Gabriella Khalil, Creative Director, Palm Heights


“I founded Palm Heights in Grand Cayman in 2019, and I’m now the Creative Director. I do a little bit of everything, from curating the guest experience to organizing the event programming. When I’m in Cayman, my nights out are almost always at Palm Heights. Sometimes I might have some friends in town, but typically, I’m hosting events for our guests. I hosted a beautiful dinner on the beach to celebrate International Women’s Day with an amazing group of 20 women earlier this month. We also throw our ‘Iconic Ball’ every year to launch the season. Last year, I produced the whole event on our rooftop. We had Mya perform, which was pretty iconic. I wore Christopher John Rogers and danced all night. And every Saturday, Paradise Pizza, our little pizza spot, throws an event called the Mambo Italiano that turns into a huge karaoke party. It’s hot out, but everyone gets really dressed up and goes crazy.

I moved to New York from London a year and a half ago, so I’m still discovering the city. Nights out here mean going to really nice dinners with my friends. I love going to The Grill. I worked on Habibi, so I’ve had a lot of nights out there. Frenchette is good, too. They have the best natural wine. New York is cool because it’s spontaneous. Someone will be like, ‘Let’s pop over there.’ It’s so fun.

My look tends to be the same, whether I’m heading to a work event or to a great dinner or to a party with my friends. I want to look natural but glowy, and bronzy with full lips. If I have time, I like to start off with a 111Skin rose gold mask and the Sephora Collection roller. Sometimes I’ll only use 111Skin’s eye patches. Both the face masks and eye patches give your skin a nice lift.

Lesse’s Regeneration Mist is so refreshing. I like to spray it on my face and body. But I use Epi.Logic’s Even Balance Toner a lot, especially after a long night. I’m obsessed with Biologique Recherche’s Serum Extraits Tissulaires, too. I really see a difference when I don’t use it. My skin feels drier and just off. I recently started using In Fiore’s Veloutée Complexe. It’s this really light eye and lip serum. Makeup goes on so smoothly after I use it, but it’s also great before going to sleep. Then, if I want a lighter moisturizer, I grab Dermalogica’s Active Moist. But if I need something a little heavier, I like Lesse’s Essential Moisturizer.

Soft Service’s Buffing Bar is amazing. I use it if I want to feel really fresh. Out of the shower, I love Nécessaire’s body lotion. It’s easy and really hydrating. I usually use the unscented one, but I like the eucalyptus one, too. I also use Nécessaire’s deodorant. I go back and forth between that one and Salt & Stone’s black rose and oud deodorant. I was really shy about using natural deodorants for a long time. I felt like they weren’t going to work so I didn’t want to chance it, but I even use them in Cayman now. And I have to say that the Soft Services Theraplush hand cream is so good—I use it every night.

240312 ITG GabriellaKhalil 238 LR

I’ve used Bobbi Brown’s Full Cover Concealer in Natural Tan for years. True to its name, it gives you great coverage, but it’s also not cakey. It’s great under my eyes. If I want a proper foundation, I use Youngblood’s Liquid Mineral Foundation in Golden Tan (Neutral). Someone recommended it when I lived in London. I’ve always had breakouts, and this helps cover them. But I’m trying not to go so heavy with product, so I’m testing Ciele’s tint now. It’s been good so far. It’s great because it has SPF in it. I use 05 Medium.

I only contour if I’m going out, never during the day. I like Bobbi Brown’s Skin Cream Foundation Stick. I use Cool Golden C076 on my forehead, cheeks, a little bit on my nose, and under my chin. I go very, very light-handed with it. I love makeup that’s easy, and this stick is definitely easy. I blend it out with Sephora Collection’s #78 brush. Then I use the NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder with Sephora Collection’s #50 powder brush. I’ve used Laguna for such a long time—I was devastated recently because I dropped one in Cayman, and it shattered into a million pieces. I set it with Charlotte Tilbury’s setting powder—I use 2 Medium. It’s a nice powder to keep in your purse. And then I’ve been trying Ciele’s blush in the shade Kirsty, a warm nude. I use one tiny dot, and it looks really natural. It has SPF, too.

