Beauty gal and ex-editor Bianca Mascenon talks self-care rituals and quarantine changes
There’s a certain joy about talking to Bianca Mascenon.
Currently a beauty content strategist, she and I first met at an event when she was still working in the publishing industry. Despite working with brands—Sunnies Face, COSRX and Dear, Klairs—for a few years now, she still speaks about her editorship at Cosmopolitan like it was a dream come true.
“I owe it to my former EIC, mentor, and now, friend, Marla Miniano-Umali. She believed I could helm a beauty department even when I knew zilch about what it takes to be a beauty editor,” she shares of her career beginnings. “I did everything I could to prove she was right.”
The way Bianca carries herself lights up rooms and puts smiles on faces, and I’d elect to say it’s because she seems so wonderfully lovelorn about everything. Whether it’s her passion project with her super stylish grandmother, her little self-care rituals, washing her hands with her favorite hand soap—it seems everything she touches and speaks about springs up with a certain magic.
Ahead, Bianca shares the foundations that go into maintaining her positive energy (and sanity, because the quarantine madness gets to everybody).
Wonder: Hey, Bianca! What’s been keeping you busy?
Bianca: This year, I started working on a little passion project with my grandma: a clothing line called Grandma Approves. My grandma’s a true-blue fashion girl. She had a ready-to-wear line back in the day, and is every bit the fashion icon to me now. Growing up, she was always adamant about wearing what she wants to wear despite all society’s “rules” about dressing your age, gender, size, what have you. That’s the spirit we inject into our clothes: defiantly designed and freeing.
Funny that I’m dipping into fashion again after all these years, but I live by the same principles when it comes to beauty. You’re allowed to wear what you want to wear. Wear a full face of makeup or wear none, fight redness or let your capillaries shine through, get botox or don’t. Beauty is a world of choices, and it’s fun and amazing because they’re ours to make.
W: How did you first get into beauty?
B: I went to a very strict catholic high school that valued simplicity above all else. We weren’t allowed to wear any makeup to school. I think everything started with my best friend and I hacking our way around the rules: color changing lip balm that we’d swear up and down goes on “clear,” or tinted eye cream that would blur away dark circles without being considered concealer. Skincare started a little earlier. I’ve battled psoriasis and skin asthma since I was a child. Back then though, everything was very clinical, and I’m grateful to have a little leeway to have fun now.
W: You’ve experienced being part of a brand, and being an editor. What's the difference, and what did you learn from each role?
B: Honestly? As an editor you're the giftee, but as part of a brand, you're the gifter!
All (very true) jokes aside, I think both roles are more similar than not—the biggest thing I’ve learned in both is how to listen. You’d think as an editor, you’d be the one talking all the time as the “expert,” but the world of beauty is a vast ocean, you can’t know everything. My favorite thing about the job was getting to talk to people: asking them about their routines, what they love, why they created certain products—there’s always a story, and instead of seeing my job as being an advice columnist, I considered myself a story teller, passing on everything I’ve had the opportunity to learn.
Being part of the brand is the same—you have to learn to listen to people: What do they need? What do they want? What makes them happy? The great thing about being part of a brand is that you have the ability to create things that could impact people’s lives. That’s no small superpower—and on that note, I guess being the gifter isn’t so bad after all!
W: The people are curious! What are your beauty non-negotiables?
B: I must always have lip balm on me at all times. It’s one of the few things I’d turn the car around for. I feel like I could roll out of bed and just have lip balm and I’ll be good.
And having a derm best friend! Dr. Windie Villarica, my dermatologist, patiently answers all my questions. She solves all my skin problems and humors my thoughts on getting all the procedures available to man. We’ve had discussions on whether I should start getting botox, or where I could put fillers, and even my dreams of getting a nose job. Sometimes even just having someone to bounce beauty thoughts off is self-care enough.
I feel like a couple years ago, I would’ve said I could never not complete my 10-step routine. But honestly, skincare is more of a calming ritual for me now than something I must do. There are already so many serious things in life—I just didn’t want skincare to be one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty vigilant about my night routine. But I also don’t beat myself up if I don’t feel up to it.
On that note, I do have a lot of ~negotiables~.
I’m a gentle cleanser apologist—Cetaphil, Cerave, Avene, and Glossier Milky Jelly are some of my faves. I slather them on and leave them to soften up my skin while brushing my teeth.
I also finish the entire routine off with a basic moisturizer. Right now I love the Dear Klairs Supple Preparation All-Over Lotion, it comes in a big tube and it absorbs so well. I also hoard Biafine when I’m in Europe. It’s actually a burn cream and you’re not supposed to slather it all over your face. But it works and it’s so chic in that French pharmacy way—I can’t help it.
W: What are your personal self-care rituals?
B: I have a pretty steady morning routine that consists of me brushing my hair into a low bun, and smoothing out flyaways with the Aesop Violet Leaf Hair Balm. Then I wash my hands with the Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash. It has pumice stones that make the whole thing feel like a hand massage. I finish it off with the Reverence Aromatique Hand Balm; the scent is so relaxing!
I tend to splurge on beauty and personal care items. I know that I could get a lot of them for a way lower price tag, but there’s just something about premium products that make even the most mundane things—such as washing your hands—feel special.
Right before I make my bed, I take all my supplements one by one (they’re mostly gummies and chewables because why not) and then I’m ready to start my day! I take my time in the mornings and I strictly don’t check work messages until 10AM sharp. It’s difficult for me to put a hard stop on work, so being strict about my mornings ensures I spend at least a part of my day doing other things.
W: Always-on, work-from-home culture has driven many of us to a point of being anxious and overworked. How do you overcome this?
B: I’ve been going to therapy! I used to be ashamed of this, and I didn’t want anyone to know. But sometimes we need extra help—and that’s okay. Some really simple tips that I’ll pass on to you: step out and get sunshine at least twice a day, find something that’s not work related to do just because, and forgive yourself for being overwhelmed. Last and most importantly, allow yourself to seek help. Think about it this way: moisturizer doesn’t solve everything, sometimes you need to run to your derm.
W: What is the biggest change you’ve seen within yourself since the start of quarantine?
B: I used to beat myself up whenever I felt inadequate, but I realized that you have to forgive yourself for not being able to do and be everything. I am so much stronger today than I was a year ago, and I think that has a lot to do with forgiveness.
I’m still working on this one, but I do think I have a little more belief in myself. I remember reading this quote, “There are people out there doing what you want to do and being who you want to be. Why can’t that be you?” My little passion project, Grandma Approves, is my first baby step.
W: It was Mother’s Day earlier this month. Could you share the best self-care tip your mom passed on to you?
B: Rest. Whenever I’m stressed, I’d rant to my mom. She’ll always just hug me and say, “Okay, rest.” I’d usually fight back and say that I can’t afford to right now, but we all know that she’s right when she says I’m allowed to rest.
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Art Matthew Ian Fetalver