The Top Shelf: Ana Kraš, Artist

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"I’m from Serbia, but I was always really attracted to Japan as a child. When I was 15, a modeling agency offered to send me to New York and Paris, but I didn’t want to go because I wasn’t really that interested in modeling. Then I got the offer to go to Tokyo. I felt it was the only chance I had to see Japan, so I did. I loved it. I felt grown up for the first time; I would work and do shoots every day. The second time I went, though, I was just like ‘OK, this has been enough.' Modeling is just constant waiting—it can be really boring as a job. Imagine just always waiting in line on a casting, for the shoot to start, for makeup… I mean, of course sometimes you get to work with someone interesting, or end up in a beautiful location. But otherwise, you go crazy.

I’m 29 now, so that feels like almost a lifetime ago. I wasn’t really the type of person that was going to have a big successful modeling career anyways, so I went back to Serbia to study at the University of Applied Arts. After university I spent some time in Milan, and then I was traveling for work to places like Paris, Berlin, and Italy. I do furniture design and I guess what you could call 'art'—it’s weird to say that. I do drawings and painting and photography, too. I moved here to New York because I met a man and fell in love.

I guess because I come from a place that was always very poor, and there was a lot of war, it makes a filter for the stuff that doesn’t really matter. I am not going to buy an expensive cream because it’s advertised as a cool thing that is going to make me beautiful—I don’t think it’s worth it. Skin is really about genetics. I have to believe that, because my mother has never put a cream on her face. She is almost 70, and doesn’t have wrinkles at all.

I was lucky to have good skin, meaning I never really had issues. I get pimples every once in a while before my period, but I never had acne. However, I can't do anything to have good hair. It's very dry, and it splits a lot. I use John Masters Organics Lavender Rosemary Shampoo and Lavender and Avocado Conditioner. They smell really nice. And I put Aveda Smoothing Fluid on the ends of my hair. But no matter what I do, or what shampoo I use, it’s never really going to help. I’m just not going to have gorgeous hair. I cut it myself, because it’s healthy for my hair and it’s really easy. Sometimes I'll have bangs, I change it a lot. It’s okay to not like your hair, it grows back. It’s even okay to stick with one thing, because at some point in my life, I was attached to my hair as well. But, I feel like sometimes women with long hair should cut it just so they don’t get attached and define their identity through their hair.

My mom is a very simple lady—very elegant, but very simple. She never wears any makeup, so I was never exposed to all of that. The one thing she ever put on was blush. I remember she would call it 'health.' She would say, 'I’m going to put a little health on my cheeks.' Her friend was a nail technician, so she would get her nails done every two or three weeks, but she also had really beautiful natural nails. Mine have never been like hers, and I do wear more makeup than her. I would never wear full foundation, because I think you always see it when someone is wearing it. You know how I know someone is wearing it? There is a different texture. It looks good on you if you have good skin, but when you see people wearing it and they have a pimple, it looks uglier than the pimple itself—and it’s not clean.

Concealer is the best thing in makeup that exists; it's really the only thing I use. [Laughs] Unfortunately, I’ve had dark circles since I was born—I think it’s from my grandma. I don’t mind it, it’s such a part of me that sometimes I don’t want to cover it, but if I do, I'll use concealer. The problem with concealers is they can be sticky or shiny, or too bright and you look like an opposite panda. [Laughs] The one I use is Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, but I use it in a particular way. I make my finger wet, and mix it with the concealer so when I put it on my eye, it dries and feels like it isn't sitting on the skin—I don’t like it when it’s too thick. I don’t think they have the perfect color for me, though. I have this yellowish, Mediterranean skin, so I’m very pale now, but when I tan I’m a dark brown gold. I’m lucky with that. So I would need to have one concealer for summer and one for the winter. It’s too difficult.

My father lives in Montenegro, between Croatia and Albania, so I spend summers mostly in the Mediterranean on the beach. The grandmothers there sell raw, homemade olive oils, and another oil called Kantarion that's burgundy red, and you mix them to use on your body. I also use a lotion that's called Mentaten. It's made by this Serbian dermatologist, Dr. Šaljić, and consists only of different herbs and oils, and it’s the most incredible thing. It has a beautiful smell, and I always get some when I go to the Mediterranean to give away as gifts.