240312 ITG GabriellaKhalil 501 LR

I’ve also used the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze for years and years. I love to put it on my nose, and I don’t know why but I also highlight my chin a bit. Sometimes I like to use it as eyeshadow during the day. It plays with the light well and gives you this really beautiful sparkle. I got the Chanel Transparent Baume Essentiel as a gift, and I like it on my cheekbones, especially when I’m at Palm Heights and want more of that just-spent-time-on-the-beach glow. I wasn’t expecting to like it honestly, but it’s so soft. I brought the Saie Glow Super Gel—I have the Starglow shade—down to Cayman with me recently, and it was really nice. You can put it all over, even on your collarbones, and it makes you look so healthy.

Makeup by Mario’s Original Master Mattes palette is my new favorite eyeshadow, and I have a ton of palettes, so that’s saying a lot. It has every color you need. I have three of them, one in my work bag, one at Palm Heights, and one at my apartment. And I’m a big eyebrow person, but I hate overdoing them. Glossier’s Boy Brow really works for me because it’s simple and deposits just the right amount of color. I brush it through with a spoolie. Benefit’s They're Real! mascara is my favorite. There’s literally none left in the tube right now. I have thick lashes, and some volumizing mascaras make my lashes really clumpy but this one doesn’t. I buy it over and over.

For my lips, I’m a straight Charlotte Tilbury girl. I love the Lip Cheat liner in Foxy Brown and the Lip Lustre Gloss in Seduction. I have her lipstick in Very Victoria, too. Someone told me it’s named after Victoria Beckham. I go between this one and the Kim K.W. shade. I’m obsessed with that color. A makeup artist introduced me to it. I’ll do all three—liner, lipstick, and gloss—if I really want to go for it, but sometimes I skip the lipstick and only do liner and gloss. It depends on my mood. Oh, and as I’m getting ready, nothing works as good as Vaseline to prep your lips. You can’t beat it.

Even though it’s hot in Cayman, my makeup holds up without setting spray. That’s good, because I hate how setting spray feels. I’m more concerned with taking off excess oil. I carry Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets with me. Old school.

240312 ITG GabriellaKhalil 660 LR

My hair is naturally wavy and big, but I like to wear it dead straight most of the time. I use the Drybar straightening iron. I have a Dyson hair dryer, too, but I have a lot of hair and it takes a long time to dry it, so I like to prolong my straightened hair as long as I can. I think using good products helps. I just started using Anablue. They have a hair serum and a treatment oil, but their scalp cleanser is fantastic. I use it once a week in place of shampoo. I’m obsessed with washing my hair—I really like the feeling of it—and the cleanser is a good addition. It smells great. And I love David Mallett’s serum #DM027Hannan Siddique cuts my hair at David’s salon in New York. It makes your hair so shiny. Charlotte Mensah also makes a great Manketti hair oil. I use it right out of the shower. And L’Oreal’s Elnett satin hairspray is an OG. It’s the best.

I’m very simple and kind of boring when it comes to my nails. Sometimes I’ll switch it up, but I tend to go for neutral colors like Essie’s Ballet Slippers. I used to go for darker shades like dark brown or deep purple and I would get gel manicures, but when I had my daughter—she’s six now—I didn’t want to deal with the upkeep anymore. I feel like it doesn’t matter if my polish chips when I have a neutral shade because it’s less noticeable. That said, if I want to get a gel manicure now for a special occasion, I go to Naomi Yasuda. She’s incredible. Otherwise, I’ll pop in wherever for regular polish.

Costa Brazil’s Aroma is my favorite perfume. It’s woody and smoky. It has amber, which I love, even in candles. It’s also refillable—I’m actually all out of my current bottle—and the container is so unique. I was devastated when the brand was rumored to be closing. I go back and forth between that one and L'Artisan Parfumeur’s Bois Des Sables. It’s this amazing rose and pepper scent that I found in Paris. I love unexpected combinations like this.

In an ideal world, I’m lighting a candle to set the mood for the night—but I usually don’t. I like Byredo Fleur Fantôme a lot, and of course, I have our Palm Heights candle, which has amber, too. Costa Brazil’s Jungle is the best candle ever. It’s so luxurious, vegan, and smells like the heart of the Amazon.”

—As told to Daise Bedolla

Photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on March 12, 2024