Camila Mendes

Camila Mendes on Experimenting With Makeup and the Beauty of Solitude

Plus, she opens up about dealing with stress-induced alopecia.

Riverdale star Camila Mendes has spent the last year of the pandemic taking some much-needed time for herself. The reduced pace of her usually bustling lifestyle allowed her to rediscover the beauty of solitude, reprioritize wellness, and reflect on what's important. It also gave her some room to explore opportunities outside of acting, particularly in beauty. The actress was recently named one of Urban Decay's Global Citizens, a move that has allowed her to work closely with the brand on campaigns. For Mendes, her ambassadorship with the makeup brand is a complete full-circle moment as she can vividly recall stocking up on their products as a pre-teen. Now, as a member of the Urban Decay family, Mendes' appreciation for the brand has deepened, and she credits them for helping her express herself through makeup as an adult. "Something that I appreciate in working with Urban Decay is that I'm growing with my relationship with makeup," she says. "I'm starting to experiment more."

To celebrate the launch of the brand's Naked Wild West Eyeshadow Palette ($49), I had the chance to hop on a Zoom call with Mendes. Her bright and warm personality radiated through the screen as she talked about the evolution of her beauty philosophy, dealing with stress-induced alopecia, and creating space for the Latinx community in Hollywood. Keep scrolling to read everything Camila Mendes had to say.

How have you been doing over the past year?

Honestly, I've gone through so many ups and downs through this whole experience. I think the first wave of it was confusion, but I was relieved that my life was a little bit slower for a second. I felt like I could just exist as a human. Then, there was all the anxiety. I was wondering, "What's going to happen next? When are we going back to work? What does my career look like now that everything's at a standstill? What's happening with this industry?" Now, I'm getting to a place where there's newfound hope. I feel way more comfortable in my skin. I think I'm way more comfortable being alone. Before the pandemic, I was always on the go. I always surrounded myself with people. I rarely gave myself the opportunity to get to know myself and be alone with my thoughts, which at first is scary. But now, I'm starting to get to a place where I enjoy being alone. I crave it. And sometimes, I prefer it over being around people, to be honest.  I think it's important that through all the shit we've been through with this pandemic, one silver lining has been that people are starting to reevaluate their lives and prioritize the important things.

I completely agree. I love that you're working with Urban Decay. Have they always been a brand that you've kept in your makeup bag?

Yes, I love Urban Decay for multiple reasons. I love that they're champions of individuality, diversity, and celebrating what makes you unique. I think that was something that I gravitated towards when I was in junior high, buying their products, and still do now. That's always been something I've appreciated about them. And then, on a more specific, aesthetic level, I love that they represent the idea of having fun with makeup and expressing yourself through makeup. I've always wanted to be in their campaigns because I think they make great content. Their concepts are always very inventive. Doing the Naked Wild West palette campaign was super fun because I got to play two different characters, and I got to like, you know, make it kind of bigger. Being an actor in a beauty campaign is ideal because you get to have fun with it and almost live in the genre.

 Camila Mendes

Byrdie / Camila Mendes

Have you been playing around with the Naked Wild West palette and creating some fun looks?

Unfortunately, I don't get that many opportunities to do my makeup all the time. But I've experimented with their nude colors. I've experimented with using a wash of Bud on my eye. Outside of the Naked palette, I've been experimenting with their 24/7 Glide On Pencils a lot more. I saw one of the beauty experts that they work with creating a fun liner moment where she blended a bunch of different colors. I tried that the other night. It didn't come out looking as good as she did it, but it still looked cool. And something else that I appreciate in working with Urban Decay is that I'm growing with my relationship with makeup. I'm starting to experiment more. I always considered myself someone who was way more into natural beauty and doing a subtle, pared-down look. I feel like I'm now encouraging myself to be more experimental and have fun. That's been great.

I love that. During the pandemic, experimenting with beauty looks has been one of my favorite pastimes.

Yeah. Escapism seems to be the word everyone's using to describe where beauty and fashion are headed. It feels like everyone's trying to do something larger than life because our current life can feel so boring. It's like we're living the same day every day. It can start to feel mundane. So how do we have fun within these confines? We experiment with makeup.

I would also love to know about some of your skincare favorites.  Do you have any products that are always a part of your skincare routine?

Yes, I'm very consistent with my skincare routine. It changes here and there. I'll swap out certain products when I'm trying a new thing, but I like to keep it pretty consistent across the board. In the morning, I'll wash my face with Osea's Ocean Cleanser ($48). It smells so good.  I'll spray myself with a little bit of rosewater mist from Jurlique. I'll use an under-eye depuffing cream from Sunday Riley. Then, I'll apply a face oil from St. Jane.  It's called the Luxury Beauty Serum ($125). I'll put on a light moisturizer from Renee Rouleau called Skin Recovery Lotion ($44). That's my baseline daytime regimen. 