I like water and I like to clean—I shower twice a day. I don’t think I’m really obsessed with it; it’s more for the relaxation. I love the feeling, it’s like my solo moment. Or I will shower in the morning and take a bath in the evening. I put salt in it—I get the big blue box of Epsom salts from Whole Foods. I put a good amount in, maybe a quarter. I know that exfoliation is good, but I don’t really do that. In the summer when I’m at the seaside, I’ll use some sand to exfoliate my body. For my soap I use the Dr. Bronner's either in the Tea Tree or Eucalyptus scents, those are my favorites. I don’t really use candles when I take the bath, but I will turn the lights off and bring my pink light into the bathroom because I think it looks pretty and warm.

I use Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser and Pore Cleansing Masque for my face, and the best face cream I’ve ever had is Eucerin AQUAporin Active. For months, though, I've been only using coconut oil on my face and my body. Coconut oil is probably the product I use the most—to remove my makeup, to put on my body, on my face, and I cook with it, too. It smells so nice and it isn't too oily. You must make sure to read the label—it’s important to get the ones that have freshly cut coconuts. There are some coconut oils that are made with older harvested coconuts, so I try to invest a couple more dollars for the ones that are truly fresh. The less days they have been harvested, the better. And you can't beat the smell of the La Tourangelle kind.

For perfume, I use the Aesop Spray Deodorant and also Chloe. I am very sensitive to smells, so even if I like a product, if I smell it on someone, I will puke. The only perfume that doesn’t make me puke is Chloe. [Laughs] Before that, I used this amazing deodorant with crystals. I don’t like regular deodorants because they have some ingredients that are really bad, and the white streak thing is gross. Then my aunt from Stockholm got me a piece of rock. At first I was skeptical because it was a rock, but she told me to wet it. It was great, you could wear synthetic clothes and still never smell bad. And I love the Curaprox Swiss toothbrushes. They are really soft and amazing, I use them all the time.

I feel like makeup is for the eyes, not for your lips. You use your lips for talking, eating, and drinking. Eyes are just there on your face they don’t really do anything, so it’s okay. I have been using this Stila Liquid Eyeliner Pen, and it’s really good. I don’t use much, just on the corners. I hate the sensation of lipstick on my lips and I hate lip gloss, too. But Nars Red Square Velvet Matte Lip Pencil is amazing. I like that it stays on, and that it has a little bit of orange. It’s the best makeup item I’ve ever tried. I don’t ever put lip balm on because I feel like the skin gets used to it, and gets dependent. And I never have cracking lips.

There are all these ways to take care of yourself, but it’s more about what you eat. I do have a dessert every day. I don’t think it's bad. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol so much. I try to have water and tea. I like juices, but I don’t drink green juices because I don’t find them particularly tasty. I make these pretty simple smoothies. My main ingredients are açaí, almond milk, and dates. I also make breakfast jars. I’ll put a layer of oats, a layer of fruits—maybe peaches—a layer of chia seeds, then shredded ginger, goji berries, banana—you can put whatever you want really—and then you soak it in almond milk and put a table spoon of honey on top. It’s so delicious. I even put flowers on top because they are little and so colorful. They're gorgeous."

—as told to ITG

Ana Kraš photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on November 25, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • inubiyamarsha

    Wow! This was a lot to absorb. But she had some interesting point of views.

    • http://www.magalic.com/ Magali

      I'm with you. Some good stuff, but just too much for one article.

  • bijoux

    "Eyes don't really do anything" !!!!!!

    • K

      I had a little giggle at that too but I understood what she meant. Bless her.

  • Mademoiselle nature

    Some great brand selections..I love grandma natural recipes too :-)

  • http://www.wernerbeauty.com/ Teckie

    Interesting. I didn't know that about the freshness of coconut oil. She sounds very unique.

  • Lana

    Definitely interesting. All the Mediterranean oils sound heavenly.

  • k80

    I love this so much! Ana, you're gorgeous. And I love that you have a dessert every day.

  • Cay

    She and Devendra are a really cute couple. She definitely has some unique points of view on beauty, but I like that she brings up her childhood and her history. I'd probably view things like expensive creams different too if I'd grown up in a country constantly at war.

