Taj Alwan, PR Director, The dFm

“My name is Taj Alwan [@Sabotaj] and I’m the PR Director at the agency The dFm. We work with clients in talent, fashion, music and tech, and I’m thankful to say that there’s never a dull moment. Part of my job is to stay on top of beauty and fashion trends—to say that doesn’t influence me is just plain naïve. I like to adopt a few beauty looks from editorials and runways every now and then. I’m pretty careless when it comes to seasonal looks, though…if a look works, I’ll rock it during any season.

The way I view beauty is totally influenced by what I do. I’m exposed to so many different typically beautiful, as well as unconventional, faces every day from working with our client, Ford Models, and their dynamic board. Currently, I live in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from Ethiopia and grew up between Vancouver, Canada, and LA. I’ve lived in five different countries—that’s influenced my routine, too. One of the reasons I moved to LA is because  I feel it’s important to have a healthy work/life balance. On weekends, I try to avoid working: I’ll either go to the beach or take a road trip and explore somewhere close, like Santa Barbara, Joshua Tree, Big Sur…there are so many beautiful places where you can go offline and do absolutely nothing in bliss.

My beauty motto for most days is to keep to the basics. I like to start off my routine with a dependable and effective face wash. I’m a big fan of Kate Somerville’s Gentle Daily Wash—it’s sulfate-free and helps keep my skin soft. Before I put on any makeup, I like to put on a protective layer of Kate Somerville’s Goat Milk Cream Moisturizer. I like that it has aloe, jojoba and avocado—I can feel it keeping my skin moisturized. I’ll either use Charlotte Tilbury’s The Retoucher Concealer alone, or MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid for ultimate coverage.

The best thing related to beauty that I’ve ever learned was from Naomi Campbell—indirectly, of course. She once told a magazine that the best makeup trick she’s taken from the pros was using a bit of bronzer on the bridge of your nose and cheekbones. Simple, easy, and makes a world of difference—I do it with MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Gold Deposit. Urban Decay Naked3 is also great for every day. I can use it everywhere from my lids to my brow bone to the bridge of my nose. There are a bunch of looks I’ve done recently—for fall I love an oxblood lip. I also tried a metallic lip, but I wasn’t a fan of the final look. I get inspired by everything. My favorite Instagram account is Pat McGrath’s…I mean, end of story.”

—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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Kenya Kinski Jones, Model

“I’ve been obsessed with beauty since I was a little girl. I’ll spend hours in Sephora with my older sister, Kidada [Jones]. She’s so much fun. We love products. We’ll be like, ‘What’s your newest product? What’s yours?’ and share things that we’ve found…We read about what they do for your skin, your hair—all of it. We’re obsessed. Like, it’s a problem.

I guess it started with CVS…Neutrogena and all that. For me, the price doesn’t matter—if the product’s good, it’s good, and I love it. Now I feel like I’ve really perfected my routine. I love St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub. It’s amazing. My skin gets dry and flaky, and that helps. When I use it at night, my skin’s really bright the next day. I like the Elta MD UV-Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 because it doesn’t smell, and it’s not too thick. It’s easy. I also love Kiehl’s. It’s got history. Their Midnight Recovery Concentrate is really good. And speaking of…I threw out all of my foundation when I bought Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint. It’s the perfect amount of coverage. It makes your skin glow, but it doesn’t overtake. It’s so natural-looking. I tell all my friends, ‘You have to get this.’ Your real skin shows through, which I love.

I keep makeup really minimal, but I like to explore eye looks. Day-to-day I keep it simple, but for events, I like to jump in, get into it, and try something new and fun. I dye my hair, too. Last week, it was orange, and then white—now it’s back to normal. I have to work at it. It takes several attempts. It can be hard going between New York and LA because you kind of bounce around, and you have to find that one person who does your hair right and stick with them.

I grew up in LA, but I would come to New York every summer for three or four months. Now that I’m out of school—I just graduated from Loyola Marymount University—I’ll be able to come back and forth more, so I’m excited. LA’s more dry, but I’m kind of weird in that I like the New York mugginess. I love the hot summer nights to go out. In LA, by driving all the time, you’re kind of disconnected from people and the city, but here, you become a part of it because you’re actually walking and touching and talking. You come here and it’s like go, go, go.”

