Interview With Kristine Rose (MUA, Esthetician & Writer)

How did you become an esthetician and a make-up artist? Who are your usual clients? What is your credo as a service provider? Any fun stories to tell about your experience? 

I started getting seriously into make-up in high school where I would practice on friends. I was into the NYC music scene for a while, so seeing friends’ bands play was a good opportunity to practice some louder nighttime looks and be creative. A few of my friends are models and photographers, so we often collaborate for photoshoots, magazines, and commercials. I'm part of a Facebook make-up community called Cosmic Cosmetic Collective and there are some really great inspiring looks and people on there. 

I graduated from Aveda Institute as an esthetician, so I have that skin-care background. I had some hormonal issues a few years ago and my skin kind of freaked out and it was horrible--thankfully I got it under control, but it really made me want to learn all I could and help people. 

As a service provider, I really just want to help you become your best self. I used to be obsessed with that What Not to Wear show, and there were a lot of great tips on it, but at the end of the episode everyone just sort of looked homogenous and like a very specific version of what style was supposed to be, and I don't so much love that. I think you can make any look work as long as you really commit. I don't just want to mold my clients into my specific vision, I really want to help them find themselves in a way that's authentic. I'm not a huge fan of this whole Kardashian-Instagram make-up trend where everyone's contoured within an inch of their lives and all the eyebrows are done a specific way and the lips are done a specific way. If that's genuinely how you want to look, go for it, but it's not gonna be what's comfortable for most people. I've got to a point now with my make-up where I know what works and I know what I like and it feels like sort of a second skin, so I think that's the goal. 

I don't know that I have any specifically fun stories, though I do have a good time on shoots. I do have a sort of ironic story though. I did some make-up for fashion week one year, and I thought it was going to be this super-glamorous thing, but we ended up working in this dusty basement and it was like 100 degrees and the make-up was literally melting off people as I was applying it. I remember getting all dressed up for it and at the end of the night I was a sweaty mess, but it was a lot of fun. I just like to be a part of something. 


You’ve written and published really cool and edgy beauty tips from how to ombre your hair in the public bathroom to what make up you can wear to look like an awesome alien sexpot. When did you start writing? Any writing projects you’re currently working on?  

I started writing about 3-4 years ago. I was reading a lot of fashion blogs and I was like let me try this, so I started a little blog. I was super into XOJane at that time and their beauty content, and I really wanted to write for them, but it seemed a little lofty because I had only been blogging for a month or so. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping so I was taking Ambien a lot, and one morning I just woke up to an email from Jane Pratt whom I had apparently emailed directly the night before which I had no memory of, and I had laid it all out there and was like, "I have no experience I only have enough nerve to pitch to you because I'm on Ambien but I love your site, and here's a sample of my writing and you should give me a chance." And she did! She was really cool about it. And I've been writing for various publications since. I like Ambien Kristine, she's cool, she gets shit done. One time I woke up with really cool bangs. But yeah, my career was sort of an accident, so I'm just trying to go with it. 

Right now I'm writing for Already Pretty blog and Luna Luna Magazine. I just tried that online dermatology thing, Curology, and I'm having a really good time with it, so I'm working on something about that. It's really convenient. I was living in Massachusetts for a bit and I just moved to Philly, and so my insurance situation is in a sort of purgatory right now, and this has been such an easy, seamless way to continue caring for my skin. 


Your essays Dear Dudes: Stop Telling Me Not to Wear Lipstick and Self Objectification, Kim K., and the Power of Not Giving a F*ck are very powerful. Too many times other men--and women--want to control what’s best for our bodies, and if we show "too much," we are bad "role models." How do you call those people out? What can you suggest for people to stand up for themselves, and others?

I think you just have to sort of get to a point where you don't give the opinions of others too much weight. That seems to be a real problem in our society these days, giving other people so much power, but when you really think about it...I mean, they're just some person! What do they really know about what's good for you? I have an opinion on EVERYTHING, but I don't think it actually matters, like people should take it so seriously. I'm just some girl. If someone has something negative to say to me I will usually just say I like whatever it is that I'm doing, and I really don't care what they think. But you can't just say it, you have to really believe it.