  • Jess

    This was one of my favorite routines so far. A really balanced mix of everyday stuff, with harder-to-find/more natural products. I got some Kantarion oil (St John's Wort, I think) in Croatia and loved it. I want to try the Aesop deodorant.

  • Georgia A

    My grandma died at 90 years old and she had 2 wrinkles and spotless, hydrated skin. She used to say that , for the way your skin looks, 50% is genetics, 25% care and 25% what you eat + bad habits. She always had cream and one lipstick to use for blush aswell. Being Greeks, she told me to stay out of the sun. I don't agree with people that say "it's genetics" and do nothing nor with people who buy too much makeup and face creams and believe they will work miracles for them. You cannot "change" your dry skin or hair, but you can actually "help" it to a certain point.

  • Viola

    I love this. I am from Montenegro, which, together with Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Slovenia was a part of one country. Even though it fell apart before I was born, there is a certain nostalgia that makes us feel abot anyone coming from any of these countries (especialy Serbia) as someone of our own. I identify with so many of the thinks she mentioned, and Dr Saljic products are really good, completely natural and do wonders for scars, sunburns and stretchmarks. We all have an obsession with diferent oils, but olive oil and kantarion top the lists. You guys really made my day. I would put a message for Ana here:
    Draga, sjecam te se sa bloga Garance Dore. I tada sam pomislila kako si divna. Sve najbolje!

  • Janet Lee

    I like the end part where she talks about breakfast jars. Actually, there are many edible flowers like chamomile, jasmine and dandelion that you can eat along with the rest of the breakfast jar. Some places in Korea serve 'Flower Salad' where the entire bowl is made of flowers and you can eat all of it! Oh, and you can eat rose petals too :)

    • Georgia A

      We make candy out of rose petals!

    • Isabel

      Do you make breakfast jars? Is it literally just breakfast cereals and berries in a jar with milk? Like a bowl of cereal, but a jar of cereal? I don't quite understand but I want to know more.

  • cat

    wow, very very interesting! I always love reading about the routines/philosophies of people from beyond the obvious paris/new york/london

  • Isabel

    I love top shelves from people who grew up away from the importance put on beauty. It's such a great perspective.
    The first paragraph also makes me think of that Netflix doc 'girl model', which just broke my heart. It makes you see that these models who get taken from countries like Serbia and Russia and brought to Japan to model, and manage to make a career out of it, are the vast minority and don't have that 'rags to riches' fairytale story; they really had to come through something awful to get here. It wasn't all okay once they got 'discovered'. And so many children are used by the industry and left worse off.

    • sashi

      I saw this movie, and yes I think back to it all the time.

  • Putri

    I wish one day at some points of my life I could happily say "I never have cracking lips" or "I never had acne" :'''D

  • Sarah

    Very nice interview. I really enjoyed it. It is absolutely true what she says about expensive face creams, and about expensive skincare in general. I wish more people would stop believing in expensive skincare, and spend their hard-earned money on something more meaningful. My mother is like Ana's mother: she hardly has wrinkles at 68, and she has never used a face cream that cost more than a few dollars. Also never used a sunscreen, but she avoided sun all her life. Thanks a lot, ITG.

  • keely

    I'm tired of these beautiful models saying they don't do too much and don't use too much because it's ~unnatural. it comes off as so holier-than-thou. i want to see some average looking, acne-covered ladies with bad genes.

    • maggie

      PREACH!!!

    • http://badoutfitgreatlipstick.blogspot.com Nae

      I'm not opposed to Top Shelves featuring folks with beautiful skin, but I agree that it'd be nice to see a little more diversity here.

    • mick

      Check out Caroline Trentini's Top Shelf. Caroline is a total babe and her TS is so honest.

      • Sam

        ah! an accutane story in the model industry :) tysm for sharing

    • hannah mae

      definitely got holier-than-thou vibes from her also. the top shelf on courtney love that is actually really good because being courtney love there's no bs about it haha

    • Dru

      i want to see some average looking, acne-covered ladies with bad genes.

      You'll get all that plus a side of total incompetence at makeup (with some notable exceptions) at, say, xovain. ITG covers people from within the beauty/fashion industries, it's not rocket science to figure out that they'll probably be better-looking than average.

