“I always knew I wanted to be in fashion, but growing up, there was not much accessibility to it. When I started college, I built a really small community on Xanga where we would share beauty products and outfits. Then I realized there was a small movement happening in the blogging space: Aimee Song had Song of Style, Julie Sariñana had Sincerely Jules, and Rumi Neely had Fashion Toast. When I started my own blog, The Chriselle Factor, it was just a hobby and an outlet for me to share my outfits. But it was the beginning of an industry boom, and it led to something much bigger than that.
In the beginning, it really was bloggers against the industry. I remember the very first fashion week that we went to, where we were laughed at and made fun of. But the people that got it, got it, and the people that didn’t eventually got it… maybe 10 years later. [Laughs] Actually, I remember the moment I felt the tides changing: Maybe about 10 of us—Aimee Song, Bryan Yambao, Rumi Neely, Chiara Ferragni, Julie Sariñana, Nicole Warne, and Kristina Bazan from what I can remember—were seated front row at Ralph Lauren. That was a defining moment because younger brands were open to the idea of bloggers, but this was a very traditional and classic brand that invited us.
I’m now the co-founder and creative director of Phlur. I was familiar with Phlur before I came on board because they were one of the first fragrance brands to be super transparent with all of their ingredients, and when I had my kids, I looked for a fragrance brand like this. Fast-forward 10 years and my business partner, Ben Bennett, called me and said he wanted me to acquire the brand with him. I was actually going through my divorce during that time and couldn’t wrap my head around taking on such a large project, but he was like, ‘Phlur is coming into its second life, and I feel like you’re now coming into your second life as well.’ That really stuck with me. I’m a lover of fragrance but by no means an expert, so I said I’d go on as long as we could work with the best perfumers like Jérôme Epinette, the nose behind the majority of Byredo’s fragrances, and Frank Voelkl, who created Le Labo’s Santal 33. We’ve actually been able to work with them, and it’s been a dream come true.
I am a serial entrepreneur and I have multiple businesses, and I always say that the best businesses come out of a personal need. The idea for another one of my companies, Bümo, came about 10 years ago, right before I gave birth to my first daughter Chloe—I couldn’t get anything done and I couldn’t find the support that I needed. I kept thinking about what the ideal scenario would be, which to me was being able to fully focus on my child and also fully focus on my work. I still wanted to have access to my child if I needed to feed, for example. The idea came to be a facility where parents can work but also provide childcare. That’s Bümo Work, which launched during the pandemic. Of course, none of us knew that COVID was going to happen, so we thought it would fail because no one could leave their house. But that also meant that parents couldn’t get much work done at home with their children, so when some of the lockdown restrictions were lifted, we evolved into on-demand childcare. This means that someone can go on our website, no matter what city they’re in, and see if there’s Bümo-certified childcare around them. I could go to New York, for example, and log on to the app or website for a center around me and you can literally book an open spot in seconds. It’s as easy as ordering an Uber delivery.
My earliest memory of beauty would probably be of my grandma in Korea. I don’t know how to describe this in a light way, but she was very into her looks; calling her vain might not be the nicest thing, but it was borderline. I think it was because she was one of the very first gynecologists in Seoul and prided herself so much in being able to help her community, so she really wanted to keep up her image. Even at age 90-something, she got a facelift. I lived in Korea with her for a few years when I was young, and I remember her spending hours and hours at the vanity before she put her scrubs on to go to the hospital. She would literally be in full glam by the time she went in.
In Korea, plastic surgery, and especially eye surgery, is as common as getting coffee sometimes. Growing up I always thought, ‘Oh, when you’re 18, you go get your eye surgery.’ And that’s what I did. Then about three months ago, I had revision surgery to address three things: the upper bluff, the inner corners of my eyes, and ptosis. Ptosis was the main issue that I needed to fix. As you get older, your eye muscles naturally weaken, which makes your eyes look like they’re sagging or kind of sleepy. So what they do is flip the eyelid and strengthen the muscle. I’m not quite sure how it works, but when you open your eyes, they look more alert and bright. I’m on camera a lot, and before this, I always felt like I had to overcompensate my eye makeup to make myself look more awake. Now I probably wear half the makeup that I did.
