'Until recently, I actually had a full-time job and worked in an office 9–5 as an apparel designer, which I don’t think people really knew. I’ve never been comfortable in front of the camera or with being recognized or known. So the blog stuff is so bizarre to me. It was always just a side thing, it was fun and easy posting pictures of my work outfits. And I never thought about how what I was doing was impacting my name or my image or how people recognized me. But last year when I went freelance, I finally had time to sit and think about the game plan and I just felt really uncomfortable with how people associated me with the internet and image-based things, rather than the work that I was doing. Young people are doing so many amazing things these days, being yoga instructors slash models slash editors-in-chief of their own websites, and that’s great. But I think I still have an old-school mentality and struggle with being a slashee, a bit. Even calling myself a stylist…I always think about the stylists that I admire, the really established people like Alastair McKimm and Jay Massacret, and would I be able to call myself a stylist in front of them? Would I feel proud enough? Until I get to that point, I don’t like to embrace a title. Because I was just so immersed in the internet world for a while, now I’m in this shock phase where I want to retreat and do small, private things. But I definitely like being behind-the-scenes, whether that’s being a creative director or even doing styling or production for shoots. I want what I do to eclipse being known for 'my cool clothes.'
In the morning, I’ll usually just rinse my face and wash it with the Aesop Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser—the white clay. And if I’m just hanging out at home, I’ll pat on some Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream. It’s very moisturizing and hydrating. I discovered it backstage at Fashion Week a couple years ago. At one of the shows, they were doing hydrating masks and creams on the models, so they gave me one, or I might’ve stolen it…But if I’m actually really properly taking care of my skin, then I’ll do the full routine—right now I’m doing the Ole Henriksen line. So it’ll be the Truth Serum and then the Pure Truth Vitamin C Youth Activating Oil, and then the Ultimate Lift Eye Gel. And then the Sheer Transformation Moisturizer. That’s the daytime routine.
My favorite, favorite, favorite—I use it sparingly because I love it so much—is the Aesop. I mean, my whole bathroom is Aesop. I'll mix the B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel with a couple drops of the Fabulous Face Oil. The balancing gel is basically like honey. You just pat it into your skin and then it dries matte. It’s super weird at first. I just pour it into my hand, rub it together, warm it up, and then squish it in. When you grow up with acne you’re kind of a germaphobe. You’re like ‘I can’t use the same towel twice, and I have to really keep away from bacteria and stuff.’ I think, because of that, I was using too much product at one point. So now I just squirt a small amount and then warm it up and I just pat it on and it spreads in.
At bedtime, I take everything off with Bioderma Créaline. And then I wash my face. If I’m super lazy and sleepy then I’ll just do the Aesop. Or I’ll do some sort of scrubby exfoliating thing, which I know is kind of bad for me, but because of my whole acne history, I always have to have that stripped-bare feeling. So, my nighttime routine depends on the condition of my skin. If I'm having a breakout, then I’ll use something a little bit more harsh. Then if I’m coasting, I’ll use either the Aesop or whatever’s in my bathroom shower. Like St. Ives. Sometimes I’ll use Proactiv, but it’s really harsh, so I’ll use that very rarely if I’m breaking out.
When I travel, I have no shame. You know those people who travel really cute and have cute outfits and wear full makeup? I’m the complete opposite. Full pajamas and crocs. I don’t care if it’s a daytime flight, I will put a sheet mask on my face for a five-hour New York flight. People think I’m crazy, but if I need to squeeze it in, I will. The SK-II sheet masks are probably my favorite, but I have to use them sparingly because they’re so expensive. And then also the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay that you mix with apple cider vinegar. It just feels like a suction cup on your face, and it makes you look crazy after, but feels so good. And then Glossier, I love—I do both of the masks together in the same session, one after another when my skin feels kind of dull. There's this new one that I discovered from Erno Laszlo, too, which is called a sleep mask but it’s kind of not. You don’t wash it off or take it off. You just sleep in it, and it’s this weird Jell-o-like consistency. It feels crazy hydrating, like you slept with water on your face.
