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Model Grace Piehl On Less-Is-More Makeup

Time with Grace Piehl is time well-spent—partly because it’s a treat to be in the presence of her glowing complexion, but mostly because speaking with her is a failsafe way to put our minds at ease. The special beauty recently spoke to us about her natural, less-is-more approach to beauty (which we happily took on board), as well as what keeps her inspired, how her upbringing shaped her thoughts on beauty, and the women she looks up to in life. Get to know her below.

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Grace Kennedy Piehl. I’m a model. I’ve always been fascinated by beauty and capturing it in a moment. I was scouted when I was sixteen, and I moved to Los Angeles to begin my career. Ever since I was young, I’ve had an appreciation for the arts, and I’ve always been fascinated by beauty, fashion, and cinema. I find modelling is a great window for discovering more about beauty.

What’s your story?
I spent most of my childhood travelling. My family has moved around quite a lot, but the majority of my childhood was spent in New York. I fell in love with Manhattan and didn’t think I could ever leave, but I was drawn to the sunshine of California, so I spend my time going between New York and Los Angeles. I think California is one of the most beautiful places. I just finished high school, so I’ll be spending my gap year modelling and travelling. I’ve been modelling for about a year while I’ve been at school—I plan to continue modelling and to introduce acting, and will continue to pursue a career in both the fashion and film industries.

Where did you grow up? Do you think it had any impact on your perspective of beauty?
I was born in Chicago and grew up in New York and Los Angeles. I feel that beauty in New York is unconventional and raw. New York is such a beautiful city, full of nonconformity, where the people don’t feel the need to be one specific type of beauty, because that doesn’t exist. You walk past so many interesting, beautiful, and different faces that show you that real beauty is everywhere in the city. That’s why beauty in New York is so beguiling.

How were you introduced to beauty?
My mother taught me a lot about natural beauty. From a young age, I watched her getting ready. She would sit on the edge of her clawfoot bathtub and carefully apply her lipstick. Her routine was very minimal—she almost never wore makeup, so her olive skin gleamed with freckles in the day. She said she was so sun-kissed from applying coconut oil and letting the South African sun warm her complexion. When she went out at night, lipstick alone would complete her elegant look. What my mother taught me and continues to teach me is that real beauty is natural beauty, and that people with good hearts have a glow. She is the most beautiful woman I know.

What do you like to do on a Friday night?
I like to cook, especially for other people, so I’ll probably host a small dinner party, or I’ll just stay close to home and watch a classic film and have a bath with a new face mask. I’ve never been one to go out a lot—I’m happiest when I’m home with people who make me happy. That’s enough for me.

Is beauty a big thing in L.A.?
I believe that wellness and happiness are important elements of living in L.A. I think natural beauty has become a huge fascination in L.A., even though it’s one of the most pure and natural features everybody has. I think heath and wellness are vital to maintaining natural beauty, because I beauty comes from inside, and if you feel healthy and happy, you just bloom and glow.

Does beauty play much of a part in your profession?
Beauty is definitely a big part of the modelling industry. I’m grateful for the fact that, as a whole, the industry is shifting and allowing for more nonconformity in terms of beauty and the stereotypical ‘model’ look.

Talk us through your skincare routine.
My skincare routine matters much more to me than any makeup routine. Dermalogica is my number one dream skincare line. Every day, I wash my face with cold water, then use Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Cleanser, which is absolutely wonderful. It’s a gentle cleansing cream for sensitive skin, and it’s perfect and ideal for a gentle routine. My mother taught me to treat my skin like a newborn baby’s, and to be gentle—thank god for her advice, because I’m in love with my skin. After I gently wash my face, I mix Dermalogica’s Phyto Replenish Oil (which helps hydrate and protect my skin barrier and gives me a dewy glow), with their Active Moist (a gentle, oil-free moisturizer). Following that, I apply my sunscreen, which is extraordinarily important. The sunscreen I use is Dermalogica’s Ultra Sensitive Tint from their UltraCalming line, which is a broad spectrum sunscreen with tinted earth minerals to help calm sensitized skin. Since it’s tinted, I also use it as a light concealer, and then my skincare and makeup routine is complete! Skincare doesn’t need to be complicated to work wonders. It just needs to be thoughtful.

And your makeup routine?
Nothing! Just my tinted sunscreen/concealer and maybe some brown Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara. I prefer brown mascara to black because it’s much less intense. If I go out in the evenings, maybe I’ll do a classic red lip. My favorite is just a swipe of Tatcha’s Red Camellia Lip Balm, for a touch of colour.

How important do you think image is in L.A.?
I feel like image here is a big deal, but the roles of image and beauty are constantly being tested. This allows for more diversity in terms of beauty and fashion, and, as a woman in the industry, that is very important to me. Image equality for all kinds of women.

When do you feel like the most authentic, unfiltered version of yourself?
When I’m in nature, I feel beautiful and genuine—especially when I’m in Ojai with my family, being away from society and the bustle of Los Angeles. I feel like, when the sun is above the olive and pomegranate trees and I’m swimming in our clear, cool pool, I’ve never felt happier. That feeling of authentic happiness brings me to my most authentic, unfiltered self. I always try to bring that feeling with me wherever I travel, because I want people to always see me in that light.

How would you describe your approach to beauty?
My approach to beauty is what my mother teaches me: to achieve effortless, natural beauty, as well as a sense of je ne sais quoi, less is more—and don’t forget sunscreen.

Who are the women you look up to in your life, and what have they taught you about beauty?
I have learned that minimalism is always the best beauty choice. The women in my family have such an uncomplicated way of being beautiful without ever really trying and sometimes being completely unaware of it. They have taught me that sleep, laughter, good food, travel, and happiness are far more beneficial to beauty than any makeup.

How do you stay inspired?
Cinema and art keeps me inspired. Re-watching my favorite films like Une Femme Est Une Femme, Claire’s Knee, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Godfather, and Manhattan will always bring me inspiration and creativity.

Is there a beauty look you’d never sport?
I could never pull off thin eyebrows. It’s been such a look in the past, but I’d rather them be unruly and full.

Do you have a signature scent?
I don’t really ever wear perfume. I do wear French Girl Organics’ Lumière Moonlight Body Oil and Maison Louis Marie’s Antridris Cassis scent. These are oils as opposed to perfumes. I love them because the scents stay with me all day, even into the evening, and they’re so subtle. It’s barely there.

Photography, Dana Boulos.