What Works: Sara Happ
One benefit of working in the beauty industry for so many years is that I've encountered dozens of smart, savvy professionals (beauty company CEOs, product development VPs, power publicists, colorists, stylists, makeup artists, etc.) who've tried thousands of products and treatments, and, thus, have uber-informed beauty regimens. I've certainly swiped tips and recs from them—and now so can you. As part of a regular series, I’ll be asking inspiring, in-the-know women to share their best tips and favorite products. The point? As always, to find out what works.
Today’s Insider: Sara Happ, The Lip Expert, Founder of the Sara Happ lip collection
On her Instagram feed, Sara Happ often uses the hashtag #HAPPy, a play on words that describes both her fun, lip-centric line of products—and Sara herself. Warm, candid, and generous (she spent most of our interview talking up her friends’ brands), Sara is one of those people who seeks to bring joy to others’ lives. She told me, “the best part of my job is the privilege of interacting with my customers and helping them feel good about themselves.”
Sara stumbled into the beauty industry by accident. After graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California, she was working at ESPN in Connecticut, enduring cold East Coast winters and “persistently flakey, chapped lips," when she decided to whip up a flake-sloughing scrub in her own kitchen, using essential oils and sugar. The result was so effective, her career took a sharp detour: Buh-bye broadcast journalism, hello lipcare company. The Lip Scrub—and a business idea—was born.
The original Lip Scrub was sold in a handful of boutiques in the Los Angeles area. Then celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon became vocal fans, their support caused word to spread quickly, and the brand was snapped up by national retailers, such as BlueMercury and Nordstrom. Today, in addition to The Lip Scrub (now available in a variety of flavors), other best-sellers include Lip Slip One Luxe Balm, The Sweet Clay Lip Mask, the new Plump & Prime, and The Lip Slip hydrating glosses, available in a range of understated shades.
For the foreseeable future, Sara has decided to stay in her lane and focus her brand solely on lipcare. “I live for watching holes in the market get filled. Spanx. Drybar. Those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that companies that began in someone’s house and changed gigantic industries forever,” she explains. However, Sara's beauty know-how extends far beyond the mouth—and being in the industry has connected her to a slew of beauty entrepreneur girlfriends whose products she uses and raves about. In fact, thanks to her enthusiastic endorsements, I have a l-o-n-g beauty shopping list. And I suspect, after reading what works for Sara, so will most of you...
Her high-low cleansing regimen “Every night, I remove my makeup with Olay Sensitive Skin Makeup Wipes from the drugstore, then cleanse with Origins Checks and Balances. I’ve been following this combination for years and find that it cleans deeply without stripping my sensitive skin. I’m also big on exfoliation and frequently pair my Clarisonic Mia 2 with the Origins cleanser to get rid of dead skin.”
Before-bed de-stressor “I don’t really watch TV, so my end-of-day downtime is a bath. And it’s truly a ritual for me; I will choose products based on my mood or needs. If I want to relax, I may use EO French Lavender Bubble Bath. For a more energizing soak, I will add The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel. And sometimes, I make my own combinations with Aura Cacia essential oils from Whole Foods.”
Why not to save masks for special occasions “My skin can get really dry because I travel so much. So, after cleansing, I apply some kind of mask while I take my evening bath. My go-to is Josie Maran’s Whipped Mud Argan Oil Unscented Mask. But, if I am feeling extra grimy or have been traveling a lot and my skin needs a deeper clean, I like Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask. Once the mask is applied, I slather on my own Clay Lip Mask, to soothe, firm and hydrate my lip skin. This regimen has made a huge difference in the health of my skin, especially at this point in my career, when I’m spending as much as 40 percent of the month on the road.”
Surprising uses for Dove Cleansing Bars “In the morning, after taking a hot yoga class, I will shower and wash my face with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser and my body with Philosophy Purity Simple Cleanser (I get the jumbo size). Then I lather and shave my legs using the white, original Dove Beauty Bar. I adore the scent; it’s classic and clean. I also use unopened bars to scent my linens; I'll place a bar inside a drawer on top of folded sheets.”
