They told me the car would pick me up at 7:30 a.m. and that I should wear flats so I wouldn’t trip as we toured the dusty grounds of the animal sanctuary. Google Maps told me it would take an hour to get there from L.A. I set out a pair of loafers and a tablet of Dramamine in case the drive got wild.
Because I’m a late sleeper, I didn’t have time to finish my makeup before my ride called me to come down. As we hurtled around the winding switchback roads, making our way toward the mountains of Angeles National Forest, I quickly regretted my decision to apply liquid lipstick in the car. We whipped around a tight corner, and I inevitably dropped the applicator in my lap, leaving a bright pink streak on my thigh in the shape of a check mark.
Damn, I thought. Shay Mitchell’s going to think I’m a slob.
I was headed to an event for Bioré, but this wasn’t your typical launch party. Normally when brands release a new product, they host a dainty breakfast at a hotel centrally located in Los Angeles. But to honor the release of its limited-edition animal-print pore strips, Bioré decided to do something out of the ordinary.
All I knew was that the event would be held at a wildlife shelter in the mountains and that I’d be interviewing Shay Mitchell, the face of the campaign. I certainly did not know that within the hour I’d be splitting papaya with the celeb and accompanying her on a walking safari.
To find out what went down (and get some genius beauty tips from Shay), keep reading.
Soon I learned the animal-print pore strips were more than just a charming new aesthetic. For the campaign, Bioré teamed up with Southern California–based animal sanctuary The Wildlife Waystation, the very place I was headed. Every box of limited-edition pore strips purchased would contribute a donation to the sanctuary, which provides a forever home to wild animals from tigers to chimpanzees.
When I arrived at the Wildlife Waystation, I was greeted with a mango smoothie and ushered onto a tree-shaded patio that looked like something from Out of Africa. Immediately, I had a whole new set of questions for Shay. If she were stranded on the savanna, what beauty products would she want with her? If she had to outrun a cheetah, what workouts would she do to train? What was her hair spirit animal?
But, of course, I couldn’t ask these questions. Typically when we interview celebrities, we have to send our questions long before we get to the event so their teams can look over them and make sure we don’t ask anything scandalous or off-topic. So instead, I downed my smoothie, shielded the lipstick stain with my purse, and prepared to meet the girl of the hour.
When it was time for our interview, Shay appeared from behind a banana leaf, flaunting her signature bronzed complexion and a fresh lob (which her stylist had cut just that morning). Far from the pollution and stuffy hotels of Los Angeles, her posture was relaxed, her eyes sparkling.
I complimented her hair, which she was still touching and playing with like we all do after a new chop. “If you had to make another radical change to your hair, what would you do?” I asked her.
“Dye it,” Shay said without a beat. “Like, I don’t know, maybe go a really light brown or blond. That would be super pretty. Like Ciara blond.”
Something about the early morning sun and the mountain air (and her expertly applied foundation, no doubt) made Shay’s skin look particularly luminous, not even the faint memory blemish in sight.
“Do you ever have trouble with your skin?” I asked. “It seems flawless.”
“Sometimes I have dry, flaky skin,” she told me, “because I wear so much makeup and then use makeup removers. I hate washing my face all the time.”
Shay cited Bioré's Baking Soda Cleansing Scrub ($10) as her favorite way to treat it. “It’s gentle enough, but it still exfoliates your skin. ... There’s nothing worse than having a dry spot and trying to cover that up. ... You want an even canvas to work on.”
She had plenty more drugstore recommendations.
“I always use Bioré’s Self Heating One Minute Mask ($8). As soon as I take my makeup off, that’s what I put on because it just leaves your skin super tingly, and I love that feeling,” she said. “I also always have the same mascara: Covergirl Lash Blast ($9). And coconut oil. You can use it to cook, you can use it to moisturize your body and hair, everything.”
“Any other must-haves?" I asked her.
“Oh, the pore strips,” she said, “the animal-print pore strips.”
After our interview, the dozen other attendees and I were led to a breakfast table, dressed in rustic linens and greenery. Somehow I was placed right next to Shay. She sat with one leg tucked under her, one leg touching the floor.
“Do you mind if I Snapchat you guys?” she asked us.
No one minded.
“So how do feel about Instagram Stories?” I asked her as we dug into platefuls of watermelon and papaya. “To be honest, I’m not even Snapping anymore.”
“Really?!” she said. “Don’t you think it’s crazy that Instagram basically stole Snapchat?”
“Silicon Valley, girl; it’s wild out there,” I responded.
“Ugh, true,” she said.
After breakfast, we were split into small groups to tour the Wildlife Waystation. Shay was assigned to the group right behind mine.
“I just have to be on set at 3,” she told the guide.
I locked elbows with an editor from The Zoe Report, and we entered through large metal gates. Think Jurassic Park, only with platform sneakers and bright lipstick.
As we made our way down the sanctuary’s dirt paths, between large cages of exotic birds and big cats, I heard Shay’s voice trailing behind. Her favorite animals of the day were, decidedly, the peacocks.
Points to Bioré for history’s most surreal beauty event, I thought.
On our hour-long tour, we were bewildered to learn that the Waystation was founded in 1976 by an animal activist named Martine Colette, who still lives on the property. The Waystation will rescue and rehabilitate any type of wild animal, no matter where it comes from, as long as there’s room. Sometimes, our guide said, he will show up to work to find a fox or a monkey chained to the front gate.
At the end of our safari, one of the Waystation employees handed me a peacock feather she’d found along our walk. “A gift from the animals,” she said. I felt sorry for not having brought them anything in return.
I bid farewell to Shay and made my way back to the car. “Thanks so much for coming!” she crooned, a zebra-print pore strip cloaking her nose.
I smiled and climbed into the car, preparing myself for the long drive, eager to get back home and clear the dust from my pores. With an animal-print strip, of course.
Post a selfie on social media wearing an animal-print pore strip with the hashtag #TameYourPores to further support Wildlife Waystation.
Want more celebrity interviews? Check out our exclusive with Gigi Hadid.