“I grew up in Irvine, California with my mom. She and my grandma were really into style and beauty. My mom especially is an ultimate glam diva. I would wear Bebe to a school dance, and when I studied abroad during college, she sent me things like a bedazzled, cutout dress for the winter. Very Kris Jenner, stage mom energy. [Laughs]
Before a school dance, I was at the M.A.C. counter locked and loaded. I remember I got my makeup done by this guy once, and we completely connected. I was going to a Fergie concert, and he did a tight line of white eyeliner on my eyes. This is going to sound so cheesy, but so much of what we do through beauty is establish these connections, and someone putting white eyeliner on me and saying, ‘Express yourself,’ that’s when I was like, ‘I want to do this.’
I did not have a conventional interning-in-the-fashion-closet come-up in magazines. I went to the University of Southern California thinking I would be a broadcast journalist; my dream was to be on ‘The Today Show.’ But after college, I ended up working for Betches after a brief stint with Teach for America.
I left Betches for Fashionista in 2016. I did social, and that was really the beginning of my career in beauty. I remember I wrote a story about completing Mario Dedivanovic’s Makeup Master Class. It was like nine hours in Times Square, and he did Kim Kardashian’s makeup at the event. I have the certificate in my garage that I want to frame. [Laughs]
Then the ‘pivot to video’ happened, and—I distinctly remember this—I was on the subway, and I got a DM on Instagram from Leah Chernikoff, who is now the executive editor at Harper’s Bazaar. She was like, ‘Do you want to hang out and talk about an opportunity?’ I thought, ‘She’s the Elle director. That’s so cool.’ We met in Fort Greene for coffee, and she asked, ‘Do you want to join the team as a beauty writer and video producer?’
I was at Elle at such a great time. I got to meet all of these people that were so influential in crafting my voice and learning who I was. They really all were like, ‘Go crazy. Go for it.’ I mean, I interviewed with Sally Holmes and Gena Kaufman. Nikki Ogunnaike was there, too, and my boss was Julie Schott, who was the beauty director at the time.
Leah left Elle for Glossier in 2019, and everyone [at Elle] wanted to go with her. I made this joke all the time where I said, ‘I’ve dreamed about working at Glossier since I was a little girl;’ Glossier wasn’t around when I was little, but I was like, ‘It’s my dream!’ [Laughs] And Leah did take me with her as the content lead—at Into the Gloss, I wrote one of my favorite stories about how the strip club became a breeding ground for some of the best makeup artists like Sir John.
In 2019, I was so lucky to get to go back to Elle as the beauty director—I kept calling it my tours at Elle. [Laughs] Then COVID-19 happened, and I always say that I did the pandemic so insanely: I moved to California, got pregnant, and had my baby Otis. In the summer of 2022, Julie called and asked if I wanted to interview for a position at her company. I got the job and left Elle.
After leaving Elle, Julie founded Starface, which is primarily known for its star-shaped acne patches. It’s so funny because when we were at the magazine, she would go on Instagram, and she’d be like ‘Gold star for you!’ when she saw a pimple on someone’s face. She’s since expanded her company into an incredible empire that includes Futurewise (a slugging system), PLUS (a clean body wash), Julie (an emergency contraceptive), and another brand we’re gearing up to launch this year. I’m the director of brand initiatives across all of them.
My skin was thriving when I was pregnant—everything else was terrible, but my skin? Flawless. After I gave birth though, I was hit with bad postpartum acne. I approached aesthetician Joanna Czech, and she had a great attitude. She said, ‘You just had a baby. Live your life. In 18 months, it’ll be better.’ Dr. Joshua Zeichner was also helpful after pregnancy and got me on prescription azelaic acid. I’m out of the thick of it, but I still have some hyperpigmentation and dark spots that I’m working through.
I’ve been a CeraVe girl forever and love the Hydrating Facial Cleanser, but I think everyone is sleeping on First Aid Beauty’s Pure Skin Cleanser. I’ve also added Sofie Pavitt’s Clean Clean Cleanser to my rotation recently, and I am loving it. For eyes, I love the Dieux Deliverance serum, and I just got their Auracle Reviving Eye Gel.
