When It Comes to Skincare, Andy Baraghani Trusts His Gut

The author of The Cook You Want to Be shares his pared-down, instinctive beauty routine.

The chef and writer Andy Baraghani sitting at a restaurant table with his hand to his cheek
Andy Baraghani photographed by Graydon Herriot.

“People think I’m a fussy person,” Andy Baraghani writes in his just-published cookbook, The Cook You Want to Be. “And I am fussy about how my T-shirts fit, playlists for long car rides, and my skincare routine. But when it comes to cooking, my tools are relatively minimal.” He goes on to list the supplies he does recommend for a well-stocked kitchen (sharp knives, a Microplane grater, and a mortar and pestle among them), but you won’t find any of the famously glow-y chef and writer’s thoughts on exfoliation or eye cream anywhere in the book’s beautifully photographed, thoughtfully instructive pages. So we asked him. Here, Baraghani gets into his lifelong commitment to sunscreen, the product he started incorporating into his routine in his 30s, and his thoughts on how wellness and food are connected.

We only include products that have been independently selected by W’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Tell me a bit about what inspired you to write a cookbook, and why you decided to approach it in the way that you did—not only does it feel like a very personal project, but the format is very loose, welcoming, and conversational.

I grew up in a first-generation American home—my parents are from Iran—and we ate at home most nights of the week. Both of my parents worked, but my mother still somehow managed to prepare all of our meals from scratch. I had this very innate, very early love for food—it was just this sheer joy, how flavors satisfied me and my senses. When I was a teenager, I became more curious about learning how to cook and going deeper into the ingredients and techniques, which led me to working in restaurants, and then eventually into food media. I always knew that I wanted to write a book about the lessons I’ve learned thus far as a cook.

I think a lot of cookbooks can be very assertive, like, “This is how you do something. This is the right way.” For me, cooking has never been so much of a right and wrong, but a process that continues to evolve. The message I want to communicate to the reader is to stay curious and to expand: Expand your collection of ingredients, your ideas of flavor combinations and cuisine. Once you do that, I promise you, the worst thing that can happen is that you might burn something—but you will learn something!

How would you describe your style of cooking?

It’s vegetable forward. It includes some meat and seafood, but not too much. And I try to incorporate a lot of different acids, through vinegars and citrus. Plenty of herbs (maybe too many for some people), nuts, and seeds. And I try to be really thoughtful about the food I make. It should make you feel good. I would never say my food is health food, because it definitely is not. I’m happy to use animal fat, and there’s definitely a dessert chapter, but I try to make each dish feel thoughtful and alive.

How connected, in your mind, are food and wellness?

When I first started working in restaurant kitchens, wellness was not in my vocabulary by any means. But now, food and wellness are very much entangled for me. I think food should make you feel good while you’re preparing it, while you’re eating it, and afterwards.

You write in the book that you’re fussy about certain things, and that one of those things is your skincare routine. When did you first start making that a priority?

I grew up with a lot of incredible, beautiful, smart, powerful women in my life. My mother is an aesthetician, and I was always enamored by her and my older sister’s routines. The first thing I learned from my mother early on was the importance of sunscreen: We lived in California, and she was adamant about always putting it on our faces and bodies. By age 18 or 19, I started to incorporate cleanser, eye cream and moisturizer. And in the years since then, I’ve had a routine that has ranged from very, very complex to very, very simple. I definitely try to change things up here and there—maybe it’s something about being a New Yorker, but I never want to stay stagnant. When you’re stagnant, that's when bad things happen. Your skin gets used to the products and it stops reacting the same way.

What does your routine look like right now?

Like a lot of people, I’ve fallen for Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen. I like that it doesn’t leave any streaks or get any white spots stuck in my beard. I also like Elta MD. I use sea buckthorn oil as a cleanser, just with cotton pads and warm water, only at night. When I used to wash my face twice a day, I just felt like there was nothing I could do, no amount of water I could drink to keep it hydrated. Now it feels a lot more balanced. I use Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50 maybe every other day. And when it comes to hydration, the Augustinus Bader soothing cream is great. I use it at night, and sometimes I’ll add a few drops of Costa Brazil face oil on top. For eyes, I use a Tata Harper eye cream. For lips, I use Aquaphor or Dr. Hauschka—I love their old school tub of balm. And one thing that I’ve incorporated in my thirties is a little bit of concealer when I feel a little puffy or sleep deprived. I use the Givenchy Mister Instant Corrective Pen, because it really is the best, and it’s very easy to use.

Are there any treatments or products you use once in a while if you feel like you need to go a bit deeper?

I haven’t done any laser treatments, but I’ve used prescription retinol for a long time now, and it really works. And masks. I have so many masks, I actually don’t even let my partner see the extent of it—I’ve played with a lot of different brands over the years, but I tend to go back to the Biologique Recherche Masque Vivant.

Do you have any beauty tools or devices that you like to use?

I’ve played with different kinds of sculpting bars, and lately I’ve been using the one from Shen Beauty. But I’d say the tool that I use the most is my hands. I love to give myself a good facial massage, especially around the brow bone. I try to emulate what my aesthetician at Rescue Spa does when I go in for a facial—always lifting and pulling upwards.

Would you say you have an overall philosophy when it comes to the way you approach skincare?

I treat my skin the way I treat my gut. That is, I really try to listen to it. There’s definitely a routine, but you don’t always need the same thing at the same time every day. Sometimes you need an extra layer of moisturizer, or to skip a cleanse because you’re feeling dry. Sometimes you need to reset and eat a plate of steamed greens, and sometimes you need to stir some extra fat into a dish to make it work. I am far from perfect. But I think we’re all trying to get as close to that good place as we can.