Sonya Esman, Blogger, Class Is Internal

"What’s my name? [Laughs] My name is Sonya Esman. My username and blog name is Class is Internal. I hate it. It’s stupid. I wanted to make beauty videos on YouTube, but I wanted my username to contradict my content. I’m not about being beautiful, I’m not about superficiality, and I didn’t want it to be all about that. At first, I wanted my blog to be called ‘Beauty is Internal,’ but somebody took that. At the time, I was obsessed with Gossip Girl, so I was thinking, 'Gossip Girl, classy…Class is Internal.' Now, I’m rebranding to Sonya Esman. Nice and simple.

I’m actually not obsessed with doing my own makeup, and I’m not a makeup artist. I made videos to become an actress. My first topics were about that—acting. I got noticed, and I still get recognized for it, too. Once, I took a $7,000 acting class that was a scam—one of those 'Want to be a Disney Channel star? Come to our casting' things. I did a lot of extra work. I did Degrassi, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Suits, Hemlock Grove—a lot of little TV shows. Camp Rock 2 was cool because it was Disney Channel, and I thought, ‘Oh I can die now. I’m in a Disney Channel original movie.’ I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story, but I was obsessed with the Jonas Brothers when I was little, right? Obviously. I heard that they had purity rings, so I got one as well. I became, like, religious because of them. I came up to Joe when we were filming on set one day. He was randomly standing behind me ready to shoot, and I was like, ‘Joe, I got a purity ring because you did.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Awesome.’ [Laughs] Oh my God. It was horrible. I was so awkward.

I moved to LA two weeks ago—before that, I lived in Toronto. I signed a lease and bought a car. Everything's changing, and I only just turned 20. At first I didn't like LA. All of my friends lived there, and I thought it was a magical dream world where all the celebrities live, but I realized it was just a city. I love it now, though. I used to be all 'go, go, go,' but LA tripped me out, and I became so relaxed. I like to hang out, go to the gym, and go hiking here...things that harmonize my life. I want to actually get to my emails in the morning and actually eat breakfast—actually have dinner plans and actually see friends at night. I used be better at answering emails and DMs. People are always saying, ‘Oh, I Instagram direct messaged you,’ and I’m like, ‘What is that?’ It’s probably so full."

For products, I like things that I can put on at night and wake up looking better in the morning. You can do that with a good eye cream. I like the La Mer Illuminating Eye Gel. It’s so moisturizing. I love it. In general, I start with a good moisturizer. When I was younger, I thought heavy moisturizers gave me pimples, but now that's all I'm about.

I like clay masks—need is a better word, really. I know some people don’t like them, but it's the only thing that works for my blackheads. There’s this one mask called Freeman Feeling Beautiful Mint & Lemon Clay Mask. It’s literally like $3 at Walmart, and it’s the best I’ve ever tried. I also like Glossier's Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, actually. The green one is better for me because I don’t have dry skin. I have Guerlain Abeille Royale Repairing Honey Gel Mask, too. That one's expensive though, and it comes in this gold pot with a little brush. I swipe it on my face and massage it in. I think I’m about to run out, but all of them leave my skin really clear and nice for makeup afterward.

I like accentuating the bones in my face through light-handed, natural touches through my makeup. I use Benefit's High Brow as an eyeliner, and then I use Essence's I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Mascara. I think I found it once at the drugstore, and it worked so well that I've just stuck with it. I’ve tried other brands, but nothing has ever been as good as that one. On my cheeks, right now I’m using MAC Powder Blush in Pinch Me. It’s shimmery and kind of pink—rosy pink, like dusty. Then I always groom my brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills' Tinted Brow Gel and Too Faced's Brow Envy Brow Shaping & Defining Kit. Otherwise, my brows are like caterpillar-straight.

My hair is still my natural color, but I’ve been lightening it with L’Oréal's Casting Sunkiss by Healthy Look. It has no ammonia, and it just lightens your hair a little if you leave it in and sleep in it. It’s pretty amazing. I have a very sensitive scalp, so I’ve been using shampoos with tea tree oil in them like Giovanni's Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo. It’s the only thing that doesn’t irritate my scalp.

For fragrance, there’s Montale. They come in these metallic little bottles. Vanille Absolu smells amazing, not like that cheesy vanilla-sugar-cookie smell. I also love the original Juicy Couture perfume. I don't even think many places carry it anymore. I always find mine at Marshalls or T.J.Maxx. It’s musky, and I love it."

—as told to ITG

Sonya Esman photographed by Tom Newton July 14, 2015.

