The Makeup Artist With A $3 Secret To Slicked Back Hair


The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of Into The Gloss' lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Submit your own on Instagram—post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie for a chance to be featured on ITG.

“Hello my angels! I’m Jessica Monzalvo (@jembyjem), a makeup artist, aesthetician, mom, and wife. I’m originally from Pachuca Hidalgo, Mexico, though I’m currently living and creating in Los Angeles. Moving to LA was a lifelong dream of mine, and now that I’m here I spend as much time as possible hiking and going to the sea with my little family.

I enrolled in cosmetology school at age 16—afterwards I really thought I was going to focus on hair and be the next Takashi Kitamura, but then I came across an ad for Make Up For Ever’s Academy and moved to New York. I am a firm believer that your makeup only looks as good as your skin does, and while on set, I found myself curating custom skincare regimens for my clients and sharing the natural skin remedies I learned from my grandma. This slowly turned into Skin by Jem, my new line of small-batch skincare. As an entrepreneur, my job requires me to wear many hats: when I’m not on set doing makeup or playing with my son Ian, I am at home shipping orders. But my favorite part of being self-employed is knowing that no two days are ever the same.

My self-care routine starts in the shower. It helps me mentally prepare myself for the day ahead or decompress after a long day’s work. To make it extra luxurious, I take a warm, wet washcloth, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, and place it on my shoulders. Then I take long, deep breaths. The warm shower also opens up my pores, allowing my Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce cleanser to thoroughly cleanse my skin and prep it for a mask. My current favorite is my Rosa Clay Mask, naturally. It’s composed of my all-time favorite ingredients, including oil absorbing kaolin clay, soothing colloidal oatmeal, and rose petal powder. When I was creating Rosa, I knew I wanted to keep a custom element, and the powder format allows you to mix in your favorite floral or herbal tonic to create a paste. I add a few drops of Dabur Red Rose Water for an extra soothing experience, and another good option is chamomile tea. It’s a natural antiseptic that protects the skin from free radicals—I like to steep some and use it as a toner, too. After my mask has worked its magic for 10 minutes, I use the Skinly Pro Ultrasonic Scrubber in the cleansing setting to remove it. The ultrasonic vibrations act as an extra exfoliant and help loosen blackheads around my nose.

I am always on the hunt for innovative skincare products and recently discovered the power of CBD in skincare. The phytocannabinoids and fatty acids in Flora + Bast’s Age Adapting CBD Serum have helped my acne a ton, and I use it religiously now. I like to finish off by applying a thin layer of Primas CBD-infused Afterglow moisturizer so I can glisten like Edward from Twilight. I keep my skincare routine to no more than five products at a time—that’s the sweet spot for my skin. I used to do a crazy 20-step regimen and realized it was making me break out, so now I keep it simple.

My obsession with skincare has simplified my makeup routine into a quick and easy five minute situation. I conceal with Kosas Revealer in shade 07, and apply Carnation from Bareminerals on my lips and cheeks. I love to multipurpose my products. Next, I curl my lashes and top them with the best mascara, MAC’s Extended Play. It keeps even the straightest lashes curled. After coating my lashes, I use whatever’s left on the brush on my brows for an all day hold. Lastly, I give my lips a quick dose of smoothing vitamin E with the Pacifica Indian Chia lip balm. I also love trying wild looks on myself using airbrushing and fresh flowers to create interesting shapes, but where I really love to experiment is my nails. Prior to social distancing, I would get my nails done every two weeks. And I’d go wild! I will try any nail trend, from velvet nails to 3-D decals. My obsession started when I went to Tokyo in high school. I got the most kawaii nails done by a nail artist named Mami—I remember being completely in awe, and going back to school feeling so misunderstood! Japan is always so ahead of its time. Now, I love seeing baby girls Guadalupe, Sam, and Sojin for a manicure.

I’ve worn my hair long for many years to honor my childhood. When I was little, my mother would braid my hair with red, white and green ribbons in celebration of La Virgen de Guadalupe’s birthday, and it made me feel so beautiful. Braids are still my favorite way to style my hair to this day, and honestly, thank God for ‘em—I hate using heat. Depending on what look I’m going for, I’ll either braid my hair into one long, sleek braid or multiple braids which I’ll take out after they dry for a wavy, Solange-esque finish. I spray some British M Hair Butter leave-in conditioner and brush it through, and then make a center sleek part. No product does it better than Moco de Gorila Galán—if you don’t know about this OG extra affordable hair gel, you’re missing out. It lays down my unruly flyaways while still leaving my hair manageable and shiny.

Before moving to LA, my mom and I would go to the Korean spa at least once a week for a full body scrub. It was our favorite! Inspired by how soft it made my skin feel, I bought a pack of Korean Italy towels from Amazon. It’s the best $10 investment I’ve ever made. And then I am obsessed with Now Solutions’ sweet almond oil, and my all time favorite tip is to apply it while my skin is still wet to lock in the most moisture. I always follow up with Chloë Sevigny’s collaboration with Régime des Fleurs, Little Flower. Becoming a mom changed the way I viewed myself, and I had to re-learn how to love my reflection. It took time to accept all the physical changes—stretch marks being the biggest and hardest to get used to. But through self-care I was able to regain momentum. Now it’s my favorite ritual of the day.”

—as told to ITG

Photos via the author