How an Astronaut Takes Care in Space

Astronaut Kellie Gerardi shares her beauty routine in space
Courtesy of Virgin Galactic
Courtesy of Virgin Galactic
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The recent solar eclipse has no doubt reignited people's collective wonderment about the vastness of, and — for lack of a better word — pure magic that is outer space. And while there are few humans (let alone women) who have actually experienced it first-hand, astronaut Kellie Gerardi has. As the world's first industry-sponsored researcher to fly on a commercial spacecraft in November 2023, she has since distinguished herself as a leading figure in the field, working to make science exciting and accessible to all.

Growing up in Jupiter, Florida (and, yes, she realizes the irony in that sentence), Gerardi always had great exposure to human spaceflight. "Space shuttle flights were a part of the backdrop of my childhood and adolescence," she tells PS. "Space was the standout passion of mine, but it was a much bigger dream than just flying myself — my goal was to help open up access to space for a new generation of researchers."

Eventually, her career path led her to work on every angle of that pursuit: space policy, regulatory reform, reusable rocket technology, defense and national security, and ultimately microgravity research with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (known as IIAS). Still, that doesn't mean she doesn't have other hobbies she maintains Earthside, like road-testing beauty products, curating her wardrobe, and keeping up with the latest and greatest reality TV.

Here, we chat with the astronaut about all things outer space, how she takes care in zero gravity, and some of her must-have, out-of-this-world beauty picks. Keep reading for the full scoop.

What Goes Into Prepping For Space

Before the trip into space with Virgin Galactic as a payload specialist, in which she was tasked with operating experiments on fluid dynamics and human health, Gerardi spent years doing similar work on Earth during parabolic flight campaigns. (Those are the gravity-free cabins that replicate the sensation of being in outer space without being there physically.) "I've flown more than 100 parabolas in my research career, which helped ensure I'm comfortable and controlled when I'm working and floating in microgravity," she says.

In terms of physical preparation for space, Gerardi jokes that she upped her dose of "vitamin G" (as in, high- and zero-gravity). She choreographed her movements in the cabin down to the second, perfecting the them "across a series of aerobatic and parabolic flights to make sure everything integrated and operated as intended," she says. This was essential in ensuring she could properly conduct her experiments during the flight.

Additionally, Gerardi notes that self-care routine — which often consists of quiet time, a bubble bath with a great book, and some "low-stakes reality TV in the background" - was increasingly important in the days leading up to her space flight. "I went to bed increasingly early the week prior to prepare for the pre-dawn wakeup call on the big day, and I prioritized healthy meals and lots of hydration. I used Nuun Sport Hydration Tablets ($22) daily, including the morning of my space flight, for an extra hydration and an electrolyte boost."

When she got there, every piece of preparation was worth it: "I realized nothing could have truly prepared me for seeing planet Earth with my own eyes. I was in absolute awe. We've all seen pictures of the Earth from space, but the difference for me was truly experiencing it as a planet among other planets. I'll never forget it."

Her Zero-Gravity Beauty Routine

When getting ready for a day in space, there are a few considerations Gerardi had to keep in mind when choosing her makeup products. "In particular, you want to be mindful of toxicity and flammability in products, ideally using water-based products," she says. "You don't want something acting as an accelerant on your face. I chose a couple of my favorite MAC Cosmetics products for this reason." (One of them being her go-to MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Sheer Foundation ($42).)

She also limited her use of fragrances on both her body and face for similar reasons, as well as for the comfort of others aboard the flight. "Unexpected scents could signal that something is wrong with the payloads or technology on board and you need to be able to quickly identify the source of a scent," she says.

Otherwise, since her spaceflight was a same-day flight, Gerardi prioritized long-lasting coverage using a "combination of things I wear on Earth during microgravity flights" like the Tarte Base Tape Hydrating Primer ($34), E.l.f. Squeeze Me Lip Balm ($4), Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in Pillow Talk ($35), and a spritz of the One/Size by Patrick Starr On 'Til Dawn Waterproof Setting Spray ($32) to finish.

On Women Representation in the Aerospace Industry

When she first started out in what is largely a male-dominated field, Gerardi says she remembers having to tone down her femininity and personality in an effort to be taken more seriously.

"Fewer than 100 women in history have ever flown to space, and only a handful of mothers," Gerardi says. "When I knew I was going to have the opportunity to fly on a science mission, I promised myself I'd bring my full self to space. Instead of toning down my personality or femininity to fit society's image of what [an astronaut] should look like, I wanted that picture to expand to include me. That kind of visible representation is what helps society evolve past stereotypes to new and more expansive images."

This is something that was top of mind when gearing up for launch day. While she brought along a few personal mementos for her trip to space, "the most notable thing was probably a stack of friendship bracelets that I wore proudly on my wrist," Gerardi says. These, she adds, were the perfect way to "pay homage to a year dominated by girl power," referencing the Eras Tour, the release of Barbie, and the Renaissance Tour.

"It was really important to me to not tone down [who I am] in an attempt to match a picture of what someone else thought a woman in STEM should look like - I wanted to show my daughter that being yourself is always enough."

Taryn Brooke is a beauty writer and editor born and bred in New York City who has been in digital media for over 10 years. She is a contributing beauty writer for PS, Allure, Byrdie, and Well+Good.