Elizabeth De La Piedra, Photographer


“I tell people I’m a child of the world. My parents are from Peru and that’s where I’m from, but when I was two we moved to Australia. I’m a Chicagoan now—I’ve been living in the States for seven or eight years—so, I have a crazy accent. I learned English watching 90210. [As a kid] I was bossy and I knew I wanted to be an artist. I would draw and paint, and I was always working on getting my drawings to scale, so I would take photos of what I wanted to draw to help with that. That made me think photography was more sustainable as a career—more technologically advanced. I really got into it when the internet began, when I was 12 or 13, and started blogging. At that age I didn’t know what I was doing—I was taking photos of my friends or of myself, and then I was using [Microsoft] Paint as my Photoshop. After high school I went to college for a little bit, but then I dropped out because I wanted to party. I worked in retail for a year before I re-applied to school and studied photography.

When I was 24 I moved from Sydney to Chicago because of my husband—I met him on MySpace. I may or may have not slid into his DMs. He’s a musician—he started a DJ group called Flosstradamus—and after I met him online he went on tour in Australia. We didn’t take it seriously until one day we did. Once you know, you know. I look back at it now, and if my daughter had done the same thing to me I would’ve been shitting myself. I spent a lot of time wondering if I was doing the right thing—the whole concept of moving for a man is gross. But I felt something special, and I didn’t want to spend my whole life wondering what if. So I moved to Chicago, then New York, and interned at Ryan McGinley, Magnum, and Chris Buck. I came back to Chicago and got married and had babies. I love it here. There’s something about the people in the Midwest—they’re really nice, they’re polite, they’re lovely. My life is so different now. I partied a lot in Australia… [Laughs] It’s the culture. The clubs were open really late, like until 6AM, and you have a lot of energy when you’re 19. I used to be one of those little girls who’d DJ at the bars, and stuff like that. In Chicago, I don’t really go out so much, mainly because I’m so tired these days with the kiddos. We do go to dinners and stuff. I love Café Marie-Jeanne. It’s a super cozy French place, and it’s really decadent and delicious. And I love all the Peruvian restaurants here—Peruvian food is flame!

When I’m getting ready the first thing I do is lock my door—no one’s allowed to come in. I’ll have a smoke, light a candle, and put on my true crime podcast—always. Right now my favorites are Generation Why and The Slow Burn. I have an outfit for everything. I’m like, ‘Golfing? Got you. Jury duty? Got you.’ So, I’ll get my outfit out, and then I’ll do my makeup. I use a brown liner on my eyes and to line my lips. My NYX one is my favorite. I love to line my lips—I’m a Latina, it’s a thing. For my cheeks I use Cloud Paint—a mixture of Dawn and Haze. I don’t go anywhere without blush, I look dead. I’ve really been feeling pearlescent colors, especially pearlescent lilacs. I’ll put Glossier Lidstar in Fawn and Lily on my eyelids, and a Sephora eye crayon in Lilac Shimmer is the base. Today I’m wearing Stretch Concealer, and I use my fingers to go under my eyes and around my mouth, where any uneven skin colors are. Then I mix Glossier Skin Tint in Dark with Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation—it makes it a little bit darker and I get a bit more coverage. After that I will put the Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Highlighter on the tops of my cheekbones, my brow bone, and the tip of my nose. Heavy eyebrows don’t look good on me, so I try to make it subtle. I use Boy Brow in Clear first, and then I color in my little spots with the Brown. MAC’s Prep and Prime setting spray helps everything settle and it makes my makeup look like skin, as opposed to something sitting on my skin. Then I always finish with Wowder in my t-zone. I don’t wear bronzer—sometimes I put the Haloscope in the bronzer color on the bottoms of my cheekbones to create a little depth. And then I use Lash Slick or Benefit They’re Real Mascara. Today I’m wearing Lash Slick because I’m wearing bright shadow and I don’t want my lashes to look too thick. I just love looking super natural, and taking everything I’ve got and turning it all the way up, so people are like, ‘Wow, what did you do?’ And I’m like, ‘Nothing!’ [Laughs] I used to do red a lot, and I’ve been doing really dark red verging on black lately. There’s Cyber from MAC, which is like a black-purple, and I have this really cool brown MAC called Photo. When you have brown skin, you have to be careful of the browns that you use because they can bring out different uneven tones. And then they can also make your teeth look yellow.

