52 Faces: Thalia Ho

by Megan Beauchamp

Thalia Ho is the incredibly talented baker behind the beautiful blog butter and brioche. Last year, she won not one, but two (!) Saveur 2016 blog awards — and you can even find some of her delicious recipes right here on eHow. Today, Thalia talks about the hand cream she can't live without, the surprising beauty must-have she always takes with her when she travels, and the inspiration behind her creative recipes.

What's your daily skin care routine?

My skin reflects my life, and I value it more than anything else. I don't smoke, I don't eat processed foods, I rarely drink. I work hard for my skin, and the products I choose to use help support and maintain that.

I've always been rather uncommitted to a specific skin care brand, and it's only recently that I've loved a range enough to stick with. I use Aesop's Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser both morning and night. It's a gentle skin cleanser, and I've seen wonderful results so far. I also use Aesop's Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Toner and Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream, too. Each are beautiful in themselves, but I particularly adore the mandarin scent in the facial hydrating cream. It's perfect for both summer and winter.

I use Aesop's Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste once a week, sometimes twice if the weather is humid or I've been training or dancing a lot that week. If my skin needs more hydration, I'll use a few drops of Aesop's Damascan Rose Facial Treatment. It's supple, luxurious and I go weak for anything rose-related.

I've also just started using MAC's Lip Scrubtious in Sweet Brown Sugar to exfoliate my lips, which I then moisturize with Bobbi Brown's Extra Soothing Balm. Since I've been using both products together, I rarely get dry lips, which is perfect because I'm a lover of super matte lipstick.

What makeup do you usually wear?

It really depends! I don't wear makeup daily, only when I have something on or someone special to see. If I have an event to go to, I will do a full face of makeup. The contouring, the lipstick, the smoky eyes, lashes and liner, but I don't like to do that often. I never used to be able to leave the house without a full face of makeup on, but it's the opposite now. I love unadulterated beauty. Fresh skin, natural hued cheeks and lips.

On the days that I wear a little makeup, I usually use Bobbi Brown's Creamy Concealer Kit or Nars' Radiant Creamy Concealer to cover any skin discoloration or blemishes. I set the concealer with a light dusting of MAC's Studio Fix Perfecting Powder. It's a new product that I've only just started using, and I love it. It's weightless and provides the perfect amount of coverage. I'm a big brow fan too, I never neglect them! I love to fill my brows in with MAC's Brow Defining Pencil and a little bit of eyeshadow in the same shade.

I love Becca's Shimmering Skin Perfector. I have a few different shades, which I use as highlighters or bronzers, and I can't recommend them enough. They're so pigmented and the amount of shimmer is unbelievable. You can use them in a range of different ways, too. I sometimes press a bit of the powder into the corners of my eyes, if they need brightening. And I always use mascara. I love Benefit's They're Real! and Too Faced's Better Than Sex Mascara.

What's your go-to hairstyle?

My hair is incredibly low maintenance, which is how I like it. I need hair that I can easily maintain, that will stay out of my eyes when I'm baking and not be a distraction when I'm editing or writing. I usually twist my hair up into a messy bun or place it into a high pony tail. The climate in Australia is always hot, so I need to keep my hair up because of the humidity, too. I like to think my hair is relatively healthy. I've never permanently dyed it. I don't really experiment with my hair, but I would love to.

What haircare products do you use?

I love Moroccanoil's Original Treatment. I've used it intermittently for years now (especially in summer) and it never fails to add natural luster to my hair. I also use Moroccanoil's Heat Style Protectant if I'm straightening or curling my hair for an event. The L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray is my favourite hairspray of all time, too. If I want to add more volume, I use a little bit of dry shampoo to give my hair texture. I just started using Aesop's Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising Masque, it is seriously so good and it always leaves my hair soft, nourished and beautifully fragrant.

What's the last beauty product you used 'til there was nothing left?

My MAC Fix+! I always go through bottles of it too quickly. I think because I see it sitting on my vanity and immediately get drawn into doing all the spritzes over my face because it feels so hydrating and refreshing. I do use it for its intended purpose too, which is to finish makeup.

Tell us a little bit about your blog! How did butter and brioche come to be?

Butter and brioche came about when I needed a creative outlet. I was studying law and becoming consumed by it, I was going through a rough patch with myself and in my relationships. I needed something I could use for self-expression, and food blogging became that medium. The blog turned into something greater than I ever thought it could be and the magnitude of how far it, and myself, have come, and the future in store, is both overwhelming and rewarding.

You recently won not one but two coveted Saveur blog awards. What was that like?

So surprising and exciting! It sounds cliché, but I completely did not expect to win. I was nominated amongst some incredibly established and talented creators that I didn't even consider I could win one, let alone two awards. The whole Saveur experience was so special, accepting my awards overlooking the New York City skyline, running around the city late at night and queuing for pizza at midnight just because, meeting the most gifted influencers in the industry and making some incredible friendships. It was, surreal.

Your confections are always so beautiful and creative. How do you stay inspired?

My inspiration stems from cravings. Usually what I want to eat at any given moment, which can shift just as fast as the craving arrives. I try not to be swayed by food trends and simply stick to classic flavours and recipes — but with a slight twist.

