'I’m from San Francisco, but I ended up in LA because of Nasty Gal. Sophia [Amoruso, Nasty Gal founder] and I were just buds hanging out all the time in San Francisco. We met through a mutual friend, this guy I liked. He said he was going to take me to a birthday party and I was like, ‘OK.’ I remember walking in and there she was: it was love at first sight. She had on these clear slide-heels with these high-waisted bell-bottom pants. At that point, she was totally ‘70s. We were just so mesmerized by each other because, at that time, we were both ‘period-piece girls.’ I was totally into ‘60s and ‘70s and so was she. And we were also just greasy, rocker, dive-bar girls. Anyways, we became friends and we hung out all the time. Around that time, she had just started with her eBay business, and it just grew overnight. At that point, I was a vendor for Chanel, so I worked at the beauty counters at Barneys and Saks and Neiman’s, and I would just go around doing events for Chanel. But eventually, Sophia said, ‘You know, I can’t do this by myself anymore and I don’t know anyone in San Francisco who's in love with fashion as much as you are… Can you come take over and do makeup?’ And I said, ‘OK—on the weekends.’ So, I was working two days a week for her and then it grew into a full-time job. A few years ago, she relocated the whole company to LA. At first, I styled everything and I did the makeup. It was just her and me and the photographer and her buyer, Christina, and an assistant. Now I still do all the makeup, but I just style the vintage because there’s so much to do—we have two other stylists.
I go through beauty stages. It’s weird hearing myself say this, but right now, I think I’m definitely European-based in my aesthetic because, for example, the French make these beautiful fuchsia lipsticks—when something says ‘Made in France,’ you can tell that the pigment is different. They’re really into controlled color, like pops of it; it’s minimal and fresh-looking. So that really speaks to me. Right now, I can’t get over fuchsia lipstick, even if it’s just a dab…or, like, a coral on my cheek. Just something vivid and bright on my eye. But always controlled, just accents… I think it comes from working with Chanel for so long—that style kind of just led itself into my system. I was 21 when I started with Chanel and now I’m 36.
There are some weeks where I just go to work, scrubbed face with just moisturizer on. And then there are times where I get totally inspired by having a creamy, matte face. So, I’ll get up in the morning and create a creamy, matte look and put a gloss on and leave—it just depends on my mood. It varies. But I love foundation. [Laughs] I don’t know why I love it, I think that’s the old-school part of me. I’m just infatuated with the formulas and how innovative they’re becoming and how beautiful the casing is and what they do for your complexion and how the different types of foundations out there are made for individual needs, skin types, and whatever you’re looking for.
To me, foundation is basically a second skin. It’s almost like a veil, making your skin look glowy and pretty. It can be super sheer or something more for evening—heavier, creamier. I think my love for it comes from my mom. I would always watch her put it on. And, you know, growing up as a teenager, I didn’t wear a stitch of makeup at all. I just thought it was kind of weird, a weird step to do as a woman. But I don’t know, as soon as I started in the business, I just loved the texture. I don’t think foundation should be intimidating—it’s actually really easy if you find your right color. All the people at the makeup counter have to hear is a few key words and they can direct you.
Personally, I like a super sheer, almost-not-there formula, like the water-based one from Chanel, Vitalumière Aqua in 20 Beige. You just put your moisturizer on and right before your moisturizer completely dries down, I like to put a little dollop of foundation on, rub it all over my face just like the moisture, so you automatically have that ‘second skin’ look. I don’t mind if the foundation goes all over because it should be all over your face if it's a second skin. And since I like it so sheer, if there’s anything else that needs to be covered, I’ll go in with a little correcting pen—like on the nose or the inner corner of the eye. I like Givenchy’s Mister Light Instant Light Corrective Pen. It has an amazing little brush and it has really good coverage.
YSL also has a beautiful foundation, Le Teint Touché Éclat Illuminating Foundation, and I love the rose tint to it—especially if you have an olive complexion. My favorite thing about YSL is the colors that are available—they’re super flattering. And it’s really glowy; it makes your skin just glow. In terms of powder, my favorite is a rose powder from Chanel, the Soft Pressed Powder in 30 Rosee. It smells so good. And sometimes, I think using a colored, tinted powder is prettier than a translucent. Translucent powders are invisible; they’re there to set your foundation. But when you actually use a colored powder, it kind of, like, glorifies your skin’s undertone.
My favorite blushes and eye shadows are all from Nars. The Marie Galante Eye Shadow Duo is amazing—it’s blue and purple; I love the vibrancy of purple. And the one I have on now, which I dot underneath my eye— Jolie Poupee. It’s inspired by David Bowie’s music video when he was into the whole clown look… David Bowie inspires me incredibly, yes—he did his own makeup in the ‘70s and ‘80s and he was really flamboyant and it was just so glamorous and elegant. I wear this eye shadow like it’s a taupe or earth brown or something.
What else? Givenchy makes my favorite liquid liners—the Parad’Eyes Fluid Eye Liner—because of their satin finish, which makes the light kind of dance off your lash line. I like liquid-y movement most of the time, but in the winter, I prefer matte liner. In that case, I’ll use a potted gel liner from L’Oreal: the Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner It’s great because it’s like a creamy-velvet feel—even when it gets old, it stays creamy. Really, it looks like a black velvet dress on your eye. [Laughs]
For lips, my favorite products right now are the YSL Glossy Stains. The formula is super modern; it’s a gloss that really stains your lips, so it doesn’t come off, which is great for photo shoots. You don’t have to do touch-ups because the way it looks on the lip is perfect. It just looks so technical. Plus, they have really pretty colors, like 18 Rose Pastel, which is a super pale pink. I like to use it as a base and then put a little drop of color in the center… I just get excited and infatuated by a product and use it until I O.D. on it. [Laughs] And for mascara, this has always been my favorite: Diorshow, for their Azure Blue. It’s the prettiest cobalt blue. For violet mascara, I like the YSL Volume Effet in Fascinating Violet. I’m wearing it right now.
When it comes to skin things, I love Caudalie. I just love how it’s all grape-derived. The Beauty Elixir spray is amazing—it’s a super fine mist, and I love that it sprays the exact perfect amount. Then, I use the Cleansing Water here and there, but I love the creaminess of the Gentle Cleansing Milk—it breaks down foundation and eye stuff super fast, but very gently. For moisturizer, I am really into the Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid with SPF 15. I know, all my skin care is all Caudalie right now! [Laughs] As I said, I’m an obsessive person and when I really get into one thing, I go for it. For me, with skincare, there’s so much out there and I feel like this brand’s really dialed down to the basics—it’s skincare-only, and I love their philosophy. And it feels so great on the skin.
Now, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting old and maybe it's because [my baby] Gus doesn't let me sleep so much, so I felt like I needed a reconstructing eye cream. [Laughs] It's true! I feel like lately my skin tissue is breaking down around my eye, so I just picked up Kiehl's Cryste Marine Firming Eye Treatment because it’s heavy. I’m drawn to Kiehl's for eye stuff because it’s basic and straightforward, and I like the texture. It keeps my under-eyes super moisturized, too.
But Gus really is the best baby—he’s a textbook baby. He only cries whenever he’s hungry or tired. On him, I only use two brands: Aveeno Baby and California Baby. They're the most gentle, I think. I even use their products for myself.”
—as told to ITG
Stacey Nishimoto photographed by Emily Weiss in Los Angeles on January 6, 2013.