—as told to ITG

Kenya Kinski Jones photographed by Tom Newton on July 7, 2015. For more interviews, check out Gigi Hadid and Selena Gomez’s Top Shelves. For more eye looks, Valery Kaufman shows ITG her ‘easy eye‘.

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Samantha Duenas, DJ, Sosupersam

“Tonight I’m getting ready for two things. First is this pool party series at The Line Hotel in Koreatown. It’s being put on by Caeden, a line of super-luxe wearable technology, and my boyfriend [DJ Them Jeans] and I are DJing together. There will be cute cocktails, a nice sunset, palm trees, banchan, kimchi…

And then later tonight I’m playing at this very backpacker hip-hop party. It’s actually the same party that I had my first DJ gig at, almost six years ago to the day. The party is called Soul Sessions—super underground old-school hip-hop. They stopped doing the party, and then this summer they decided to do a little reunion series. I play that at 1am—so today is a rare double-header.

For the first party, I’m going to wear a white linen dress, just to switch it up from…a black dress. But it’s a disaster! I just don’t understand why people make dresses that are see-through, and then they don’t send you the underwear that’s required for them. So I’ve been running around town looking for boob tape, and I’m wearing a special pair of Spanx. It’s supposed to be easy and effortless, and I’m head-to-toe covered in nipple covers and stickers. I’ll probably just throw on a jacket and a pair of boots later, because we’re going to keep it light and airy at the pool then switch it up for the club.

It doesn’t take me very long to get ready—an hour tops—because I don’t give a shit. I also find that the less you put on your face, the less weird you look in photos. Because it’s all about complexion matching against different types of light. Lately I haven’t been putting any tinted moisturizer on my face, and I find that I look the best because it’s my natural skin tone. I have SPF and coconut oil on, that’s it. You can hug people without worrying about rubbing tons of wax and paint onto their clothes.

I’ll do a little bit of highlighter and fill in my brows—that’s the big thing. Lately I’ve been using a small angled brush, like this Smashbox Angle Brow Brush #12, with the ashy, dark-brown eyeshadow from the Smashbox Full Exposure Palette. That takes 53 minutes. [Laughs] No, usually that takes seven minutes, and the rest of the time I’m just running around, panicking, and double-checking my bag so that I don’t forget anything. I have a whole bunch of stuff that I bring with me in case I end up looking like a mess and need to redo anything. Anything in crayon or stick form is good to have in your bag. I think a good, creamy eyeliner is also great, just because you can quickly define your eye without a lot of precision needed. Anything you can rub into your face really fast is key. A highlighter stick is good for when you’re on stage because you can just put it right here at the top of your cheekbones and rub it in. Then when people photograph you, your whole face lights up right. I like Smashbox’s L.A. Lights Blendable Lip & Cheek Color. This is pretty frickin’ amazing, too—the Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Stick Trio. It’s easy to pack and travel with. You don’t need a brush for it, and it fits nicely in your bag. You just mark your face where you’re supposed to put it and rub in the color. You don’t need a big compact, so nothing will crack.

Other must-haves are a lip balm, for sure, like Glossier’s Balm Dotcom, Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1, or just straight-up Vaseline. I also carry around a mist. I like Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, And Rosewater, or Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist. Kiehl’s In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist is a good one, too. Then DJ stuff—headphones, laptop, all the chargers. Right now I use Ai Ai Ai, because they’re really sleek, all black, and they work really well.

My work pops out of nowhere, and I used to run around last minute like, ‘Oh my God, I gotta get a wax! And my hair done! By tomorrow!’ I’ve sort of tried to change that up a bit so I can always be ready. Buying outfits when I don’t necessarily need them yet is a new thing for me, too. Always keeping a couple of fresh things in your closet is a good trick. I’m also getting used to my monthly maintenance. Bi-monthy, it’s a mani-pedi. On a monthly basis, it’s eyelashes—I’m addicted to eyelash extensions. For those in LA, I go to Nine Zero One in West Hollywood. The girl who does my lashes is incredible, she does all the Real Housewives. [Laughs] So, now I get a facial and go to my waxing lady and I make a fun, little day trip out of it. Go to Barneys, and do the whole thing. The night before I get all the maintenance done, I get a Traditional Thai Massage at The Barai Day Spa in Silverlake.

For hair, I usually do a sleek Wednesday Addams look. I get a really nice middle part going, and then I put some coconut oil into it to make it shiny. Actually, I keep a 20 oz. bottle of coconut oil in my cabinet and use it for everything—as makeup remover, as hair gel, you even can make a fried egg with it. We keep a separate jar in the kitchen for cooking, obviously.

