As a member of the HBFIT team, Ava Donaldson knows a thing or two about beauty. She's often meeting with some of the industry's most sought after pros, like Shamara Bondaroff of SB SKIN, Robin Evans, aka The Brow Master, and the wildly talented hair stylist Laura Polko, to name a few. Today, Ava divulges her tried-and-true tips, including the proper way to pop a pimple and the game-changing lip balm everyone should own. We also asked her about that time Hillary Clinton regrammed her nail art (!).
What does your skin care regimen consist of?
I use a special sulfur cleanser prescribed by my dermatologist, but other than that, I try to keep my products as natural as possible. Post-wash, I'll spritz my face with Heritage Store Rose Petals Rosewater and combine Naturopathica's Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream with Dermalogica UltraCalming Barrier Repair. Twice a week I use Naturopathica's Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel before bed. I also can't live without boscia Charcoal Pore-Minimizing Hydrogel Sheet Masks — especially while traveling!
What's your everyday makeup routine?
I generally keep my daily makeup look pretty minimal — aka three products and I'm out the door! I double up layering Diorshow Mascara with Makeup Forever Excessive Lash Arresting Volume Mascara. I don't feel complete without the final touch of brushing my eyebrows vertically with clear gel by Anastasia of Beverly Hills.
If you could only choose one: lip balm, lipgloss or lipstick?
Lucas Paw Paw Ointment is my life line.
What haircare products do you swear by?
My hair is naturally oily, so I double shampoo with Kerastase Cristalliste's product. I follow with their complementary conditioner. I have only used their products for the past few years and only have to get trims two times a year.
Are there any cheap beauty buys you love?
WATER is the key! Honorable mentions: Great Lash mascara, simple face wipes for post-workout skin care, and essential oils from Whole Foods in place of perfume.
What do you splurge on?
Oh, man. I'm pretty much never not splurging on treatments — brow shaping by Robin Evans, nails by Mei Kawajiri, infrared saunas at Gravity East Village, and microcurrent face and body treatments by SB SKIN are just a few of my favorites.
Your nail art is always on point. What's your process for coming up with your designs?
Thank you so much! Nail art is a passion of mine — so I take that compliment very seriously!
I find inspiration everywhere — from celebrity feuds to politics to song lyrics to life lessons that my dad taught me.
After I come up with the concept, my dear friend Mei and I talk about what makes sense design-wise. She is the master so I let her have the final say.
You once sported a mani that grabbed Hillary Clinton's attention. What was that like?
Surreal to say the very least! The short story is that I got my nails done early in the week for a rally that was to happen on a Friday. Two hours after I posted the photo, her campaign reposted and I ended up in a bunch of articles — from Yahoo Beauty to Vogue's Best Beauty Instagrams of the week. As if that wasn't crazy enough, I got to meet her and show her the nails. She was so excited! Crazy.
Tell us a little bit about what you do! What's it like working at HBFIT?
Because HBFIT is a team of three, I wear a lot of hats. My formal title is Director of Strategy, but I handle everything from editorial direction to content creation to branded deals.
I am so lucky to be able to have a hand in everything. Hannah Bronfman is so collaborative and we have been working together for three and a half years so our process is almost telepathic at this point.
Have you learned any great beauty tricks since you started working at HBFIT?
Absolutely! I am lucky enough to be able to connect with beauty experts all the time — from incredible hair stylists like Laura Polko to inspiring business owners like Shamara Bondaroff of SB SKIN. Shamara taught me proper zit etiquette — don't touch a pimple until it's a white head and warm up the skin before you pop. Use tea tree oil to dry them out and Neosporin after popping.
What's the last beauty product you used until there was nothing left?
Oddly enough, my Nubian Heritage Patchouli & Buriti Deodorant.
If you could grab cocktails with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you order?
Michelle Obama — do I need to explain myself?? We'd definitely have tequila.
Who do you look to for beauty inspiration?
When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
Be sure to follow Ava on Instagram, and check back next week for our latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights a real woman's beauty routine. Last week, we spoke with Stephanie Danler, author of the bestselling novel Sweetbitter. Find out which products she swears by for glowing skin and which novel she recommends you add to your reading list ASAP.