Top Shelf Edit: An Interview with Dawn Davis of Total Beauty

By Jessie Ma
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If beauty is truly skin-deep, Dawn Davis’ must reach depths of oceans. Not only is her dedication to her work beautiful, the inspiration she provides to her audience, all around the world, who are striving for comfort and confidence in their own skin- is totally beautiful. With more than 10 years of beauty-writing under her belt (at esteemed publications such as Cosmopolitan.com, Harper’s Bazaar, and Lucky Magazine), she can rightfully be deemed a beauty-content expert. Currently as the Beauty Director for TotalBeauty.com, she represents the brand at dozens of product launch events each week. In between events, she writes, edits, and Instagrams on the topic. As her mountainous of collection of moisturizers suggest, she’s passionate about high-tech skin care. Other personal beauty interests include volumizing mascara and undone (but not beachy) waves. And her solution to a growing makeup collection? A bigger bathroom.

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How did you get started in beauty? 

I knew I wanted to be writer, which required for me to take on an internship, but I had a hard time finding an editorial position my junior year of college. I ended up interning in the PR department at NARS, and I fell in love with beauty. The women I worked with at NARS helped me get an internship in the beauty department at Harper’s Bazaar, which turned into my editorial assistant job at the magazine right after graduation. 

How has your job affected your beauty regime throughout your tenure at Total Beauty? 

I try so many products. I don’t even have a traditional beauty regime because I’m constantly slathering on everything that crosses my desk. I’ve also learned so much about the science behind products so I scrutinize labels and clinical studies before I try things — especially skin care. 

What does your personal favorite every-day makeup look consist of? 

I love the no-makeup makeup trend, but ironically, I use a lot of products to get there. After applying an antioxidant serum and SPF (Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Phace Bioactive Soothing Day Cream are my current favorites), I apply a BB cream with SPF (I’m loving Erborian right now), concealer under my eyes (Onomie), cream blush (Tata Harper), contour (Becca), brow pencil and gel (Nudestix just came out with an amazing dual-ended version), neutral shadow (Perricone MD No Eyeshadow Eyeshadow), liner (Honest Beauty), and mascara (Benefit Rollerlash). I skip lips in the morning because I have a dozen lip products in my bag at any time — I switch it up throughout the day.

The beauty community seems to focus on a specific feature at a time—lately, lips seem to be the trend (thanks Kylie!)—What do you think will be the next big thing this fall? 

I think lips will continue to be big for fall. There are so many amazing dark plum shades, and the ‘90s mauve-ish-brown-ish colors are very popular right now. I just covered Fashion Week so I’m already thinking about spring 2016, and I was surprised to see a lot of bold eye makeup. Blue will be having a moment — in a modern way. 

What’s your take on highlighters? Do you have a favorite product? Favorite application technique? 

I love highlighting — or “strobing” as we’re all calling it right now. It’s that something-but-nothing extra touch that makes skin look young and fresh. The key is to do it subtly, and make sure you check your work in natural light — bathroom lighting can be very misleading. RMS makes an amazing one that’s a cult favorite. Tata Harper just launched one paired with a contour cream. Wander Beauty, Lindsay Ellingson’s line, has a fantastic one. And Onomie makes one I love because it’s also a skin care product.  

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6. There’s a lot of buzz lately on Korean Beauty brands—particularly with regard to skincare. Any recommendations for creams, cushion compacts, sheet masks, gel moisturizers, etc.? 

The Korean company, Leaders, just launched in the US, and their sheet masks are amazing. They have one for every skin concern. I think Lancôme’s take on the cushion compact is better than any of the versions I’ve tried from Asia. The finish is so pretty and dewy, and it’s sheer but buildable. For unusual Korean beauty finds, I turn to glowrecipe.com. They import the most amazing things, and the women who founded it are my favorite resource for Korean trends.

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7. The juice craze has evolved into a larger “beauty supplements” trend, and many of these supplements come in the form of drinkable liquids and powders. How much emphasis do you put on nutrition in your daily life, and how does that play into your beauty regimen? 

I joke that my diet is 90 percent kale and 10 percent cookies. I love to have a healthy smoothie for breakfast, a big salad for lunch and a light dinner, but I’m easily tempted by sugar. And working in this industry means I’m always surrounded by incredible food. For me, it’s all about seeking balance. As for supplements, powders, and juices, I try many of the new things as they pop up, but I haven’t found anything revolutionary. I end up going back to a daily multi-vitamin with omegas, and I put powdered greens in my smoothies. Most juices have so much sugar that I don’t bother — I’d rather eat my sugar in the form of a chocolate chip cookie than drink it in a green juice. 

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Besides mascara and highlighters, all parts of your life work together to form your own “beauty regiment.” This peek into Dawn’s life, a life which extends far beyond make-up products, shows us exactly this. There’s a lot of work that goes into the life of a beauty entrepreneur. But each step of that process is still, totally, beautiful.

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