When I decided to become an actor, I drove my beat-up Honda Civic from Texas to California in the 105-degree heat of July. If you saw photos from that trip (which you never will, thank God), you’d see me with huge false eyelashes, way too much eyeliner, frizzy pouffed hair (well, I did just drive from Dallas), cream blush, Lee press-on nails and an eye shadow color reminiscent of “The World of Suzy Wong.”
Since then, trial and error (and error) as I’ve prepared for thousands of auditions has taught me how to dismiss a lot of the makeup monkey business.
Tip #1: Less is more. Seriously. No, really. I know you’ve heard this one before, but I’m repeating it because it seems to be the hardest one for women to believe. (Myself included.) Foundation and powder just loves to make itself at home in fine lines. As it gets more comfy, your lines become more pronounced. I caked on so much makeup at 16, I must have looked 60, something that helps only if you’re angling for the discount at Soup Plantation. For foundation, I prefer powder alone or a light tinted moisturizer. For lips, I use a tinted balm and color it with a bit of nude lip liner. And for eyes, keep the mascara to a minimum. I can’t count the times my best friend has told me, “Don’t leave the house with those spider lashes!”
Tip #2: Bimatoprost is the bomb! Asian women are known for beautiful, thick, gorgeous hair; we are also known for having no eyelashes. For years, I tried to curl, coat and coax all five of my lashes to grow. And now — hooray for glaucoma medicine! Bimatroprost is an eyedrop created to control glaucoma progression — which it does, but doctors also discovered that long lashes were a (nifty) side effect. Since I began using it about six months ago, my lashes have grown to the point that they’re almost cumbersome; they bend when I put on sunglasses. A Japanese girlfriend who’s using bimatoprost got a bonus — amazing lashes and a double eyelid. Go figure. When she visited her family over the holidays, they swore she’d had an eye job. She looks great, but I told her her eyes are so large now she looks like Keroppi Frog.
Tip #3: Ignore beauty fads. It’s all about moving merchandise to the masses and beauty should be based on the individual. Do what looks good on you, no matter what Vogue says it used to make Angelina Jolie look fabulous on its cover. (Those little boxes inside the magazine supposedly tell you what kind of makeup they used on the cover model? Lies. It’s a marketing placement deal the magazine cuts with the makeup company.) Not to mention, everyone who follows fads will inevitably look back a decade from now and cringe.
Tip #4: Look like yourself. Don’t worry about fitting in. I recently saw an episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and for the life of me, I could not tell who was who. Gretchen, Laurie and Tamera looked identical down to their French manicures, trout mouths and highlighted hair extensions. Not only did this make for a confusing hour of television, I was also dumbfounded as to why these women would want to look like Tupperware Twins. I’ve been told my entire adult life that I look like no one else; I take this as a compliment. I have hair longer than most, but it suits me. People have told me to cut it; I don’t. Oh, well. Plus, I will be in this year’s Guinness Book of World Records for Most Sinks Clogged.
Tip #5: Love your “flaws.” I have a rather prominent mole above my upper lip. My grandmother believed in the old-school idea that you should have skin “like an eggshell;” that was true Asian beauty. So she would tell me, “If you do well in school this year, we’ll have your mole removed this summer.” This made me the only person in Trig who worried, “Will solving this parabola put me under the knife?” I was afraid getting my mole removed would entail getting a big, fat shot, so each year I politely declined. Thank God I am a sissy when it comes to pain. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come to embrace that mole. I love it really. Cindy Crawford knew what she was doing. I never cover it up. People have come up to me on the streets and have said they recognized me from an acting project. They knew it was me for certain because of that mole. Flaws are great. Well, except for that festering carbuncle on my forehead – I had that removed.