My morning routine is simpler than my night routine. I don’t wash my face in the morning because I don’t want to strip off the amazing ingredients I put on my skin the night before. Also, I learned that if you over-cleanse, you can get even more oily. But I’m always trying to rein in sebum, so I make sure to start off with my actives, the SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF and the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50. The P50 smells like rotten vinegar, but because I’ve used it for so long, I don’t even smell it anymore. It just smells like my routine at this point. [Laughs]
My goal is to have a really glowy and dewy base for makeup, so I always use an essence. I love MAKE Beauty’s Micro Ferment Rice Essence. I don’t like using face masks in the morning, but sometimes I’ll use a light one if I have a big shoot. I really love Augustinus Bader’s The Face Cream Mask. I’ll leave it on for about 10 to 15 minutes for an extra glow while I do my hair. And Clé de Peau’s The Serum gives me the craziest glossy skin. It’s hands down the one serum I’ve used year after year after year. I follow it up with Sulwhasoo’s Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream and sunscreen, of course. I use Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 mainly because it leaves no white cast. I feel like it kind of blurs my pores, too.
At night, I’m a huge believer in double cleansing, but I hate that it requires two steps. That said, I love Eve Lom’s Cleanser. It looks and feels like a balm, so you wouldn’t think of it as a normal cleanser, but once you activate it with water, it becomes an actual face wash. Then I go in for a second cleanse with iS Clinical’s Cleansing Complex because it’s gentle but gets the job done.
I used to go to Shani Darden a lot for facials, and I loved when she did acid peels on me. She formulated her magic into her 2-Step Triple Acid Signature Peel. I don’t think it’s as strong as the peels you get in her studio, but it’s still strong enough that you see and feel the effects. It stings, but I love it. I use it about once a week.
A few times a week I use Winlevi, which I was prescribed by my dermatologist about a year ago. It’s not quite as strong as Accutane, but it’s meant to treat hormonal acne. I have a huge tube of it that I apply on my chin and cheeks—my problem areas. I love The Serum from Clé de Peau at night, too, and also Sulwhasoo’s Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream. It looks and feels like a gel, but it’s a little thicker. It’s the perfect consistency for me. If I were to use anything richer, I would immediately break out.
Lately, I’ve been using Augustinus Bader’s Retinol Serum because it’s super light. I have a love-hate relationship with retinol products because they tend to dry me out—Bader’s hasn’t though. And I love Noble Panacea’s The Absolute Restoring Eye Cream because it comes in these little packets, which are a dream for me to travel with. I think it’s the most potent eye cream I’ve used, too. My under eyes used to be very dry, especially when I put on makeup, but since using this eye cream I haven’t had that issue at all. Then I usually use Prequel’s Multi-Purpose Skin Protectant after all of my skincare. I view it as the Saran Wrap of my routine—when I wake up, my skin feels extremely moisturized and bouncy.
For makeup, I probably spend 80% of my time perfecting my base—I want it to be even and glowy. When I don’t have a shoot or anything crazy going on, I only like very light coverage on my under eyes and a very light, tinted moisturizer. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the Tower 28 Beauty Hydrating Concealer; I use shade 7.0 KTOWN. There’s something so serum-like about the formula that gives you this really bright, dewy coverage without being heavy, and it really does cover very, very well. And I’ve been using the Yves Saint Laurent Nu Bare Look Tint in shade 5, but I have to say: there’s something magical about the Charlotte Tilbury Invisible UV Flawless Primer. It really blurs your pores, so while it doesn’t necessarily give you coverage like a tint or a foundation, sometimes I wear just that with my concealer and it’s enough.
Chanel Baume Essentiel Multi-Use Glow Stick—I like the Transparent and Rouge Frais shades—gives your skin this really glowy, glassy look. My trick is powdering my under eyes down with the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder first, just so my makeup doesn’t melt off, then going in with the Glow Stick on my eyelids, cheekbones, Cupid’s bow, and nose—everywhere, really.
