Aly Holmes is a Boulder-based strategist who specializes in creating innovative business solutions for companies in the food industry. She always has the best restaurant recommendations, naturally, and she's incredibly well traveled (she's been everywhere from Colombia to India to Cambodia!). Today, Aly shares her beauty secrets, including a pricey serum that's worth every penny, a simple mascara trick for longer looking lashes and a pretty hair accessory she found in Istanbul.
What's your morning skin care routine?
First things first, I must brush my teeth. I can’t event think before I remove that strange filmy feeling from my mouth that builds up overnight. Then, I splash my face with water and use Glossier Milk Jelly Cleanser — I love the smell and the lack of residue.
Next, I apply Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum. It is my big splurge item, but I swear it makes my skin feel spongier and brighter. I even made room for it in my tiny backpack when I went to Southeast Asia because I couldn't bear to leave it behind. Plus, it lasts forever; I purchased my current bottle in September!
Recently, I’ve added Radha Beauty Retinol Moisturizer Cream to my routine. So far, so good. Funnily enough, I discovered it through my little brother. He’s super on top of his skin care and left this in the bathroom when we were both home over Christmas. I started stealing a little bit, and now I can’t get enough of it, especially because it seems to soothe my acne-prone skin.
What makeup do you usually wear?
I recently returned to the U.S. after traveling for a few months, and right before I left, I read a first-person essay about how traveling for a long period of time totally changed the author’s approach to makeup. At the time, I immediately thought that definitely would not happen to me. Ha! I wouldn’t say my outlook has completely changed, but I would definitely say that I’m wearing a lot less makeup on the regular.
A "chill" makeup day would just be Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, a little bit of Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, CoverGirl LashBlast Mascara and Burt’s Bee’s Tinted Lip Balm. However, If I want to look a little more polished, I have a routine that is a bit more involved.
Tell us about this more involved routine...
I start with the same tinted moisturizer. Then, if I have any blemishes, redness under my nose, or especially terrifying dark circles underneath my eyes, I’ll use Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer and set it with Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder, dabbing the powder over the concealed area with my finger pad. Although, my dark circles have to be really bad to get this treatment because, I have to admit, I weirdly like the look of a bit of darkness under my eyes — it has a certain low-key appeal. Then, I dust my face with the microfinish powder to form a barrier between the tinted moisturizer and any subsequent powders. The microfinish powder is also awesome for setting lipsticks!
Next, I’ll apply Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed to the apples of my checks. Next, I dust Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna in a sideways "W" on each side of my face. I had stopped using bronzer before my trip, but I really miss the tan I got from traveling so I’m back at it!
Moving on to my eyes, I apply Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner in Black Brown with the lightest touch humanly possible. I hate when eyeliner is too heavy, but I find my type of "hooded" eye really benefits from a little definition. If I’m looking a little tired, I’ll do a tiny dot of Pixi By Petra Eye Bright Liner in Nude in the inner corners of my eyes and along my bottom lash line. I finish with a couple of coats of CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara. I find that my lashes look the longest if I first brush the underside of my top lashes, let it dry 15 seconds and then do multiple coats on the topside of my top lashes. Just like everyone and their mother, I’m obsessed with Glossier’s Boy Brow. It’s one of those things that makes you look great in a way that you can't quite put your finger on.
This also doubles as my evening makeup routine — I’m not very good at switching it up. If I want to feel a little more glamorous, all I do is add a little lipstick.
My mother is known for her love of lipstick and will never ever leave the house without some on. She returns from every Target trip with a few new colors to experiment with, too. She has tried her very best to pass this habit onto me (a common refrain is, "That top/dress/sweatshirt would look great with a little color!"), and I’m finally starting to come around. A few favorites include, Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Always Red, Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, and Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain in Romantic.
What's your go-to hairstyle?
