The LA-Based Ops Director Who's A Self-Described Lip Alchemist


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“Hi ;-) My name is Nicole Simons (@nsimons). I live in Los Angeles, CA and I work as the Director of Creative Operations for a boutique creative agency here in Los Angeles. We primarily work with companies in the health and wellness space on everything from marketing strategy to brand design to producing creative content—the whole lot. I’ve always been a bit of a right- and left-brain split. I tend to gravitate toward more analytical, operational-based roles, but always in super creative environments—which I think is actually pretty telling of my personality and my outlook on beauty as well. A balance of practicality and visual appeal, you might say.

Working with so many health and wellness companies has definitely made me take a more holistic approach to beauty. It’s actually focusing on inner health that gets you the best results, so I just try to do the basic stuff–drink a lot of water, exercise and be mindful of what I’m putting into my body... Even though I ate an entire jar of Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s this weekend.

My days are usually pretty hectic so I like to keep my routines pretty simple and that definitely applies to my skincare routine. I also find that if I ever start to over-complicate my routine, my skin freaks out. I usually wash with something gentle like Avène’s Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion or Glossier’s Milky Jelly, and when I need something deeper, I like Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Cleanser. Then, I’ll spray Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater before I moisturize. In the morning, I use Tata Harper’s Rebuilding Moisturizer. I love it because it’s light and matte-ifying, so it’s nice under makeup. At night, I’ll add in a serum or mask depending on how my skin is feeling. Right now I’m using this Vitamin C serum by The Ordinary that I am obsessed with! It’s super concentrated so it makes your skin tingly and has this weird powdery feeling, but it really helps with dark spots and evening out skin tone. Then I like to apply a moisturizer that’s a bit thicker than my morning one—I usually alternate between Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream or Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich. If my face is ever feeling puffy, I like to give myself a 5-min facial massage. I owe this tip to my mom, who is an aesthetician and taught me. It really does help to increase circulation and reduce swelling. For that, I'll usually use a few drops of coconut or vitamin E oil and start from the neck and move upward.

For everyday makeup, I use is Nars Velvet Matte Skin Tint because it has SPF 30 and doesn't look greasy, and I've used Bareminerals Warmth Bronzer since middle school, so I obviously love that. My favorite blush is Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color in Rose Bloom, but in the summer, I like a cream tint, like Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff. On my brows I use Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz In Chocolate, and I always have eyelash extensions so I never really wear mascara. Sometimes I'll do a cat eye though, in which case I'll use Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Pot.

If I could only leave the house with one beauty item it would be a tinted lip balm. I’m addicted to lip stuff—scrubs, chapsticks, tints, liners. I’m like a lip alchemist. I love all of it. But with that said I rarely switch it up—I know what I like and I tend to stick with it. I like a rose-colored lip best, because it’s natural and not too distracting, but also brings some healthy color to my face. Overall, my lip tips would be using a light sugar scrub every other day to keep them soft, lining your lips on the ridges in a nude to make them look fuller, and sleeping with a heavier Vaseline-type product at night to keep them moisturized. My favorite lip products are Nudestix’s Intense Matte Lip + Cheek Pencil in Purity—it stays all day but can be drying so I usually mix with something more balmy—Smith's Rosebud Minted Rose Lip Balm, Bare Minerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick in Panko, and Fresh Sugar Lip Polish. Or, just actual sugar mixed with Vaseline if I’m in a pinch.

Unfortunately, I was not born ambidextrous, so my earliest display of any self-discipline whatsoever goes back to me trying to paint the nails on my right hand with my left. I would seriously hold my breath and prop my hand against my knee to stabilize my stroke. Needless to say, I am now such an expert at painting my own nails that I prefer not to go to nail salons—with the exception of an occasional cuticle trim or clean-up. Right now, I’m really into metallic nails. My favorites are Essie Nothing Else Metals and Penny Talk, or Butter London’s Diamond Geezer. To me, metallic nails are the party girl’s version of a nude. I wouldn’t say I’m obnoxious with my nail color, but it seems like such an inconsequential beauty choice that it’s generally the thing I have the most fun with. ”

—as told to ITG