absolutely, for the role that I am in and the industry which employs me, there are expectations. But again, personally, I want to appear professional and exude confidence when I am presenting to brands and clients or when I’m talking to editors. My appearance is a reflection of my dedication to the job. I don’t know that I would be where I am today if I didn’t put forward that effort to embrace the beauty industry, and to be clear: not its standards, but the way that they have positioned the opportunity for women and men to look their best, but not feel it’s for anybody but yourself. 

Whether you are 15 and obsessed with blue nail polish or 90 and still rock a red lip every day, I think that there isn’t really room for that anymore in the conversation.

19/99       Does the term ‘Age Appropriate’ mean anything to you? 

MS        I think it is a super antiquated term, and totally ancient. I have loved being in the beauty industry for 13 years and watching the term anti-aging blossom into age-less. It’s really important because it showcases that women of a certain age aren’t necessarily not interested in beauty and the industry has finally caught up with that. Whether you are 15 and obsessed with blue nail polish or 90 and still rock a red lip every day, I think that there isn’t really room for the term ‘Age Appropriate’ anymore in the conversation. 

19/99        If you could share advice with your younger self, what would it be?  

MS       I would definitely tell her to exfoliate and wear eye cream. I would say that you aren’t going to look like all the other girls and that is totally okay, and you should be super happy and proud of who you are. The other piece of advice that I would give is that it is not going to be easy being a woman in this world, and that is a truth that she should be prepared to accept. Putting forward the hard work, and driving my own motivation is what has gotten me to where I am today. Speaking up for myself, and knowing when to it’s not worth the fight has been a tough (but invaluable) lesson to learn. Letting her know that taking the easy road isn’t going to get you anywhere you want to be, so you’ve got to get ready to work really freaking hard and it is a totally wild ride. I would have never thought that I’d be where I am today; the VP of a global beauty PR firm, working with Gucci Westman in my wildest dreams. I am extremely lucky and it was a result all the hard work, all the job applications, all the networking, that got me to where I am, but it definitely wasn’t easy, and that’s what makes it even more rewarding. 

19/99         What makes you feel beautiful?  

MS        I’ve never been asked this question before… Confidence makes me feel beautiful. It took me a while to get to a place to have the confidence to not wear makeup and be comfortable in my own skin—to be able to go out without makeup; to the grocery store, to work, even be on a video conference call with the both of you without makeup on, being a bit more fresh faced, this is ME, is a big sign of growth. I was always one to wear a lot of makeup, cover things up (I had terrible acne growing up!), try to look like all the other pretty girls. Now I have that self-assurance that took years to build up, and that comes from the self-care and knowing that it is okay if I have a pimple, and that I look different from others. For myself, I feel beautiful when I have the confidence to go about my day without having to put anything on my face.  

19/99        Is there anything that scares you about aging?  

MS         I am definitely young at heart, I love going to concerts, and music festivals, hanging out with friends and going to parties—all the things that we probably won’t do till next year with COVID. But it definitely scares me that as I get older, I won’t do those things as often, I will have more responsibilities; with growing up comes more obligations, and I think I will become nostalgic, so not necessary scared. I will be nostalgic for my carefree younger years, the effortless nature of my younger life. I’m excited about what’s to come certainly; so less scared, just certain that I will miss that.  

19/99        If you could ask the older generation one question what would it be? 

MS         Oh it would definitely be what are your beauty secrets! I ask my grandma all the time – she has the most beautiful skin, it is still so smooth. She has pigmentation, though that is just a sign of her amazing years on this planet. She also rocks a silver streak in her brown hair – and has since the 60’s! I would definitely ask them what their routines looked like and what products they were obsessed with, I am fascinated with the history of beauty; discovering Cleopatra’s secrets and how she used different ingredients, how trends have evolved and come back with a modern twist. I love everything from product development to packaging design. For so many girls when they are asked the question ‘how’d you learn to do your makeup?’ it is from a grandma, mum or older sister so I love hearing about the tips and tricks that passed down through the generations. 

19/99         Do you think there is a point where we stop growing and learning?

MS       No, definitely not, absolutely not. There are so many things out there to learn and experience and see and interact and engage with and communities you’ve never experienced before. So if you aren’t learning and growing it is time to switch it up and push yourself to explore something new.

Follow Melissa at @melrosesansone

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Who I am and who I’ll be