A couple of weeks ago, Bustle dubbed Katie Sturino “The Gwyneth Paltrow of Underboob Sweat,” which is a brilliant epithet that’s impossible to beat, so we won’t even try. The former publicist, blogger, podcast host, and founder of the skincare brand Megababe has built a career—and a devoted audience—on speaking candidly, practically, and empathetically about things that most are too afraid or ashamed to address, even in their own heads. Her first book, Body Talk, is an actionable guide to ridding oneself of negative self-talk and the idea that the shape of your body has anything to do with your worth as a human being. It’s part memoir, part manual—peppered with prompts and space for reflection, as well as anecdotes about her own journey to body acceptance. The biggest takeaway? “It’s that we’re wasting our time,” Sturino says. “We have a limited time here to do whatever we want, and women spend entirely too much time thinking about their bodies and doing things—or not doing things—based on their self-perception.” What’s left when you liberate yourself from “the hamster wheel of body hate,” as Sturino puts it, is a whole lot of mental space you can fill with creativity, productivity, or simply a renewed ability to enjoy your life more thoroughly. That’s something we could all use a whole lot more of.
For W’s Beauty Notes column, Sturino shares her thoughts on lasers, lipstick shades, and the big-budget tools and products that (unfortunately) really work.
What sort of self-care practice do you turn to when you feel like you need a confidence boost?
I meditate often, even if it’s just for two minutes. It helps me reset when I’m getting into an anxious spiral. I also really like clothes and I love to put something on that makes me feel cute and put together; I very much express myself through clothing. Another thing—and it sounds like an Instagram meme, but I love a face mask and a bath. That really resets you down back to zero.
Any particular face masks you’re into right now?
I like the Tata Harper Clarifying Mask—the green one, for resurfacing. I also do our Le Tush mask, which is just a very powerful facial-grade mask for your butt: I do it on my face, my chest, my arms, and my butt, and that smooths me out. And for bath salts—because I do use bath salts, so I’m going to tell you about it—I love the Equilibria Balance Bomb. I also like the Goop detox bath salts.
If you had to narrow down all of your skincare and beauty and makeup products, what would be the one thing you couldn’t live without?
On my face or in my life? In my life, it’s the Megababe Thigh Rescue Stick. Because I could quit my whole skincare routine, but I can’t walk outside in the spring, summer, and early fall months without my Megababe Thigh Rescue. If you want to keep it to the face, it’s the Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream. And also—this is something I didn’t want to like, because, you know, sometimes when something’s really expensive and you’re like, This is clearly going to be a hoax, but I actually really do love—the La Prairie serum, the double-sided caviar one.
Walk me through your usual daily skincare and makeup routine. What’s your wake-up-and-go ritual?
If I’ve done my proper skincare routine at night, I just wake up and go into makeup, which is controversial, probably. We can start with the nighttime routine: So, let’s assume I’m doing one of those self-care nights where I’m doing the green mask or Le Tush. Then, I'm going to go into this serum, then The Rich Cream, and the Tata Harper under eye balm. I like to seal it all in with the Orquídea + Vitamin C face oil from Joaquina Botanica.
Any face wash you like to use?
I like the Holifrog Acid Wash, and the Tata Harper Exfoliating Cleanser—another one that I thought couldn’t be good because it was natural and expensive. So I was like, This is nothing, and then it was good!
How about your morning routine?
I get right into it: It’s a toothbrush, and then it’s my under eye. I do the under eye concealer from Clé de Peau. Very into Stila’s glitter eye shadows right now—I’m rarely without a glitter lid. And I just started using the mascara from this brand Grande. Apparently they have a growth serum that actually works, and I do really like it. I always do an eye liner; I use the Clé de Peau liner and then I brush my eyebrows up with one of two different things: Sometimes I use the Etude soap thing, other times I do the Kosas clear gel.
Is there a technique or a product that you’ve learned about now that you wish you had known about when you were 18? Any advice for your younger self?
