Alissa Iris on Her Step-by-Step Skincare Routine—And So Much More

She opens up about diversity and representation in the industry.

Welcome to Beauty Test, where we invite the freshest new faces to the Byrdie studio to test-drive the most buzzed-about beauty trends.

Alissa Iris's striking features will instantly reel you into her orbit. But if you follow her long enough, you'll realize that the model is so much more than an alluring beauty. The Asian-American model has stepped in front of the lens for campaigns with brands like Saie Beauty and New Balance. But when she's off-duty, the thoughtful creative spends her time dabbling in photography, clothing design, and sketching. With such diverse artistic interests, it's no surprise her expressiveness has translated into a love for beauty as well.

Iris often provides a peek into her makeup, skincare, and hair routines, sharing tutorials on her Instagram. Wanting to get the full scoop on her beauty rituals, we caught up with Iris and asked her to spill it all. Ahead, she opens up about her beauty philosophy, diversity in the industry, and self-care. Keep scrolling to get to know Alissa Iris. 

What is your beauty philosophy? 

There is beauty in everyone, and there are countless different types of beauty. Embrace your individuality and be yourself to your fullest. Turn what you consider to be your "flaws" into your own "look." 

Where do you find beauty inspiration? 

I like keeping it universal and timeless. My inspiration comes from all over the world and different time periods. This could take the form of emulating looks from vintage films or seeing how beauty icons in other countries apply their makeup. 

Face: Clé de Peau Concealer ($73) in Almond, Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation SPF 35 ($52) in 2WP, Chanel Multi-Use Glow Stick ($45) / Eyes: RMS Beauty Eye Polish in Utopia ($28) / Brows: Glossier Boy Brow ($16) in Brown / Lips: Rouge D 'Armani Matte Suede Lipstick ($38) in 404

Can you tell us your current skincare routine?

I start my mornings washing my face with the SebaMed Cleanser. Twice a week, I use Summer Fridays' Overtime Mask ($44), after that, I apply The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Serum ($9) and EvenPrime's Barrier Face Serum ($48). I put on Sekkisei's Emulsion ($50), the Belif Aqua Bomb ($38), and top it all off with EltaMD's Oil-Free Sunscreen ($26). 

The Overtime Mask is a favorite. It refreshes my skin and makes it soft and prepped for the day. I’m a big fan of the EltaMD sunscreen too. I’ve been using this every day for years, ever since my dermatologist recommended it to me. It doesn’t leave a white cast, isn’t greasy, and the consistency is perfect. 

What are some of your favorite makeup products?

I love Tarte's Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer ($36). It has SPF and the right amount of natural coverage. Another favorite is CoverFX's Monochromatic Blush Duo ($38). I’m very heavy with my blush application, and the color payoff is great. Additionally, I’ve been using Mango People's Multi-Stick ($24) a lot. It has multiple uses, so it’s convenient for touch-ups throughout the day. Also, it smells amazing. 

Favorite on-set memory? 

Walking around this coastal neighborhood during my first shoot after the major lockdown. The location was incredible. It was by my favorite beach, and the homes there are beautiful. The photographer and I scouted out the area to find backgrounds, and I loved admiring the unique exteriors of these houses and feeling the ocean air after being indoors for months. 

Alissa Iris

Face: Clé de Peau Concealer ($73) in Almond, Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation SPF 35 ($52) in 2WP, Chanel Multi-Use Glow Stick ($45) / Eyes: RMS Beauty Eye Polish in Utopia ($28) and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($28) / Brows: Glossier Boy Brow ($16) in Brown / Lips: Rouge D 'Armani Matte Suede Lipstick ($38) in 404

How do you think the industry can do better in terms of diversity and representation? 

I’m starting to see all sorts of people in the media, and it’s a good start. One thing the industry should work on is giving underrepresented groups a say in how they are being represented. While we see diversity on screen, it is also important to include these individuals behind the scenes. They need to pay attention to things like the roles they are given, natural hair textures, styling for certain body types, lighting on darker skin tones, and suitable makeup for particular eye shapes. I would like the industry to be more critical of how underrepresented groups are being portrayed and ask if it is through their own lens.

What are some things that helped you stay grounded during this time? 

Like many other people, my plans for 2020 were canceled, and I was disappointed that I wasn’t doing everything I was hoping to do. What helped was reminding myself to be grateful for everything I have and where I’m at. I had to recognize that I needed to be proud of the effort I was able to put in. I started giving myself that validation to be more content. 

How have you been taking care of your mental health? 

I've been writing in my journal and spending time outdoors with my dog. These activities have been major outlets and have kept me from feeling down. Now that I’ve finished college, I’m finally paying attention to my mental health and managing time to take care of it. I am happy to say that I’m making progress.

Face: Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Soft Radiance Foundation ($150) in Pearl / Eyes: RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek ($36) in Beloved and Chanel Stylo Sourcils Waterproof Defining Longwear Eyebrow Pencil ($33) in 810 / Lips: MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick ($19) in Ruby Woo 

Armani Ecstasy Lip Lacquer ($38) in 402

Biggest realizations you've made about yourself this year? 

This year, I’ve been figuring out what I really want and what truly makes me happy. I need to stay focused on my dreams rather than chasing someone else’s. Along with entering this industry, I realized I prefer a simpler life that would be personally fulfilling instead of a glamorous life. Now that I live and model in L.A., I learned I just want to live comfortably off my creativity and make art that I’m passionate about. 

How do you deal with moments of self-doubt? 

Knowing it will all pass and that it’s all in my head. I have to tell myself, No, I’ve made it this far, and I’m not giving up now. If I am still here after facing numerous rejections in modeling, mental ruts in school, and so many hits to my self-esteem, I’m not going to allow negative self-talk to be my downfall. I have to remember to give myself love and support instead. 

What are you looking forward to most in 2021? 

Developing my skills. More particularly, I’m working on my photography, filling up my sketchbooks, and making my own clothes. I might even discover new hobbies, and I’m excited to explore more of my interests this year.

Photographer: Mathilde Bresson

Stylist: Penelope Strintz

MUA: Charlotte Prevel

Hair: Virginie Pineda

Lighting Technician: Dante Guerra

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