I love the Clé de Peau Beauté Eye Color Quad in Warm Ocean Sunset. I am not very good at playing with color—I wish I was—but I just like to use very muted, different types of brown tones, and I think Clé de Peau Beauté has very wearable shades. If I’m wearing eyeliner, it’s probably the Yves Saint Laurent Crushliner. I use Brun because it gives me more of a natural look. It’s not liquid but it’s not fully solid, so it’s really easy to apply. You can mess it up and smudge it on, which I love. If I want more of a precise eyeliner, then I’ll use Lancôme’s Idole Liner. There’s something about it that lets me swipe it on in one go. I have very shaky hands, and somehow, it still works for me.
I used to have eyelash extensions, but I had to stop because of my eye surgery, which was kind of a blessing in disguise because I felt like my natural lashes fell off during the three years I got extensions. They’ve since grown back, so now before applying the Lancôme Monsieur Big Volume Mascara, I do a layer of the Lancôme Cils Booster XL Enhancing Base. I already have length but my lashes are pretty thin, and I think the primer helps with thickness.
For my lips, I love Dior Lip Maximizer Plumping Gloss. I like Rosewood. It’s sheer but still gives me a natural rosy color that looks almost as if my lips have been pinched a little bit. Sometimes I’ll wear it alone, but if I want more color, I’ll use YSL’s Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm in Nude Lingerie, which is my go-to.
My routine is simpler now that I have short hair, but I’ve struggled a lot with hair growth postpartum. Initially, I was losing volume on top, so I decided to get extensions and that kind of made it worse. I’ve been using Vegamour products over the past year, and at first, it was one of those things where you’re like, ’I don’t know. Is it working? Is it not?’ But a few months back, I started to see these tiny wispies on my forehead and I was so excited. Now, I use the Vegamour GRO Hair Serum religiously every night, after the Nutrafol Shampoo and Conditioner. My hair is also dry and brittle, so once a week I use Vegamour’s HYDR-8 Deep Moisture Repair Mask and it helps a lot.
I don’t use many heat tools, but I love styling my hair with Amika’s Blowout Babe Thermal Brush. I discovered it because it went viral on TikTok. I really appreciate how easy it is to use, and it’s less damaging than a straight iron because you’re not clamping down your hair together. Still, I use the Shine & Protect Hair Cream Oil from True Botanicals every night for added protection. And I love a good teasing spray. I usually use R+Co’s Zig Zag Root Teasing + Texture Spray. It’s lightly tinted, which I love because most hair products make your hair look super white, and with my dark hair, you can really see them.
I always say that how my generation and the next generation wears fragrance is completely different than how our mothers wore fragrance. Our parents had a signature scent that they wore every day and I definitely have my go-to’s, but I think we view scent as more of a mood and how we want to feel on a certain day—it’s no different than getting dressed and adding an accessory on top of your outfit.
My most worn scent is probably Missing Person because it’s the lightest of the Phlur range. It smells like really yummy skin, so if you want to feel like you’re not really wearing any fragrance but you just happen to smell really good naturally, this is for you. Actually, a lot of people wear it as a base and then layer other scents on top. It’s funny because the fragrances end up reflecting a lot of what I’m going through at the moment. We were developing Missing Person when I was heavily in it with my divorce. I was in a place where I was very lonely and sad. I was craving love and to be held by somebody. I ultimately think that’s one of the reasons the scent was so successful—there was this storytelling element and personal experience behind it. Similarly with Apricot Privée, which I call my going-out-scent because it feels fun and sexy, we created it during my first summer of being single. I was in my sexy and fun era. [Laughs] I was trying to look hot. I was going out. I was craving attention. I wanted to recreate how that felt, and I think we were able to express that very well because it’s so juicy and in your face. It’s a mixture of very woody, grounded notes and very juicy notes, which is a nice juxtaposition.
My favorite changes all of the time, but right now, it’s Father Figure. The week that we shot the campaign for it was when my divorce was finally finalized. All of a sudden, I had this vision. Not always, but throughout the process of my marriage, I was the breadwinner, and I’ve always felt like I’m a mother, obviously, but I’m also a father figure, too. I am making the money; I am raising these two girls without a partner. The scent is unisex, so it made sense to make the campaign about empowerment and women being able to play both roles. Then, of course, on the flip side, men have a maternal side. I want to normalize that, too. The scent is commanding and strong but also tender.”
—As told to Daise Bedolla
Photographed by Brittany Bravo in Los Angeles on August 28, 2023