I just did a campaign with & Other Stories. Now I have all of their nail polish colors—the one I’m wearing is called Hexagon Cream 501. All these weird nudie colors are so good. When I’m on my game, I probably get my nails done once every three weeks. I used to be obsessed with going to Japanese nail studios, because a) I feel like they do the best at everything beauty, and b) because I’m a full psycho and everyone hates me when I go to the nail salon. I can’t ever go to a place and be like, ‘I want this,’ and then let them do it and walk out and be happy. I have to full micromanage and be like, ‘No, no, no, you missed this spot…this shape isn’t right…’ So usually they can’t stand me. But Japanese places are like, ‘Oh OK, how nice! OK, sure. Whatever you want!’ So, it’s easier. I used to be crazy into nail art, but then, out of laziness, I stopped. I don’t like to change the design or color that often. So I started to go for colors and neutrals that would work with every outfit. I also do my own gel manicures sometimes. I use the Sally Hansen Salon Pro Gel Kit with the mini LED lamp. It’s my secret weapon. I’ve given a few girlfriends manicures with it, too.
My approach to beauty has always been rooted in having acne. So I always really liked that super-matte, full mask-face, everything covered up. Like full-coverage foundation with full-coverage concealer and then a powder foundation—I’d just look like I was wearing a mask. I loved that look for so long. And now that I’m older and more conscious of health and beauty from within and eating well, I kind of like my skin to show through a little bit. So now I’m embracing the dewy look more.
I have three versions of makeup. There’s the bare basic for when I’m going to leave the house, but don’t want to look completely tired. For this, I’ll just put on this Cle de Peau Concealer, which is the best ever. I think I’ve tried every concealer on the market, and this is my favorite. It doesn’t really make me break out, which is great for acne-prone people. So I’ll just do concealer under-eye, a little bit on my forehead, a little bit on my chin, and around my nose. I have crazy redness around my nose, which I didn’t realize was a thing, until I read it for the first time in Into The Gloss' Amy Astley profile. I don’t know if it’s broken capillaries or what, it’s just like really veiny and more red around my nose. And it makes all the difference in the world if you just put concealer there. So I wet a Beauty Blender sponge and just tap it in. I think I was using the sponge incorrectly before, because I was using it dry. But the wet thing makes all the difference. I never wear anything on my lips—it’s always Vaseline Lip Therapy.
The next tier is a little bit more presentable. It’s the concealer with the Beauty Blender and then my eyeliner. If I’m being quick, I’ll take like two seconds. But if I’m being really meticulous it’ll take like 30 minutes to draw a stupid line. I don't always need to do a cat eye, but if I’m doing eyeliner, it's going to be a cat eye. My favorite eyeliner is the Sephora Collection Classic Line, with a felt tip. Easiest to use ever. This one’s actually really good, too—the & Other Stories Bombazine Black Eye Marker—it’s like a Sharpie. I don’t like the dipping pot ones or the look you get with that. Shiseido also makes a super awesome one, the Automatic Fine Eyeliner—it’s a calligraphy brush tip and then you just buy ink cartridges. I’ve only just started using eyeshadow a little bit, but I don’t ever use color, and I only ever use one out of this whole Naked kit. Creep—the black one—is my eyeliner. And then Naked to give some depth on the top. I mean, Asian people, we just can’t do eyeshadow the same way Caucasian people can. [Laughs] So the middle tier is the Sephora eyeliner, maybe a tiny bit of the Urban Decay Naked, and then this Nars Blush in Deep Throat, and then this Estée Lauder X Courrèges Illuminations Face Powder on the top of my cheekbones.
And then if I’m full-on going out, to a wedding or an event, I’ll do all of that stuff, but probably swap the Sephora liner for actual eyeshadow, and then do mascara. And this is my favorite mascara— Benefit They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara. It holds a curl so well. I curl it with a regular Revlon curler, but I always smash them down so that they’re flatter and not so crescent. I used to be psycho with mascara in my teens and twenties, where I would have full Harajuku spider lashes, just so clumpy. But now I’ve chilled out a bit. So that’s pretty much it. And never a lip. The only time I wear lipstick or lip liner is like five minutes before I’m about to wash my face. Just to see what it looks like and if maybe someday I want to wear it, and then I’ll wipe it off and go to bed. It just feels weird to me.
