'I moved to New York for school right after I turned 18, but I started getting into trouble—so I went home to LA to regroup. I moved back two years ago and now I’m in school again at The New School studying Psychology and Lit. One day I want to go back to California though, to get my Master’s.
ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I get recognized a lot in New York now, probably from Instagram. I have about 15,000 followers, but I feel like Instagram fame is on a street level. People work so hard to create this brand for themselves—you’ll see a girl who’s like ‘I’m an exercise freak!’ Or ‘I make smoothies!’ It gets frustrating because to be cohesive on social media like that, you can’t show all facets of your personality.
I have an ‘Ask’ box on my Tumblr and get a lot of messages from teenage girls who say things like, ‘I have big legs, I always thought I was fat and I see you now and it makes me feel confident,’ or ‘I never wore crop tops until I saw you wear one!’ They’re like me—a little tomboy-ish and into hip-hop, but from all walks of life. A lot of young Latina girls feel alienated, or like they don’t fit into a certain category or the societal flow of how things are supposed to be. But that’s not reality!
My version of makeup is a really intense skin regimen. I just think it’s a healthier way to look at beauty. I have the Clarisonic and I probably over-exfoliate—I’ll use it two or three times a week with the Fresh Soy Face Exfoliant. For a normal face wash, I use a Kiehl’s cleanser. I’m also big on toner and I swear by the Dermatologica one. The moisturizers I have are the Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream, which is super gentle, and the Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream.
I like looking wet, sweaty, dewy, fresh. I'll put Rosebud Salve on my eyelids or my cheeks because I really don't like looking matte—I even keep a rosewater spray in my purse. There’s the Mario Badescu one, and now I have the Glossier Soothing Face Mist, which is pretty much everything in the world to me. It’s really nice—it sets up your makeup and I love how you just spray it and instantly glow.
I get my hair blown out at this Dominican spot, Yany’s on Rivington—it’s the best. They always call me la gringa because I don’t speak Spanish the way they do. When it’s been a few days and my hair gets dirty, I’ll use this amazing thing called The Wand on it. It looks like a hot plug-in dildo that you wrap your hair around. My hair can be completely filthy, I’ll use The Wand, then spray it with Oribe Impérmeable Anti-Humidity Spray and it’s like I just had my hair redone! But I’ll also use cheaper products like Frizz-Ease and stuff. I’m a champagne taste-beer budget kind of girl.
My nails are still acrylic—you know the phase everyone went through at 15 that was all about the fake nails? That just stuck with me. I know they’re terrible for you, but I’ve had them for so long and I can’t stop. And your nail person is someone you become very loyal to—I only go to my girl Jennifer who I call ‘Jenny from the block’ at this little place on Clinton Street. She never gets mad at me for being a stickler about the shape or whatever. I bring my own nail polish and play around with different shades to get that perfect natural. Angel Food by Essie is good.
Wearing too much makeup definitely makes my skin worse. When I was younger, I hated my freckles because I thought they looked like acne, so I used too much makeup to try and cover them up. Then it'd turn into this whole cyclical terror of getting a pimple, covering it up, which would make it worse, so you start picking at it. Now I use a lot less of it—especially foundation and concealor. But I still I love wearing matte lipstick all the time. MAC Ruby Woo for life! It’s such a good shade that I’ll even wear it in the morning.
When I wear mascara, I use three different ones— Maybelline Falsies, for getting them fluffed up, then YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils, it has a spiral brush and can really get the corners of your eyelashes, then a random plastic comb drugstore mascara to coat and separate my lower lashes. I’m a little crazy, I’ll admit.
When people tell me they do their brows themselves, I just don’t understand. How do they get them so clean?! I have to get mine threaded because I’m so bad with tweezers. I use a MAC Angle brush with powder to fill them in a little every day. I don’t like them with liner, it’s too harsh…I did go through a phase when I was really into like the chola-look. I wanted my eyebrows big looking, which is a whole different thing. Now my look is more about balance—it’s not necessarily natural, but it’s not excessive anymore. Truthfully I don’t mind myself without makeup at all. I just wear it because it’s fun.”
—as told to ITG
Paloma Elsesser photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on July 25, 2014.