I think it's more important what you do after the negative interaction than what you actually say. Not everyone is going to be comfortable saying, "Hey, fuck you!" to somebody, and that's ok. What matters is that you don't alter yourself or anything you're doing based on the opinions of others. It's understandable to be upset, it's an upsetting thing, but what's most important is not internalizing it. So the next time you go to wear those shorts or that top or that lip color you don't have second thoughts. It honestly will make me do it more. I'm a contrary person--if I'm wearing a dark red lip and someone is like, "That lipstick is too dark!" the next time I see them I'll wear black. There are a million ways to stand up for yourself without saying a word, just being persistently yourself. I have so much respect for anyone who challenges norms and does what's true to them, whether that's wearing stripper heels and glitter or a burkini. 


In your essay Exterior Decorating: Depersonalization and Beauty you wrote, "For someone as extroverted and social as I am, a surprising amount of life is still lived completely in my head. I would be more comfortable as a brain in a jar. Most times my body feels like a clunky afterthought to drag around, an obligation." That’s how I feel oftentimes! I sometimes wish to get out of my body and float as consciousness or exist as my head only. How can one recognize Depersonalization in themselves? You’ve found your own way to deal with it, what else can others do to better cope?

It might not be the same for everyone, but for me it's just this feeling of being a step removed from life. I'm never really "in the moment," and it can feel like I'm watching the events of my life unfold as a spectator. I've had episodes where I felt completely like a zombie and it was terrifying because I didn't know what was going on. Now that I have a frame of reference it's less scary and more frustrating because there are times I really wish I could be more present. I just sort of tell myself ok, this is what's happening and it will pass. I do experience it to some degree pretty much all of the time, but there are positives too. I mean when it's a stress response it's there for a reason and to protect you. I think it helps me be more objective and make better decisions because I'm less overwhelmed by emotion than others. If I could completely get rid of it tomorrow, I'm not really sure that I would, it's a part of who I am at this point and I think I would feel far too vulnerable otherwise.

I will say that if you've been taking a new medication, especially an SSRI or benzodiazepine, and you've only had this symptom recently, it may be an issue with that drug. Doctors aren't always so quick to accept that that's what's going on, but if the timelines really add up, I would look into a medication change. Some people are just prone to it as a stress response, but it can coincide with medication, so that's something to think about. For me it's pretty much here to stay to some degree. I'm also neuro-atypical and am starting to be pretty sure I'm on the autism spectrum, so my experience feels pretty singular sometimes. I have a really hard time relating to people in certain ways because my brain just works differently, but it's been helpful to sort of be able to put a name to the things I've struggled with my whole life. Sometimes that's half the battle, just to be able to say, "This is real, this is legitimate, there's a reason I'm having these difficulties." That's a powerful thing, 


I just want to say your essay Girl Talk: I Did Everything Wrong, But Still Found Love rocks! There’s no wrong way to find love, it’s bound to happen. Especially if you’re being your complete authentic self, you get to rule out those who aren’t looking for the same things, those who won’t put up with all your features at your first rendezvous (or ever). I wish more people would let their guards off and be honest with each other.

Aw thank you! I just honestly wouldn't want to be with someone whom I had to watch myself around. I just moved in with Sean, my partner of almost 7 years, and people keep asking me if there's anything surprising we've learned about each other cohabitating, and there really isn't! We have sort of put it all on the table since day one, so there are no skeletons in that closet. I feel like striving to be the best version of yourself should be something you do every day, not something you reserve for first dates, or the first six months of a relationship, because then you're really laying a faulty foundation.