I cut my hair really short before I left for Southeast Asia, and must say I totally love it and can’t see myself going back to long hair for a while. (Shoutout to Shelly at Barrow Salon in San Francisco). It’s at that in-between length where if I put it in a ponytail some significant chunks of hair quickly fall out and it begins to look a little messy, so I often find myself sweeping it into a half-up-half-down style using a tiny little clip and messing up the top a little so that it doesn’t look too collegiate.
Do you have any favorite hair care products that help you get that style?
I like to let my hair air dry so that I don’t damage it too much and to bring out some of my natural waves. If I’m going to blow-dry it, I’ll use Alterna Bamboo Smooth Anti-Breakage Thermal Protectant. It smells great and leaves my hair feeling super silky.
If I want a grungy, sexy look, I’ll use a few spritzes of Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. It gives my hair a volume that I didn’t know was possible and makes it a bit messy (in a flattering way). It also has a smell that seems especially pleasing to members of the opposite sex. If I have any flyaways, I’ll spray my hairbrush with L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray and run that through my hair.
From Colombia to India to Cambodia, you've traveled all over the world. How do you maintain your skin while traveling?
Honestly, my skin often feels better when I’m in a warm, humid climate. I feel like my skin really thrives anywhere that it’s hot. Maybe I’m sweating out all the toxins? Or taking a ton of showers because I’m so sweaty all the time? It also may be because those climates force me to drink more water than I usually do at home. Whenever I get back to San Francisco, I find myself trying to recreate my "travel skin" my smothering myself with moisturizer and oils like the Neutrogena Sesame Body Oil or CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion.
Have you picked up any great beauty tips or discovered any great products on your travels?
On my recent trip to Asia, I rediscovered Tiger Balm. It helps with soreness and is a miracle anti-itch cream for bug bites. I also started using more coconut oil. It's a great multi-purpose product to use as a makeup remover and/or moisturizer and it is so easy to find. I also tend to travel quite light and am always looking for something that I can use to give a little "flair" to my look when I go out to a nice dinner or go out dancing. In Turkey, I found this woman in the Grand Bazar in Istanbul who sold traditional garlands that I would weave into my hair. I still wear them, even at home! You can purchase similar ones here.
What are you currently listening to?
In terms of music, my recent discovery is an artist by the name of Xenia Rubio, I especially like the song "Lonely Lover." If I want something with a bit of a rhythm to get me in a good mood while I get ready, I’ve been listening to "I Don't Want Ya (DiDi)" by Miraa May.
In the morning, I find that my prep time is a perfect opportunity to get caught up on the news or listen to a podcast. I’m always listening to something and will bring my portable speaker with me everywhere, including the shower.
Some of my favorite podcasts include:
Longform Podcast - Incredible interviews with journalists.
Call Your Girlfriend - Smart conversations between two best friends.
Switched on Pop - A podcast that goes into the backstory of your favorite pop tunes.
What's one thing you do every day that makes you feel great?
Somehow getting my heart rate up. It clears my head in a way that nothing else can. And sometimes that means getting creative and running up and down the seven flights stairs at my office while blasting raunchy rap through my headphones.
Do you have a regular fitness routine?
Right now, I don’t have a regular fitness routine (due to a few injuries), but I can feel my body craving it. I’ve been doing the occasional hot yoga class, low-intensity run or SoulCycle class when I’m feeling good, but I'm waiting for the time when I can go all in and tackle a true physical challenge. Perhaps a triathlon? For the time being, I’m learning to appreciate the benefits of a long walk — and that’s when all those podcasts come in handy.
What's your evening skin care routine?
When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
I’m most comfortable when I’m hosting a dinner party for my friends and I’ve gotten to the point where everything is on the table and we’re engaged in some wine-soaked conversation.
How would you describe your approach to beauty?
Highlight what you love and don’t worry about the rest!
Be sure to follow Aly on Instagram, and check back next week for the latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights a real woman's beauty routine. Last week, bio-engineer Roxy Diaz shared her favorite drugstore beauty buys, including an ultra-flattering shade of nude nail polish and the affordable mascara she buys on repeat.