Ilona Hamer, Stylist


“Styling is something I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do. I’m from Australia, and I worked at Vogue Australia for six years, until I was 26. I left in 2012 and moved to New York to continue working—now I work freelance, and I’m also a contributing fashion editor for Russh. I get to work with a lot of friends, like Phoebe Tonkin, and Isabella Manfredi [from The Preatures]. And then just advertising and [commercial] jobs to pay the rent, because editorial jobs don’t. [Laughs] I'm also working on a swim line, Matteau, that focuses on simplistic swimwear. That's probably from the Australian in me.

When I arrived in New York, I didn’t have a full-time job at a magazine or anything. In my downtime, my friend Alex and I would just shoot things together, and that led to us thinking we should start a magazine. So we launched Unconditional last year—actually, we just came out with the second issue, and I did all of the makeup for it. We used a ton of lip balm, on the lips, on the eyebrows… I like that simplicity. You really just need so little in life to be happy. That’s what I try to do at work, at home, for everything. You don’t need a lot of things, you just need the right things.

You could give me three products to use for the rest of my life, and that would be enough. I can’t live without RMS—the tiny little pots that you can keep in your jean pocket. I use the Un-Cover Up in 33, just around the nose and in the shape of a little Batman wing under my eyes. I love that it’s moisturizing. And you can dab your finger in the pot and then press it onto your skin and it’s fixed. Genius. And the Living Luminizer I like on my cheekbones. Then some Eye Polish in Seduce, and that’s all you need.

My eyelashes always have to be curled, all the time. They’re so straight. I use a couple of different things—I like the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, and I also have Covergirl Perfect Blend Eyeliner in Mink, which is like $6 at Duane Reade. It’s pretty natural. Not black, which is too dark on me, but also not too light brown or too dark brown. For night, I might try a dark eyeliner. Chanel Crayon Yeux in Teak is a little glittery, and I’ll just heavy it up. Sometimes I put it on and then I put on luminizer and let sit for a half an hour while I have wine. That’s really good.

I work a bit with Chanel’s Australian beauty team, and they always give me the best products, so between them and RMS, I’m good. Chanel gave me a set of Rouge Coco lipsticks, and some of them were crazy colors, but I found the one that’s revolutionizing for me—Mademoiselle. I put it on and I take it off, and I put it on again, and take some off, and then it’s perfect. A makeup artist also put me on MAC Spice Lip Pencil. That’s a little more ‘90s, whereas Mademoiselle is just lips-color.

If I’m doing lips then I won’t do bronzer. But when I need some, it’s Chanel Lumière D'Été Luminizing Bronzer. And I also like a brow. I’ll use Glossier Boy Brow, or if I want something more dramatic, I’ll use a Chanel Eyebrow Pencil and Murray’s Wax. The Glossier is just enough tint, because sometimes I’ll over-pencil my eyebrows, and I look in the mirror like, ‘I’m Italian!’

Skincare is more important for me than makeup. I don’t wash my face over the basin, I hate doing that. I only ever wash it in the shower. And I use Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Milk. I was using the Aesop Parsley Gel, which makes you feel really clean, but I change my cleansers out seasonally. My moisturizer is either Glossier Priming Moisturizer or the MSM Cream Moisturizer. I had a friend in LA who went bananas over this brand, so I got a little pot to try it. It makes your skin look great, antioxidants, blah blah blah. [Laughs] I put it on and it dries right into my skin. But sometimes I like to look kind of dewy, so then I put on a Naturopathica Face Oil. Then I race over, while my skin’s still dewy, to put my RMS on. I love masks, too—I just recently got the Aztec Secret Clay, and oh my God. It stinks but it’s so good. I do it with apple cider vinegar.

When I first moved to New York I had really long hair, and then I cut it down to this length. I was living with a hairdresser, and he cut it short. And after two or three months, I saw this picture of Anja Rubik—I showed it to him like, ‘Maybe?’ and he was like, ‘I love it!’ We opened a bottle of wine, got really drunk, and cut it even shorter. And I loved it. You feel like a different person with short hair. And you don’t have to do anything with it, really. The dirtier and grosser it is, the better. Growing it out was hard, but it’s kind of been like this since. Marcos Diaz does my razor cuts at Suite Caroline now.

I like to wash it less, but sometimes it gets weird because I have fine hair. It’s best after the gym, when it’s sweaty. When I do wash it, I like Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo and Conditioner. Sometimes it makes it too clean and flat. My friend just introduced me to this company called Sans Ceuticals from New Zealand. It’s all-natural, and it’s really good! They have a volumizing shampoo that I use. The Wella Ocean Spritz I really like, too, but it’s impossible to find it on a shelf. It’s good because it dries. So when I had short hair, I used to use it instead of washing. Then there’s a Sachajuan Ocean Mist. I bought it because the packaging is great, but when you’re using it, you’ve to time it right with your wet hair or else it gets sticky and strange. And there’s a Toni and Guy Sea Salt Spray that I use. When they’re kind of all half-empty I’ll pour them into one and then add water and shake it up! I like doing strange things like that.

My mother-in-law sent me this Nayki Green Tea Soak that I really love. I like to do Epsom salt baths every evening. They help me sleep through the night. I’m addicted. I’ll soak for ten minutes, and I’ll put on Netflix—I’ll place the computer on the toilet. My favorite thing to watch is Made in Chelsea. It’s terrible, it’s The Hills but in London. My husband is like, ‘This is awful, you need to get a life.’ I don’t know why I love it so much.

I go to a crazy Chinese massage parlor that’s in Nolita, around where I live. It’s like a basement on Mulberry Street. It’s a little painful, and you kind of feel sick in the stomach after, but it’s really good. I like places like that. Phoebe and I tried to go to the Turkish Baths once. And you know, you walk in and it’s like the cafeteria or something. We walked in and there were just like 15 huge, hairy men at tables with massive beer guts and like we just closed the door and walked out! It’s so scary. Phoebs and I just looked at each other, ran, and then I think we went to Great Jones Spa.

Fragrance is very important to me. I really like Chanel Sycomore, that’s my standard. It’s really peppery and warm. And I normally always have Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’Eau, but I just ran out. My husband and I also share the Christian Dior Bois D’Argent. He likes to wear Maison Louis Marie No. 4, which I like, and we burn the candle, too. It’s like Santal 33 but not as intense. If you’re in New York, and you’re in a café and someone’s drinking a coffee 200 meters away from you, you’re going to end up smelling like Santal for the rest of the afternoon. It’s like an occupational hazard living in New York, that smell. It gets stuck on you.”

Ilona Hamer photographed by Tom Newton at her home in New York on November 17, 2015.

See the lingerie shoot Ilona styled for us over here. For more of The Top Shelf, including the beauty routine of fellow stylist Melanie Huynh, click this way.