'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.