A (Hectic) Day in the Life of a Top Beauty Executive

A+ skincare products and a whole lot of video calls abound.

patrice varni
(Image credit: Courtesy of Patrice Varni)

On the day that Dermstore Chief Marketing Officer Patrice Varni was supposed to record her day-in-the-life diary, she had a very important event to attend...virtually. Marie Claire’s annual Power Trip—normally a weekend-long conference that brings influential women from all over the country together—was being held, like most things these days, on Zoom.

Deemed the Power On conference, the celebrity-hosted video event held on October 8th featured female leaders from a wide range of industries. Varni, who helms one of the top digital beauty retailers in the country, was tapped to moderate a panel on Wellness and Work. Get a little peek inside the life of the seriously busy, super successful beauty executive below.

6:30 a.m. Varni, who lives in Chicago but is about to make a big move to California, wakes up with her mind buzzing with excitement. Her pre-game strategy: “I have a cup of green jasmine tea in my favorite little nook by a window. Then I do a guided meditation on meeting the day with energy and flexibility.”

morning cup of tea

A morning cup of tea to start the day.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Patrice Varni)

7:00 a.m. She fits in a four-mile run followed by a few minutes of stretching and a warm shower, which she calls “a quiet moment of joy.”

8:20 a.m. She starts the most crucial part of her morning routine. “I've become more hyper-focused on my skin in the age of Zoom.” Plus, for the panel, she says, “I want to feel my best and really be in that moment as opposed to worrying if my face is shiny!”

So what does the CMO of a beauty retailer known for its dermatologist-curated selection of top-notch skincare actually use on her face? “I wash with iS Clinical Cleansing Complex —it doesn’t make my face too dry or tight. Then I use SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, a serum formulated for oily breakout-prone skin like mine that leaves you glowy and helps even out the skin tone.” Next, she adds a layer of Eminence Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer to “moisturize without making my skin slick,” and she adds SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Cream, which she calls “energizing.”

She finishes with the EltaMD UV Clear Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF, which not only keeps her skin safe with SPF 46 (important, as skin cancer runs in her family), it provides light coverage so it doubles as her tinted moisturizer. She keeps the rest of her makeup light with a swipe of mascara and a lipstick pencil that closely matches her lip tone. Finally, she gets dressed in the outfit she picked out the night before: A nice blouse and, because she'll only be visible from the waist up on her meetings, a simple pair of jeans.

The Morning Skincare Routine

9:00 a.m. A marathon of back-to-back Zoom calls begins. In a time crunch, she eats her breakfast while she works. On the menu today: egg bites and the very healthy choice of an a.m. side salad, plus coffee. For a day when she hasn't been able to prep her own homemade eggs, she reaches for Vital Farms pasture-raised egg bites, which only take 60 seconds to microwave. And as for that hit of caffeine? "I mostly do green tea, but when I indulge in coffee, it’s a little bit of cold brew, a lot of macadamia nut milk, and a few drops of vanilla extract—on ice."

12:00 p.m. Her unrelenting meeting schedule continues and she doesn’t have time to break for lunch, but she doesn’t mind. “With the panel coming up, there’s a mini vacation built into my day.” So far, she's had a one-on-one meeting with her chief of staff and another one with Dermstore's CIO focused on 2021 planning.

I jump in—always with the goals of being me, learning from others, and having fun.

2:30 p.m. She finishes a creative meeting about bringing the Dermstore brand to life across digital channels and a weekly business update with her boss before unplugging to prep mentally for the event, nibbling on tangerine slices and almonds to keep her energy up.

"[Before a big event] our amazing team briefs me on who’s in the audience, what they care about, how we connect, and what a good event will look like for all involved. Then I spend 30 minutes before it begins focusing on the conversation, on the prep work the team has gathered, and on calming my mind. And then I jump in—always with the goals of being me, learning from others, and having fun."

3:00 p.m. The conference starts, kicking off with Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Sally Holmes leading a chat with author and comedian Phoebe Robinson. Next up was a keynote speech about the importance of fostering mental health. Then, journalist Joy Reid opens up about building a career with so few role models in her field that looked like her. “It was all so motivating and inspiring. The energy was great,” says Varni.

power on 2020

The conference kicks off.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Patrice Varni)

4:25 p.m. Time to separate into smaller groups for the breakout chats, including Varni’s panel on Wellness and Work. She leads a conversation on how the group is finding balance amid the struggles of this year. A woman who heads a medical company talks about how they checked in with their employees. “They asked, ‘What is it you need? Childcare? Mental health help? A cleaning service?’ It’s so inspiring that they were listening to what their employees really needed,” says Varni.

4:55 p.m. Back to the main stage for more speakers, like TikTok’s interim global head Vanessa Pappas. Barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln leads an exercise involving stretching into a “power pose” with arms extended out like a starfish. Varni follows along even though, she laughs, “My neighbor is raking leaves outside my window looking at me, confused.”

5:15 p.m. She jumps off for more Zoom calls before more speakers take the stage. Varni is disappointed, but knows her team needs her. Her calls go through much of the evening.

8:00 p.m. Dinner time. She has chicken and veggies with an arugula salad.

9:00 p.m. She finally decompresses. “I snuggle up on the sofa and finish More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth, a book I’ve found entertaining and relevant. It nicely rounded out my Power On day.”

evening skincare

The evening skincare routine begins.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Patrice Varni)

10:00 p.m. She starts her pre-bedtime routine. She begins with the same iS Clinical Cleansing Complex. Then “I exfoliate with Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant. I use it twice a week and leaves my skin so smooth and happy.” By following up with SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner, she says, “I feel like I’m ‘cleaning up’ after exfoliating to get my skin balanced and ready for my nighttime products.”

She then massages on SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream, which she uses three nights a week, swapping in Neocutis Bio Serum Firm Rejuvenating Growth Factor and Peptide Treatment on the other four. She came up with this schedule over the years because, she says, “I realized that every night [with retinol] was becoming too much—but three times a week tackles my acne. And the serum plumps and protects.”

The last touches: The same Eminence Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer she uses in the morning, and Neocutis Micro Eyes Tightening Eye Cream which, she says, “does just what it says it does—moisturizes and tightens.”

With her brain buzzing from a busy day, she relies on her "super tools" to help her unwind before bed: CBD oil, 10 minutes of meditation, and 15 minutes of reading.

10:30 p.m. Lights out. “I try for eight hours of sleep. I need it now more than ever!”

The Evening Skincare Routine