"I had to wear a uniform at school in my little town in Canada every day growing up, and that totally influenced me going into fashion. I was really excited about clothes! Of course, I still have my own sort of uniform...I wore these pants three days in a row, but I don’t really care, I’ll put on a clean shirt, it’s fine, and I feel good about it. It’s purely self-pleasing, in a way. I think you are your own business card.
But the uniform, my days are never the same. I'll be working on something editorial one day and red carpet the next, depending on what my clients are doing. The roster of people I'm working with is really great—Justin Bieber, Olivia Wilde, Felicity Jones... Styling for me is about working together. We meet, we talk about who they are and what they want the clothes to say depending on the event. Creatively, one of my most exciting project was working on Justin's Believe World Tour. We designed 60 custom pieces for that and ever since, we've seen the styles everywhere in retail. That was a really fun process for me.
Genetically, I won pretty good skin, but around 33, I started dealing with adult acne. Once I was noticing regular pimples, someone recommended I go see Christie Kidd and she's amazing, She put me on this Clean Cleanser by Rodeo Drive Dermatology , which I use when I'm in the shower. After that, if I'm still feeling oily, I use their Fresh Antibacterial Drying Pads, sometimes only in specific areas, like on my chin. The whole base of her method is to do it all with wet skin, so I do it all before I dry off my face. [Ed. note: Rodeo Drive Dermatology products unavailable for purchase online.]
If it's daytime, I've been putting Caudalie's Radiant Serum under my La Mer—which I got in a gift bag, but I have to say, it's amazing. And then I'll use the Elta MD Sunscreen every single day before I go out and do anything. That's important. Because I have short hair, I put it on the back of my neck and whatever is left over I rub on the top of my hands, like a little old lady.
At night, I'll use the same cleanser if I'm not wearing too much makeup. If I am, I'll use Lancôme Bi-Facial Double Action Eye Remover—it's the best for eye makeup. But I've had it for two years, that's how little makeup I wear. Then, instead of sunscreen, I use night cream. Every few weeks, particularly if I have an event, I'll use the SK-II undereye masks and lay still for 15 minutes. Then I like an eye cream that Katy Denno gave to me–it's called Devita Revitalizing Eye Lift Crème. I use it in the morning, but just a little bit, and I tap tap tap underneath. In the winter, I’ll use Baume De La Mer.
I’m probably more aware of aging skin now, but my career changed after I had my daughter, Clementine. I became way busier and way more successful—that sort of thing. So maybe I got a little more savvy the longer I was in the industry, like I wasn’t buying La Mer or SK-II before I had her.
It's been a while since I've had a bath at home, but when I'm in New York in a hotel room, I will definitely go buy some epsom salt and draw a bath. Other than that, for my body, I just wear a ton of Tom's of Maine deodorant.
I put eucalyptus in my shower at home. We have a eucalyptus tree, so we throw eucalyptus leaves in there, especially in the winter to steam up, and I swear that’s how I keep my kid from having colds. They’re just germs—children are germs. But the eucalyptus helps. And I always use a Neti Pot in the winter—sorry, that sounds so California.
I started wearing lipstick at 16 and I’ve not looked back—it’s always been my thing. But other than that, I never really learned how to wear makeup. I did haircuts and lips—also eyebrows are the most important things you can do for yourself. A little haircut, a little eyebrow...it goes a long way, that’s what Oprah says.
I’ll use Chanel powder sometimes if I’m a little shiny or feel like I just need a little. No foundation. I don’t like how my face looks with it, and I don’t need foundation. Maybe a professional would beg to differ, but I don’t like it. Although Jenn Streicher does an amazing job on my face. She put makeup on me for one thing and I was like, 'Oh!' She was the one who gave me this Charlotte Tilbury Concealer and showed me how to use it. Besides that, I mean, I’m pretty satisfied with how I look. Lipstick is the only thing I wouldn’t leave at home. I don’t deviate from a red or an orange-red. Although, I’m thinking about plum this year—Lipstick Queen has a good one. It looks like Red Red Wine from Revlon like years ago.
Armani Privé Rose d’Arabie is my favorite. This is my daily-wear, and I only wear it daily now because it’s finally available in America and it’s amazing. But I love anything with a rose. If I’m going away for more than three days I’ll travel with it, but otherwise I’ll travel with Comme des Garçons Series 2 Red Rose. Anything rose-scented, but I love the Armani Privé. They gave some to me when I went to my very, very first couture show. I flew into Paris with a client and they gave us this perfume, so maybe it’s meant to be. My husband loves it and everybody who ever smells it is always like, 'Oh, what is it?'
I wash my hair three times a week with O&M Organic Mineral Hydrate And Conquer Shampoo and O&M Maintain The Mane Conditioner. It can get a little dry, which is remarkable because I’ve never used a hair dryer and I’ve never colored my hair in my life. Actually, you know what? I have—briefly, I went blue by mistake. I thought black hair would be really cool to have a blue tinge in it, but it wasn’t cool, it looked horrible. That was like 17 years ago. Now when I'm getting ready, all I have to do is brush my hair into place. I spray a little Surf Balm in and then I do Davines Oi/Oil Absolute Beautifying Potion, which is the best hair stuff. I use the Bumble and bumble Surf Spray, too—it just does something fun to it.
I'm not satisfied with my hair right now. Sometimes I think about slicking it back, but not every day. For events, I go to Pamela Neal at Salon Benjamin. It’s a great salon! She cuts David Bowie and Tilda Swinton’s hair. Pamela will give me a precision slick where she uses a ton of Aveda gel and blows it into place. It’s like a lacquer. I can’t do it on my own…Actually I tried to do it today and this is what I look like—it just doesn’t look as good. The inspiration comes from Le Smoking–that Helmut Newton kind of sharp look done to the side. Everyone who sees my curls will say, 'Oh, you should wear your hair slicked back!' But I just don’t like how it looks if it’s straight back, so I do it over the side. To do it straight back I think you have to have it a little bit longer, so it’s always been by necessity to do it to the side. I’m a creature of habit, except with the changing out of my beauty products. [Laughs]"
—as told to ITG
Karla Welch photographed by Matthew Welch at her home in Los Angeles on September 9, 2015.
More stylist advice: Heidi Bivens recommends hydration above all, Leslie Fremar uses the same tinted moisturizer from her teenage years, and Patti Wilson washes her face in cold plasma in The Top Shelf.
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