Camila Mendes

Byrdie / Camila Mendes

Let's talk about hair care. You recently tweeted that your character on Riverdale, Veronica, is wearing a side part in the new season because you had a stress-induced alopecia spot at the front of your middle part. How have you been tending to your scalp and your hair to promote growth?

Well, to be honest, I've been going to a dermatologist and getting some sort of injection on the spot to stimulate hair growth. That's been helping. It's growing back now, which is great. But it kind of came out of nowhere. My hair has always been really healthy, and I don't like to do much to it. I never really dyed it a lot when I was younger, and I'm just dying it black for the show. It's not like I was bleaching it or anything. So when that happened to me, I came out of the shower, and I just noticed I had this spot, and I freaked out. My dermatologist said, "It's stress. We see this all the time. You're stressed, and you have to calm down." I feel like people underestimate how much mental health plays a role in beauty. When you're taking care of your heart, mind, and body, that all reflects in your appearance. You can see it in your skin. You can see when someone's glowing from just being happy. 

Have there been any beauty tips you've picked up from the makeup and hair pros you've worked with on set?

I feel like there have been products that I've picked up from the set, maybe not tips. I've learned so much through watching my hair and makeup get done. I don't even really register all of it. But, I have gotten great product recommendations for my hair, especially. Hair was always something I wasn't as good at and something I don't put as much effort into. I'm pretty confident with my ability to do makeup. But I'm not that confident in my ability to do hair. That's something I kind of neglect. So, I've learned a lot from Victoria [Fernandez], our hairstylist. She showed me Oribe's Matte Waves Texture Lotion ($42), which is great for anyone with wavy hair. After stepping out of the shower, you just scrunch it up, and it helps define your waves and smooth them out at the same time. If you want to get rid of flyaways, Daviness has an invisible serum that has a pasty texture. It's kind of thick, but it's really great for tucking hairs away. 

You mentioned earlier that the pandemic has helped you rediscover your love for being alone. Are there any other self-care practices you've adopted over the last year?

My morning routine. It makes me want to get out of bed in the morning, which is how I know it's working. When I wake up, the first thing I do is walk over to my espresso machine and make my coffee. As soon as I'm done making my latte, I sit down and do my Five Minute Journal. They're the best because it's a small commitment that you can manage no matter how busy your schedule is. Even if I have to wake up at 3:45 in the morning for an early pickup, I'll still do my Five Minute Journal because it's just five minutes. That sets the tone for my whole day. It asks you questions like, "What are three things that would make today amazing? or "What am I grateful for?" And at the end, you write two affirmations. It's insane how much it has helped me. It makes me excited to get up in the morning. I think everyone should start their day in a similar way.

 Camila Mendes

Byrdie / Camila Mendes

I've been hearing so much about the Five Minute Journal. Now that you've mentioned it, I need to experience it for myself. Do you have any bits of advice for people who want to break into the industry?

So much of it is luck. That's why it's so hard to give advice. But I think the important thing is to try to get yourself to the right place so that you're ready when the right time comes. It's not just about working on your craft but thinking more about the business and about how you're going to be seen by people instead of waiting for someone to discover you. How are you going to make sure that the right people see you? So I always say try to find a way to move to New York or LA. Try to find a way to get to those places where you can start getting a feel for the business and the environment you're entering. That's where all the important people who can change your life are.

What are your hope and dreams for 2021?

That's a deep question. I think my goal is to continue on this path that I'm on right now. I'm starting to feel like I'm in a really good flow with being there for myself and being my own best friend. I think that has been so foreign to me until the last few months. And that's something I'm trying to create an even deeper relationship with that. In terms of my career, I think it's become more apparent to me recently that you can't just be in this business for your ego and self-fulfillment. You've got to think of something that's more meaningful than that. And for me, I discovered that I want to use my platform to create space for the Latinx community to thrive. That's my specific goal. It's something personal to me that I feel I can contribute to society. I'm very grateful to be in this position, and I have an opportunity here to do something with it. I just want my Latinx peers to shine. I want them to have an opportunity to be nominated for Academy Awards and be recognized in the way that white people have been recognized. And that's something that I feel like I can do. I don't think that's going to happen this year, necessarily. But it's a long-term goal that I'm pursuing. It makes my love of acting not just a profession but also connects it to a greater meaning. I think that's the key to happiness.

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