“I’m from Nashville, born and raised. Growing up I really wanted to be a dentist. Dentistry can totally change a person’s life, you know? I was going to become an orthodontist, eventually get into cosmetic dentistry, and I was fully on track to do that. I met with the dean at the University of Washington’s dental school, and she said that to make my application stand out, I should incorporate my love of music into my education. I grew up playing piano, and I’m classically trained, so I added a piano performance minor. That was really great. When I switched my major to music business, it was the first time I genuinely enjoyed learning.
The day after I graduated college I drove to LA. My dental school test scores were good for three years, so I decided that I’d give the music industry a shot, and if it didn’t work out after three years, I’d go to dental school. I lied to my parents, saying I already had savings and a job lined up. I didn’t have any of that. [Laughs] And actually, I never [got a job in the music industry]. It’s such a male-dominated industry, and every time I tried to get my foot in the door, there was always a caveat. The first job I got in LA was as a live-in nanny, and I got fired two weeks later. I’m great with kids, by the way. The wife didn’t feel comfortable with me around her husband. I was working odd jobs when this woman from a modeling agency DM’ed me. It seemed too good to be true—I had never seen anybody like me modeling. Even Ashley Graham wasn’t really prominent yet. But six months later I won this Wet Seal modeling contest and signed with that original agency. I had started cleaning houses because it was the only way I could attend castings and make a living—it was a long time before I started working consistently. To be honest, I don’t know why I stuck with it. Vanity was never ever praised in my upbringing. It was always books over looks. But coming to LA and seeing everybody hustling and trying to make it… That was so inspiring. I wasn’t homeless, and I made just enough to get by without getting any help from my family. I figured that I was in here for a reason.
I have a lot of goals—I want to get into acting, I would love to do Broadway one day, I would love to create my own fashion line. But I still have more milestones I want to hit with modeling. The Beylloween video I made last year was a big moment for me. I had never really participated in Halloween, and wanted to do something cool—initially, I was just going to do still images recreating Beyoncé looks. Then my friend Matt, who’s a director, suggested we do videos instead. It spiraled out of control. [Laughs] But to create something on my own, to be able to fund it and give other people opportunities, especially during the pandemic when there were so few jobs… Honestly, that was the first time I was like, ‘Damn. This is major.’ I did it again this year, and made seven videos in total.
When I wash my face, I never dry it because products absorb better on wet skin. That’s what all the YouTube dermatologists have taught me. I watch a Black woman, a white woman, and an Asian woman—they all have different skin types, and I like to see if they’re recommending the same things. All three of them follow very similar principles for the most part.
Coming to LA and seeing everybody hustling and trying to make it… That was so inspiring.
I use Urban Skin Rx’s Even Tone Cleansing Bar to remove my makeup, and then their basic gel cleanser. There’s this really cool apothecary shop called Kindred Black, and they have everything. [The bottles] are stunning. I save all of them. For what purpose? I don’t know, but they’re so pretty. So I start with their toner, and then use a hyaluronic acid serum. I just finished The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5, and now I’m trying Typology’s Plumping Serum, which has a much thicker viscosity. I also use Typology’s retinol at night, and have been getting a lot of compliments on my skin ever since. And I use Dr. Dennis Gross’ Ferulic + Retinol Eye Serum. In the next few years, I’ll probably take retinol a little more seriously and go for a prescription. But over the counter is fine for me right now. And then I go in with Weleda Skin Food. A lot of people don’t like it because it’s very thick, but my skin can handle it.
In the morning, I just take out the retinols and add in Supergoop’s stick sunscreen. I generally follow the two finger rule for sunscreen, but I can’t tell how much I’m actually applying with this so I just swirl it around for probably a minute. It makes me really dewy. If you only use one product, it must be sunscreen. I used to do the 10-step K-Beauty thing, but my little three step skincare routine is fine.
I have to give myself a beauty budget every month, just to maintain how I look. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever, it’s just weird to say because I never thought that I’d be that girl. Honestly, modeling has definitely helped my confidence. It’s also been a detriment to my confidence. It’s interesting to see who I am now. I mask once a week at home, alternating between The Ordinary’s AHA + BHA Peeling Solution and the Kiehl’s Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance mask. And I try to go at least every other month for a facial. My facialist is amazing. I alternate what kind of intense treatment that I do each year, and this year we’re doing the Pico laser. Fraxel, Clear and Brilliant, and Halo aren’t safe for use on pigmented skin, but the Pico is. It’s actually the only one I’ve found so far. I love the results, and I like how it gets the hair off too. Next year, I’ll go back to microneedling.
Honestly, modeling has definitely helped my confidence. It’s also been a detriment to my confidence. It’s interesting to see who I am now.