  • Lena

    Thank you for this! I love Ana. She's one of the most beautiful women ever. Now can you also please do a Top Shelf with Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Zadie Smith, Joanna Newsom, and, um.....Michelle Williams?!

    • Raevin Long

      Michelle Williams- that skin!

    • Zuleikha

      Yes! Love Zadie Smith and Maryam Nassir Zadeh

    • Vy

      Please please please pursue ms Sevigny too, this has been looooooooong overdue! Thank you for taking my suggestion into consideration!

    • Bella

      Zadie Smith!!

  • sabah

    Love her point of view. I am also from a war-torn country so completely understand her perspective

    • viola

      I have to correct you that Serbia was not war torn since the World War II. It was part of a country involved in a war, but his entity per se did not really experience real war (this refers especially to Belgrade).

      • sabah

        Thanks for the history lesson -

      • Bella

        Serbia is still affected by that war.

      • milica

        Except for 3 months of bombing in '99. but yeah,no big deal.

  • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

    I love John Master's hair products!

  • civ

    loved how long and detailed it was

  • Alexandra Schettini

    she is the best. one of the coolest artist around

  • kathS

    What? Her hair is gorgeous, a stunning color, and super shiny!!!

  • kathS

    also, Emma Roberts + Minka Kelly = her

  • Rachel

    Bad hair?! It looks shiny and gorgeous to me! In any case, I like that her background informed her views on expensive beauty products. There is a fine line between being snobbish about expensive products and snobbish about being au naturale, but she came across as a lovely person with an interesting POV.

  • shoumi

    So excited to see her on ITG! I've been following her since I saw her Kooples video with Devendra.

  • lia12345

    Some people don't seem to have responded positively to this post, but I love it. She's very interesting and different, and she is correct about genetics--sorry! I spend tons of money on skincare and stuff also, but I'm aware that the most important things are eating well, drinking lots of water, not smoking, and staying out of the sun.

    My skin is going to look bad when I'm stressed out or have been drinking more or eating crap (these things usually go hand-in-hand). And because I come from very pale, thin-skinned Irish, my skin will be more susceptible to becoming dry and wrinkly. We can't all be stunning, perfect-skinned Mediterranean women!

    Anyway, yeah, <3 Ana!

    • Leetoki

      Those irish genes, I swear to god. Everybody expects you to be milk maid perfect pale. Nope! Thin skinners unite!

  • goodgoodthings

    :o I want to know how she cuts her hair herself! Could you guys make a video of DIY haircuts!

    • Mona

      me too! I can't believe she cuts it herself. ITG do the DIY video please!

  • Margaret

    i love ana kras and her art and her relationship with devendra…. but as a girl who struggles with acne, her comments about foundation and covering up pimples came off quite harsh and rude, in my opinion. if you have acne then you know how hard it is on your self esteem- and to hear such negative comments from such a beautiful women… well, it makes me feel like shit. and as i can see from the comments, i'm not the only one. not nice, ana. not nice.

    • Sam Still

      <3 my feelings exactly, acne is the worst

      • luna

        it really is. and it takes such a toll on ones self confidence. god forbid someone isn't born with perfect skin and wants to use makeup to cover it up..

    • http://frivolousgirl.com/ Isabel

      I've been battling acne for a decade and I actually agreed with her! Maybe I have an enormous self-esteem or what, but I rather go foundation-less nowadays than to try cover something that clearly can't be covered and is making things worse. I don't even use blush because it makes my scars look even more outstanding!
      I don't judge anybody who chooses to wear makeup to hide acne, this is just my own choice and realization. But my skin did improve much more when I made the choice to let it breathe. Sometimes acne doesn't go away because of the stress that is put on it. Let it be, let it heal.

  • mamavalveeta03

    Lucky girl, to have all of that natural color in her lips!

  • Tary

    Also, I think is very curious how all the people that bring up their mother in the interview say "My mother only used water in her face for her whole life and doesn't have any wrinkles, even though she's 103 years old". I mean, my mother uses some cream and has some wrinkles and I think that's pretty ok. Right?

