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#Modeathome: Mary Leest




Photography by: Ralina Gazizova

How do you spend the first thirty minutes of your day?
I always drink coffee and eat breakfast as soon as I wake up. I’m one of those people who need to eat the second they open their eyes. If I don’t have breakfast within the first 15 minutes after getting out of bed, I start feeling anxious.

What is your everyday skincare routine?
I’ve been in self-isolation for 3 months now and my skincare routine underwent different periods throughout this time. At first, I took this time as an opportunity to do intense skincare using a lot of the products I had in my bathroom. Some of my all-time favorites are Pixi Glow-O2 Oxygen Mask and peeling from Skin Inc, Pure Revival Peel.

Two weeks in, I decided to change my strategy. I believe that your skin can become addicted to products and might lose its natural ability to renew itself. I thought I would use lockdown time to let my skin rest and naturally regenerate without overloading it with skincare. Now I simply wash my face with water and sometimes spray Evian thermal water during the day as air in our homes tends to be a bit dry.

What have you been doing to incorporate “self-care” into your time at home?
I go to ‘SPA’ once a week. Meaning that I lock myself in the bathroom and pretend I’m in a beauty salon. First, I take a hot shower to open my pores. Then I scrub my body and moisturize using shea butter. I love how natural and simple it is, how it melts on my skin and makes it finer than a baby’s. Also I apply Gisou hair mask the night before and after rinsing it off during my SPA treatment, I just let my hair air-dry. I started washing my hair once every 5-6 days. Washing it too often makes your scalp dry and washes away natural oils your body produces.

Where do you get your beauty products?
I’m fortunate enough to get to through PR packages. My forever favorites I purchase at Sephora. If I have close relationship with the brand, I may ask the PR to send over some products I ran out of. I always talk about my favorite products and strongly believe in this type of collaboration when I genuinely love and use the products and ask brands to send them to me.

How often do you try new products?
I’m not someone who is comfortable with trying new things very often. My skin is very sensitive and I can’t take risks. However if I am familiar with the brand, or I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about the product, or I love the ingredients and philosophy of the brand, I might give it a try.

What qualities do you look for in skincare?
I usually go for medical-grade skincare products. I also prefer natural ingredients over chemical ones.

What are three beauty products you cannot live without?

Number one is Derma E Hydrating Micellar Cleansing wipes. I always make sure to clean my skin perfectly before going to bed. Valmont Renewal Mask is another product I can’t live without. And last but not least is a lip sleeping mask.

Give us a 5 minute skincare/makeup strategy for your next Zoom meeting or date.
To start off, make sure your skin is moisturized. Put a bit of concealer under your eyes, it’s an instant way to look awake. As a second step, use liquid blush on your cheeks, eyelids and lips for a fresh healthy glow, I love using one product for multiple purposes. Brush your eyebrows up. Apply some mascara if you want to. You don’t need to wear heavy makeup for Zoom meetings and look like you’ve spent a lot of time preparing for it, no one will notice your perfect contouring anyway. You just need to look fresh and put together, so you might also want to do a quick hairstyle, put your hair in a bun or ponytail.

What are your tips and tricks to keeping healthy, clear skin?
As I already mentioned, I find it important to let your skin rest in between your makeup and skincare. Doing a 2-3 days detox might be very beneficial.

Do you have any other beauty hacks you can share with us?
One simple hack I noticed a lot of people don’t know about is sticking a little piece of paper napkin on your blemish right after applying the blemish removal cream. This prevents it from getting dirty or slipping away while you sleep or walk around. Most importantly, remember that beauty shines from within. Focus your attention on what you put inside your body, keep track of what you eat. Using all sorts of skincare might help, but it’s not the core solution.

Can you share a recipe with us that you enjoy making at home?
My recent obsession is vegan pancakes. It’s so easy, healthy and delicious! You just mix oat flour, a banana, non-dairy milk and a bit of natural sweetener together and bake it on a non-stick pan. I just posted the exact recipe on my Instagram.

What is your favorite fashion trend right now?
I’ve been loving the vest trend over the past months. It can be knit or leather, chunky or perfectly fitted, worn alone or over a turtleneck, there are countless ways to style a vest, they make any outfit look more evaluated and interesting.

Who are your top three favorite designers?
The first designer that comes to my mind is Dior. I love the elegant feminine silhouettes, their clothes always give you that French nostalgia. Last collection was very powerful, feminist statements that Maria Grazia Chiuri made the center of attention really resonated with me. I am a big fan of Proenza Schouler, they create such simple and clean but at the same time sophisticated and refined pieces. I like how they play with geometric forms. Also, I was very impressed by Dion Lee’s last collection, it had a unique androgynous vibe and brought a peculiar twist to familiar cuts.

What are three staple pieces in your closet you cannot live without?
1-White button-up mens shirt. It’s THE basic piece everyone needs. I can’t even begin to name the number of ways you can style it.
2-Perfect leather jacket. It’s the little black dress of our times. You can throw it over your shoulders to make any night or business look a bit less ‘dressy’.
3-Lately I’ve been in love with combat boots. They go with absolutely everything, from feminine dresses to grunge t-shirts.

What advice do you have for keeping organized while staying busy?
Write things down. Otherwise you can get too overwhelmed. Creating to-do lists for the next day the night before also helps me not to get off track.

Are you working on any exciting projects this year?
Right now I’m creating my masterclass that will contain information on how to build your personal brand in the fashion scene. I was also supposed to launch my fashion line but this project had to be postponed due to pandemic.

Where do you live and what do you enjoy spending most of your time doing?
I don’t know where I live haha. My clothes live in NYC, I call it my repacking station. I’m always on the go. If it’s not for projects, I travel to see my family or visit my friends who live in different parts of the world. I enjoy this gypsy lifestyle for now, but I feel that I will need to slow down a bit in the near future.

How did you start your career as an influencer?
It all began around 8 years ago. I started modeling when I was very little, but never felt like it was my cup of tea. I always had a very strong opinion about everything, including makeup and styling. Being a model, you get to work with amazing creatives, but you have to go with their decisions and your vision doesn’t really count. You’re a canvas for a big team of professionals. While modeling, I started my blog where I would write about fashion trends, emerging brands and give styling ideas. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but knew for sure that I wanted to work in the fashion industry, so I started trying myself from different angles. I attended my first MFW 6 years ago and that’s when it all hit off.

How do you develop inspiration and ideas for the great content you create?
I get inspired by interesting people and their unique vision of the world. That makes me look around through the eyes of someone else. And there’s never two people with the same point of view. People are my endless source of inspiration.

How do you stay up to date with new fashion trends and beauty hacks?
I mostly discover fashion trends during Fashion Week season. For beauty, I keep an eye on what my favorite makeup artists and fellow blogger girls are doing. I work closely with editors and have many friends involved in the industry, we always discuss what’s new on the fashion scene.

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