I love flowers, I try to use floral or herbaceous notes in all my work. Sometimes I see a flower and become inspired by the hue, the scent, the opacity of a petal, the delicacy or strength of the bloom, and I create a recipe inspired by that experience. I read and write a lot too, I always wanted to be a writer before all of this, and that keeps me inspired and always on the edge to create.

I also, try to put myself into the position of the life that I ultimately see myself living, where I'm living, how I'm living and who I'm living with. The person that I will ultimately be. I think about her, I think about what she would cook for herself and for those that she loves.

From Tasmania to New York to Hawaii, you've traveled a lot recently. Do you have any tips for maintaining your skin while traveling?

I fly so much that it's difficult to keep my skin hydrated, especially when it's a long flight — like a recent trip I did which was twenty-eight hours one way! I'm heading to Europe in a few months, too, which is another long flight, so I've already started planning all the on-board essentials I will need. Flying is such a high-stress situation, so I pack products that are relaxing, nourishing and filled with minerals and vitamins.

I've always used Mario Badescu's Facial Spray with Rosewater, which I put into a little spray bottle to use in-flight. It has the most delicate, subtle scent of rose and it revives even the driest of skin. I also just started using SK-II Facial Treatment Masks, which I put on once the cabin lights go out (because you can look like a little bit of a creep). They're worth the expense, if it's a long flight.

My skin reacts harshly if I don't drink enough water, get enough sleep or eat well. So, when I am on board, I always make sure to have a large bottle of mineral water with me, which I spike with a few drops of Wooden Spoon Herbs Immune Zoom and Dandelion Bitters herbal tinctures, which I believe have both naturopathic and metaphysical properties.

I also have just started carrying on a Slip Silk Eye Mask and Pillowcase. I sleep easier with Slip and it's relaxing to have my own creature comforts onboard. The silk also feels so soft and luxurious against my skin, too.

I always bring on my own in-flight meals, I prepare my own plant-based salads, breakfasts and travel snacks, because in-flight meals aren't that great, despite whether you fly first class or economy.

As a blogger your hands are usually being photographed, so we have to ask, do you have a "hand care" routine?

I'm usually the one behind the camera! I generally have a helper to be my hand model for the shot, but, occasionally, I do get in front of the lens. My favourite moisturizing cream is L'Occitane's Almond Smoothing and Beautifying Milk Concentrate, it's so nourishing, light and gentle. It's a product that I couldn't live without.

I get my nails done when I feel like I need it, but never shellac or acrylic because I found that, in the past, both have weakened the natural strength and overall health of my nails. So, I now use nail varnish on occasion. I go for any blood red, or nude shade. My favourite shade of all time is Chanel's Lotus Rouge 455.

Do you ever "borrow" ingredients from the kitchen to create DIY beauty treatments?

Just straight coconut oil! It's so versatile. I love coconut oil in my hair and on my skin, especially in the summer.

If you could grab cocktails with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you order?

There are so many people I would love to grab cocktails with. The people that I have chosen have had the most profound influence upon my work, my writing — Anaïs Nin, Alexander McQueen and Agatha Christie. I only drink on occasion, and always, my drink of choice is Patrón XO Café or Café Dark. I started drinking Patrón from a very young age and the taste kind of stuck. I drink it straight and chilled, never any ice because I don't like that water dilutes the flavour.

What's one thing you do every day that makes you feel great?

I make time for myself, and cut myself breaks when I need it. It doesn't mean I'm slacking or lazy, just that I need to re-coup and relax for a second to be at my potential best. I'm also at the gym most days, which for me, is an instant mood booster. At the moment, I'm living near the water, too. So, when I can, I go for walks outside by the beach. It's perfect because my work is so technologically driven that I do need to disconnect and clear my headspace from time to time!

When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?

I feel my most comfortable when I'm fresh faced, straight out from the shower or finished with a run. I love clear, fresh skin and beauty. I also feel the most comfortable when I'm baking. It's intuitive, therapeutic, and it's something that I never have to think about. I can zone out completely and just focus on the process of creating.

How would you describe your approach to beauty?

My approach to beauty has changed dramatically over the course of my life. It started off as the more the better. The more intense the lip, the brow, the eye, the better. Now, it's the reverse. The less the better. Self-confidence and strength within your own skin. I find beauty in things that aren't conventionally considered beautiful. In people that aren't, in all essence, perfect. Owning who you are, that's beautiful to me. And that's hard, finding understanding within and to accept yourself completely. To focus on you and not view anyone else in competition. It comes with age and experience. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved and accepted. But, ultimately, that starts and ends with you.

Be sure to follow Thalia on Instagram, and check back next week for the latest installment of 52 Faces, a weekly series that spotlights an inspiring woman's self-care routine. Last week, Kimberly Dawson Duckworth, the stylish curator of the vintage shop ROARDROBE, shared her practical yet playful approach to beauty, including the foundation she swears by for glowing skin and the brow-enhancing product that lives up to the hype.

About the Author

Megan Beauchamp is a lifestyle editor at eHow. Her writing has appeared on Bustle, The Kind, Brit+Co., and BUST, among others.