Nkenge Brown always looks cool — and it’s not just her killer clothes or sweet shades. The style blogger and FIT student has mastered the art of summer makeup, a.k.a., how to wear makeup when it’s hot and humid and your morning masterpiece wants to slide off your face by noon. “I don’t go for the dewy look in the summer, it eventually just turns into that,” the influencer jokes.
She knows what she’s talking about. As a New York City native, Nkenge’s first superpower is handling heat and humidity like a boss. (“I love the weather!” she says. “I also feel like people are a bit nicer in the summer.”) Her second? Figuring out how to tote everything she’ll need for the day — her favorite summertime activities include eating outside and going to rooftop parties — while looking effortless.
So we asked the ace photographer (seriously, check out her trèStique Instagram takeover) for her thoughts on all things summer beauty. Read on for Nkenge’s tips and tricks to staying shine-free and pretty in a hot summer in the city:
First of all, what are your thoughts on wearing makeup before you go swimming?
I have to put on makeup. Well, nobody has to, but honestly because my mom is a designer and a tailor, I grew up in the fashion world. She was always around beauty and would bring it home and teach me.
What’s your poolside beauty routine?
I’m always okay leaving the house as long as I can do my eyebrows first. So before going to the pool, I do my eyebrows, 100 percent. Then I’ll do a tinted foundation and add some highlights. Blush isn’t 100 percent necessary but I’ll put it on if I have the time.
What about on a hot day around town — how do you keep your makeup in place?
Have a really good primer like the trèStique Mattifying Duo or a setting powder. And the less makeup the better! Because then, you don’t have to worry about it sliding.
Do you consider yourself a makeup minimalist maximalist?
When I started wearing makeup, I thought it was about a full face and that’s it. I started with eyeshadow, then I added a minimal foundation, then I started using a highlighter. Soon, I was doing a full face every day.
Then I started cutting back. When I saw what trèStique was going for — go-to products that you can take on the go — I started enjoying that aspect of makeup. Now I’m like, What are the things I can do to make my routine 10 minutes or less?
How do you transition from day-to-night?
I’m just getting obsessed with lashes. If I’m going out to dinner with my friends, I’ll bring the lashes with me if I didn’t already put them on in the morning. I’m just getting the hang of it. It takes me 30 to 40 minutes to do, depending on how long it takes for the glue to dry. And then I would add blush and lipstick.
What are your specific must-have products?
Popping these trèStique sticks into a Le’ Pak bag is the best solution for my on-the-go makeup. They’re all the essentials I need for the day:
- Brow Pencil in Espresso
- Mattifying Duo
- Concealer Crayon in Toffee
- Blush Stick in Bora Bora Coral
- Highlight Stick in Maldives Luminescent (“I just love highlights.”)
- Lip Crayon in Florence Fig (“It’s really nice for going out to dinner or out with friends after the pool. I also like Belize Bordeaux or Tuscan Wine for nighttime.”)
What do you always have in your bag?
I used to carry a lot. I would be the person everyone would come to whenever they needed a backup item. A mini sewing kit, hair ties, safety pins — I would have them all just in case. Now I’ve been very inspired by Parisian style. A big part of it is, apparently, that they don’t carry a lot. I wanted to see if i could do that, so I switched out my big wallet for a card holder, my big bags for mini bags.
But especially in the summer I always have a lipstick to touch up my lips throughout the day, and I carry the Mattifying Duo with the blotting sheets so I can wipe off shine.
Most important question: How do you always manage to capture that summer glow in your photos?
If you’re taking a phone selfie, you don’t want to do it at night. There’s a lot of visual noise at night and camera phones don’t have the greatest day/night controls.
Take your selfies in the best natural light possible. The sun sets after 8 p.m. in the summer, so you have more selfie time, which I really appreciate.
(Portraits courtesy of Nkenge Brown.)