Beauty Secrets From Real (Cool!) Girls

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We're big believers in the art of experimentation: Spot a look that catches your eye? Give it a whirl! Don't think you can pull it off? We beg to differ. And we're not just talking fashion: Switching up your hairstyle, nails, or makeup is truly one of the easiest quick-change options out there. But gleaning a little insider, how-to candy always helps make a style swap more manageable. Plus, we find it just as compelling when non-experts share their picks, too—because real life endorsements go a long way. So, we tracked down three lovely ladies—who consistently look amazing—to take us on a spin through their beauty routines and all the products and magic goodies that get the most mileage. From skincare to makeup to hair, this trio reveal some extra cool, beauty building-blocks that everyone can get in on.

Bliss Lau, 30, Designer



Where do you get your beauty inspirations?
"For nails, it depends on what I've seen the week of my appointment. In January, I came home from Hawaii and was inspired by Polynesian tattoos. I read 'The Polynesian Tattoo' by Patricia Allen and found it so interesting that each tattoo tells a family history forever imprinted on the skin. So, I decided to do a temporary version on my nails for a month with calgel. Some of my other recent inspirations are color-blocking and linear shapes."



When did you start wearing your signature braids and why?
"I think it's been a couple of years now; I've fallen in love with the braid! At first, I didn't know how to braid, but I decided to learn, so the beginning was not so fashionable. Then, I decided I would try something different each day. I love experimenting with how the shapes I create with my hair affect my face, and it's interesting how many connotations there are to even just parting it down the middle versus on the side."

What products do you use to help achieve your look?
"Since the water is so hard in New York, I use Bed Head leave-in conditioner everyday and Ted Gibson hairspray in the morning—just a touch. In terms of skincare, Tata Harper's line has changed everything for me. I have an oil allergy and had such a hard time finding something that didn't make me break out. I use the whole gamut—cleanser, floral essence, replenishing nutrient, eye cream. I love that Tata has her own farm where she grows the ingredients; it makes me trust her and the product so much more."



What's your favorite quick-fix trick?
"Ted Gibson Hair Sheets. I ride my bike everywhere, so my hair goes to shit by the end of the day. This little sheet puts it back into place and solves my fuzzy, little Asian flyaways."

Name one of your secret weapons:
"I started using Carmindy's Sally Hansen natural spray-on foundation. I like it in the summer because it magically lasts all day, but is so light on the skin you don't feel it. And, to transition from winter to spring, I switch to all neutral makeup: I stop wearing color on my face and start wearing it in my clothing instead."



What's one of your favorite places to shop for products?
"I go somewhere for a specific product, not the other way around. But when it comes to fragrance, I think some of the most amazing boutique fragrances don't advertise and are hard to find. MiN is by far my favorite. I love how they respect the scents and follow a certain tradition of experiencing each one individually. The process at MiN is on par with a tea ceremony."

What do you think your look will be when you're 70?
"I hope to become extremely eccentric."



What's something you'd never try?
"Pink nail polish. No, no, no."

What's your position on plastic surgery? Yay or nay?
"It's hard to say. Can you come back and ask me when I'm 50?"

What colors are you excited to incorporate into your nail art this summer?
"Flesh tones, transparency, color blocking, and layered tones."
Claudia Martinez, 24, Curator and Designer of jewelry line, Tilde



Where do you get your makeup inspirations?
"From the movies! Grace Kelly's character Lisa Fremont in Rear Window, Mia Sara as Sloane Peterson in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Penelope Cruz's character, Maria Elena, in Vicky Cristina Barcelona...they're all major beauty inspirations for me."



When did you start wearing your signature lip color and why?
"I've been wearing lipstick since I was tall enough to steal it out of my mom's purse. In the '90s, she always carried this great, glossy, red lipstick around, but was never the type of lady to spend hours in front of the mirror. Her approach to beauty was fresh and simple: Good skincare, mascara, and a great lipstick. I got my approach and love of lip color from her."



What products do you use to help achieve your look?
"I love NARS matte lipsticks, they're super pigmented and really pop. Also, NARS cream eyeshadows look super dreamy. I'm a fan of the Decameron and Mykonos shades because they work well with my olive skin tone. Light, dewy concealers, like Laura Mercier's Secret Concealer, are really nice. I try not to mess around with foundation, mostly because I'm lazy, so I try to take pretty good care of my skin. I've been using GlyMed's anti-aging face and eye calm cream since I was 20 (you can find it on the home shopping network). For face masks, I love Egyptian Magic and Queen Helene's Mint Masque."



