'I started developing my Bath Towel Series when I was in the bathroom of my old East Village apartment, which was a really run-down, old, kind of grimy apartment. I actually just put on a towel and had this face mask and I looked in the mirror and it really reminded me of a woman from the 17th century—almost like a Baroque or Renaissance female figure but in a present context. I just found the image kind of haunting. It’s so intimate in a way, with the skin showing...you’re undressed but at the same time, with the mask, you’re covered. You don’t know if you’re being intrusive or if you feel blocked by the person because you don’t know what’s underneath.
I love the setting of the series—old New York tiled bathrooms look like they haven’t been changed since the '50s or earlier. And it's interesting to me because it is a private room. You’re allowed to go in and lock the door. It’s a room where we deal with insecurities, it’s a room where we deal with our bodies, it’s a room where we deal with our vanity, it’s a room where we deal with our secrets. What’s behind closed doors? Let’s take off the layers—if I can do that through painting, it’s exciting for me. It's liberating to be honest about yourself, too, and not just reveal yourself through Instagram.
Now every time I use a mask, I think about how I can use them in my paintings. I'll have a girlfriend come over and we'll both put on masks and I'll take some pictures. Organic Pharmacy has a good mask. Then I also use a Bliss All-In-One Anti-Aging Clay Mask that makes my skin glow after I use it. It does sting a little bit—I don’t really know if you’re supposed to use anti-aging when you're young, but you never know when wrinkles are going to pop up. I also make a lot of expressions with my face so it's nice to know I’m taking care of it. If I want something lighter, I’ll use this Kiehl's Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque and leave it on when I sleep.
Recently I started using the Intraceuticals line after a makeup artist introduced me to the line. It's great because it's this whole process that makes for a fun ritual every day. My skin is really dry so I'll do the whole thing—the cleanser, the serum, the hydration gel, the moisturizer, morning and night. The air here is so polluted that I enjoy that clean feeling at the end of the day. Then I’ll use the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Skin Brightening Exfoliator to keep things unclogged. A lot of people say things about exfoliators, but I like this one twice or three times a week. Dermalogica has a good one too—the Daily Microfoliant.
For facials, the absolute best I've had is at Advanced Skin Care Day Spa, a little spot in Midtown that is a real gem. I see Isabel who makes the products fresh while you're there—she taught me that for pure skin you need oxygen and you don't need to to oversaturate your skin with rich heavy creams. Let your skin breathe. I use their O2 Oxygen Mask a couple of times a week and it bubbles up on your skin and in minutes your face has absorbed the whole mask.
I use coconut oil for everything else. I’ll put it on when I have wet skin twice a day—just a small amount because it's so rich. Then I also really notice the difference when I drink more water. Alcohol is just the worst because if you have a few glasses of anything, you wake up and look 10 times worse than if you hadn’t had any at all. And it makes it harder for me to go running, which is my favorite exercise. That's something I notice in my skin—sprinting and sweating make me glow.
Maybe it's kind of gross, but I only wash my hair once every 10 days. And only with conditioner—not shampoo because it strips it too much. I have the best hair after I go to the gym and get really sweaty. It gets so thick and the sweat weighs it down a bit. My dad's family has the best thick hair—it's coarse and a little annoying, but hairstylists love it because they can do so much with it. I’ll use jojoba oil for my hair when it's wet and then I’ll do a mask. I have a Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask, and Kiehl’s Superbly Smoothing Argan Hair Pak is a good hair one. My ends can get really fried, so I’ll just do it overnight. I’ve been tempted to dye my hair but I haven’t. I like to keep things natural. I don’t pluck my eyebrows either. I don’t like to mess with things too much because then there’s too much upkeep.
Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Golden Light is the perfect color for me. And I love her Shimmer Bricks because they just give you a glow that's not too obvious. Then I’ll use a sheer clear gloss or strobe cream for a healthy and natural look on my eyelids, maybe a little bit on my nose, and on my cheekbones. It doesn't really look like makeup—just glow. Sometimes I’ll just do that with a Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler and no mascara. I might add Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Eye Base since it's such a nice tone and it wears well all day. For the night, I love the Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita Luxury Palette. Charlotte’s makeup is amazing, it blends so well. I switch it around, but what I usually do is darken my eyebrows with eyeshadow. Taupe by Bobbi Brown is good for that as well. As long as you don’t put too much on.
For lips during the day I love Burberry Lip Gloss in Pale Nude No. 9. And Burberry Mascara is really good for daytime because it's light and doesn’t clump up—just lengthens subtly. When you want metallic-y eyes for the evening, this is what you want—Chanel Eye Gloss (ed note: unavailable, but try this). I got it when I was 13 and it's super old. But if you want shimmery eyes that are extra opaque, put water on your brush first, and it’s like watercolor, and it just makes the pigment pop.
When I do my makeup, I want to look healthy and I want to be approachable as well. It’s fun dressing up, too. But, the way I view myself changes a lot when I paint because when I paint it’s not about the way I look at all. I don’t wear any makeup to the studio, it's made me a lot more practical about how I treat my skin and looks so I don’t take it too seriously. I’m just all about glowiness. It's fun dressing up at night, it's fun getting into character.”
—as told to ITG
Tali Lennox photographed by Tom Newton in New York on June 11, 2015.