Real Girl, Real Beauty: A Grad Student's Breezy Routine

Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Between the long, dark locks, beautiful doe eyes, and top-notch lipstick game, it’s impossible to pick just one reason why Mehak Anwar is high on our list of beauty crushes right now. The current Johns Hopkins business school student (and sister to one of our favorite local designers) also pulls off crazy-cool outfits with aplomb, styling ballerina skirts with floral moto jackets and Pakistani jewelry with hippie ponchos.
Want the scoop on how she brings it all together? Of course you do. Click through for her under-$12 cure for split ends, the secret to those perfectly matte lips, and a peek at one of the best statement-accessory collections in town.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing. How does your background influence your look?
“Being Pakistani, everything has been a formal occasion; I’ve grown up on sparkly dresses, high heels, and lipsticks. As a teenager, I was constantly stealing my mom’s red lipsticks and curlers. I think having your face and hair put together is just as — if not more — important than what you’re wearing. Even if you have nothing new to wear, you can always add a nice curl and a bright lip to change things up.”

ASOS dress, Free People caftan, Vylet Collection bracelet, vintage Kuchi necklace and cuff from Pakistan.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
With its ample natural light and a perfectly edited product selection, Anwar's vanity area is a beauty aficionado's dream.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Any tried-and-true techniques for that signature bold lip?
“I always set my lipstick with a translucent powder. High-sheen lipsticks don't really suit me, so this makes them matte and helps them to last all day without reapplication. Also, Sephora has the best budget lipsticks. I’m the type of person who has three of the same color (one for my bag, car, and home), and Sephora's prices make that doable.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What other budget beauty buys do you swear by?
Maybelline Falsies mascara. I’m lucky to have really long lashes, but this takes them to the next level. I’ve been asked if I’m wearing fake lashes with this mascara on, so it really lives up to the name. I toss my mascara once a month, so I never want to pay more than $8 for it.

"Pure argan oil. Nowadays everyone is adding argan oil to their hair products and doubling the price. I definitely agree with the benefits of argan oil, but I just buy mine from Whole Foods. It’s in the beauty aisle, and it’s usually under $12. I used to get a lot of split ends, but my hair is in much better shape since I started applying this! I can finally grow it without having to cut dead inches off in between.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
How would you style this headband?
“This headband is special because it fits right into my eclectic style. I wear it with milkmaid braids to make a statement, or with loose curls for something more low key.”

Proenza Schouler bag. Similar headbands available on Etsy.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
“This is a concert or festival outfit for me. My [caftan] is probably the best thing I’ve ever bought — it’s like wearing a bohemian blanket everywhere.”

Sam Edelman boots.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Do you have any other hair accessories on rotation?
“I usually wear hats for fun, or when I’m on vacation.”

We love a girl that loves hats. Does your hair or makeup routine change when donning a topper?
“I actually have to style my hair more when I wear a hat to make sure it doesn’t look flat or stringy. And, I usually keep my makeup light. I think the hat speaks for the outfit, so a nude or pink lipstick with a dash of blush works.”

Fedora from Portobello Market in London, H&M oxblood felt hat, vintage necklace.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
“This look exemplifies my everyday routine. I usually don't have time to curl my hair in the morning, so a bright orange lip and top knot are my go-tos.”

BP shirt from Nordstrom, MIRI skirt, Francesco Morichetti oxfords.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Okay, we're officially obsessed with these shoes.
“These gray suede oxfords are a great city shoe. They have perfect sized heel for walking, while still adding a little height to my otherwise short legs.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Who are your style icons?
“One of my biggest style icons is Taylor Tomasi Hill. She always looks so effortless and rocks that red mane like no other. My celebrity style icon is Diane Kruger — I’ve never seen her in a bad ensemble.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Let’s talk nail polish. Do you have any favorites? What spring mani styles are you looking forward to trying?
OPI’s Big Apple Red is my go-to red polish. I also love deep oxblood colors for the colder months. For spring, I really want to try out the reverse French manicure.”

Hamsa necklace from the Melrose Flea, bracelets from CC Skye, Hermès, and David Yurman. OPI Nail Lacquer in Just A Little Rosti At This.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Describe your everyday makeup routine. Any nonnegotiables before you head out the door?
“As a student, I’m constantly on the go. My bare minimum is concealer, blush, and a quick swipe of lipstick. I rarely put on a full face with mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick. If I were really pressed for time, I’d probably just apply concealer under my eyes and a quick spritz of perfume.”

Mural jacket and BP top from Nordstrom, MIRI skirt, Christian Louboutin heels.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Who do you follow for beauty inspiration?
“Some of my beauty icons are Jaime King and Clemence Poesy. Jaime has a very feminine and strong sense of beauty, and Clemence has perfected the ‘I woke up like this’ look. They’re on different ends of the spectrum, but I think its safe to say that I have a thing for blondes.”

