The best beauty essentials from Moda Operandi’s beauty director

Welcome to I Swear by This, a series of interviews where we chat with our favorite fashion and beauty insiders about the beauty products they use to the last drop. This week, we asked Jessica Matlin, longtime beauty editor, co-host of the Fat Mascara podcast, and recently appointed beauty director at Moda Operandi, to share all the products she’s loving right now.

If there was a beauty editor hall of fame, Jessica Matlin would have earned her place years ago. There are few people with your knowledge, experience and intuition in the industry. So it came as no surprise that Matlin was named director of beauty at Moda Operandi and tasked with launching her new beauty vertical. Her time working at publications like Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar and hosting one of the best beauty podcasts, Fat Mascara, gives the e-commerce site an undeniable edge over its competitors. “What Moda does brilliantly with fashion, home and jewelry is pick the best of the best,” he explains. “I say that with Moda you will not find everything, but you will find the best of everything. I think there’s a client who wants that and I think he certainly wants it beautifully.”

Matlin was challenged to lead the curation process prior to launch. While narrowing down the final list of products was a familiar experience, it required a slightly different approach. She was strategic in choosing the heroes and the hidden gems that could stand on their own. “What is very clear is that brands are not positioning themselves in the way that they would necessarily want to be at retailers. They want their stories to be told in a different way. They’re among 650 other brands online, so they want to be in a place where they shine, whether it’s the copy written about them, the way the pictures are taken, or just who they’re next to,” she explains. “Moda was co-founded by a former Vogue editor, so there’s a real editorial ethos there. It has been really exciting to see how Moda can serve these brands in quite a different way in the marketplace.”

Although the initial assortment of hair care, skin care, makeup, fragrance, and body care is already available on the Moda Operandi website, Matlin notes that this is just the beginning. “We’ll be adding a lot more in 2023. So expect gadgets, wellness, and going much deeper into the categories we already have,” he jokes.

So how exactly do the brands on the Matlin list do? “When it comes to newer brands, I look for a creator who really cares about what they’re doing and doesn’t feel like they’ve jumped on a trend,” he says. “I look for a founder or a brand that has credibility. Why are they in this space? Are you passionate? And if I’m testing a product, I use it consistently before suggesting it to our customers.”

Having witnessed the many ebbs and flows of the beauty space, I asked Matlin what she thought about the current state of the industry. “I’ve probably seen over a million products cross my desk and I don’t necessarily think more is more. We are at the height of beauty right now; there is so much out there,” she says. “It’s very crowded in terms of products, and there’s a lot to choose from. I don’t think there is this particular look; it’s very experimental. Personally, I’m not a fan of chasing a trend and going with it. I’m more interested in doing what works for you and giving people options.”

Below, Matlin shares some of her favorite products from the Moda Operandi selection. She details the luxury retailer’s signature iconic products, the fragrance her team is obsessed with, and the face mask that has traveled with her through many seasons of life.

Leather Petals Eau de Parfum

“This is not something that goes in my makeup bag, but it is on my desk at work and I have a bottle at home too. The name of the fragrance is very evocative. I think a lot of leather fragrances can almost smell too leathery. This is balanced by floral notes, has a bit of spice and has a soapy touch. I had it on the desk where our beauty team sits and every time we would spray it people would walk by and leave what is that?

Diet Les Fleurs

secret sauce

“Iván Pol is [the facialist behind] The Beauty Sandwich and created something called The Sauce that Moda has the exclusive on. He is a huge skincare guru and works with everyone, including our co-founder Lauren Santo Domingo. What I loved about working with him is that when he explained The Sauce to us, he said: it’s not a whey, it’s not an oil, it’s a sauce. And I was like, okay, but what is it? He said, no, it’s a sauce. It’s a whole new category in skin care. I love that kind of innovation. It moisturizes, it gives your skin nutrients, but it also gives you shine. Everyone who leaves her face bed has this amazing glow and now it’s in a bottle.”

the beauty sandwich

Triple Action Universal Daily Peeling

“I use BeautyStat Triple Action Daily Peel all the time. [The brand founder] Ron Robinson is someone I’ve been interviewing for years. He is a great cosmetic chemist, super smart and I trust everything he does. Peels are gentle and immediately leave skin feeling softer and smoother. They’re great for someone just starting out with peels, but they’re also great for skincare lovers as well.”


Enzymatic Exfoliating Mask

“I don’t know how many masks I’ve tried in my life or how many have crossed my desk, but I will always have a place for Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant. Your skin will definitely have a brighter, smoother glow, your pores will be less noticeable, and your face will feel cleaner. Do you want to see results now? Here you go, use this. And if you choose to wear makeup, it will make it softer.”

tracie martyn

Wild Star Pressed Pigment Palette

“Isamaya is definitely one of my favorite makeup artists and I think there is a lot of creativity in her collection. She is a visionary. Everything she does is theatrical and each collection is a concept through and through, which I admire. Each item feels so thoughtful and you’ll never mistake hers for anyone else’s.

“The Wild Star palette has really cool metallic colors and is inspired by a diamond rodeo. It’s very flashy, but it’s supposed to be glamorous and ironic. People are very comfortable wearing neutrals right now. This Wild Star Palette is no accident. It’s like a kick in the pants to get you out of your routine of neutrals, however you want to use it. You don’t have to go all out and put the hot pink glitter all over the lid. But what if you just rub it on the inner corners? Life is too short.”


The hand scrub

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this product becomes essential. I think you’re only supposed to use it once a day, but I’m naughty and use it multiple times. It inspires you to want to take care of yourself a little. I also like that there is kindness to the product. [The founder] she was inspired by how her grandmother took care of herself and had super soft hands. It’s almost like love is in the product, which made me feel very happy.”



“I know [the brand] It is known for skin care, but I will say that the shampoo leaves my hair feeling clearer, cleaner, and shinier. [After I tried it] I understood what the hype was about.”

Augustine Bader

Heel Renaissance Feet Mask

“Bastien is a medical pedicurist who resides in Paris. He is the most fabulous Frenchman. He travels all over the world to make people’s feet. This [foot mask] has the ingredient urea [in its formula] and it’s amazing for getting those really hard calluses on the skin.”

Reverence de Bastien

luminescent eyeshadow

“I think Chantecaille is great for sophisticated shine. They put just the right amount where you can wear the eyeshadows every day and still feel polished. It’s almost impossible to overdo it.”


Rosa Novella Bath Gel

“One of the easiest ways to make your bathroom feel good is to dress it up with beautiful products. Santa Maria Novella has the most amazing packaging and the fragrances are amazing. This is a brand that is over 800 years old, speaking of credibility. Also, if you want to give something to someone, nothing is more impressive than appearing with a soap opera from Santa Maria Novella”.

Santa Maria Novella

The renewal mask

“I don’t like hair masks that you have to wear for a long time because who has time? I put this on for a few minutes and then I’m fine. It definitely makes a difference because my hair can be quite frizzy. [This formula] it is not very thick; you can comb it through and rinse it out very quickly and it is very easy to use.”

crown affair