Modeling isn’t a career I ever imagined for myself, but with a little bit of luck and fate, it fell into my lap. Before this fashion whirlwind all started, I was a biology student at the University of California in San Diego. My days included hours of studying on the beach, intense dance practices, and hanging with my nine roommates. All of that changed the summer before my second year. Long story short, I did a test shoot, those images were sent to an agency in France, and within a month I was on a plane to Paris for fashion week. No more textbooks, exams, or dance team. My life completely changed the day I landed in the city of lights. I may not have a biology degree, but I do have an education unlike any other. All of my experiences while traveling the globe and working with such talented artists have shaped me into a more worldly woman and a bonafide beauty enthusiast. Scroll through for nine of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from over a decade working in the beauty industry.
The first year of my career I was on a plane almost every week, flying from South Africa to India to Milan and more. It was incredible, but I was also very homesick. I had never been away from my family for so long. Being a very sensitive girl and one who loves nine hours of beauty sleep, I quickly learned my work would suffer if I showed how tired or sad I might be. Modeling is a once in a lifetime opportunity, which I have always been so grateful for, and every job counts—professionalism is key. I learned the importance of setting aside any emotions that may affect my expressions or attitude on set. You can’t let your bad day affect the shot; it’s nearly impossible to retouch a grouchy girl, unless of course, that’s the vibe they’re going for! Here’s a great tip for anyone who needs a little pick me up, I always travel with a Neti Stick ($9). It’s an aromatherapy inhaler with peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils that will give you an instant boost of positive energy and clear your sinuses at the same time.
As many of you know, I am a brow fanatic! For me, it’s the most important feature on your face. Shaping and perfecting my brows is the first step in my beauty routine. As they say, your brows should be sisters and not twins. So they don’t have to be perfect, but mine are more like long lost cousins! One great tip I learned backstage is gauging where your eyebrows should start. Line up your pencil with the side of your nose, if your brows don’t reach your pencil, you can fake it by drawing in a few eyebrow hairs. My favorite part of having my own cosmetic line is developing products I’ve always dreamed of but couldn’t find. I developed Wander Beauty’s Frame Your Face Micro Brow Pencil ($21) with a micro tip that actually mimics the shape of hair for the most natural appearance. So no matter what your shape or concern may be, you can have the brows you've always wished for.
With nonstop emails, photo-worthy moments of my cockapoo Carly, and social media updates, my iPhone is practically glued to my hand. I embarrassingly find myself spending way too much time choosing an Instagram filter. Staring down at my phone literally becomes a pain in my neck, and I notice my breath becomes shallow the more I work. My acupuncturist advised me to take just five minutes a day to ground myself and disconnect. I either sit up straight on a chair with my feet flat on the ground or lay down in a corpse pose. Then comes the difficult part, letting go. I focus on my breath, making each inhale deeper, and then imagine a feeling of peace all over my body. This is a great way to start your day instead of immediately checking your Facebook feed. My husband and I also have a no cell phone rule during date night, which is another great way to disconnect and get lost in conversation.
I’ve tried and tested everything over the years. I could roam the aisles of a French pharmacy for hours! And after years of trial and error, I’ve found the products that work for my skin. I cleanse with Bioderma Crealine ($29) every morning—it’s so gentle on your skin yet can take off even the most stubborn makeup. My exfoliator of choice is Dr. Lancer’s The Method Polish ($75), which I use three times a week. I love the micro-minerals, which evenly exfoliate, revealing glowing skin without abrading it. To protect my skin from the sun I use Colorscience’s Sunforgettable Mineral SPF 50 ($64). It’s great for women like me who prefer moisturizer without SPF. This can be applied alone or as a finishing powder over makeup and gives me the ultimate UVA/UVB protection from the sun. Using these products consistently has made a huge difference in my skin.
Being an introvert by nature, stepping outside of my comfort zone has been something I consistently work on. My career has been a slow and steady climb, with each new opportunity bringing a new challenge. It feels great to be at home in my little bubble of comfort, but what’s even better are those proud moments when you step outside, take a risk, and embrace the fear and anxiety of something new. Everything from screaming on set for a shot to networking at an event to live television appearances have all been moments of healthy stress, which have helped me grow. After many live television appearances, including the Rachael Ray Show, E! News, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I now represent my cosmetic line, Wander Beauty, on QVC in front of millions of people, and I’m actually having fun! There’s always more room to grow, so I’ve learned to never stop pushing the limits. After all, it’s outside of our comfort zones where we grow the most.
So many people ask me what my secret to taking a great selfie is. Well, I’ve had a lot of practice over the years. I’ve always loved sharing my various makeup looks for red carpet events and #bts peeks at my photo shoots. First of all, to get a great shot you must look in the lens, not at yourself. Also, long arms or a mini tripod always help. Most important, lighting is everything (thank you, LuMee!). Finally, keep your selfies to a minimum—once a week I suggest, unless of course you’re holding your dog!
Multitasking means less productivity. The best advice I’ve ever received is to devote 100% of your focus to one task at a time. Like so many women, I am busier than can be—not only am I co-founder and creative director of Wander Beauty, but I’m an international model, a wife, and cockapoo mommy. I used to be so impressed with my multitasking skills, despite not completing a single project during the day. I read an article on Forbes.com that completely changed my view. According to the author, one of the secrets to success is devoting all of your attention to one task at a time, aka unitasking. Not only do I see an improvement in my work, but I’m actually saving time! Now the only multitasking I do is with my makeup. Products like Wander Beauty’s On-the-Glow Blush and Illuminator ($42) actually save me time and keep me looking gorgeous on the go during my busiest days.
One of the perks of my job and living in New York City is being exposed to the best estheticians in the world. Taking care of your skin is important for all women, and for models our jobs depend on it. Smooth and even-toned skin keeps you looking youthful, boosts your confidence, and ultimately prolongs your career. After years of trying and testing all of the best facialists I’ve found my match: Ildi Pekar. What I love about Ildi Pekar is her natural approach to treating your skin—she stays away from harsh chemicals. I never leave her office red or raw, just fresh-faced and, most important, confident. If you can leave a facial standing a little bit taller and smiling a little bit wider, it's worth it. Every woman should pamper themselves from time to time.
My modeling career started after the supermodel era but before the Insta-model craze. Social media was uncomfortable for me at first—there’s always that question of how much you should expose. It’s really become essential for every model to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Snapchat (which I'm finally embracing and trying to navigate). At castings, it seems your social media numbers are just as important as your skills in front of the camera. Thankfully, I was able to build quite a platform while I was a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Documenting my travels, work, beauty routines, and personal life has created a mood board of my life, which is the ultimate way to connect with people all over the world. More than that, social media has become a valuable business tool. At Wander Beauty we use crowdsourcing to create products that women want! We’ve produced their favorite liquid eyeshadow shade and have a new blush coming out in April (which they’ve named!).
What's been the most valuable life, career, or beauty lesson you've learned?