Gigi Hadid has another trick for low-maintenance blondes. Read about it in her Top Shelf. Selena Gomez talks about her makeup routine in her Top Shelf. Then check out how Chiara Ferragni got her start as a style blogger and how she keeps up with it.

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Andrea Maack, Perfumer & Artist

"I'm Andrea Maack [@andreamaack] and I live in Reykjavík, Iceland. I guess that first and foremost, I'm a visual artist, but I also have my own fragrance brand. I got into mixing fragrances through my art exhibitions, and that kind of took off and morphed into it's own thing. Because of how I am, everything I do in my daily life counts as beauty inspiration. I'm constantly working on something new and thinking about how that translates into a fragrance. I prefer being outside in the moment, visiting different places in nature. My team and I go on a lot of amazing journeys for work and fun, everything from visiting an 8,000-year-old water cave to transforming an abandoned fish factory to an art studio. I have no boundaries and don't really go on vacations. I just love what I do, so I feel like I relax while working and vise versa.

I think it's good to know what is happening and changing in the world of beauty today, but at the same time, I like isolating myself and not be too influenced by the industry. Growing up in Iceland in the '80s wasn't the most cosmopolitan place to be. I honestly don’t think I used anything on my face until maybe 16 or 17. I went through the whole '90s thing at its prime, which I still quite like—powdered lips and brown eyeshadows—but I guess my fondest memory was traveling with my grandmother around the country when I was a child. Really, the whole family would travel together, but she always requested that I sit behind her so I could comb her hair and help her with her Nivea Creme. It felt special, like I was her chosen beauty assistant. I miss the old Nivea Creme—they were super thick and came in brass jars, which were actually so stylish to me.

I like to try a lot of products because there are so many new amazing beauty brands popping up all the time. I also try to find new things locally that I can't get anywhere else—this goes both for Iceland and when I'm traveling. Starting with skincare, for Icelandic local stuff, my favorite product is Penzim Gel. It's a completely natural serum-like gel made out of enzymes taken from Icelandic cod. Here, you can get it for very cheap at pharmacies. A lot of my international friends have gotten addicted to this stuff, so I'm constantly sending them bottles. I also like the EGF Serum from BioEffect. It's a similar consistency to the Penzim Gel, and it's perfect under makeup. As far as cleansing goes—which I'm a bit of a drill sergeant about—my old faithful is the Eve Lom Cleansing Balm. I've tried quite a few cleansers, but this one is the best—I really like the balm consistency. In the mornings, though, my favorite cleanser to use is Sunday Riley's Ceramic Slip. It really does feel like you washed your face outside in a clear lake—plus, anything with clay in it has me won over, like Diptyque's Multi-Use Exfoliating Clay—so amazing! My latest skincare obsession is in exfoliating toners. The way my skin feels after using them is the best, especially when I'm on a trip. I take them with me. The ones I'm using right now are Skyn Iceland's Nordic Skin Peel and Pixi's Glow Tonic.

I have experimented a lot with makeup, and I pretty much know now what suits me best at this point. I either go very pared-down or all-out. My day look is very simple—good skin using Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and powders. I just think the way makeup companies reinvented powder is genius. I use the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light as a highlighter and in Dim Light to contour. For sculpted brows, I use Anastasia Beverly Hills' Brow Powder Duo in Taupe. I have quite hooded eyes, so just a little bit of black pencil in the waterline is all I need. I really like things that claim 'the blackest black' in terms of mascara and eye liner, so I use this By Terry Crayon Kohl in Black Print and Hourglass' Film Noir Mascara in Onyx with a natural lip. I always carry with me Pixie Tinted Brilliance Balm in nearly naked becase it really does help with dry lips in cold climates, but the color is that '90s vibe I like so much, and it's great for daytime. For a bolder nude lip, I use Charlotte Tibury's K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick in Nude Kate with her Lip Cheat in Iconic Nude to perfect the shape of my lips for an evening look. If I'm going out, I really love to take my time and go a little crazy. I spend time mixing colors and perfecting that smoky, vampy look. My favorite eyeshadows to work with are from Nars. I like their matte eyeshadows, and my favorite combination right now is mixing the shades Kamchatka, Thunderball, and Namibia. I mix them on my hand and just play around a lot. I never go for the color that's in the pan. Mix your own! Put a little indigo with the grey and add some black, kind of like an artist mixing oil colors. It's also a great way to create custom colors and a signature look. Good brushes are a must, and I get mine from an old French brush maker that makes artists brushes called Raphaël Kolinsky—you can find them at art supply stores.