I’m artistically challenged in every way. I don’t have good handwriting, I can barely draw a stick figure, and my makeup is so basic. [Laughs] I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was in college, and even though I get my makeup done every single day now I cannot do a beat to save my life. The best tip I’ve gotten from a makeup artist on set was to wet my Beautyblender with warm water, not cold water. It makes such a difference in the way it distributes product. I typically don’t use real foundation, but I have Nars Natural Sheer Glow Foundation in Bahia if I want to. Usually I use the Kosas Tinted Face Oil, but because I just ran out I bought the Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Skin Tint in 12 to try. A makeup artist told me to buy the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, and I love that stuff. If I don’t feel like wearing a lot of makeup, I’ll use Caramel instead of foundation and Biscuit under my eyes. I also skip the skin tint if I’m going to wear Glossier Cloud Paint. I like putting that on my cheeks with no makeup, because I like how it looks on my skin. Dawn is my favorite. I also use this Benefit Hoola Caramel bronzer that I got in an Ipsy bag.
I always use two different mascaras for my top and bottom lashes: Tarte for the top, which has a fluffier brush, and Glossier Lash Slick for the bottom. I had my brows microbladed a while ago, so I just brush them up with Refy Brow Sculpt or Got2B gel. That’s a great hack. It’s for hair, but—oh my God, it looks stunning on eyebrows. The best beauty service that I’ve ever gotten is brow lamination at the Brow Down Studio. It lasts four weeks, and it’s a game changer. I have so many lip products, but Glossier Cherry Balm Dotcom is the one I keep in my bag.
Every model I know has had to just cut off all their hair because of heat damage—I did it in 2018. I got a pixie, which was interesting, and now that it’s grown out I get my hair trimmed twice a year by my friend Gia Sinatra. I’ll allow little heat touch ups with a curling iron on set, but no blowouts. If a client needs my hair to be straight, then I’ll wear a wig. I probably have like 30 wigs, which I get at XRS Beauty Hair. Their wigs are so thick, the lace is really good, and they come ready to go. I’ll also prep my own hair beforehand—a lot of stylists don’t really use heat protectant.
I know a lot of people who transition to blonde use the Olaplex system, so I figured, if it can keep hair healthy after bleach then it must be good to maintain my hair’s health too. I’m using Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo and No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. After I get out of the shower, I’ll detangle with a Denman brush and then blot dry with a microfiber towel. I’ve been told that for curls especially, the friction from regular towels isn’t good for hair. I got my microfiber towel from LABeautyologist—she also has these really cool microfiber wrist cuffs, which stop water from dripping down your arms when you wash your face. Silk pillowcases are also good to minimize friction, and I just bought a satin bonnet to sleep in too. I didn’t think Oribe would have great products for curly hair, but my hair really likes their curl gel. Then I’ll put on Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil as a heat protectant and let my hair air dry. I have the Dyson diffuser if I need to speed it up. Once my hair is fully dry, I’ll flip it over, fluff it out with a pick, and boom! Done.
I’m artistically challenged in every way. I don’t have good handwriting, I can barely draw a stick figure, and my makeup is so basic.
I always have two body washes, a luxe one and a normal one. The luxe ones always have a sophisticated, lingering smell. Right now I have one from Acqua di Parma, and also Glossier’s Body Hero Oil Wash. I went to a Korean spa in San Francisco, Pearl Spa, one time when I was out there on a job. They did a whole body exfoliation, and it was just brown stuff—dead skin—everywhere. That’s when I realized I needed to start exfoliating. A loofah or a rag doesn’t really cut it. I’ll exfoliate my whole body twice a week with whatever scrub I have from PR packages. I also have one of those pumice stones for my feet. I’m using Kiehl’s lotion right now, and I’ll always mix in a little oil from my friend’s brand Seven Sacred.
I don’t really enjoy going to the nail salon, but fortunately, I pretty much get my nails done on set once a week. When I’m on set, I use this stuff called Prtty Peaushun that looks amazing on the skin. It catches the light so well, it’s not overly glittery, and it doesn’t stain the clothes once you let it set. It’s so good. If you want something quick, then any spray sunscreen gives a nice sheen to the body as well.
This is a bad way to live, but I buy a lot of my fragrances as decoration. Last night, my boyfriend was looking at all my fragrances and said, ‘You couldn’t use these all in a lifetime.’ [Laughs] I do genuinely like the scents, but I also like to keep them there as long as I can. I have a lot of Le Labo, Gucci, I have Baccarat Rouge of course, Bond No. 9 fragrances, the little oils that you get at the swap meet… I have perfumes, colognes, hair scents, everything. I just try one at random every day. This week I used Gucci’s The Alchemist’s Garden Ode on Melancholy Oil and Byredo’s Gypsy Water. That one smells very masculine to me, but I like it. If my friends described my taste in perfumes, they would say, ‘She likes old lady smells.’ But that is not the case! I like sophisticated smells.”
—as told to ITG
Tabria Majors photographed in LA by Katie Thompson by November 14, 2021.