Writer Durga Chew-Bose on the Beauty of a $12 Black Eyeliner

In the head-spinning age of multistep skin-care routines and mic-drop makeup launches, The One is a space for minimalists to sound off on the single beauty product that’s found a longtime spot in their carefully curated routines.

For many, a whittled-down cosmetics regimen, consisting of only perfectly photographable one-stop creams and do-it-all tints, is an attempt at aesthetic virtuousness; for the writer and Ssense editor Durga Chew-Bose, who experienced a particularly brutal bout of eczema as a child, a three-step skin-care and makeup routine is not an “I can’t be bothered” pretense, but rather, simply as much as she can handle in the beauty department. “I became someone who just doesn’t like stuff on my face, doesn’t like trying new products,” the 35-year-old explains. Now, “if something works, I stick with it loyally.” 

Such is the case with her go-to Avène milky cleanser and moisturizer (she’s been using them for years), as well as a drugstore eyeliner, which she first picked up at a Pharmaprix after moving back to Montreal in 2017 to finish her debut collection of essays, Too Much and Not the Mood. “It’s not a fancy cube. It’s nothing new or inventive. It has no eyeliner technology…. It’s a black pencil and I know exactly what it does,” she says. “I think part of [the draw] is that it feels a bit anonymous. I’m not getting anything that’s been prescribed to me or suggested to me by anyone else. It’s nothing that I read about and then had to get. It’s just my own thing that I use for myself.”

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