"I dropped out of Yale after two years. I thought I would major in economics and get a job in corporate world and make lots of money and be rich, even though I wasn't interested in that stuff at all. I was flunking, but kind of glad about it. And people thought I was crazy to leave, but I just wasn't happy. I had to bust my ass financially to be there and I didn’t know why I was doing it. It was a bit of a risk. It's funny—my husband's a stunt man, so we take risks in different ways... I drop out of Yale, he jumps off of a building. We just launched our clothing brand Basic Terrain together, too, which we worked on for a long time. I guess we can do anything. [Laughs]
And I was lucky, because I was scouted at a party in New York right before final exams my sophomore year. I booked a shoot for Seventeen, and when exams were over, I was like, 'OK, I'm out.' When I started modeling, I was terribly insecure because I wasn't a girly-girl—I wore my hair in a ponytail every day and never had a beauty regimen. I'm still not really a makeup person. But as a model of color, I had to do my own makeup sometimes, because the makeup artists wouldn't have shades for every skin tone. I remember using a Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick—my shade was between 5 and 6, with Clinique Pressed Powder. In many ways things are getting better. But the beauty standard of the day is still a bit Eurocentric. Until that changes, we're still going to keep having these discussions and fighting for inclusion.
If I need to wear makeup now, I usually just dust on Nars Pressed Powder in Heat. I like the Armani Luminous Silk Foundation 9 for work, with some Edward Bess Blush in Moroccan Rose [ed note: discontinued, but Bed of Roses is pretty close] and a little Guerlain Terracotta. And I love the Nars Multiples, Malibu especially. For me, the most important thing is a curled lash. I don’t really wear mascara because I don’t like how I do it, but I love when other people do it on me.
Terrell Mullin, the makeup artist who I worked with on Rosewood, turned me on to Burt's Bees lip products, and now I wear Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon 100% Natural in Napa Vineyard. It stays on for a bit, and it kind of looks like my natural color. But I collect red lipstick—I'm still searching for the perfect red, but I love MAC Ruby Woo. I also like Laura Mercier's Mulberry Lip Stain [ed note: no longer available], it kind of just punches up my natural lip color and then I’ll do a gloss over it. One of the guys from KISS actually gave me a good Nyx red lip color recently. [Laughs]
I wash my face with Epicuren Gellé Cleanser and a Clarisonic. It’s really clean and no frills but good as hell, and a little goes a long way. Once a week I’ll use the Epicuren Micro Derm Ultra-Refining Scrub. The Volcanic Ash Mask is also good, but Peter Thomas Roth makes these blemish pads that really work. Even if I have a huge zit, I'll just put one of those on overnight and it helps. For a moisturizer, I either use Epicuren Aloe Vera Calming Gel—or I'll just make my own with pure aloe. Then a little Eve Hansen Rosehip Oil, and a spritz of either rosewater or Epicuren's Aloe Cucumber Mist. Aloe is really healing. I try to use it as much as possible.
Sometimes I'll put some retinol around my eyes. Peter Thomas Roth used to make an incredible heavy cream with retinol and rosehip, but they discontinued it. Instead, for a heavy moisturizer, I'll use Decleor Ylang Ylang Balm—I'll use that when we're skiing. My husband and I have a house in Utah in the mountains, and when we go there, I'll switch up my products. During the night I'll use Decleor, but during the day, I like the Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Cream and also the Jurlique Skin Balancing Facial Oil. I like oils. I'm trying to incorporate a little Eve Hansen Vitamin C Serum into my routine. Since I’ve been on this regimen, my skin has been the best it’s ever been.
For most of my career, I've kept my weave in. My friend Amoy Pitters used to do them. I still wear hair—I have on a clip-on ponytail today—but I haven't worn a weave in awhile. I get my hair washed and dried, once a week or once every other week. My hairstylist in LA presses it once and then I’ll use an old-school pomade wax, Tancho High Grade Lavender Pomade, on the edges. I tie it down at night to keep it smooth. When I started modeling, my hair was always relaxed and processed, but I haven't put any relaxers in it for...maybe six or seven years? I've been through a lot of those stages of beauty, and I'm really glad. I think it built my confidence, which is important for a human being. Even more important for a woman."
—as told to ITG
Joy Bryant photographed by Tom Newton in New York on March 31, 2016.