"I grew up in my great-grandma’s house, just north of San Francisco. I became interested in Afghanistan at 13 when I started working for a non-profit my mom started, Roots of Peace, which helps to take land mines out of war-torn countries and teaches farmers to reinvigorate their crops—or as we call it, 'Mines to Vines.' By the time I finished high school, I had raised enough money to refurbish and build six schools in Afghanistan. We actually just launched a beautiful coffee table book called Yearbook Afghanistan that features photos we took of all of the students. Now, I live in Williamsburg with my boyfriend and our two dogs, modeling and working as a jewelry designer. I design pieces and have them fabricated by artisans in Afghanistan. The country is still very important to me: the people, the culture, the landscape, the artisanal crafts—it’s all so beautiful. The jewelry company was founded to help provide economic stability to villages affected by war. There’s such a capacity to transform people’s day-to-day lives there with something so small.
Anyway, now that I’m in New York, my skin is really dry. I really have to go double-down on moisturizing products. I’ve been using Ahava Essential Day Moisturizer since my mom first brought it back from one of her trips to the Holy Land. You can get Ahava anywhere now, but it’s so nice. It’s all made from ingredients found in the Dead Sea. I get all of my face cream from my mom; I’ve been stealing her skin stuff for years.
My hair is really dry, too, because I lighten it. I used to have it platinum, but that was so, so evil to my hair! I just use a lot of oils to keep it hydrated. I like the Shu Uemura Essence Absolue, avocado oil, and coconut oil—I use that as body oil, too. You have to be careful with the natural oils, because it’s hard to gauge how much you’re using. It’s really easy to put too much on. I apply it right out of the shower, and if I’m using avocado or coconut oil, I try to do it at night, that way in case there's too much, you can just shower it off in the morning.
I wear makeup for [modeling] work, so my own makeup routine is pretty streamlined—it’s basically the same bronzer, powder, and maybe a little mascara every day, but the lipsticks change. I even my skin tone with Bare Minerals Mineral Veil because it’s really sheer and light. I like a little bit of bronzer to warm my face—Nars Laguna is quite simple and not too orange. If I need to apply concealer to go out, Givenchy has this really nice corrector called Mister Light Instant Light Corrective Pen. I discovered it at a makeup counter just before the Met Ball. It’s a little heavy for daytime, for me, but it’s easy to use and looks just as good in real life as it does in photos. I don’t ever want to be that person who looks flawless in photos but is wearing crazy gross amounts of makeup in person, you know?
For mascara—it could be anything. I just go for one that has high volume. Maybelline Great Lash is good. And sometimes I’ll do a cat eye. I just use drugstore black eyeliner in a pot and apply it with an angled brush. But usually I have all of my fun with lipstick. That’s my vibe—crazy lipstick on a simple canvas. [Laughs]
Bold lipsticks immediately transform your coloring; putting it on sets my mood for the day. I’ll wear any color on the face of the earth, as long as it has a blue undertone. I get obsessive about the undertones of colors. Anything too orange doesn’t work as well on me—and blue lipstick makes your teeth look yellow. But if you identify the right undertones, you can wear any color lipstick. Nars Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencils are the easiest to apply. Dragon Girl is my favorite red because it’s a good day-to-night color, and it’s more pink than orange. And right now I’m wearing Cyber by MAC. It’s a nearly black purple, and it’s such a harsh color that you have to apply it with a brush. I love almost-black lipstick. If you wear it with a girlier outfit, I think it’s more '20s chic than gothic. Anyone can pull it off. Just have a little bit of wine before you leave the house for extra confidence. [Laughs] You can also change the tone of other lipsticks with black lipstick. It will cool down any color.
I think I keep everything simple so that I can do it quickly. If I want to dress up, it’s a swipe of lipstick. If I want to dress down, I’ll just wipe it off. Easy."
—as told to ITG
Kyleigh Kühn photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on August 29, 2013.