The FAB Ultra Repair Cream is a little thick, but even when I have a little inflammation or redness, it always eliminates it. And I am religious about sunscreen, especially for my son. He always has us out of the house for a walk, so I am constantly reapplying SPF. For him, I use Badger’s Baby Mineral SPF 40—he’s an all natural homie—but for me, my sunscreen for life is Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30. Sometimes I use Supergoop!’s Unseen SPF 40, and I just tried Vacation’s SPF 50 Super Spritz. Its summer-y, beach day scent makes me feel like I’m on vacation.
At night, I double cleanse. I either use Bioderma’s Micellar Water or Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm to remove my makeup. I follow it up with my FAB cleanser from the morning and my prescription azelaic acid. Then I use Futurewise. I am really into the Slug Boost Hydrating Mist. I put it on before my moisturizer to emulsify on my skin, and then I’ll apply the Slug Balm. I get really dry near my nose because of the azelaic acid, and it gives me that extra boost of hydration. It’s creamy and rich and really a step up from basic occlusives.
When I want to depuff, I kick it old school and put my face in a bowl of ice water. That always works, especially in the summer. I haven’t tried this, but I want to get Dr. Shereene Idriss’s Depuffer. It’s an arnica roll-on serum that’s meant to help with depuffing and minimizing redness. I really am a roller girl. I remember Tracee Ellis Ross used those blue balls, and I love them, too.
Cam, my husband, says that I’m on a quest to have the softest skin in the world. Actually, I will never forget this: There was this boy I had a crush on in high school, and he was so cool and funny and different and listened to great music. We sat next to each other in bio, and he touched my arm one time and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, so soft.’ Then one day, I was walking down the hallway, and he said, ‘Hey, soft skin.’ I was like, ‘This is the best day of my life.’ I mean, you should never base your skin trajectory on anyone… except him. [Laughs]
In the shower, I either use the Nécessaire Eucalyptus Body Wash, or the Aveeno Stress Relief Body Wash because I love to smell like lavender. I’ve tried the exfoliating body wash bars from both Soft Services and Glossier. The Soft Services one is especially good for Cam because he has keratosis pilaris, but I really like the Glossier one. It’s a little bit more gentle, I would say. I also like the Soft Services Toning Body Lotion a lot, and Ashley Weatherford (Into The Gloss’s Editorial Director) got me on the Kate McLeod Daily Body Stones. I freaking love them. They’re the gold standard of moisturizing bars.
I could not smell anything when I was pregnant—everything made me sick—so I used the unscented Hanahana Shea Body Butter. I always talk about it because it feels very luxurious. I also love the Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion. Every time I watch a GQ Recommends video, every rapper goes hard for it—I get it. Vaseline actually makes a Body Gel Oil version of it, too. It’s super cheap, but it works. Cam always tells me, ‘You’re Cocoa Radiant.’
When it comes to makeup, it’s really event-based for me. It’s like, ‘What does this call for?’ SZA? No-makeup makeup. Taylor Swift? You’ve got to lean camp. If there’s a bachelorette party, I am ready for Euphoria High School. Choose a vibe and go hard. I’m going to Beyoncé with my best friend in September, and we’re going to look like two 30-plus-year-olds losing their minds. You only have one life.
In the winter, I do full foundation, browns, purple lipsticks, that whole vibe. But in the summer, I just like concealer and a swipe of something on my lips. I love Rare Beauty’s in shade 400W. It’s creamy, really blendable, and gives a good amount of coverage that doesn’t feel super cakey. The other concealer I like is Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r. I use shade 330, the same one as Rihanna—put that in bold letters. [Laughs] I love all of Rihanna’s products. I even use her Contour Match Stix sometimes as concealer. That’s a Priscilla Ono hack. She’s the queen of all queens.
I’ve been a Glossier Boy Brow girl since day one. Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes told me to use Dark Brown instead of Black, even though I have black eyebrows; it gives me more of a natural look. I go in with a pencil after—just the classic Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil in dark brown.
My eyelids are a different color than the rest of my skin, so I just kind of vibe with it. [Laughs] I like rusty, brown eyeshadows, and I have a Chanel palette that I really like and use sometimes. I also have the Rouje Signature Lip Palette, and sometimes I use it for my eyes, too. But I’m not a huge eye person.