I get really, really exhausted, and I think that is unavoidable. What helps me not to look as exhausted is the fact that I don’t drink that much considering the setting I work in. And I sleep a lot when I can, so that really helps. I do a lot of facial masks, like Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque, Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Masks, or those $2 Face Shop Masks from Koreatown. I’m a morning person, so I enjoy waking up at 7am, and I naturally will. When I work really late, which often tends to be the case, I get all cranky and need a nap.

No matter if I get home at 10pm or 4am, I have to do my five-step process to take off my makeup. My whole removal process uses Tatcha products. I have sensitive skin, so it’s good for that. I take a Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelette and wipe off most of my makeup and then the Tatcha process begins with the Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. You take a small amount and rub the rest of your makeup off with it—and then step two is this Indigo Soothing Rice Enzyme Powder. It’s this egg-shaped bottle and you shake out some of the powder, make a big lather in your hands with water, and then wash your face with that. Then there’s the Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum that’s like a million dollars and you have to put that on your face followed by the Indigo Soothing Triple Recovery Cream. I’m getting it down to about five minutes. I walk around brushing my teeth for a lot longer. Then, I slip on my retainer and call it a day.

A good night out working is probably when I play my favorite shows with Soulection, a record label that I’m on. They throw the best parties, and the crowd is always so insane and so receptive to whatever genre of music I might be feeling on that particular day. It’s really fun to take them on that journey, and everyone on Soulection is just so awesome to be around. They throw parties in LA at The Regent. That venue with that crowd…that whole vibe is so rad. Whenever I get to play with them, it’s a good work night.”

—as told to ITG

Samantha Duenas interviewed by Jane Helpern and photographed by Rick Rodney in Los Angeles on June 26, 2015.

DJs Alejandra Sabillon and Alix Brown want to bring the ’60s and ’70s back into the club scene, and Zoe Silverman discusses ins and outs of performance dressing on ITG After Dark.

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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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Michelle Monaghan, Actress

“In terms of beauty, I’m a real minimalist. I can only do really, really simple. It’s fun to change up my look for roles, but I don’t really do it for daily life. I actually prefer as little makeup as possible. And really, that’s just kind of for practical purposes because I do wear so much makeup when I’m working 14 hours a day. I feel like I need to give my skin a break when I can. Also, in real life, I really like my freckles—I think they give women a really youthful look, which is nice.

I got pretty into beauty even before I was acting. Credit goes to my mom. She always looked after my long, thick hair. We we didn’t have a lot of money, but she would get me those Redken hair treatments and put my hair in a hot towel and wash it in the sink—really take care of it. I remember her telling me, ‘You should really brush out those curls. Brush out your bangs,’ and I was like, ‘It’s fine!’ She told me my hair kind of looked like a donut when I didn’t take care of it, and I would be like, ‘Yeah, but I like donuts!’ [Laughs]

Before getting into acting, I was modeling, so I already had a pretty good sense of what worked on my face and what didn’t work on my face. After my senior year in college, I moved to New York and continued modeling and then started doing commercials and then kind of made the leap into television and film. That was sort of my transition, I guess.

Living in LA, you have to have SPF on all the time! I just went to the dermatologist, and he was like, ‘Yup, everybody’s got more sun damage on the left side of their face because that’s the driving side.’ When I wake up in the morning, I first put on my sunscreen. I wear Supergoop’s Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology Broad Spectrum SPF 50. It’s my daily moisturizer. I have a massive pump of it. I just sort of slather it on. It’s oil-free and doesn’t clog your pores like a lot of them do, so that’s kind of what goes on first. I am also obsessed with Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence, which is nice to apply if your skin is a bit dehydrated or even after a flight.

For cleanser, I tend to stay away from products with oil, parabens, or anything with algae in it—that’s the biggest pore clogger there is. I use this MAC Mineralize Charged Water Cleanser to remove any makeup, and I wash my face only at night. I just do like a nice little rinse in the shower in the morning.

For my body, my lips, and pretty much everything else, I use Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream. I put it in a cool, little compact, and then I just take it with me. It’s great because there’s nothing damaging in it, and it’s nice on the eyelids, too. It’s literally magic to me.

