Melissa Barrera pops up on my Zoom screen, framed by layers of pink feathers. I can’t help but commend her for how stunning she looks. “Listen, girl, we’re in Vegas,” she says. “I wake up, and this is what I throw on,” she jokes. She’s in town for the Latin Grammys and she’s all glammed up. We bonded over our love of musical theater and being bullied about having a unibrow, which both later came in handy for her. The star has been working non-stop, but she took a pause to chat with us about all things beauty.
You are booked and busy. What do you do for your wellness to keep your mind and body at peace during your busy schedule?
“I think the most important thing for me is to feel like I’m taking care of my energy, and I need to stay connected to my family. That’s what I figured out is the most important thing. It can be such a lonely life. It sounds so dramatic, but it feels like you’re just traveling all the time, and you’re spending so much time away from your loved ones. It’s important to keep that connection. It keeps me grounded. Every time I speak to my husband or my mom, or my sisters, they kind of refuel me. I’ve found that this is the best remedy for anything.
I also sometimes forget to take care of myself, like just make myself feel good every day. Whether that’s really taking my time during my nighttime routine, not feeling like I have to rush through those moments with myself just gives me so much peace. A lot of the time, you have to be rushing, you don’t have enough time to sleep, and you don’t have enough time to sit down for a meal properly, but finding those moments of being with myself is helpful. I like pampering myself with a mask, a hair treatment or a long shower. Like all of that is important.
Affirmations in the mirror are super important to me. That’s something that my mom taught me. My mom was always like, ‘Remember that you’re acting. Remember that it’s fake. Tell yourself in the mirror every day that you are not your character” because we’re going through constant trauma, so we have to remind ourselves this is the job—this is fiction. I’m not actually being hunted by a serial killer. That energy can be very harmful.”
That’s a really great boundary to set. I think more actors could benefit from that.
“A lot of actors actually like to stay in character. It doesn’t work for me. I found that I can’t sleep. I just don’t even want to go out, and a lot of the fun part of being on a shoot is the bonding time that you get with your castmates, the directors and the crew. Be able to have fun, be yourself, then once they yell action, you’re in it, but once they yell cut, you’re you.”
You’ve worked with some very iconic women like Courteney Cox and Daphne Rubin-Vega—have they given you any beauty or industry advice since they’ve both been in the business for so long?
“So funny that you say beauty tips because I actually gave Courteney a beauty tip. I just told her that once you get out of the shower, within the first two minutes, you should moisturize your face and your body because that’s when your pores are still open and absorbing. That’s something that my dermatologist told me to do. She texted me the first time she’s like, ‘I almost died. I ran out of the shower. I slipped.’ I was like, ‘you don’t have to rush but just try to do it as quickly as possible.’
Courtney is such a sharp, smart woman and a businesswoman. I’ve learned from her to be vocal about what you want, what you need to go after, and the things that you think are important for you, when you’re negotiating a contract, for example. When you’re on set and you have an idea, she’s like, ‘the best idea wins.’ There can’t be ego there. That’s the best way. She said that’s how it was on Friends, everyone would just kind of propose ideas and jokes, and they’d be like, ‘Yeah, that works for me,’ and ‘You should try this.’ No one would say, ‘Oh, why are you telling me what to do?’
Some actors are like ‘don’t correct me,’ but she is just like, ‘if you find that you have an idea for something I should try, tell me I’m down.’ So that mindset of just wanting to learn from people and try things out is such an amazing thing for an actor, especially with a career like hers. That I’ve taken with me since I’ve known her.”
Daphne is such an icon, and she is so humble. I don’t think she knows the impact that she’s had on so many women in general, but especially Latinas in the world by her being Mimi and representing Latinas in such an important musical as “Rent” and her being such a global phenomenon in it. She impacted us, she gave us visibility, and the first time that I saw her I couldn’t even talk. I was so starstruck, and she carries herself normally. She is so unassuming, so humble, so down-to-earth and just watching her, I learned a lot.”
