Beauty / IN THE BAG

Paloma Elsesser on transformative beauty and minimising waste

You know her face. She’s graced billboards, magazine covers, runways and Instagram campaigns the world over and she’s only just starting. Most recently, you’ll notice her as the face of Bonds certified organic campaign alongside Australian model Ruby Campbell.

Here, this inspiring beauty let’s us in on her clean beauty routine, why she swears by meditation and knowing that being playful is the best kind of cool.

What is your morning beauty routine?
My morning beauty routine is pretty simple. I don’t think I’m alone in this but I feel my most beautiful or my best self after I’ve taken a bath or a shower. Particularly after a shower I immediately feel way better in general so most of my beauty routine happens in the shower.

I use a Korean spa mitt that has a porous exfoliant thing and use whatever body wash I have to slough off whatever builds up on my skin. I wash my face in the shower. Lately I’ve been using Tata Harper, I use pretty hardcore exfoliant products so I try not to strip my skin too much with the cleanser.

So, my day is shower, cleanser, I’m really obsessed with moisturiser. I might also put on a pump of serum to really allow the moisturiser to be as penetrative as possible.

For my moisturiser I use Skin Food by Weleda which is like $12.  I sometimes use the light one during the day or just go full greasy, I don’t have very sensitive skin and I kind of like to look a little greasy so I’ll put some serum and Weleda on and I’ll press a bit of SPF into my skin. I’ve been using these Barbara Sturm Skin Drops.  It’s for darker skin tones and it’s these SPF drops which are awesome. It’s nice because you can drop it into your moisturiser and just blend it out into it or just pat it on top.

Then I go about my day. I don’t really wear makeup during the day but when I do it’s an eyelash curl, a swipe of mascara and I brush my brows up with Boy Brow.  And a little concealer to give my skin a break as much as I can because of my work.

I’m obsessed with curling my eyelashes, it’s a problem. My eyelash curler is Shiseido. When I first started modeling I didn’t know the difference between foundation or concealer, eyelash curlers looked like torture contraptions. Which they still kind of can be when someone besides myself tries to do it on me. It’s amazing though, it just opens up the eyes and you don’t really need mascara if you use it correctly. I only have started using it in the last 4 years and it’s really revolutionised my life.

What is your night beauty routine?

At night I have a stricter routine, I wash my face to get all the pollutants off, maybe use a Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser – I’m not too precious about cleansers, I was also using this Biore cleanser that turns into foam but it’s not too stripping and it really cleans it out.

I also use Biologique Recherche P50, I use the strongest one on a cotton round and go from my chest up to my face, then I’ll use my Biologique Recherche serum depending on what my skin needs. Sometimes if I have spots or sometimes I’ll use a hydrating one or one that looks after oil control. I kind of just check in with my skin.

I use Weleda Skin Food or a really thick moisturiser at night and a serum on top that to lock in the moisture. Three times a week I use these Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel exfoliant packs that I bought two months ago that have changed my life. They’re amazing, I’m shook.

You’re the face of Bonds new GOTS certified organic range, what are your top fashion/beauty sustainability practices or tips?

More recently, I’m getting into clean beauty as well. I don’t have sensitive skin but a lot of peoples first deep dive into clean beauty is because they feel like they can’t use normal beauty products. But now learning more, I’m discovering there is some really dangerous stuff used in beauty products.

RMS is such an iconic pioneer in clean beauty. But also, it’s tricky because beauty products come in all this fancy ridiculous packaging that doesn’t get used. It’s not like a water bottle.

In my own practice, I try to always buy the biggest one available. I use Bioderma to take off my makeup sometimes so whenever I’m in a French pharmacy I buy the biggest bottle so I’m not charging through lots of smaller ones, it can get ridiculous.

As of recently, I’ve asked a lot of beauty PR’s not to send me stuff. Firstly, because I don’t really need it and secondly because it comes in ridiculous packaging. It drives me up the wall. So, I’ve asked several people to message me first and ask if I want it, then messenger it across in a plain bag, I don’t need all the fancy packaging. I’m actually going through things right now to pass on to my door man’s daughter.

Describe what you do for a living? What does a typical day look like for you?

I’d describe myself as a model and an advocate. I don’t think at all that people are defined by what makes them money but every day I try to do something towards my greater purpose of the work that I do. Every day is different.