If it’s as simple as waking up and just walking out the door, or when I’m just going out to run errands, I’ll just put on Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer in Ivory or Beige, depending on how much sun I’ve seen. I also use the Dior Skinflash Radiance Booster Pen. I like it because it’s a little bit more iridescent than Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat. It reflects light a little bit better.

I love Tata Harper’s Redefining Body Balm  and the Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tints—the shade Very Vivacious has a very 1970s vibe, which I’m really into at the moment. There’s something rustic about it, and it has such a beautiful tone. These balms make me feel like putting on a pair of high-waisted jeans, and the fact that they work for both lips and cheeks is just a plus. I like to use those kinds of multipurpose products a lot.

I also love matte lips, especially stains. One of my favorites is Serge Lutens’ Water Lip Color in Chardon. The color is so beautiful—it just truly enhances your natural lip color and makes it look like you have a little bit more depth, so that’s really the best. I’ve used it on the red carpet so many times, and it’s my go-to when I’m doing more of an eye look. I don’t leave home without it in my little makeup bag.

One maintenance thing I keep up with is eyelash tinting. I don’t tend to wear mascara daily. I find that just tinting is really simple and easy and just gives some sort of definition there without having to put product on.

On True Detective, we did a ’90s episode—everyone kept calling it ‘a period piece,’ which is so funny to me. It was like seeing what my makeup should have looked like in the ‘90s. The inspiration was Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford…you know, all that great ’90s makeup and hair. Lots of MAC Lip Pencil in Spice. I just remember thinking, ‘90s makeup isn’t bad as I remembered—if it’s done properly.

The first time I ever colored my hair was for a movie called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and I went blonde. My hair is naturally black, so it took about seven hours. I would always shock myself when I would turn on the lights in the bathroom and see my reflection—but I did love that look. My skin tone is kind of fair, so I can go kind of dark or a little bit lighter with my hair—or even get some red tones in there, I find. My husband’s personal favorite is red—like a deep auburn.

My shampoo varies constantly. I like anything from Kérastase, really. In terms of styling, I love Rahua’s Elixir. The scent is truly intoxicating. I also like Bumble and bumble’s Brilliantine for split ends. It’s especially good after you color your hair. And of course, I love Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray.

I got a bottle of Coqui Coqui’s Tabaco in Tulum. It doesn’t last as long, but it smells so good. I also love Elizabeth and James’ Nirvana Black Perfume Oil. The older I get, the more I’m liking the heavier scents and less of the other stuff. I love this stuff because it’s really nice for the whole body, so sometimes I’ll just put this on straight out of the shower. Then I have Tata Harper’s Love Potion, which I like because it’s small, and you can carry it in your purse or a small makeup bag.

When I’m not working, I like to exercise as much as I can. I do Soul Cycle quite a bit, and I just ran a half marathon. I haven’t always been a runner, but my friend put me up to it, and I thought, ‘Oh God. OK, I’ll do it.’ I must have been hungover or something when she asked me because I was feeling guilty, but I managed to do it! And I would do another one. Doing the TCS New York City Marathon is sort of on my bucket list, but I don’t know when I’d have the time to do it because training for it is really difficult. I also love to hike. I love to break a sweat. I try to meditate twice a day, 20 minutes at a time. That’s sort of probably good for energy. I’m not really into yoga, so I feel like meditating is a good way to balance it out.

In terms of what I eat, everything’s pretty healthy. I drink so much water—at least 3 liters a day. I also always take a green juice with me that’s made up of kale, celery, cucumber, sometimes some ginger, and lemon thrown in there, but I stay away from apple and the sugary stuff.

I actually am not a sweets person by nature. Give me a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and that’s it. I’m also a Kind bar girl—the Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt, in particular. I eat a really well-balanced diet, but I’m also the girl that likes to go to the beach all day and get a Number Three at McDonald’s on the way home—everything in moderation. By default, you want to eat well when you have a family. I’m trying to introduce them to nice, healthy fish and things like that. I have two kids, a 1-year-old and a 6-year-old. I think that if you are healthy, you are beautiful on the outside and on the inside. The best thing to do is just lead by example.”

—as told to ITG

Michelle Monaghan interviewed by Alyssa Reeder and photographed by Zoey Grossman on June 3, 2015 in Los Angeles.

Katie Holmes does her makeup in the car. Read about it in The Face.

Before she was an actress, Debi Mazar got her start in makeup.

Jamie King on what beauty tricks she’s picked up along the way in her progression from model to actress.

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