As a Polish woman, I have a strong affinity towards smart Polish women. I first met Kasia Straszewicz, the Beauty and Wellness Director of Vogue Poland, through email when she was interviewing me for a story. Since then, I have met up with her in person on my annual trips to Warsaw, and we have become friends. I feel very comfortable around her. She is so real, so concrete and extremely intelligent. And, she shares the same need to learn and keep educating herself as I do.
Tell me about your career path? What was the biggest challenge? What was the biggest reward?
I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, but I was also studying law. While still a student, I got an unpaid internship at a daily newspaper - I wrote about concerts, cultural events, and road accidents. Then I went on a long journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Mongolia and of course, I covered it. At that time, the French magazine Votre Beaute launched in Warsaw, so I volunteered to work.
The magazine was entirely devoted to Beauty and Health, the first piece I wrote was about OCD. Do you remember the character played by Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets? It's just such an affliction - a man feels a compulsive need to repeat an activity, for example washing his hands, more often than necessary. I talked to doctors and the people who suffered from it. I had dozens of conversations, those afflicted with OCD can get into a lot of funny situations, they talk about it with a lot of irony, but they don't really feel like laughing, because it's a serious condition that can make life miserable.
The text was good, so I became an editor of health and beauty. It wasn't easy, because those were the times when we rarely used ready-made product photos, everything had to be photographed and collected beforehand, so I used to run around the shops renting products. You had to collect as much as possible and then bring it to the photo studio - I had muscles like Schwarzenegger.
I liked talking to people the most: plastic surgeons, beauticians, and make-up artists. I always asked them about the future, about the trends. That's still the case today, at Vogue, I've devoted all my time to the beauty industry forecasts, that's what interests me most: what is the future of beauty, what awaits us? I think everyone would like to know.
You have traveled the world, what would say are some major differences in beauty?
I've lived in Paris and London for long periods of time, while Warsaw, is my hometown. The differences in the approaches to beauty in these European cities are bigger than you might think.
Polish women love their wrinkles the least, they like to invest in aesthetic medicine- from machines to new lasers and filling methods. I have too often talked to women from aesthetic medicine clinics and as you can imagine, I hear a lot of tips on what to do and how to do it "just right now", but the lack of visible symptoms that warrant these treatments, makes me very skeptical. I am terribly saddened by this approach.
In England women value authenticity, except Friday night, when they allow themselves to be completely crazy, naturalness seems to be the most important in make-up and care approach.
French women are the most restrained, they have no problem with getting older. I mean they certainly care, but they have so many fantastic examples around them, women who age wonderfully like Jane Birkin or Francoise Hardy, so they know that their looks now and in the past are just a variation of beauty.
What is your definition of Beauty?
To be the best version of yourself you can be. I'm not convinced by some people’s obsession with looking completely natural - after all, makeup makes an incredible difference, and with facial massage, you can sculpt your face in a visible way. The point is not to overdo it, gigantic lips (which was ironically shown at the autumn-winter Balenciaga shows) look quite caricatural. The complexion, which as a result of repeated laser treatments can resemble the thick structure of the skin on the heel, does not look cool at all, it looks strange. Of course, I take into account that it may seem appealing to some people, but I believe that common sense will prevail.
What are 3 beauty products/treatments that you think make a difference?
I'll start with the ones that have helped me: The P50 Lotion by Biologique Recherche is the reason why, from a person who, at the age of 40, was constantly fighting acne, to today, when I think my complexion is quite normal (but if I try to put it aside for a week, the problem comes back).
You brought me Vintner’s Daughter Serum before it was even available in Poland, I was just at the point of cursing all kinds of oils, I wrote a text about how they destroy the skin and give a false sense of pleasure. This oil turned out to be completely different. Apart from the fact that it smells insanely good, if I use it properly, and by that I mean I spray the skin with thermal water before I apply the oil, it makes the skin very flexible, especially in winter, and it is incredibly efficient, which justifies its price.
The third product that I can recommend with a clear conscience is a Polish product - a glove that is called Glov and allows you to wash your face and makeup (even the heaviest) with water alone - I can see the effects, so I believe in it. I have many products and treatments that I think are great, that work, and are worth recommending - I show them on my Instagram. Now I'm testing eye creams because I think at some age it's a first aid cosmetic, and I've found only a few that actually have a noticeable effect.
What is your most favorite place in Warsaw and why?
I have been a Varsovian for many generations and every corner is important to me, but to someone who has little time or visits Warsaw to rest and explore I would recommend the Lazienki Park, where the last king of Poland lived and which is full of very old trees and has a great restaurant where they serve typical Polish dishes and ingredients, such as wild mushrooms, which I love, and recently discovered are full of nutrients that have a positive effect on health.
We initially met when you interviewed me for Vogue Poland, what was it that interested you in me? What kinds of people and stories are you drawn to?
I keep an eye on social media, and that is how I found out that there was a woman from Poland (you) who has been doing a great job as a skincare expert and ‘influencer’ in the US and that many celebrities trusted and supported her. It peaked my interest and decided to find out why and wrote to you.
And then, you know, there was a total flow that we had from the first moment on. I liked your non-conformist approach to life and what you do, your directness when you talk about personal care, no-nonsense attitude. I called you, asking if I should undergo a certain treatment (it was about fillers) you said: absolutely not, under no circumstances, so I gave up. You actually explained to me why it doesn't make sense, and I think I avoided many of the problems I might have had if I didn't listen to you.
Tell me a secret that no one else knows.
I'm not a person who can be manipulated or persuaded to promote something I don't believe in. If I say something is good, it's because I believe in it from the bottom of my heart.