What is the supermarket/ drug store/ chemist beauty product(s) that you use and love?

I’m very big into body skincare products. I’m really into lotions and French pharmacy products, not that I’m trying to sound like I’m overly chic which I’m not haha. I really love this baby brand called Mustela and I love the baby wipes by them and their body lotion. You can buy it at any French pharmacy. It’s so good.

What is your main form of beauty body maintenance? What products do you use on your body?

Lately I’ve been exfoliating my legs, my arms, my butt, to aid with circulation. I grew up going to Korean spas with my mum. I do that most days in the shower.

Sometimes I use Glossier body wash or Necessaire exfoliant which is eucalyptus scented which is really nice. Necessaire is sustainable too which is cool. And they also have this body serum, sometimes when I’m feeling really frisky I’ll use the Necessaire body serum, that’s when my boyfriend knows he’s getting me on a really good day. But then I’ll definitely follow with the Mustela lotion, and if I’m feeling particularly dry, I’ll put a body oil on like Tata Harper. I use the Mustela lotion every single day.


How do you keep fit/ healthy? Does exercise form a large part of your routine?

I’ve tapped into a yoga practice recently. I wouldn’t say I’m good at it but I find it helpful to feel good amongst the chaos.

I’m also really into my meditation work, I meditate for 20 minutes a day, every day. I try and do it in the morning, but I always find time for it. It’s really made a big difference in my life. I often use a guided meditation on the Calm app or sometimes I’ll just sit up and be comfortable. Guided meditations are really cool because they can cater to which kind of emotion you’re in. During shows, doing longer meditations centred around relieving anxiety and performance were super, super helpful. Amongst the chaos of all of our daily lives I feel so lucky to have a practice that helps me. Just 20 minutes a day. Like if I can look at Instagram for hours a day, I can set aside 20 minutes to try or attempt to quiet my mind.

I used to essentially shit on yoga but in the last 6 months I’ve been going often. There’s an amazing studio down from my house called Sky Ting that I go to. Last year I was much more down to do HITT classes which is also mediative because you really have to give yourself entirely but I’ve kind of taken a step back to try be more centred, calm and focussed and stretch and grow and it’s cool. I also love Pilates.

What cosmetic procedures/ professional treatments do you have as part of your beauty routine?

Yes. I get laser treatments, not hair removal but like Clear and Brilliant and stuff like that. Shereene Idriss who works with lasers and fillers is amazing. She’s such an amazing person and is so knowledgeable about what she does.

So, I do Clear and Brilliant treatments with her every few months but you can’t really do it in the summer. It helps with textural stuff. I try but I also don’t always get to a facial like Rescue Spa once a month – I get this bio lift facial which is a radio frequency facial. I go to Rescue Spa specifically because it’s actually heaven but also because they use predominantly Biologique products which I use. If you’re into beauty, you should follow Shereene on Instagram, she does this thing called ‘Pillow Talk Derm’, she’s amazing.

What do you do when your body needs to recover – when you’re tired/ hungover/ rundown: what is your beauty hack?

Well thankfully I don’t drink in this lifestyle [as a model], I’m quite a chiller, I’m very simple. I really enjoy being at home, a home cooked meal. Being on the couch, being with a couple of loved ones. I feel super nourished connecting in these kinds of ways. And also, it’s a classic, I just love a massage.

What is the one non-negotiable in your beauty routine?

Moisturising my body and my face.

Do you have a beauty icon? Who are they and why?

I would say Sade, there’s so much iconic imagery. I also love Bjork because I love how eccentric and out of the box she is with beauty stuff. If you comb through my makeup looks from events and stuff like that, I like to think of makeup in a more transformative way – it can totally transform an outfit and a vibe and so when I have the opportunity at events, particularly when I’m not doing my own makeup, I like to go with more out of the box and less conservative looks. Playful is cool.

What is the best advice on health you’ve received?

Mental health for me is overall health. Go where it’s warm. Try and work with people that feel cosy. Surround yourself with people that feel cosy. You don’t have to prove yourself to anybody or that your right all the time. You don’t have to go into frigid temperatures just to say that you were there.

What is the one product you can’t live without?

Weleda Skin Food.