Brass-battling strategy “I am naturally a brunette and pay a lot of money to be blonde. So, I take care of the color—and keep it from becoming brassy—by using Drybar’s Blonde Ale Shampoo and Conditioner, which are purple-tinted but don’t dry out my hair or make it that ashy silver color you get from some purple products. Alli Webb [Drybar founder] is a friend and sends me the giant, back-bar size bottles.”
Why she’s taking a break from Botox “I did Botox forever. I have a big forehead and started seeing wrinkles there in my twenties. So, I started getting injected at 24. But I stopped four years ago when I had a baby and haven’t started back up again. I am not anti-Botox, but I am enjoying seeing my natural expression again. Of course, because I’m not doing Botox, my skincare treatments have taken on greater importance. Those forehead lines will not go away on their own. I rarely follow the same routine because I believe in customizing based on what my skin needs on a given day. But some favorites include La Mer’s Soft Cream and Tatcha Water Gel. The founder of Tatcha [Victoria Tsai] is a friend.”
In-flight skin saver “Airplane travel can be really dehydrating to the skin. To combat this, I see more and more women wearing sheet masks on long flights, so I’ve created my own treatment. I use Rodial’s Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Acid Mask all over and the Bee Venom Eye Cream around my eyes. I have new skin when I land!”
Perfecting the SoCal no-makeup makeup look “Here in LA [where Sara now lives], the look is beachy and relaxed. If you’re too perfect….it looks wrong. So, my everyday makeup is pretty simple: My skin does have a little redness so I wear some foundation most days. I typically mix Clinique Superbalanced Silk Makeup SPF 15 with Josie Maran’s Vibrancy Foundation and apply for a natural look. On my cheeks, I Iike soft, baby pinks, like MILK Makeup Stick in Swish or Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff. If I am looking tired, I tap a little luminizing cream in a champagne color, like Becca’s, on my cheekbones and the inner corners of my eyes. And I finish by using my own Lip Scrub, then swiping on one of my Lip Slip glosses.”
Her beauty vice “I have been getting eyelash extensions for years. It’s both a time and financial commitment, and I have to go every two weeks for touchups. Karla does them at Blink in LA; she’s the best. It cuts down on my daily eye makeup routine too. If I want to play up my lashes a little, I’ll apply L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara, but that’s about it.”
When she needs to take her makeup up a notch “My day-to-day makeup is pretty natural, but when I am doing a work appearance or TV, I add in a good concealer like BareMinerals Correcting Concealer, tapping it under my eyes and around my nose. I may also upgrade my foundation to Bobbi Brown’s Stick Foundation (I use Tan 4.5) for more coverage and add NARS Orgasm Blush over my Glossier Cloud Paint. For eyes, I love Sonia Kashuk’s Bronzed Beauty Eye Palette. Finally, [makeup artist] Scott Barnes just introduced me to Sephora’s Matte Tan Bronzer; it’s great, not at all orange.”
Workout mantra “I don’t want to get hurt! I don’t have time for that at this point in my life. So, even though I live in LA, and a lot of my friends will go on these amazing hikes or runs on the beach, I opt out. I stick to what I know and like: yoga at Core Power.”
Sensible eating strategy “I believe in getting very quiet and listening to what my body wants. If I am craving a steak, that’s what I will have. Sometimes I want chocolate or even apple cider donuts, and that’s ok too. But I only eat until I’m full—then I stop. When I’m at a table eating and feel the urge to sit back, that’s usually my body signaling that I’m done.”
The upside of aging “Now that I’m no longer getting Botox, when I smile, it’s a really big smile. And when I’m mad, it shows. And I like that. I like expressing myself. Expression lines show where you’ve been, who you are, and they can be a sign of a life well-lived.”