My skin’s really dry and porous, so I do a lot of exfoliating and cleansing. I use this Probiotic Tula stuff—it’s really gentle, and it maintains moisture but gets the oily stuff too. That one is followed by my Face Hero Oil by Go-To, which is an Australian brand. It’s mixed with a lot of good stuff like rosehip and jojoba oil. Once that sinks in, I put on either this Anti-Aging Night Moisturiser or this Tula one. I also use the Priming Moisturizer Rich. I use so much moisturizer. And then 50-plus SPF from Supergoop every day. I just got a Pixel facial, and I’m obsessed with that. I call it Black Mirror beauty because it’s just so extreme and out-of-control wild. It’s a laser, and they numb your face with lidocaine, and then they’ll pass the laser, which is like a little pixel point, across your entire face. That little point is like a little burn on your face. Then you’re covered in these burns, and they turn into tiny scabs, and the scabs fall off with new collagen. You have four or five days of downtime, so if you work from home it works, thank god. It’s actually not even the most brutal one, but it was really scary! It’s my face! My husband would look at me and just burst out laughing because I looked like a smashed crab or something. But it was so worth it. I went to Natural Beauty Med Spa. It is really expensive, so it’s a once a year thing. They have payment plans as well, if you really want it. After the treatment you need to put a lot of moisture into it, so Aquaphor, Cetaphil cream, and then after that just keep moisturizing and using sunscreen like there’s no tomorrow. And hats—you have to be out of the sun for eight weeks, so better to do it in the wintertime. On the other hand, a lo-fi thing I love to do is the Aztec Clay Mask—I mix it with apple cider vinegar. It gets rid of all the dead skin and it makes me feel younger. Then just any moisturizing mask—I’ve been using this Bliss one that’s honey, and it’s been really nice.

For my hair, I need a lot of moisture because it’s so coarse and curly. I started going gray when I was 15, so every three weeks I dye it. I also trim it every three months religiously—I go to Spoke and Weal in Chicago. They’re great for curly hair and embracing your curls. I like to use natural-based products like Aveda because they smell so good. I love the shampoo and conditioner Be Curly—I’ll put the Damage Remedy in first, and then it depends on how curly I want my hair. This is my everyday mousse, the Phomollient, and for extra curl I’ll use the Texture Tonic or Style Prep. For flyaways, I use Bumble and Bumble’s Invisible Oil and maybe the Control Force Hairspray on top to calm everything down. Especially from all the dyeing, I have to keep moisture in it so it doesn’t get too wild.

It gives me so much happiness to look down and have nice nails. I have acrylics, and I get them filled every two to three weeks. It’s something I look forward to—I never could afford it for the longest time—and it’s the extra touch on my outfits. I go to Asia Nails. I always get long almond and they’re always red. For my body, there’s a body oil by Go-To that smells amazing. Oil just makes you look really sexy. And I use Body Hero too, that’s a good one. And for fragrance, summer-y smells are nostalgic to me. I bought Margiela Beach Walk, which literally smells like sunscreen. My nighttime fragrance depends on how I feel. My favorite is Byredo 1996. I always like sexy, woody smells, so that one’s perfect for me. During the day I’ll use either Glossier or Margiela, but at night it’s woody, musky stuff.

When I get home I don’t do the whole routine. I usually do a wipe if I can—I just use my kids’ baby wipes because they’re around. I also like the coconut wipes from Walgreens—you know, they have the carrot ones and the cucumber ones? The coconut ones are the only ones that are moisturizing, and they don’t sting my face. If I’m not being lazy, I take my eye makeup off with the Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover. I’ll do a cleanse, and then I’ll always do the oil and maybe the night cream, just so it can work for me.”

—as told to ITG

Elizabeth de la Piedra photographed by Tom Newton in Chicago on August 22, 2018.