The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of Into The Gloss’ lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Submit your own on Instagram—post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie for a chance to be featured on ITG.
“Hello! My name is Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (@kcornv), I’m 30 years old, and I’m a writer. For the past three years I’ve been working on my first book. I’d call it a punk manifesto about immigration—my family immigrated from Ecuador to New York when I was five, and after the last election I decided it was time to pay my dues. I have been undocumented for most of my life, and I want to help the children of immigrants, young immigrants, and grandchildren of immigrants emancipate themselves from the American Dream. The book is a mix of stories from undocumented immigrants—some are my family’s and some I’ve collected from people around the country. I went on a lot of reporting trips to meet them, and I always worried I’d get detained myself. Originally I thought it would be best to dress nondescript and blend in, but then I decided to take a Susan Sontag approach and look glamorous and mysterious by wearing a full face of makeup as armor. (Plus my lawyer’s phone number in Sharpie on my palm, just in case.)
When I’m not traveling, I work at home. Or, at home about two thirds of the time, at a bar a third of the time, and about 3-percent of the time at PF Chang’s. Being able to lie down in the dark when I have a migraine is a luxury that’s not lost on me. I keep all my skincare at my desk, and do my whole routine there in the morning. As I’m getting ready to work, it helps me get inspired. I start with a mask as a timer for answering emails. I like to put it on, make a glass of kombucha, and blow through my inbox for 15 to 20 minutes while it works. My favorite is the Leaders Amino Moisture Mask, which leaves my dry skin so plump. After that, I really love Biologique’s Lotion P50V, which has completely curbed my breakouts—even the hormonal ones. Then I use The Ordinary’s hyaluronic acid, followed by CosRX’s Triple C Lightning Liquid. I’m not picky about moisturizer—I’ll use whatever sample Sephora has sent me—but I consistently like Embryolisse.
Then I put on my makeup. I want to look like you have to lean in close to hear me, like my voice sounds like money, and like I’m burnt and happy. I want to look alive. Glossier’s Skin Tint in G6 is good for when I’m just sitting at my desk, but I use the Covergirl Simply Ageless foundation when I want more coverage. I know it’s a rogue pick, but because it’s targeted towards mature skin, it’s so moisturizing. Plus, Classic Tan is my perfect shade—a little bit darker than my natural complexion for extra warmth. I use the bronzer from Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate in Intensity 01 to contour, but the best bronzer for olive-brown girls is Bare Minerals’ A Little Sun. It makes me look like I have a sunburn. Then I usually top it with Benefit’s Galifornia blush, which is subtle, or Chanel blush in 320 [Ed note: discontinued].
I sometimes tie my hair back to work, and when I do that I like to curl my bangs. Controversial, I know. But from the front I can pretend I have curly hair, and it also helps to take down the Dora the Explorer vibes. That’s important. But while my hair gets in the way, my acrylic nails never do. I can type really fast with them—I mean, I wrote a damn book with acrylic nails! That’s something I’ll always have on Jonathan Franzen. The one thing I can’t do with my acrylics is this Ecuadorian eyelash curling trick: you wash the lid of a menthol container (like Vick’s, for example) so it’s menthol-free, and then press the curved edge of it down on your lashes after applying mascara. Then, manually pull up the lashes in the shape of a curl, so it creates a crimp. It’s really impressive. I save it for between manicures.
I learned from my mom that beauty is dignity, and I’m grateful that she gave me all her early-‘90s, thick gold Brooklyn jewelry— they’re heirlooms now, darling. But my best beauty memories are actually my tattoos. I got my first one when I was in college—I revealed it to my evangelical father at my college graduation, but he was so happy to see me graduate he didn’t even care. It’s the coordinates to Macondo, an imaginary country Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes about. I discovered Vince Maximin a couple years later, and he’s done most of my tattoos since. When I met him he couldn’t even get a job at a Manhattan tattoo parlor, and now he’s based in LA and a big deal. He and I disagree about whether I’m his muse, but either way I’m so loyal to him.
To unwind after a day of working from home, I slather my face with Saint Jane’s CBD oil and use a jade roller. I’ll also probably be listening to a podcast about cults, the subject of my next book. I can’t wait to infiltrate some in real life.”
—as told to ITG
Photos via the author