Vv Magazine’s Associate Editor Azra Hirji will be the first to tell you that, as a woman of colour working in a predominantly ‘white’ industry where having strong beauty game garners you some serious brownie points, it’s often difficult to find a little beauty inspiration that suits her skin tone. Azra decided to take her woes to the streets of Toronto for inspiration and answers, resulting in Vv Magazine’s Ethnic Beauty Guide — beauty advice and tips from some of the most influential (and beautiful) ethnic women in Toronto. From overcoming their beauty struggles to letting us in on their must-have makeup products, Ethnic Beauty Guide profiles a new face every week, with the woman behind the gorgeous features divulging her best-kept beauty secrets, tips, issues, and advice.
Name: Pay Chen
Your biggest beauty struggle:
Asians are not typically known for having lush, natural lashes, so I’m always trying to thicken them up. I pinch my eyelids in my lash curler at least five times a week because my lashes are so short.
How have you overcome your beauty struggles:
I found lash extensions fun for the first week, but more hassle than I wanted to deal with when they started falling out. I just try to use a good mascara. A friend gave me a great one by Benefit and it’s my favourite so far.
What is something you’ve grown to love about yourself:
My mole(s). When I was little, another kid told me that I could have them removed when I turned 16 without having to ask my parents. I used to pray and wish to get rid of the mole on my cheek. But when I got older, I realized it made it easier for people to remember me (insert joke about “you all look alike”). It also helped that Madonna and Cindy Crawford made beauty marks popular. People still ask if I have penciled it on my face. They don’t realize how lazy I am.
If you were to have a daughter, what is one thing you’d teach her about beauty, the way she looks, etc.:
I would let her play around to find her personality and style. My mom was very strict and didn’t let me wear makeup or nail polish, so I’d take a little makeup bag to school and put some eyeliner and lipstick on in the bathroom before class.
I’d tell my kid to take care of her skin no matter what. Have fun with makeup. Keep it classy, not assy.
A beauty tip you swear by:
I’ve been moisturizing since I was about 8-years-old, which is odd for someone that age. I used to watch my mom put Nivea cream on her face and neck, and I just wanted to copy her. I highly doubt I was consistent with it, but if I saw her open up the jar, I had my fingers in it. I never sleep with my makeup on and, no matter how tired I am, I take off all my makeup and I have a six-step cleansing and moisturizing routine day and night. If we have to share a bathroom, you better get in there first or you’ll fall asleep waiting for me to finish up. I started using SkinCeuticals serums and SPF moisturizer over a year ago, and use them religiously.
A beauty product you can’t live without:
I always have a bottle of Bio Oil around and, if I have to travel really light, I’ll bring a small bottle and use it as a moisturizer on my face and body. I also obsessively moisturize my cuticles with it and will use it to defrizz my hair. It’s a great all-purpose product.
Favourite nude + red lipstick:
I don’t wear nude lipstick but my daily go-to colour tends to change depending on what product might get into my hands. I seem to have a lot of half-empty tubes of MAC Viva Glam lipsticks in various shades that I’ve collected over the years. I’m sure they need to be thrown out. The one and only time I’ve ever purchased a red lipstick is a crayon stick by NARS in Cruella.
Favourite beauty brand for women of colour:
I like Make Up For Ever for concealer and foundation, which I wear when I’m on TV. Otherwise I don’t bother wearing it. But they have a great selection of colours that really suit Asian skin tones.
Body hair removal preference:
I suppose the upside to being Asian is that I have relatively little body hair. So, I shave my legs maybe six times a year and I don’t think you can really see the hair unless you look closely. It’s kind of thin and fine like arm hair. But they get long and, when I can feel the wind blow through the hairs when I run, I figure I should shave.
I used to wax my bikini area, then I got impatient waiting for the right amount of hair to grow in so I did laser hair removal a few times and really liked the results but not the pain. People need to stop saying it feels like a bunch of “snapping rubber bands,” which sounds fairly tolerable. It does not. It feels like a million angry, fiery needles poking your lady folds.
I’m a fan of celebrities who wear makeup that looks like they’re not wearing makeup. Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez come to mind. You don’t really see them wearing heavy colours or thick makeup. It’s just carefully done to make their skin look perfect. I’ve tried highlighting and contouring with bronzer to get the look and I can tell you it’s not an easy look to achieve unless you think stripes are attractive.
If you have any beauty tips, secrets, and makeup must-haves that you’d like to add to our Ethnic Beauty Guide, be sure to chime in on the comments section below or tweet us your thoughts on this week’s “Ethnic Beauty Guide: Pay Chen” at @ViewTheVibe.