At the end of 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared that self-care wouldn’t just be a priority, but a nonnegotiable as she braced herself to become the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. And just weeks into her term, the 29-year-old trailblazer is underlining that skin care is an integral part of her approach to the high-stakes pressures of being in office.
Last night, when Ocasio-Cortez opened up her Instagram to questions, a follower—one also well-versed in the exhaustive demands of political campaigns—asked how she stays both stress- and breakout-free. After clarifying that she, despite her optimistic disposition, is as stress-stricken as anyone who’s just run a congressional campaign, Ocasio-Cortez revealed that she’s able to maintain a healthy glow by doing her due diligence when she shops for new products.
“Skin care is straight-up a hobby of mine,” she explained on her Instagram Stories. “I’m a science nerd and I truly enjoy the science of it, reading about compounds and studies. It’s like that.” Another major influence for Ocasio-Cortez has been her mother, who she says used to break out a lot in her twenties and has imparted wisdom accordingly. “She taught me since I was a kid not to touch my face,” she explained.
Making a point to highlight that everyone’s skin is different and ever-evolving, she divulged that she considers her personal approach a blend between K-beauty and scientific consensus, and that she likes to experiment with specialized tools and treatments, such as face masks and under-eye patches. Ocasio-Cortez’s most enthusiastic recommendation? Cleansing your skin at the end of the day—even if you have to hack it. “If you’re layering your face in makeup day after day (which is totally fine!) make sure you clean or wipe your skin early when you get home so it has time to rest,” she explains, adding that she always keeps wipes next to her bed just in case. But so long as she has the energy, Ocasio-Cortez partakes in a multistep skin-care regimen. “I do indulge [in skin care] a little since I don’t buy a lot of makeup beyond my staples,” she says.
Breaking down her daily routine into three steps, she begins by double cleansing with a balm or oil to melt off makeup, before using a a more traditional face wash to lift all other impurities. Next up are the more potent elixirs, like a gentle, nourishing toner to balance her skin’s pH before she layers on supercharged serums with active ingredients such as brightening vitamin C and anti-aging retinol. Finally, she finishes things off with a moisturizer carefully tailored to her skin and, the most important step of all, sunscreen. “I’ve been using daily sunscreen since I was 19,” she explains. “I’ve been bad about it lately and can tell the difference.”
Makeup-wise, Ocasio-Cortez eschews full-coverage foundations in favor of more breathable tinted moisturizers and BB creams to avoid breakouts. And from there, she keeps it relatively simple: Concealer where she needs it, swirls of blush on the cheeks, stick highlighter on the high planes of her face, eyebrow gel brushed through her arches, and a swipe of lip color on the mouth, with red as her frequent color of choice, in homage to Sonia Sotomayor, a fellow Bronx girl and the Supreme Court Justice appointed by President Barack Obama in May 2009. For “fancier days,” she’ll add contouring, eyeliner, and eyeshadow into the mix. But not false eyelashes or extensions—at least not yet.
“I have tried the eyelash thing and [I don’t know], man, I’m gonna poke my eye out one of these days,” she explains. “I haven’t given up entirely, but I also have never gone out in public in them. I have gone out into my bathroom and look ridiculous [with] them falling off. Bless y’all that can do that. I will keep trying.”
But while Ocasio-Cortez stands firm on the fruits of a well-honed beauty routine, the young Democrat will be the first to let it fall to the wayside should she need to. “I straight-up don’t wear makeup some days and everyone just has to deal with it,” she says. Spreading the gospel of personal wellness, while also assuring her followers it’s okay to cut yourself slack, too, Ocasio-Cortez continues to inspire with her refreshing candor on and off the job.