    • Corina

      Yes! Wrinkles, for most of us, equal a life lived. Like, YES we went on vacations, played in the sun, frowned, smiled, laughed and cried. It created a few lines on our faces and it was worth it.

    • Leetoki

      Agreed. My mum has the most charming smile lines and some hyper pigmentation, and I think she looks great. And she's got the skincare discipline of a teenage boy - Sometimes she'll do something, likes her estee lauder, but generally too busy doing life stuff. Ehh.

  • Corina

    She really does have amazing skin. But I agree with another commentor, Georgia A, creams and serums and extracts and oils cNt CHANGE your skin/hair, but it can help it by filling in the gaps, I.e. If you have dry skin it would be kind of silly to just let it shrivel up and flake away.. Obviously you should use a nourishing moisturizer

  • http://www.friedriceconnoisseur.com/ Joy (FRC)

    Love her in Everlane ads. She's gorg!

  • http://instagram.com/cherryredgirl Cherryredgirl

    " Eyes are just there on your face they don’t really do anything" What??? Never heard the expression:"eyes are the mirror of the soul"???
    Not to mention that they see, watch, look, talk, flirt, communicate, kill........

  • Hai Yen Nguyen

    Interesting article but she has so many black and white opinions that frankly seem misinformed. I think correct technique in application is key and even a full face of foundation can look natural and pretty. Her hair is beautiful though and I would love a tutorial on how to cut my own hair! Intrigued by the deodorant crystal as well.

  • Michelle K. Lee

    great tips

  • Vy

    She said she gets the occasional spot before her period - this qualifies her to speak of covering up a pimple. Personally I think foundation is cakey but maybe b/c I don't use it I'm not up with the new advances in this product.. Maybe it's the same with Ana too. If a product isn't personally relevant to you, it is easier to dismiss. I don't think she was being harsh? I think your response is rude and it's clear that she'll look at these comments - not a nice thing to see.

  • lucinda veen

    I think her point about foundation could have been phrased much more tactfully, but I agree that the less makeup you can get away with putting on your skin, the better. Like her, I'm lucky enough never to have had serious acne, so I've never worn foundation. I totally understand why people with serious skin problems would feel more confident with full-coverage foundation. But I also see women with great skin (even some beauty bloggers) wearing thick layers of foundation, and I just wish they'd let their skin breathe. You don't have to look airbrushed and photoshopped all the time.

  • Bella

    I enjoyed this article very much, and when I went to Google Ana I was really impressed by the talented and unusual person she seems to be. So much so that I completely for got to respond!! I enjoyed reading about her routine, the hows and the whys. I always try to take from these ladies what resonates with me, and leave the rest for what it is: their opinion, applicable in their situation.

  • Emma

    enjoyed the article. very nice tips and products that she usees.
    i like how she evolved - from an interview whilst still in ol grey belgrade she used to love plain oatmeal with raspberries on top now in nyc, there is acai berries and flowers and nice stuff. cute

  • silvia

    where are her dark circles??

  • Nina

    that was not the point. no one said she has to lie about her skin. the point was - if she hand't suffer these problems on her own, than it is rude to speak negatively about people who did, and tried to cover it up with makeup. she can not know how big that problem can be for someone, and she might even do the same if she had acne or bad skin conditions, not just one occasional pimple.

  • Hannah

    What do you mean?!? Your hair is super gorgeous.

  • isabelle

    obsessed with her natural beauty!!!!

  • iolanda

    Would love to know if she dyes her hair or that's her natural hair colour. Just gorgeous!

    • nikita

      ana's natural hair color is dark brown.

  • Georgia A

    That is unfortunate cause I DID mean it in the BEST way possible. Arguing is not in my character, so let's not discuss this any further.

  • Dru

    she said 'average looking' AND 'acne covered'. They're not necessarily the same thing, and if you interpret my comment as meaning that they are, that is your problem, not mine. Same goes for calling out beauty sites that do not value competence as much as ITG.

  • Dru

    she said 'average looking' AND 'acne covered'. They're not necessarily the same thing, and if you interpret my comment as meaning that they are, that is your problem, not mine. Same goes for calling out beauty sites that do not value competence as much as ITG.

  • .

    oh dear jenn, as my lovely Serbian mother would say"time will tell"....

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