Violet Grey—the luxury e-commerce beauty site that curates the skin care and makeup products considered the best of the best by makeup artists, skin experts, editors, celeb insiders and more—is the kind of online shopping emporium that makes the consumer feel special just by perusing the site. It has the feeling of a members-only club, where exclusivity reigns and gossip abounds.
But in fact, it’s anything but, and that extends to the name itself. While the Grey in Violet Grey comes from founder Cassandra Grey, the company name was inspired by one of the most all-American, accessible brands for the better part of 75 years: Peanuts.
“The true story is I love Peanuts from Charles Schulz, and [one of his] characters is Violet Gray,” Grey reveals to Glamour. “She’s not a main character, but she shows up sometimes. She’s kind of snobby, she has a bun on the top of her head. That’s how it kind of came into my brain.” In fact, Violet hasn’t been seen in the comic strip since 1997, but she was a main player in the early years and according to the Peanuts Wiki site, was/is best friends with Lucy and Patty. When I tell Grey that the inspiration makes me love her Violet Grey even more, she says it’s her hope to one day do a Peanuts x Violet Grey collab. “People have such an emotional connection to those characters.” Truth.
It’s a surprise to even some of her closest friends, who originally assumed the name was because of Elizabeth Taylor. “One friend said, ‘Oh, like the color of Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes!’ and I said, ‘Oh yeah. Yeah. Exactly,” Grey recounts with a laugh. “But she was ruled by passion and had violet gray eyes, so [it works, too].”
Names aside, Grey is just grateful she gets to spend her days doing what she loves with products she loves. “Beauty is fun to buy but also brings you comfort. And people have had more time to take care of themselves and devote to their skin-care routines, because it takes a lot of time to do all this stuff.”
Grey knows this firsthand, testing hundreds of products alongside her team to find out what’s worthy of “The Violet Code,” the standard set up to help customers feel confident in their purchases. “We approve somewhere between 1 and 2% of skin-care products a year,” Grey tells me. “If our editors think it has a place in our customers life, then we test it. But it doesn’t even usually get to that place where we test it because it’s either more of the same, or good but not great, or just crap. And why do you want to spend money on something that is second best?”
For Grey, she’s personally looking for products that help moisturize her dry skin and treat the adult acne that occurs around her period. The 44-year-old is also open about the added boost she gets from doctors, namely Dr. Sarmela Sunder, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. “I recommend people go to her. Because of my job, people think I know everything about everything, which I don’t, but I know people that know!”
Grey also speaks highly of Melinda Farina, known as The Beauty Broker, on Instagram. “She is basically a matchmaker and gets paid by you, not the doctors,” Grey says. “She makes sure you have the right plastic surgeon for whatever you want to do. She recommended Dr. Sunder to me as the person you go to for injections and Botox, if you’re looking for really subtle, natural-looking aesthetic. Not everybody wants that, but I do. I really trust [Melinda] to make good choices, because plastic surgery is so specific and so subjective.”
But Grey also really trusts the products she swears by as part of her skin-care routine. She says she can talk about the serums, creams, moisturizers, oils, etc. all day long, and she’s not kidding. For nearly two hours, she broke down each of her hero products one-by-one. Time for another installment of Glamour‘s Drop the Routine!
iS Clinical Cleansing Complex
$44.00, Violet Grey
iS Clinical Warming Honey Cleanser
$45.00, Violet Grey
I had never really used an essence before now, but the Royal Fern Skin Perfecting Essence is probably my favorite product of all my products that I use, because it evens skin tone and hydrates. Sometimes I just wash my face and put that essence on and go about my day. I feel like I need it if I don’t have it, which I never felt that way about toners.
Royal Fern Phytoactive Skin Perfecting Essence
$85.00, Violet Grey
Dr. Barbara Sturm Calming Serum is kind of like the essence, in that I didn’t know that I needed that either. It’s got her signature personal ingredient—an anti-inflammatory—which I love. I normally wake up with red, irritated skin and it cools and calms it down. And then Eighth Day’s Regenerative Serum is brand new. This is a product that I’m super excited about, because similar to Augustinus Bader and La Mer, it came out of the lab with doctors that have studied the way that your skin behaves when it’s healing. The active ingredient in the Eighth Day Serum is a plasma-rich peptide. Peptides are pretty miraculous and seem to be the future of cosmetics in my view. You’ll see results as you use it.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Calming Serum
$250.00, Violet Grey
Eighth Day Regenerative Serum
$325.00, Violet Grey
The Victoria Beckham primer is a collaboration that she did with Augustinus Bader, which is our number one skin-care brand. The technology is really unparalleled. She wanted the best, so she partnered with them and created a priming moisturizer that has no color, as well as one that has a golden color. I have really pale, patchy, pink undertone skin, but it works and gives you a glow and a little bit of a sun-kissed vibe. And if you have darker skin, it’s really beautiful. It’s probably better for darker skin, but it works on my skin, too. I use that a lot if I’m not doing a full face of makeup. And the Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Drops are kind of the same, but they don’t have the golden tint. You could put it on top of your moisturizer and it just creates that seemingly natural highlight on your brow bone or your cheekbone.
Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer
$145.00, Violet Grey
Victoria Beckham by Augustinus Bader Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturizer in Golden
$145.00, Violet Grey
Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Drops
$145.00, Violet Grey
My night cream
Augustinus Bader’s The Cream is incredible. We were sort of early adapters and helping them to be introduced to the world, so through that process, I really got to know the team. They make it all in Bader’s lab in Germany. It activates your dormant skin cells.
Augustinus Bader The Cream
$265.00, Violet Grey
My neck cream
La Mer’s Neck and Décolletté Concentrate has those active ingredients, so it really works. I’m 44, and your neck and your hands start to show the first signs of aging. Don’t neglect your neck! I always use the neck concentrate every day; I don’t ever miss it. And then I use it on my hands as well. But I do Botox in my neck, too. It prevents some of the deeper lines that you get.
La Mer The Neck and Décolletté Concentrate
$300.00, Violet Grey
My eye cream
Susanne Kaufmann Eye Cream Line A. It’s luxurious. I trust it. It’s been vetted. Her products are clean and this one is a hero product of mine. I put it around my eyes of course, but also around my lips. I love the texture. And I keep a jar in my car as well. It’s kind of like my lip balm.
Susanne Kaufmann Eye Cream Line A
$251.00, Violet Grey
My face mist
Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Face Mist is a great one. It’s so good, especially if my face feels dry or needs a pick me up.
Tatcha Dewy Skin Face Mist
$48.00, Violet Grey
My face and eye mask
The Chanel Anti-Pollution Exfoliating Gel and the Chanel Anti-Pollution Vitamin Clay Mask. They’re pretty new and they’ve become a bestseller. I use them together. One is an exfoliating mask and the other one is a glowy, dewy finish. It’s a whole process, and it takes time. But it feels like a mini-facial at home. And the 111SKIN Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye Mask is so good. I put it in the fridge. I wake up with puffy eyes a lot and this helps.
Chanel Anti-Pollution Exfoliating Gel
$47.00, Violet Grey
Chanel Anti-Pollution Vitamin Clay Mask
$50.00, Violet Grey
111SKIN Sub-Zero De-Puffing Eye Mask
$105.00, Violet Grey
My face oils
Vintner’s Daughter face serum. It’s face oil, but it’s also skin care. It’s pretty strong, so I only use it three days a week and only at night. It’s saved my skin. The founder, [April Gargiulo], is really passionate about the quality of the product, and I just love that we’re able to support these niche brands, especially when they’ve made a best in class product.
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
$185.00, Violet Grey
MUTHA Face Oil has 22 botanicals and rose hips. [Hope Smith] started the brand in her kitchen, and I love her story. Her MUTHA body butter is another one of our best sellers, which helps prevent stretch marks. She’s spared no expense, and everything is science-backed. My skin always feels so dry, but this one is so potent and it moisturizes my skin.
Mutha Face Oil
$110.00, Violet Grey
U Beauty’s Resurfacing Compound has been one of my hero products from the very beginning. [Founder Tina Craig is] really good at getting it into all the right hands early and getting all those people invested in talking about it. It’s just a great retinol. And Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform is another really good one. You don’t need both, but you can’t go wrong with either. And Shani Darden is another founder who is very passionate about making sure she’s used the best [formula].
U Beauty Resurfacing Compound
$228.00, Violet Grey
Shani Darden Retinol Reform
$88.00, Violet Grey
My spot treatment
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum and Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Clarifying Spot Treatment. I’ve had four spots on my face that I’ve lasered off, but they come back, so that works for those. The clarifying one from Dr. Barbara Sturm is more for pimples and bacteria, but really works.
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum
$92.00, Violet Grey
Dr. Barbara Sturm Clarifying Spot Treatment
$55.00, Violet Grey
The Erasa SPF-30 Lifting/Sculpting Créme for Face and Neck. It’s like Botox in a bottle. The ingredients are very tightening. It’s another hero product. I also like Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen because it’s see-through, so I use it if I’m in a rush. Most sunscreens you have to wait for them to melt into your skin, but this one you can just put on and go.
Erasa SPF-30 Lifting/Sculpting Créme for Face and Neck
$95.00, Violet Grey
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
$34.00, Violet Grey
My lip balm
La Mer The Lip Balm
$75.00, Violet Grey
La Mer The Lip Volumizer
$85.00, Violet Grey
I love the vibration of Jillian Dempsey’s Gold Sculpting Bar. Hers is made in Japan and the Japanese have used gold a lot in skin care because it has healing elements. I find Jillian’s sculpting bar easier to use than all the other sculpting wands out there. I sculpt upwards and it helps with lymphatic drainage, plus it’s instantly tightening. If you do it for 15 minutes, you’ll look better. I always use it before I go on camera. It’s like getting a facial, and I use it while I am watching TV or checking emails.
Jillian Dempsey Gold Sculpting Bar
$195.00, Violet Grey
The ZIIP Nano Current Device is also really incredible, but it’s a commitment. You need to download an app that communicates with the device because it’s an electric current, so it’s a little complicated the first time you use it. I like to do it when I watch TV at night because it really tightens and sculpts and helps with acne. It’s kind of a miracle device, but it doesn’t really do much if you don’t do it for more than 15 minutes, three times a week.
Ziip Nano Current Device
$495.00, Violet Grey
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor. You can follow her on Instagram at @jessicaradloff14.
Originally Appeared on Glamour