What's your favorite quick-fix trick?
"Layering mascaras! Weird, but it works—Bette Davis eyes, but no gross clumps. You gotta find the right combination, though. Laura Mercier and Cover Girl lash blast are magic."

Name of one your secret weapons:
"Avene Thermal Water, Egyptian Magic's face mask, GlyMed Eye Calm cream, and a matte pink lipstick. But feeling confident in my appearance, whether I'm in a Mexican house-dress or a Nicole Kwon suede gown, is the most vicious beauty weapon of all."



What's one of your favorite places to shop for products?
"I have a good idea of what I need now, so I shop for beauty and skincare products online. If I go to a store and get sucked into a beauty counter, I could be gone for months. Also, the overhead lights and magnified mirrors make me want to put a paper bag over my face. They're not very flattering."

What do you think your look will be when you're 70?
"I want to be hunting sharks on a boat on the North Atlantic coast when I'm 70, so I think my look will be sunscreen and slip-free dock shoes. And lots of chapstick."



What's something you'd never try?
"Tattooed eyeliner. I mean, I'm lazy, but not that lazy."

What's your position on plastic surgery? Yay or nay?
"I'm on the fence. I once went to a plastic surgeon about my deviated septum and he tried to convince me to let him give me Peter Pan nose, the kind that sort of turns up at the end. He brought out all of these weird instruments and started measuring my face with them. It was creepy. At the same time, I've seen eye lifts do wonders. Although, I believe many women like to call them 'lots of yoga and good rest.'"
Preetma Singh, 27, Lawyer, and Aspiring Fashion Writer and Editor



Where do you get your makeup inspirations?
"I don't know if there's one single place, but I do get bored pretty easily, so I'm always on the lookout for unexpected colors or finishes, like a bright yellow-gold eyeshadow or a purple lipstick. I'm definitely not someone who's afraid of experimenting with color (even though on most days I stick to a pretty natural look). I also pay attention to what's going on on the runways, and then distill that through my own personal style."

When did you start wearing your signature lip color and why?
"I'm a bit of a chameleon with my style, so I don't really have one signature lip color that I've worn forever. But lately, my NARS Funny Face and MAC Violetta lipsticks have been getting equally heavy rotation. I think bright lipsticks are a great, modern way to elevate a look without getting too fussy, or spending too much time. Just throw one onto a bare face and you instantly look more put-together."



What products do you use to help achieve your look?
"I think bright, healthy skin is the most important part of any look, so my favorite products all help with that. I love Clarins Instant Smooth and MAC Strobe Cream to give a fresh, clean palette for the rest of the look. I'm also obsessed with the new Givenchy Blush Gelée—it gives a great natural flush that's sweet and innocent, but sexy at the same time. I can't go anywhere without my YSL Anti-Cernes concealer (especially since I don't wear foundation/powder on a daily basis); it has enough of a yellow/green tone to go with my difficult-to-match complexion. And the MAC Brow Set is amazing for keeping unruly brows in place and filling in holes!"



What's your favorite quick-fix trick?
"Blush, blush, and more blush! I think it's the best and easiest way to brighten up a face. Some people don't leave the house without mascara, but for me, it's always been blush."

Name one of your secret weapons:
"Elemis Visible Brilliance serum is magic. I'm always amazed how glow-y (is that even a word?) my skin is when I use it. It's so good it has me making up words!"



What's one of your favorite places to shop for beauty and skincare products?
"Obviously, there are the usual suspects—Sephora and better department stores—but I really love shopping for skincare and beauty products at Duty Free in airports. They always have such fun gift sets and limited edition products. I only wish I could travel internationally more often!"

What do you think your look will be when you're 70?
"Probably pretty similar to what it is now—clean, polished skin with some dramatic accents every now and then for fun."



What's something you'd never try?
"Eyelash extensions and eyelash-growing medications really scare me. You can't mess around with your eyes; they're so fragile--and important!"

What's your position on plastic surgery? Yay or nay?
"Yay, with some reservations. I think it's something negative when people go completely overboard and use it as a panacea for insecurity issues, but if a small tweak here or there can actually help you overcome those issues and feel more confident (and more like your real, inner self), then go for it!"



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