Up Close and Personal with Lifestyle Mogul Aerin Lauder

Aerin Lauder

Aerin Lauder is practically beauty royalty. Granddaughter of the legendary self-made businesswoman Estée Lauder, the cosmetics heiress inherited an impeccably chic drive from the industry maven. “Estée taught me the importance of passion, style, hard work, family and, of course, all things beautiful,” says Lauder. “Her secrets were: ‘Whatever you do, do it well,’ and ‘Work hard and love what you do.’”

The 47-year-old Upper East Side native got her start spending her college-year summers working for the family business. With those hard-working family genes at play, the junior Lauder moved her way up the ranks, from positions in marketing to creative director, to Estée Lauder’s style and image director. Over the years, the corporate heavy-hitter steered the mighty brand into newfound success: she launched the Sensuous fragrance campaign, the first of its kind to include multiple models with Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Rhoda, Carolyn Murphy and Elizabeth Hurley; introduced the first Asian spokesmodel for the brand, Liu Wen; and collaborated with fashion and fragrance virtuoso Tom Ford to help reformulate Estée Lauder’s 1953 Youth-Dew perfume.

After 25 years at the family empire and armed with experience, Lauder decided to carve out her own niche, and in 2012 launched a luxury beauty brand simply named Aerin. The namesake line is a direct offshoot of her understated taste, and inspired by her can’t-live-without products. “Luxury means the ultimate in quality and experiential richness,” explains Lauder. “It’s products that are created from the most rare, artisanal ingredients and are presented in beautiful packaging, which are collector’s items in themselves.”

Estée Lauder and Aerin Lauder enjoying tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

From addictive face oils and body creams to blooming perfumes, the tastemaker did just that, creating a carefully edited selection of vanity candy featuring a unique floral infusion in each one. The products’ signature aromas are cherished imprints left by the late beauty doyenne Estée. “I remember getting into the car with my grandmother and being aware of her scent. She was always testing different fragrances,” recalls Lauder. “And growing up surrounded by fragrance, no matter where I was, there were always things to try and play with. Fragrance has and will always be a part of my life.” The chic collection of beauty must-haves soon expanded into a full-on lifestyle brand featuring a sophisticated array of home décor and fashion accessories.

When it comes to the busy mother of two’s own beauty uniform—her approach is simple. “I keep my look very natural, so I only carry a few essentials: foundation, bronzer, brown eyeliner, mascara, and Aerin’s Rose Lip Conditioner,” says Lauder, who is still fulfilling her role as Estée Lauder’s image director. As for her skincare hero, “Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair gives my skin a gorgeous glow. It goes with me everywhere and I’ve used it every day for as long as I can remember.”

From flowers to art to fashion, Lauder pulls inspiration from everywhere, but especially from travel. “Even if I don’t physically go anywhere I’ll look at travel magazines, books, and websites,” she says. For the global jetsetter, Morocco holds a special place in her heart. “It’s is one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever visited. From the palaces and gardens to the scents of spices everywhere—like vanilla, cinnamon, and saffron—there’s always something to explore,” says Lauder. “It’s what inspired me to create my Tangier Vanille fragrance,” she reveals. Next up on her adventure list? “I would love to visit India.”

Left to right: Aerin Tangier Vanille D’or, $268; Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, $225; Aerin Rose Oil, $75.