I know you’re originally from Mexico. Are there any beauty tips or rituals that have been passed down in your family or your culture?
“There was always aloe vera in our house. Always like a cut leaf of aloe vera on the table for anything and everything, like it was our home remedy. Genuinely I would use that for scrapes, as a mask for anything that would ever happen, and it just helps me so much, and it still does.
Knowing that so many Clinique products have aloe vera, I was sold. Literally, my first meeting with Clinique, they were like, ‘these are the products that we’re launching.’ And I was like, ‘aloe vera? I’m in.’ The Moisture Surge ($27) is my go-to thing, and it has a lot of aloe vera. That’s what I use every day on my skin, and it keeps me fresh and moisturized.”
Speaking of skin care, you always look hydrated and glowy—what products are in your routine?
“I mean, I am all about the glowy look. I know some people like to be matte but to me glow is health and youth, so we want to keep that glow on our skin. The Moisture Surge is my go to morning and night. Obviously a really good cleanser. I like to double cleanse especially after wearing a lot of makeup, like tonight I’m going to use the Take the Day Off Balm ($36) because it just is so delicious. It’s also kind of like an art project when you’re taking your makeup off because everything just kind of melts. I just have fun with it too.
I am at a point where I’m using retinol and trying to prevent lines and wrinkles and stuff like that. So the Smart Clinical Retinol ($73) is also part of my skin-care routine. It’s light and not harsh on your skin so you can actually use it and it doesn’t dry you out or make you peel like other retinol products. I started using it in certain areas of my face only. Then my dermatologist was like ‘you can use it all over your face and neck.’ I am obsessed with the whole moisture surge line. I like the Moisture Surge Facial Spray ($29) to refresh during the day.
I like the lip gloss that’s deeply hydrating ($20), especially right now in Las Vegas. Immediately my skin dried out, so I slept with it on, and I put it on again this morning. All About Eyes ($37) is part of my nighttime skin-care routine because it’s just so moisturizing, and it’s for that sensitive area around the eyes, but also it helps prevent the lines from forming. I get super dry around my nose. If you see me at night, I look like a weirdo because I always have extra thick cream around my nose. I use Super Defense Night Recovery Moisturizer ($43) just around my nose and around my mouth.
I feel like what we use overnight is so important because during those hours, our cells are regenerating, so whatever you use on your face and your body at night have a huge impact. So that’s why you will see me looking like a clown sometimes at night, and my husband has to see me like that. It’s not sexy.
I’m 32 now, and we’re so used to the world telling us to take care of our faces. They say, ‘Skin care is important because your face is a presentation card. You should moisturize and use sunscreen. You should do whatever you need to take care of your face, but we forget about our bodies. I forget about my body. So it’s also important to not forget that you have hands and a neck.
Yes, I have a contract with Clinique, and it sounds like I’m plugging products, but that’s actually what I use. It’s crazy because I know sometimes people that have contracts with brands don’t actually use the product. That’s why I love being the face of Clinique. I don’t like being a hypocrite, and I like actually loving the product. I’ve gotten all my friends and my family hooked on everything, and my mom calls me every time she runs out of the Moisture Surge. I’m like ‘it’s coming your way.’”
I’m a big fan of your bold brows. Any tips there or are you just blessed?
“I am blessed, but I didn’t feel very blessed when I was little because I had like a unibrow. The only way I have these brows right now is because I didn’t wax them. My mom wouldn’t let me, even though I wanted to for so long because people would make fun of me. It even got to the point where I would tweeze them in secret when I started liking boys and going to parties.
I got to the point where my brows started over here because I just went crazy, and I over-tweezed them, and it was just awful. I’m so lucky that they grew back. I just tell people, ‘don’t touch your brows, don’t make them smaller’ because you can always do the tricks to have thinner brows for the day.”
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