A beauty secret I feel everyone should know that's pretty simple is just to stand on your hands—you can support yourself with something—for 30 seconds a day to get the blood flowing to your face. I call it my personal fountain of youth."

—as told to ITG

The #ITGTopShelfie series puts the focus on the lives and beauty routines of Into The Gloss's lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Show us your own Top Shelfie on Instagram—tag us @intothegloss, and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie. 

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The Benefits Of Clay—And Of Being Covered In It

Last month I found myself at Maria Hurley’s Mayan Clay Spa in Tulum, laying inside a jungle bungalow, completely covered in clay. Not your standard "part of the facial" clay mask. No—a very kind masseuse applied layer upon layer to my face, body, and hair until I was nice and crusty. Then she led me to the ocean, where I tried my best to rinse off. Eventually, I turned to the outdoor shower to get rid of the rest of it.

At first dollop of clay, it's tempting to think, is this too much of a good thing? But after washing off the clay—which feels sort of like peeling the shell off of a hard-boiled egg if the egg is your body—my legs and arms were noticeably smoother and calmer from some recent acne flareups. It's less of an exfoliating experience and more like molting. Weird, but also gentle and soft.

Initially, I was under the impression that the clay treatment, as decadent as it was, only pertained to my skin. Not so, Maria told me. “The Mayan people believe that the first man was actually full of clay," she said. Originally from New Zealand, Maria began looking into new ways to incorporate clay into her routine after growing up with it as a topical solution. "If we had mosquito bites, cuts, or abrasions, we always put clay on it because that’s part of the culture. But a lot of people also say that because clay is formed in the river and is left out in the sunlight, wind, and rain for thousands of years, it absorbs all of those properties of nature. It takes on the energy, so when you look at it as a substance, you can say that it's the sum of the pull of nature’s energy.”

That pull can be alluring—by now Shailene Woodley using and ingesting her own clay toothpaste is fairly old news. But once you've cleaned your pores (and teeth) thoroughly, what's left? Plenty, according to Maria, who's used clay treatments on everything from rashes to stomach aches. Read below for her take:

To combat eczema:
“Clay can be used for rashes, mosquito bites, and any dermatological problems on the skin because it helps decrease inflammation. Applying the clay and letting it dry absorbs the toxins."

To feed skin some nutrients:
“I always recommend that the first time you use clay as a facial mask, wet it down slightly as it begins to dry. That way, skin absorbs more minerals from the clay.”

To darken hair and condition:
“It can be used as a very light hair conditioning treatment—people often buy it because it helps to darken their color. Don’t use a lot—it shouldn’t be a thick application, but it helps neutralize the effects that conditioners, shampoos, and treatments have had. Then you can make a hydrating treatment on top of wet hair. You could mix up a milky solution of honey with a bit of clay and water and use that as a rinse to help soften the clay mask underneath."

To exfoliate gently:
“Wet your face, apply your clay, and just begin to lightly massage the clay in for about two or three minutes. Then, wash it off, and you've got just enough of a soft, natural exfoliation. Apply your night cream right after, and it'll absorb quickly. I think doing this at night is better because that’s when the face is relaxed."

To de-puff eyes:
“Some people have very inflamed under-eye bags. Moisten the under-eye area and apply quite a thick application of clay around the eyes. Leave it on for at least 20 minutes, then wash it off. Doing this even a couple of times a week helps decrease puffiness because clay will absorb excess fluid.”

To moisturize skin:
"Clay can be mixed with honey or chamomile tea to make a very lovely hydrating mask for the skin. It's especially nice around the eye area, but probably do without the honey then—just the chamomile tea for the eyes is nice.”

To eliminate acne:
“When skin has acne, it's an indication that you shouldn’t massage it. Just leave it alone and put clay on it every day to soothe."

To relieve stomach pain:
“If someone has an upset stomach, a massage might be too much, but you can apply a thick layer of clay and just let it sit. Leave it on, and it will absorb the gas and the liquid and calm your stomach ache. When you’re treating individual organs, it should just be applied to that organ. For example, over the kidneys or over the liver. Apply clay in one area at least half-a-centimeter thick.”

To alleviate back pain:
“It can be used just over the spine to calm down nerves. When people are going through a very stressful time or even menopause or depression, apply a thick layer of clay to the spine and relax the central nervous system."

Got any other ideas on how I can use these leftover jars of clay? Ceramics are off the table.

—Claire Knebl

Photos courtesy of the author. For more on clay, read The Clay Toothpaste Roundtable.

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