Lais Ribeiro is a world-famous model who, in little over a decade, has accumulated an impressive resume. There are the catwalks of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Moschino she's graced with her glowing presence. There was the year she wore the Victoria's Secret $2 million "Champagne Nights Fantasy Bra." And of course, let's not discount her covers, from Vogue and GQ to Harper's Bazaar.
But, right now, living in lockdown with her family, she's embracing a low-key lifestyle just like the rest of us—one that includes plenty of home cooking, homeschooling, and being outdoors as much as possible. For many, the past few months have enabled us to really identify what's important for a happy, healthy life, and while Lais is looking forward to getting back to real life, she tells Byrdie that it won't be back to "normal because normal wasn’t working" (hear, hear). Below Lais reveals how she takes care of her skin, the mentors she looks up to in her industry, and the positive reason why she believes she'll be modeling for decades to come.
Talk me through your morning and nighttime skincare routines.
I start every day with a shower and I use Fresh Soy Face Ceanser. It’s really good, smells like cucumber, and is very refreshing.
Then, I use Dr. Barbara Sturm's Darker Skin Tones range. I use a lot of her products; she is so good, especially for dark skin. Two times per week, I use her Darker Skin Tones Enzyme Cleanser—it's very gentle and it removes dead, dry skin, as well as makeup, and pollution. I’ve found it to be very good for oily/combination skin, which I have. Right after, I use the Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Face Cream Rich I apply that to my face, neck, and around my eyes.
Then, I use the Anti-Pollution Drops—hey strengthen your skin and are good for defending against pollution, as well as being anti-aging.
At night, I use her Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Acid. Every day before I go to bed, I take a shower, clean my face, and apply it before bed. It’s good for fine lines and wrinkles, and you wake up with very fresh with beautiful skin.
[My routine is] very simple—I don’t really try to use too much stuff. I use honey, which is good for everything. It gets rid of dark spots when you have pimples, and makes your face really fresh. So, literally the honey that you eat, I apply to that to my skin and it balances bacteria and accelerates the healing of skin cells. I use it as a mask [twice a week], so after cleaning my face I put it on and leave it for 20 minutes and then wash off."
Are there any Brazilian beauty secrets that you learned from the women in your family growing up?
We had plants and all those things like aloe vera that you can use on your hair by mixing into conditioner for hydration. And the honey thing, I learned about a long time ago. [But] the women in my family were not really into makeup and skincare routines, so it was really only a couple of years ago that I started to look into it. I was like, okay, I’m getting older and I have to take care of myself, and I’m learning every day, you know.
When I’m not working, I try not to use makeup and I try to let my skin breathe a bit. During this quarantine I think I’ve used makeup five times in five months! [My skin is definitely better]—the vitamin D has helped. I live in New York but I’m in L.A. right now and I’ve been out in the sunshine and it helps [my complexion] a lot.
When it comes to treatments, is there anything you can't wait to book in for when salons and clinics reopen?
Yes, I have a friend she has a spa in New York—the Vanessa Marc Spa. I go in and she does all these treatments. It’s impossible right now. I talked to her the other and it’s been really difficult for small businesses because of this quarantine. I’m looking forward to going back—not to normal, because normal wasn’t working—but you know, to do the things we could do before this quarantine.
How have you found quarantine?
Well, I was anxious for sure for the first two weeks. I was watching the news and didn’t know what was going on. The week before [lockdown], I went to a birthday party with my friends and a friend of mine, her dad is a doctor in China, and she was telling us, “You guys have no idea what is going to happen." She started crying and everybody was in shock. Everything that she said happened, so I was anxious for the first two weeks, I didn’t know what to do. I work a lot, I travel a lot and am always busy and then you just stop.
You were training to become a nurse before you took up modeling. Do you have nurse friends and how has the pandemic been for them?
The father of my son is a nurse and one of my best friends as well and it has been very tiring for them. Their faces have been hurting because of the masks and they have had to double their hours of work because they are there [in the hospital] so they stay and they help. I spoke to him and he’s pretty tired and my friend as well. In Brazil, we are the second country in the entire world for the total number of deaths, it's big numbers.
You switched from a career in nursing to modeling and the rest, as they say, is history! Do you have any mentors in the industry?
You know Edward Enninful [Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue]. He had a Black models group and we would do dinners and he would talk about the industry. Bethann Hardison, she was there a couple of times and it was very inspiring to hear from people who had been in the industry for such a long time fighting for their rights and our rights as well.
It was very inspiring to hear from people who had been in the industry for such a long time fighting for their rights and our rights as well.
I always looked up to Adriana [Lima]—she is one of the strongest women I ever met. She’s a good friend of mine, and she was so open to me, sharing her story. I was talking to her the other day and she’s such a strong person with an open mind and she was always so supportive of me at the beginning of my career.
Tell us about your lockdown life, it must be very different from your modeling days...
I am very domesticated right now. I learned to cook and am doing homeschool with my kid. The first month it was driving me crazy because it was really hard. I have always had that respect for teachers because my mum, grandma, and aunties were all teachers but I have even more now. Doing it on my own it was really hard, but now we’re pros! He just turned 12 and right now he’s sat outside doing it by himself. In the beginning, I had to help him every single day with homework until we got a good pace, you know, and routine, but now we’re good!
