Hola, my name is Claudia. I am originally from San Diego but have been living and loving Chicago for the past three years. I know it sounds crazy to hear that a lifelong San Diegan left year round 75-degree weather for chilly Chicago. But if you haven't experienced a Chicago Summer then you are missing out. It transforms into an unusually beautiful beast.
My daily routine starts with coffee. I know everyone says water, and to be honest I've only recently jumped on this drink more water bandwagon. Unsuccessfully, I might add. I spray my face every morning with Lush’s Breath of Fresh Air toner water to give me a clean slate without stripping my face of its natural oils. The smell reminds me of when I lived next to the beach, waking up early and having the ocean breeze on my face. I travel and do overnights for work, so I am constantly looking for ways to simplify my routine. This toner water has made the cut, mainly because of its multi-utility as a fragrance, light moisturizer, curl activator and overall holy water. I always apply a moisturizer with SPF before leaving the house. At any given time I will have about six moisturizers in my medicine cabinet, mainly Kiehl's and Origins. However, if I could only pick one, I would pick Origins' Plantscription which I have been using since high school.
I recently started using Vitalumiere Aqua Chanel foundation in 40 Beige for a little post moisturizer coverage. The light coverage gives my skin a dewy look, and the color works well on olive skin tones. It has SPF 15 which helps save me on a moisturizer with sun protection. In the winter I drop a couple of shades and like using Bare Minerals in Golden Medium (with SPF15). I love the way the Bare Minerals makes my skin look radiant, especially in the dullness of winter.
I have always hated the nightly routine of using various soaps and oils to rid my face of raccoon eyes. This past year I officially broke up with my mascara and made the switch to eyelash extensions, which are a game changer and time saver. It’s perfect for lazy weekends when you don’t want anything on your face, but also don’t want to leave the house looking like Smiegel. One of the features I first notice on other women is their brow game. Strong brows give our faces so much power and presence, and thru all the eyebrow trends from 90's pencil thin to the more recent big and bold, I have never really needed to change them (thanks Mom). I do prefer them a little more prominent these days and use Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Ebony, which has lasted me years. Often I will use Glossier’s Boy Brow in Black, which I would love because it holds and never flakes.
One of my favorite features is my curly hair. I am so thankful the gurls stayed with me after the YOLO moment I had two years back when I decided to bleach my hair in an attempt to look like Storm. I use Deva Curl nonsulfated shampoo and conditioner. It feels like you are washing your hair with lotion, but my curls thank me by staying frizz free. I use Moroccan oil and Lush leave in conditioners, which smell like Gardenias, to get a soft, touchable hold.
It wasn’t always easy accepting my black curls and olive skin, especially growing up at a time when even my Hispanic networks valued lighter skinned with light colored hair. I am first generation Mexican-American, but I refer to myself as Oaxacan. I don’t like to say that I am simply Mexican because it strips me of the indigenous culture and traditions that are very exclusive to Oaxaca. Sort of the way Americans will say they are Californian vs. Floridians, there's a huge difference. Growing up in San Diego, I often hid my roots because “Oaxacan” was used as a derogatory term amongst other Mexican kids. To this day in Mexico, there is racism within the Mexican community against indigenous people. Even within my own family, having lighter skin and other Caucasian features were highly praised and complimented. We couldn't afford the luxury of buying beauty and had to get creative growing up. Lemon juice was used as a common home remedy to “lighten” skin, create a sleek ponytail, substitute as a natural deodorant and even make a nice glass of lemonade. Mixing lemon juice with baking soda and masking your entire body was a regular thing. This mixture didn’t lighten my skin, but it did help brighten and exfoliate, which helped keep my skin clear and brighten any dullness. Regardless, girls would create all sorts of concoctions to achieve lighter skin and hair. Few lead telenovela actresses were brown girls with black hair like me.
Then came Selena, Mexican-American Queen of Tejano Pop music who put me on the fast track to having a positive self-esteem. In fourth grade, I could hang out with my best friend, who was blonde and blue eyed. She would pretend to be Mariah Carey, and I had Selena. With her thick dark hair and brown skin tone, Selena was naturally beautiful and unapologetically Latina. This Tejano Pop powerhouse confidently rocked her homemade stage costumes, but her signature red lip is the reason why my medicine cabinet has every shade of red imaginable. Even on my worst days, a red lip can gives me so much confidence. I have always preferred a hint of orange in my red lipstick, and Tom Ford’s Flame lipstick has nailed this combination. I feel a red matte lip is as transformative as it is timeless. I can't imagine it ever falling out of fashion.
My beauty journey is a journey of self-love, acceptance and the power of a red lip.