A veteran magazine beauty editor/writer (and a member of the 40+ club), Genevieve Monsma created MediumBlonde to help Gen Xers and Baby Boomers age the way they want.


What Works: Amanda McIntosh

What Works: Amanda McIntosh

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 (really) works.

Amanda McIntosh, founder and CEO of  Take My Face Off

Amanda McIntosh, founder and CEO of Take My Face Off

Today's Insider: Amanda McIntosh, 46, founder of Take My Face Off reusable cleansing cloths

Amanda has always been into makeup and skincare but, until recently, never considered making a career out of it. For decades, she pursued another passion: classical music. She attended music schools in New York and Chicago, played the clarinet with an orchestra in Spain, and worked gigs in the LA area (where she now lives). It was, in fact, after one of her L.A. concerts, that Amanda’s reusable cleansing cloth idea was born. She arrived home in stage-appropriate makeup...and realized all of her washcloths were dirty.

Annoyed, and not in the mood to do laundry, Amanda wished for a makeup-removing cloth that didn’t require constant laundering. (Buying disposable cloths or cotton pads was not an option as she believes all that waste is bad for the environment.) So, she decided to come up with one of her own…

Over the next year, Amanda tested hundreds of fabrics (soft not scratchy was the mantra), took up pattern making and sewing, and researched what materials would be most sustainable. Eventually she settled on velvety-soft “mitts” or Mittys, as she calls them, which users can slip their fingers or hands inside (pot-holder-style), then wipe over their faces to remove makeup and grime. To solve the frequent-laundering dilemma, Amanda also decided to package the Mittys in sets so you never run short. There are three in the larger Mitty set called the Makeup Mitty (intended for the whole face) and five in the smaller size set called the Mitty Blackout (intended for eye makeup removal), below right. To facilitate cleansing, Amanda also added fresh Apricot Kernel Oil to the collection, as she believes it is the gentlest, most effective natural cleanser for all skin types.

The  Mitty Blackout  is just right for removing eye makeup.

The Mitty Blackout is just right for removing eye makeup.

Shortly after its inception, Sephora discovered Amanda’s Mittys at a beauty trade show and proposed to collaborate with her on an exclusive Sephora Collection Black Magic (though it's pink!) Eye Makeup Remover Cloth. And that's how Take My Face Off started to, well, take off.

So, what has Amanda’s career switch from musician to beauty entrepreneur taught her? For starters, she looks good in pink hair. "I always wanted to experiment with my hair color but couldn't pull it off in the more conservative classical music world," she says. Founding Take My Face Off has also helped her pick up lots of new beauty tips, tricks and products recs; being part of a supportive beauty entrepreneur community has its advantages. Lucky for us, she's willing to share.

Why she stopped using traditional cleansers “I have oily skin and spent years using strong cleansers in an effort to strip away excess sebum. But then a functional nutritionist who's also a friend introduced me to the idea of cleansing with oil. The way she explained it was that oil removes makeup and dirt but never strips the skin. And it's the stripping that causes your skin to overproduce sebum. Once I started using oil rather than harsh cleansers, my skin improved immediately. This is why I added Apricot Kernel Oil to my line; I think everyone should give oil cleansing a try.”

The eye product she doesn’t want to live without “Eyelid primer is a must for me. My eyelids can become slick, and eye makeup often smudges and smears. So I use a primer every day to minimize movement. My favorite is Tarte’s Lid Lock.”

The reason she says no to glow “I wear tinted moisturizer most days but avoid any that say they boost radiance or add a glow. To me, that means they have light-reflecting particles that make my skin look greasy and that can sink into and magnify my pores. Laura Mercier’s Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 is what I am using right now."

How she prevents raccoon eyes “My eyelid primer does help prevent mascara smearing, but I also choose my mascara formulas carefully. I’ve found MAC False Lashes and Lancome Hypnose Drama stay put the best.”

When less equals less (in a good way) “Switching to an oil for face washing and just generally being gentler and kinder to my acne-prone skin—rather than loading up on pimple-fighting products—has decreased my breakouts. I think it's probably because my skin is less irritated and inflamed.”

Her dry-lip obsession “My skin might be oily, but my lips are dry and flakey. My lip skin is constantly sloughing off so I have a hard time wearing regular lipstick because the color exposes the flakes and cracks. What works best for me is Bite Beauty's Lip Mask. I think I have ten tubes and they live in many places: my pockets, my purse, my car. They provide a little tint and are so moisturizing. They are technically an overnight treatment but I use them daily.”

Her simple evening skincare strategy “I just use Retin-A .05% mixed with Intelligent Nutrients Renewing Oil Serum. The Serum Oil seems to make my skin calmer and more vibrant, and the scent is addictive.”

Why she quit concealer “Traditional concealers look okay when I first apply them but they eventually became crepey and settle into lines. So I’ve sworn them off. Now I just use a little YSL Touche Eclat under my eyes to brighten the area, and because the formula is so light, it never cakes.”

The reason she skips dry-shampoo “Dry shampoos don’t really work on very short hair because they can gum it up and make hair look dirtier. On days I don’t shampoo, I usually just rinse my hair well with water or douse it from a spray bottle and reshape it.”

Best eyeliner for sensitive types “I like a long-wear eyeliner because they last on my oily eyelids, but many long-lasting formulas also make my eyes sting. Eyeko's Skinny Liquid Liner is the exception; it endures and is gentle.”

Her better-brow secret “I use eye shadows from Smashbox and Chanel, rather than so-called brow powders, to fill in my brows. I find eye shadows have more pigment which makes them easier to apply, and they don't fade.”

How she feels about her neck “My neck is paler than my face so the tinted moisturizer I use on my face doesn’t work below my jawline. Instead, I use a separate, slightly fairer stick foundation from Hourglass, applied sparingly with a brush to even out any blotchiness.”

What she thinks about green beauty “I’m not worried about what is in each individual product, but the cumulative effect of applying them over years does concern me. So, I try to sub in more natural products whenever I can.”

Amanda with her husband Christopher Still at an  IPSY  beauty community event.

Amanda with her husband Christopher Still at an IPSY beauty community event.

Why she loves the beauty biz “In the classical music world, there is a specific way to look and to play. And it makes sense. For an orchestra to sound great, one-hundred musicians must be in sync. But in the beauty industry there is no one right way. There are lots and lots of good idea...and maybe just a few bad ones. Since I started Take My Face Off, I've learned that I am more creative and resourceful and resilient than I ever knew, and I am having an absolute ball.”

How she’s learned to take risks “Switching careers allowed me to change my image. When I turned my hair bright pink, it was this crazy, enlightening thing. I don’t care if people stare because I love it. I've also always wanted to wear an edgier, rocker style but had tone it down for my music career. No longer. Since I started working in beauty, I've cut my hair short, dyed it and can now dress any way I want.”

How aging has benefited her “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to like myself. I am learning to delight in the way I look and I now understand that being conventionally pretty is not the admissions price to a happy life."

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