David Yurman bracelets, Michele watch.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Bold accessories seem to be a signature for you.
“Whether it be a handbag, a pair of shoes, or jewelry, I often choose outfits around my accessories. I love taking accessories from different cultures and combining them with everyday looks. While some [people] think about what to wear, I usually think more about how to accessorize — because that really can make or break the outfit.”

Do you adjust your makeup when wearing statement accessories?
“When it comes to jewels like these, I would recommend a simpler outfit but strong hair and makeup. Just because your necklace stands out doesn’t necessarily mean you should have an understated beauty look.”

J.Crew necklaces.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What beauty blogs or magazines do you like to check out?
Miss Maven for tutorials and Into The Gloss for inspiration. For magazines, I especially love Harper's Bazaar India. It’s great to see people who look like me in high-fashion magazines. It also provides great inspiration for beauty looks that accent my skin tone.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Tell us about some of your favorite outfit add-ons.
“My Givenchy bag is definitely my most prized possession. Due to its structure, this bag definitely lives up to its value; I’ve carried it every day and even traveled with it without any major wear and tear. My Zara shoes are the best budget item I’ve ever bought. They’re proof that pieces don’t have to be high fashion in order to be amazing. I’ve gotten more compliments on these shoes than any of my designer ones. My Prada leopard smoking flats are also an everyday shoe. With these, I can transition from day to night effortlessly.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What’s your favorite way to create curls quickly?
“I’m terrible with a curling iron or wand, so I use my flat iron. The flat iron gives me better control of the curl. It also provides bouncy curls without the Shirley Temple look. And, L’Oreal Elnett hairspray is the best hairspray ever. I have very fine and flat hair, but it holds my curls all day without making them feel dry or hard.”

How do you make the style last?
"It’s important to have second-day hair for the best curls. If I have to wash my hair, I usually skip the conditioner altogether. You don’t want your hair to be too soft, and conditioner usually weighs my curls down. If my hair is still too clean, I use Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible volumizing dry shampoo. It adds texture to my hair to ensure that my curls don’t look too perfect."
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What are your top three beauty splurges?
Clarins Bright Plus face lotion is heaven-sent! I have really sensitive skin that goes from extremely oily to extremely dry. This moisturizer handles my combination skin and has SPF in it. Clarins also makes a great night repair cream that helps my skin recover from all of my daytime stresses.

"Chanel blushes [are] my biggest makeup splurge and [they're] totally worth it. Not only do they have the best shades, but they also smell great. They also come with a brush inside so I can keep the compacts in my bag. My favorite colors are Frivole and Rose Bronze.

"[And a] Mason Pearson comb. When I first heard about these products and saw the prices, I thought it was a joke. I decided to try the detangling comb a year ago when my hair was shedding due to damage. This comb glides through my hair after a shower, and it’s not too wide, so I can also use it to add a light tease.”
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
What’s your favorite feature? How do you play it up with makeup?
“I have huge eyes. I used to be insecure about my ‘bug eyes,' but as I grew older, I learned the power of a cat-eye and mascara. While I keep my eye shadows fairly neutral, I love to change eyeliner styles. Liquid eyeliner works best on my eyes, and for a dramatic look I sometimes use kohl on my lower lid.”

Any hair trends that just do not work for you?
“Sock buns. I personally think these shouldn’t work for anyone anymore, but I’ve never been successful with them due to my fine hair — seeing a sponge through your bun is not a good look.

"[And], straight bangs. I’ve tried this look...twice. I guess I didn’t learn from the first time. I wish I could channel my inner Zooey Deschanel, but they just don’t flatter my round face.”

BCBG Max Azria jacket, MIRI dress, Christian Louboutin boots, vintage Pakistani cuff.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Adding volume and wave to fine hair can be frustrating. What are your secrets?
“Shower the night before and twist semi-damp hair into two buns, Princess Leia-style. This usually tames my hair and adds a natural wave. I try to avoid heat styling my hair on a daily basis, so this trick works great.

"Oscar Blandi Hair Lift mousse gives my hair the right texture. It adds necessary volume and works better than sea-salt spray to make my waves look beachy and sultry. I also use it before curling my hair to ensure fullness.”

nOir Jewelry necklace.
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Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
Any parting beauty thoughts for us?
“I love wearing dark lipstick. I think the merlot lip should be worn all year — not just during autumn and winter! Another great thing about wearing a statement lip is that you can tone down the rest of your face. You don’t need a lot of blush or eye makeup; the lipstick speaks for itself.”

M.A.C. Pro Longwear Lipstick in Heart Hangover.
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