See, I’m very torn about investing in powerful skincare when you’re young, because I don’t know that it makes a difference on young skin. I would say look into what’s in your beauty products, and I would tell someone to wear sunscreen all the time. Even now, I’m guilty of not wearing it enough, but I do slather it on my 22-year-old assistant. I was very bad with my skin and the sun in my twenties, but I think overall, I did okay. Is that even real advice?
I think it’s always good advice!
The truth is, though, that needles really makes a big difference. I did start getting Botox when I was 27 years old. Preventative Botox was not even very widely discussed at that point, but I heard that when you have resting lines on your forehead, that’s when you know that you’re eligible for Botox, so you can freeze your face wherever it is: My 27-year-old face is still here, in my mind. But I also think it’s a dangerous thing to advise, because you’ve got 24-year-olds being like, “Is it time for Botox?” And I'm like, “I don’t think so.”
It’s tricky. But I do think if it’s a priority and it’s in your budget, then… it’s a thing.
Yes. This was absolutely more than I could even afford at the time, for sure. And I would only do it once a year, because I figured if I were frozen for three months of the year, that was helping, putting something toward the cause.
I’m 30, and I feel like it’s becoming something people my age have started to talk about much more openly. Another thing I feel like everyone's starting to get very curious about is lasers.
I’m big into lasers. I started splitting my time in between Palm Beach and New York now. I spent the winter in Palm Beach, so my skin got a considerable amount of sun damage, even though I wore sunscreen. So, I just had the Lutronic laser done that takes off your pigmentation, and it was crazy. All the sunspots I had are gone. I also just did MD Ultra—it goes really deep into your skin, so you have to take drugs to do it. It’s a laughing gas or a pill situation. It takes three months to have those results show up, but it’s meant to be lifting and firming. I only go big on those lasers—I think things like at-home light machines have good intentions behind them, but I’m not sure how powerful they can really be. I’m a results person.
What would be your ideal spa day and where?
God, can I have it right now? I’m very loyal to my facialist Karen at Sia’s Beauty in New York. She’s worked in a couple other places. She worked out of her home. She's an immigrant, and she does the absolute best, I call them maintenance facials, because she does great extractions, very carefully. I’ve been seeing her for 12 years and I’ve gotten facials all over the place and I still come back to Karen every time for my basic facials. I’ve been lucky enough to see Joanna Czech two times and both times I was like, This must be what Jennifer Aniston feels like.
What is it about Joanna’s technique that you feel really makes a difference?
She’s got a lot of toys, and she does a really great massage that feels like it’s doing something technical and lymphatic. She’s up in your business, pulling your things and doing these slaps. There are some things to be said about what she does and the way she lives. I don’t even think she believes in Botox—she’s just all about her facial techniques.
I do think that the facial massage thing is not to be underestimated.
It’s something that I’ve been looking to get into more. Laura Kaiser, the woman who does my eyebrows, also does these facial massages. She’ll always post before and afters on her Instagram and I’m like, “Okay, well, that did work!”
Do you have a favorite shade of lipstick?
Westman Atelier lip suede in Les Rouges, and Clé de Peau’s sheer lipstick, which is more like a tinted balm.
Any haircare products you can’t live without?
I put the Rita Hazan Shine Balm on the ends of my hair. That makes a difference when I’m styling, because it gives my hair some weight at the ends, which helps it be more beach-y. And I wish I didn’t love my Dyson Airwrap, but I now do my own hair and my hair was my biggest struggle zone. So, that has been a big help for me; although they are very expensive, again. But I’m someone who was having a glam squad come and I then was like, “Girl, we can't afford this life.” So, I invested in that.
Any other tools that you feel like make a serious difference?
Yes, just in the hair removal category. I’ve had my whole body lasered, but my mustache will not go away. It comes back stronger and stronger every year—just won’t quit me! And I’ve started to actually use one of those Revlon de-fuzzer razors. People use them for face fuzz, and I started doing that, too. And I was like, I don’t know if I’m a YouTube blogger now, but I’m doing this. I’ve switched from waxing to that, and eventually I hope to get not lasered, but the other one.
That’s the one. I bought a package and I went two times and then I never went back for multiple reasons, including the pandemic. So, I gotta get back to it.