Beautiful Makeup Starts with Beautiful Skin: An Interview with Ally Dawson of Serving Face First
I sat down with Ally Dawson -- actor, skincare consultant and creator of Serving Face First. We talked representation, budgets, and how every person can have beautiful skin, regardless of your age, experience, or money in the bank.
OBY: First things first — would you tell us a little bit about you, and about Serving Face First?
SFF: I’m Ally! I’m an actor originally from the DC metropolitan area living in Boston (and very soon New York City to pursue my esthetician license). I’ve always loved makeup, but was never very good at it, and I didn’t start branching into skincare until college. I didn’t have time for makeup -- having class from 8am-11pm at night didn’t leave much time for me. I find that most women don’t have much “Me” time in a day. I started to love my skin routine because that was the 10 minutes in a day I got to care for myself. That 10 minutes a day dedicated to self love became so important to me. After years of trying to mask my imperfections, I found that feeling truly beautiful starts well below the surface. Beautiful makeup starts with beautiful skin; beautiful skin starts with caring for what’s within. It’s so easy to write off the beauty industry as vain, but for me it’s so much more than that. SFF is the manifestation of my 10 minutes of daily self love.
OBY: What have you learned so far about the world of beauty blogs?
SFF: There are a lot of very flashy, trendy, unrealistic approaches to makeup and skin. And as much as I applaud the skill, that’s just not makeup that I can do at 7:30 in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good glam (we all need to feel glamorous every now and again) but I still wanna be me. Social media can be a really great tool to bring people together but it also has a way of creating distance between us. Especially in the beauty industry, social media can tend to elevate some and alienate others.
OBY: How can beauty blogs, big or small, work to make their space more inclusive, and less alienating?
SFF: Maybe that’s because as a society we tend to “look up” when it comes to ideal standards of beauty instead of looking out at what’s in front of us, or to the left or right. Better yet, what if we could look at ourselves when it came to setting our own standards. That’s a work in progress for me most days but I would really like to change that for myself and help others along the way.
OBY: How would you describe your purpose in the Instagram beauty world?
SFF: I’m a regular girl and so are all of my friends. We work full time, sleep when we can and hope to squeeze in 30 minutes of self care a day (if that.) That’s the kind of person I made servingfacefirst for. It’s a space where people from all walks of life, levels of skin knowledge, and depth in our pockets can explore and share a love of all things beautiful. For so many years I felt that the beauty industry didn’t represent me; my color, my shape, my lifestyle. I want to help change that and feature brands that aren’t just inclusive for marketing purposes but really embody and believe that “Beautiful” has a range. It’s important to me to feature brands at every price point -- from high end to drug store. No one should be excluded from playing, because makeup and skincare is fun! Let’s ask questions, get recommendations and learn. Hopefully, once I’m a fully licensed esthetician, I can help you on your skin journey! :)
OBY: What are some tips you could give those of us who want to make our skin a priority without having to dedicate so many hours -- and so much money -- to the cause?
SFF: Invest in good quality moisturizer. If there’s one step in my skincare routine that I could never get rid of, it would be moisturizing because it is SO important. It doesn’t need to be a $200 La Mer cream (if it is, girl go ‘head live your best bougie life! But if it’s Cetaphil that works too)! Hydration is the key to plump, beautiful, fresher looking skin. Your skincare routine doesn’t need to be 15 products a night. If your skin routine consists of putting on moisturizer every night then you are well on your way to beautiful skin.
OBY: If you could make everyone in the world suddenly fully understand just one thing about beauty and skincare, what would it be?
SFF: Beautiful makeup starts with beautiful skin. Period. I’ve had YEARS of thick cakey layers of makeup on to hide my acne. Once I really started to focus on fixing my skin I found that my makeup laid on my skin better, and I needed less of it (if I wanted less!). Taking care of your skin means drinking water, moisturizing, eating good things, and quite frankly not beating yourself up over the imperfections that are there. Your face is uniquely yours, your flaws are your character, and let makeup be the accent to who you are.
OBY: So tell me a little more about the consulting that you do?
SFF: I’ve always been a lover of products and have tried many many brands, from the trendiest to the totally unheard of. I found that I had a lot of friends coming to me asking for product recommendations and seeking ways to better their skin but having no idea where to start. That’s when I decided to use my love of products to create a custom skin care regimen tailored to an individual's skin type, activity and budget. So for $20, you tell me how much you’re willing to spend, what your skin concerns are, what your skin goals are, and I will send you a skin routine with a bunch of different products for every step in your custom routine!
OBY: Finally, if you could work with any beauty/skincare brand in the world, what brand would you choose?
SFF: There are sooooo many brands I love. If I had to pick one skincare brand and one makeup brand it would be Kiehl’s and Nars. Everything that I have used from Kiehl’s I am a DIE HARD fan of. There products work wonders on my skin and I love that I look at the ingredients list and I’m not terrified at what I find. Nars has always been one of my favorite brands. They were inclusive well before it was popular. Their formulas are beautiful, so pigmented and there’s not a product they’ve created I dislike.