The only thing that I’ve sort of been kind of been experimenting is the weird dark circle under eyes look. Tricia, my love from the first season of Orange is the New Blac k, she was the white girl with the blonde cornrows. For some reason I really liked her dark circles. Basically the really pale skin with a hint of burgundy-ish or mauve just around the eyes. Like that discolored weird red-ish hue. Nars Matte Eyeshadow in New York is really good for that.
With all my products, whether it’s creams or serums or the goopy stuff leftover in the sheet mask packets, I always put it on the back of my hands. There was one time when I was at a Shiseido counter at some mall and I was looking at products and then this little pair of hands slid up next to me and was touching products and looking at things. It was the youngest-looking, softest, most delicate pair of hands. And I looked over and it was a full-on Japanese grandma. And she was decades older than me, and her hands looked my age. I was like, ‘Whoa, your hands!’ And she told me, ‘I wear gloves, and I wear sunscreen all the time, I always exfoliate them…’ So ever since then I’ve been just obsessed with hand stuff. I have a special sunblock that I put on my hands. The Aesop Avail Body Lotion with Sunscreen—I think they just released it this year—that one is my favorite. It smells so good too! Then I use the Shiseido Urban Environment Sunscreen for my face, because it’s really watery, and I don’t like heavy facial sunscreens. And I have a walking hat, I’m not going to lie.
HAIR & PERMS
My hair is the straightest. Naturally, it looks like I got a flat-iron Brazilian blowout. And it’s super silky, which in theory sounds really amazing, but you can’t actually do anything with it except just let it hang. Unless you have that really chic bob or a really graphic and extreme blunt cut, then there’s nothing you can do with it. So when I get a haircut maybe once a year, I get a perm at the same time. The first time I had a perm was when I was probably five years old. And my mom gave me an at-home perm. Now I only ever go to Kim Sun Young. It’s a chain in K-Town, like SuperCuts but Korean. And there’s one girl that I go to, Claire, and she’s the best. I just get a super basic, classic perm. This time she gave me a digital perm, which is a new, fancy, weird process. It’s when they put the solution in and then roll your hair, and then they hook you up to a heated machine. It looks crazy— like weird sci-fi. Apparently it’s less damaging.
I did a shoot on Monday with this local makeup artist-slash-hairstylist Nikki DeRoest, and she always does my hair really well. I was so sad to wash it, but I can never go past a day without washing it. One day is my safe zone, two days is really pushing it, and then three is impossible. I would never leave the house. I think it’s an Asian thing. Asian people just get really greasy scalps. A lot of my friends wash their hair once a week or once every two weeks, which blows my mind. If I did that, I would have no friends. I’ve used Shiseido Tsubaki Shining Shampoo for a long time.
This is probably one of my most high-maintenance things. I have crazy eyebrows that will connect to my forehead if I don’t pluck them—they’ll just like grow all the way up. It takes a lot of plucking and muscling to keep them in place. I’ll let them get a bit jungle-y and then pluck every few days. But I can’t push it more than a couple of days, because usually my close girlfriends will start to comment. [Laughs] Sometimes, if I’m doing my full, full, full makeup look, then I’ll fill them in a little bit, but they’re already so black and thick and bushy that it looks really aggressive.
CHARCOAL & QTIPS
I’m obsessed with everything charcoal. My drinking water has charcoal in it. My toothpaste is charcoal. The one I have right now is bizarre! I ordered it from Amazon and it came from Thailand, so it’s like Thai Colgate Charcoal toothpaste, which is a little bit suspicious. I also use charcoal Q-tips. They’re basically black Q-tips from one of the big drugstores in Hong Kong. Q-tips are actually one of my top products that I use. I use three different kinds. I have like the tiny, baby Muji ones that are the best for makeup. And then I have the charcoal ones, and then also just basic white Q-tips. I’ve had my septum piercing for eight years, and the only way that I can clean my nose is to Q-tip the inside of it. I don’t really notice the piercing anymore. I had it flipped up for a long time though, because my parents would disown me.”
—as told to ITG
Jayne Min photographed by Rick Rodney in Los Angeles on August 28, 2015. Interview by Jane Helpern.
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