I know there was a movement against blush in like 2018, but now I think we’re in a blush-assaince. This is going to sound so gross, but I got the NARS x Sarah Moon Recurring Dare Cheek and Lip Palette in 2016, and it’s my favorite ever. I know I should throw it out—I saw a TikTok the other night that spooked me—but NARS doesn’t make it anymore! It has three blush colors—Sex Appeal (which still exists), Illusive, and Make Believe—and I use all of them. I can’t quit it.
If I’m going to do highlighter, it’s because I’m going out. Julie and I were trying to get a group of people to go to Usher’s Vegas residency, and I immediately was like, ‘I have to wear a highlighter to that.’ I love Makeup by Mario’s trick. He says the camera will hit certain points of your head so you should place the highlighter on your cheekbones, obviously, and above your eyebrow, and it gives you this lifted, glamorous, diva moment. I love Fenty’s Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal or rms beauty’s Highlighter in Living Luminizer.
I’m very much a lipstick girl. I like the classics, like the tried-and-true M.A.C. Ruby Woo. M.A.C. also has a nude—Mull It Over—that I love, and I’ve been messing around with Rare Beauty’s Gifted, Fun, Bold, and Wise lipsticks and liners. They mix-and-match really well so I can choose a few to make my own color, and they are super hydrating. I also recently fell in love with Sunnies, the Filipino brand. I love the shades Baby Spice, Milk Tea, and 143. In terms of hydration, I’ve been on that L.A. girl vibe with Rhode’s Lip Peptide Treatment.
I have curly hair—3B or 4A is where I would say my hair lives—and I change my hair all the time. Every three months I want to do something so different: I had twists for a while, then I wore my hair curly for a couple of weeks, and now my hair is straight—but I just saw a photo of Jodie Woods with gorgeous braids, so I think I’m going to get braids for the summer. For sew-ins, blowouts and everything in between, I’m obsessed with Tamara NéCole in L.A. I was getting braids in New York from my friend Tiffany Beach, and in L.A. my aunt Viv does them—and my twists are done by me.
Wash day is once a week on Mondays. I love Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! shampoo and conditioner. They just smell so fresh. If my hair is curly, I love Pattern Beauty’s Styling Custard. I used their Edge Control when I did my own twists, and it worked wonders. I still use Cantu Shea Cream—anything I’ve used since I was little, I’m like, ‘OK, I can trust this.’ Except, Motions was my OG little Black girl product and now that’s somehow gone from my routine. If my hair is in twists or braids, I use Vernon François Scalp Nourishment Braids and Locs Spray [discontinued]. Vernon is the best in the world, and anything he creates, I want to use. We worked together on a shoot and I don’t know who is more obsessed with him—me or my mom.
I really like light, airy, and floral scents. My favorite perfume is an old one—Kim Kardashian’s first eponymous fragrance, which is not around anymore. The closest scent, before she discontinued her beauty line, was probably the one she made with her mom for Mother’s Day—KKW x Kris. It’s very gardenia-forward and reminds me of a little spring day.
Before she would go to work, my mom would always spray on Chanel No. 5. If I smell it, I immediately think of her, so if I have a big meeting or need to present professionalism, I always use it. For everyday, I really like Glossier You, and I just got Dedcool’s Milk Layering + Enhancer. It’s super subtle but nice and fresh. I’m also such a sucker for Maison Margiela’s Replica Springtime in a Park because I wore it in New York. It’s so tied to nostalgia for me.
I used to go so hard in the nail game, but with Otis, I could not breastfeed with six inch-nails. Now I’m on the press-on game because I can pop them off if Otie needs me, but I can still get a look. I want to set the record straight: During the pandemic, everyone was like, ‘Oh, press-ons, pres- ons,’ but I’ve loved them for years. Kiss ImPRESS are a classic, and Chillhouse just launched theirs in Target.
If I am getting my nails done, I’ll go to Varnish Lab in L.A. with my cousin Issa. Don’t sleep on the suburban nail salons though; they have big comfortable chairs. I’ll go there if I’m not getting nail art. I love lime green and pinks in the summer, and in the winter, I love moody blacks and browns. I started painting Cam’s nails over the past few years. He’s my little beauty guinea pig—but he’s a diva. He’s like, ‘CND only’—although he’s also known to dabble in Deborah Lippmann. Only top polishes for Cam.”
— As told to Daise Bedolla
Photographed by Roxy Rodriguez in Los Angeles on April 26, 2023