In a good relationship you should both always be working on yourselves. My good friend who's a therapist calls it being your "higher self," like most divorced from the id. The part of yourself that is motivated by your moral compass. And I think that if you're making big decisions within your relationship you should always be doing it with this higher self, and not let things get petty. But to do that you really need to be able to be honest with yourself. A lot of people say things like, "You can't love someone else until you love yourself," and I don't know about all that, but you really can't be honest with someone else until you're honest with yourself. I would even go so far as to say you probably shouldn't be looking for a relationship until you are honest with yourself. And if you are, you're not going to have a lot to hide. The other part a lot of people don't seem to grasp is how little is really at stake on a first date. You don't even know this person, if they think badly of you what does that even mean? Take risks, you really have nothing to lose. 


Tell us more about yourself! What do you like to do for fun? What do you care about in your life? What are your favorite movies/books/games/whatever? What are your favorite quotes? What calms you down/builds you up?

Oh gosh, the what do you do for fun question. I never know how to answer that, because the real answer is very dull. I'm not an activity person! When I lived in Northampton and I didn't know many people, I would look at the community bulletin boards for something to do and they all involved yoga or dirt so I was like, "I'm out." I like to write, obviously. Well I'm not sure I really enjoy the process of writing, it can be kind of excruciating. I enjoy having written! I enjoy shopping too much. I like to have a change of scenery, but I really just want to sit somewhere, have a cup of tea, and talk to someone. I like to do boring and repetitive things with fascinating people. I like to take long walks to nowhere while listening to music. I like to watch TV. I know...but TV has come a long way. I would really consider a lot of shows art. The amount of detail and work that goes into them amazes me. I'm very into Mr. Robot right now. But really my most favorite thing is to talk, in a really in-depth and intimate way. People endlessly fascinate me. They're so different and they're so fucked up in these delightfully unique ways that you kind of piece together like a puzzle during the duration of your relationship. I like to analyze things, to really vivisect someone's brain...ok that sounds a little dark. I like to collect make-up and nail polish and organize it in new and exciting ways. I love reading about skin care and learning more. This is my first time having my own apartment, so I want to do artsy things to it. I want to be one of those obnoxious Pinterest people. It sounds like a nice life. I like to decorate--my apartment, myself, someone else, whatever. 

What I care about most in life is honestly being a good friend. I feel like that's a really important thing. You can change lives by just being a good friend. I've had some great friends who have got me through a lot, so I feel a sort of responsibility to pay it forward. I want to help people. Life is so hard, if I've had a bad experience and I can talk someone else through it or spare them from it, how can I not do that? I mean a whole lot of life is kind of shit, so making it as bearable as possible for the people you love matters a lot. I want more than anything to understand--well, anything. I think as a culture we spend way too much time condemning and not enough time understanding. Even if something is inherently bad, understanding how it came to be that way is invaluable. My partner and I care a lot about community--surrounding ourselves with other creative people is a priority. We're living together right now, but sharing at least some common space with close friends is a plan for the future. 

My favorite movie is Only Lovers Left Alive--there's just something so familiar about it. The characters feel like real people...uh, I mean vampires. Real vampires. The set and costume design is so rich and detailed. There's a subtlety to it, that's something I like in films and performances, a sense of restraint. Some other films I've really enjoyed were High Rise, What We Do in the Shadows, The Big Lebowski, Blue Velvet, and Videodrome, I'm not sure what I would consider my favorite book, but the book that made the biggest impact on me was House of Leaves. It has its flaws for sure, but I have never been so viscerally unsettled. The first time I read it was senior year of high school, which was admittedly a weird time in my life anyway, but it was an experience. I need to read more fiction--I feel like I read mostly articles lately. My favorite bands are Massive Attack, Swans, The Knife, Curve, Portishead, and Grimes. My favorite quote is by Warsan Shire: "You tried to change, didn't you? Closed your mouth more, tried to be softer, prettier, less volatile, less awake...You can't make homes out of human beings. Someone should have already told you that." To unwind I really just like walking aimlessly while listening to music or taking a bath with a Lush bath bomb and an overpriced candle. 



Kristine Rose is a make-up artist and esthetician. She lives in Philadelphia with her partner Sean and an excessive collection of nail polish. Stalk her on social media @vanityarchitect on Instagram and on Facebook, or email her