I’m cleaning a lot, cooking a lot, I can’t complain. There are so many people without anything, we have a house, we have food, I have my family with me. The other day, my son said, “I’m sorry for what I’m gonna say, but I love this quarantine because I get to spend time with you.” That was really cool to hear from him, that I needed to spend time with him.
Have you mastered any signature meals?
I’m a beginner [at cooking]! In L.A., everybody is very healthy, which is great for my job and for my body. I have been doing a lot of vegetables, a lot of grilling steaks and corn and zucchini. But I tried the other day to make something and I literally forgot to put salt in, so I’m still learning.
How do you start your day?
Well, I’m definitely not a morning person [laughs]. I was just talking about that with my fiancé, yesterday I slept so much because my son now only has music classes and his first class is at 10:30 am, thank god! Before I had to wake up at 7 a.m. to make his breakfast and do homeschooling with him. But then, Joakim [Noah, Lais's fiance] has a daughter and she came to visit and she wakes up at 6:30 a.m., so it’s been like that for the last week. I am not a morning person at all, but I’ll do it!
First thing, I drink matcha, it’s a really amazing one from Laird Superfood. I never liked matcha, the taste can be bitter and the texture grainy, but this is creamy and not bitter. It’s pretty good and it gives me energy. I don’t really drink coffee, I never liked it, not because it’s good or bad for you but I don’t like the taste of it.
Have you had any time to read or watch Netflix?
I’m going to be really honest with you—I started to read a book and my mum and my sister were here and [I don't have time]. We don’t have anybody coming to do stuff in the house, so I’m doing everything, and when I go put my son to sleep I kind of sleep with him sometimes and Joakim has to wake me up. At 8:15 p.m., I’m tired! We bought bikes to go up in the hills and we go to the beach a lot, we try to make the best of it and being outside. That’s the good thing about being in L.A., I think if I was in New York I’m pretty sure I'd be depressed. We rented a house here and there are lots of trees and we got a trampoline, we play outside and just try to make the most of it.
Of all the positive habits you have started in lockdown what are you keen to carry on afterward?
For sure, I think, first of all, my son is my priority and spending more time with him. Cooking and eating healthier. I’m a lucky girl that I used to eat everything and nothing would happen and now because I’m getting older, I see the changes. Not because of my body but because of my health, especially with the coronavirus, your immune system...you need to boost it up. I’ve been doing sauna and ice because my fiancé is an athlete and he has such good habits. I also found this new underwater workout, XPT Life, where you put the weights under the water and you do squats, lunges, and jumps—it’s really good for your respiratory system.
I never liked to take pills or vitamins or supplements and then Joakim was like “Listen, you’re 30 years old, you’ve got to start doing something.” So, he got me this package Women’s Pure Pack that comes with lots of nutrients, calcium, Vitamin D, fish oil, acai, and all the supplements come in a pack to help boost your immune system which has been helping me a lot. And it's also given me a lot of energy. Being a housewife is not easy!
Do you enjoy playing with makeup?
Well, I went to the beach and I was in the vibe —very hippie and I saw a couple of pictures from the paparazzi and I was like “Jesus Christ, I need to get it together!” So sometimes it’s good to feel pretty and put some makeup on. But, if I don’t have work or anything, for me, it makes no sense to do it. I'm not that person to put makeup on just to be at the house, but if I have something important to do then I’ll do it. If not, I’ll just be myself.
Sometimes it’s good to feel pretty and put some makeup on... If I have something important to do then I'll do it. If not, I'll just be myself.
Any can't-live-without beauty products?
I have a couple of lip pencils from Charlotte Tilbury [Pillow Talk in Medium and Intense] that I can not live without, that’s for sure. The same product I put on as a little eyeshadow, just like you do with a lipstick, you can put it on your eyes, lips, and cheeks. It looks very natural but like you have a little something on.
Being a model, body care must be so important. How do you take care of your skin from the neck down?
I don’t have a specific lotion that I use but I always mix any lotion with Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Body Oil—it makes the skin very soft and shiny. If your skin is dry it soaks up the oil, so it’s really good for [that]. It smells so good, I use it every day.
You have gorgeous hair. What's your secret?
With hair products, I literally take a shower with Pantene or whatever! I have never really cared for my hair and my sister said, “You’ve got to do something!” So she bought a mask for my hair, the L’Oreal Elvive Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm—it has almond and protein. It’s not an everyday thing— it says to use two to three times week. I use it twice—I don’t like to do it three times a week as it’s too much [for my hair].
Do you have one go-to perfume or a fragrance wardrobe?
Can you imagine, I think I've used a perfume one time [since lockdown]. They reopened a restaurant and I went on a date night with my fiancé and I used Victoria's Secret Heavenly Eau de Parfum and literally I’m like, “Okay, I smell good” but I’m being really hippie these days. I’m talking to you and looking at the birds outside with the flowers, that’s my vibe right now. And the mix of creams I apply to my body smell pretty good [anyway].
I’m being really hippie these days. I’m talking to you and looking at the birds outside with the flowers, that’s my vibe right now.
Modeling was always considered a young person's career, but do you think with more diversity it will become more age-inclusive?
Well, I think this quarantine made me realize that I have priorities [beyond modeling]. But I’m not going to say no I don’t want to be. Look at Cindy Crawford, look at Naomi Campbell—they are still working and that’s pretty cool. Beauty doesn’t have an age, you have to feel good and confident with yourself.