JESSICA WU: ‘THE DEFINITION OF BEAUTY IS WARPED’
Jessica Wu is a true multi-hyphenate millennial; a top model, an E-commerce Director, and in-demand stylist and producer. The 24-year-old is killing it on so many levels, you’d be green with envy if she wasn’t so damn sweet. To add, she has straight-up poreless skin, landing her as the face of mega brands like Apple and Glossier. In our social media age, the idea of a personal brand has seemed to overtake a personality. But not for Wu; despite having a lust-worthy life on and off camera, she is humbly herself. We sat down to talk skincare secrets, landing Glossier and how New York City has shaped her.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me about your family.
“I’m from Newport Beach. My parents were both raised in Taiwan and immigrated to California in the ‘80s. Both of my parents had semi-traditional jobs, but my dad was always drawing cartoons, even throughout his time in the military. My mom was super-crafty and always had touches around the house; she would always press flowers into bookmarks, and that’s something I do now. I was probably one of ten Asians in my school. It was predominantly Caucasian and Hispanic, so moving to New York definitely diversified my experience.”
What are you working on now?
“I am the E-commerce Director for my friend Peter Do’s brand. I met Peter at FIT years ago, and I had contacted him to borrow pieces to style with. He won the LVMH student prize and was able to work with Phoebe Philo for a few years at Celine before coming back to New York and starting his label. It’s an animal starting a company from scratch, but we have a really great team.
“Overall, 2018 was the year of modeling. In 2017, one of my follower’s friends was an Art Director at Apple who was street casting for a campaign, and I got into it. The photos showed up in the camera roll of the new Apple iPhone as the preset, so my face was in every single store! After that, things really popped off and led to [campaigns] for Glossier and more.”
Does modeling come naturally to you?
“I’ve always been comfortable in front of the camera. I started a fashion blog when I was in the ninth grade. Being a model was never a realistic, long-term goal, but I always thought it looked so fun and wished I could be one after watching America’s Next Top Model. I would literally catwalk at night in my house down a hallway in the dark!
“I never imagined that we would be in the place that the industry would be accepting of “non- standard” body types, facial types, and even races. We still have a long way to go with diversity and acceptance, but we’ve definitely made progress. Even in the past six years that I’ve been in New York, the runways have changed drastically.”
You started a platform, Period Space, that’s gained a lot of attention. What’s the story behind it?
“Hopefully it becomes a non-profit! Period Space is formulated out of my personal experience and the difficulties I had with menstruation. Those challenges led me to realize that other people could benefit from opening up and sharing, and destigmatizing menstruation. Ultimately, I’d like to address period poverty domestically and internationally. Periods can be such a long-term health problem, and I don’t believe that your biology should affect your future.”
What inspires you?
“I always say this but it’s so true—the people that I’m closest to inspire me the most. I connect best with people who have a view outside of fashion and are interested in other topics, like politics or environmental issues. I really appreciate being able to have conversations, hotly debated or not. I am very vocal about voting and female reproductive rights. I think it’s so important to be aware of the news and what’s going on in our country.”
What is the secret sauce for an Instagram following?
“The accounts I tend to see pop off are ones where the person has a natural eye. That’s difficult to pinpoint because there are so many different taste levels, but there is something about simplicity and elegance that I think people relate to.”
What style lessons have you learned and stuck to?
“My mother is my style icon. She’s very specific about her wardrobe categories. The first thing I always say about describing my own style is comfort. In New York, you’re always running around and need to be comfortable.
“My wardrobe is very simple. I literally wear a black miniskirt almost four days a week and mix it up with a T-shirt or a blouse, or a blazer (thanks mom), and always fun accessories—definitely statement earrings and cute bags.”
What trends are you seeing/loving for fall?
“I am so excited to start wearing all leather again: a leather coat, leather pants, leather boots…”
Tell me about your daytime routine.
“In the daytime, the first thing I do is wash my face with cold water, no cleanser. Then I have a Caudalie Mist to freshen up. I use Drunk Elephant C-Firma Serum every single day, religiously. And the Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen—it’s chemical- and paraben-free and acts like a primer. Then I use this CC cream, that also has SPF in it, from a company that’s based on technology, CLE; it’s Korean brand based in LA. I’m a HUGE proponent of SPF! Everyone should use it, even on cloudy days. That came from me having hyperpigmentation issues when I had hormonal breakouts; I didn’t want the spots to darken so I made sure that I wore SPF every day.”
Let’s talk makeup.
“For makeup, I’ve been using NYX Eyeliner every day for the past six years. It became my signature, but now I feel more comfortable having a bare face and bare eyes. Then I use Glossier Stretch Concealer— I love that for dark spots and under eyes. I also use Haloscope in Quartz, Frank Body cherry chapstick, and, if it’s very sunny out, I’ll bring a mini bottle of sunscreen with me to spritz on from Avene that I got at a Parisian pharmacy.
“One of my favorite products is the Nars Multiple Stick in Siam. I use it for eyeshadow, but you can use for blush and lips as well. If I want to do a subtle eyeshadow, I’ll use Glossier Lidstar— it’s very tonal and you can play with all of the colors by blending them together.
“At night, I use Bioderma to remove eye makeup, and then I use a Dr Jart Cleansing Gel to remove any other makeup from my skin. If I’m still feeling like I want to extract anything, I use a Caudalie Exfoliator and I have a really great charcoal mask from Le Labo—it’s very smooth and velvety. I only do the mask twice a month, but it’s a great way to get rid of a pimple.
“When I have time, I also love letting a super-moisturizing Korean sheet mask really sink into my skin. Once that’s absorbed, I’ll put on Augustinus Bader’s Heavy Night Cream, which was formatted from a stem cell doctor; I use the heavy one in the winter, it’s a great all-in-one product. I also use Drunk Elephant’s Framboos Glycolic and I finish with Dr. Jart’s Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer, which is super-light and watery. I highly recommend anything by Dr. Jart.”
Let’s talk about your hair.
“I had always wanted to do something with my hair, just because I was always confined with my natural hair and never experimented directly. I finally decided to go for it, and my friend bleached my hair for TWELVE hours, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. It took two rounds to get the color to lift. We went immediately to Ricky’s after, where I got purple shampoo, non-sulfate shampoo, and non-sulfate conditioner (I swear by NatureLab Toyko now).
“My routine now is shampoo, purple shampoo, conditioner, mask, and rinse. I wash my hair maybe every three to four days. After I shower, I use Olaplex 3 to help prevent breakage.”
What’s the one thing you never leave the house with?
“A paper hand fan!”
Any beauty lessons you’ve learned from your mom?
“My mom always had a variety of beauty products, but she was predominantly concerned with anti-aging. When I was young tagging along with her at makeup counters, they would always ask if I wanted samples and give me preventative anti-aging stuff. She has a very low-key routine that centers on simplicity. Also, make sure to take your makeup off every single day.”
What do you do for self-care?
“My apartment is tiny, but I love having people over to share food and talk. I love hosting and baking—my favorite thing to make is pumpkin muffins. I also love working on passion projects outside of professional ones, and right now, I’m really motivated to see Period Space through. For me, I have to put in the time, even if I’m staying up all night to do it.”
What does beauty mean to you?
“I think the definition of beauty is warped. We live in a world where we are constantly inundated with visual information. Most of the times, for females, at least in fashion, we’re shown aspirational images of women. And it’s really hard to get lost in that sea of otherness. It’s really important for people to realize that beauty really is from within. My advice is to look within yourself and realize that you have your own worth in so many different ways.
Beauty has to do with an inner peace with who you are and what you were born to do and love to do in life.”