Style

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

Nicole Gonzalez is a social media strategist and mother of two, with incredible personal style. (Her beautiful Instagram feed always makes us want to throw on a big pair of sunglasses.) Here, she shares her drugstore savior and the relaxing nighttime ritual the whole family is in on…

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

Do you remember when you first became interested in beauty?
When I was 10, my class at school went on a field trip. On the bus, a boy commented that my legs were hairy. I came home and begged my mom to teach me how to shave my legs. She made me wait another two years, but after that day, I became much more aware of my body and wanted to partake in rituals like shaving and plucking my eyebrows.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

Where did you grow up and how did it inform your view of beauty?
I’m a New York City girl, born and bred. I grew up with such a wide variety of friends — people with all different skin colors, hair textures, backgrounds, styles of clothing. All of my friends’ definitions of beauty are different, and we all inspire each other. It’s kind of fun because you can borrow things you’d never think would look good on you, like a lipstick that belongs to someone with a very different skin tone, and sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised!

What are some of your favorite NYC spots?
As a child, I went to school in Spanish Harlem, and nowadays when the weather gets nice, I’ll take walks uptown with my two kids. It’s changed over the years, but I love pointing out my elementary school and taking in the Spanish music, the food, the architecture, the people. It’s such a treat experiencing this with my son Lucas and giving him a taste of his culture. And we love to visit my all-time favorite spots around the city, like the Central Park Conservatory Garden, Carl Schurz Park, and Ost Café.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

Do you wear makeup?
I work from home, so many days the only time I go out is to pick up Lucas from school. On those days, I’ll skip makeup and throw on a huge pair of sunnies. My fiancé actually works for the eyewear company J.F.Rey, and I like their larger frames that cover up your face and make you feel instantly dressed. On days when we go anywhere else, I’ll apply foundation, a pop of blush (NARS Sin), a little mascara (Benefit They’re Real) and ChapStick. I always splurge on buying foundation at Sephora, because in the drugstore you can’t open them up and find the right shade. It’s also the one product I wear both day and evening, so I want it to be good quality. Right now I’m loving NARS Sheer Glow, which gives a nice medium coverage. And now that it’s warmer outside, I want to wear bronzer! Diorskin Healthy Glow is great. It gives you a beautiful glow that looks natural.

What about lipstick?
My lips are naturally very dark. Sometimes I’ll post a photo on Instagram and people will ask what lipstick I have on and… I’m not wearing any! I never know what to tell them! Lipstick colors also look different on me because my lips are so dark. My fiancé really likes red lipstick, so sometimes if we’re going out at night, I’ll do that. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with colors from Colour Pop. I like their matte lipsticks, which are amazing and only $6 each! My favorite everyday color is Bumble.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

What about when you’re dressed up?
I pretty much look the same whether I’m headed to lunch or a fancy dinner party, although for the latter I’ll sometimes add eyeliner. Have I watched countless YouTube videos? Yes. Have I tried to figure out contouring? Yes. But I still don’t feel like I’m great at it. And I always wind up not feeling like myself.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

How did your mom inspire you?
My mother is truly the most beautiful woman I know. She moved from Puerto Rico to New York City when she was 18. She was a single mom, and I don’t know how she did it all. She worked her butt off, but I never felt that, because every day she would be ready to do homework with me, or play. I’m an only child, and every Saturday we went on a date, just the two of us, to the movies or shopping or to see a show. I didn’t realize until I was older how hard she had to work to be able to afford to do those things with me. I love looking at old photographs of her, wearing dresses and bell-bottoms. She exudes confidence and sophistication. Her accessory of choice has always been a brooch, and she has the most beautiful collection.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

What’s your daily facial skincare routine?
In the morning, I just rinse my face with cold water. I pat dry with a towel, then use a dab of Cetaphil moisturizer. At night, I’ve been cleansing with Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil, which has legitimately changed my life. It was recommended to me, but it’s expensive, so I dragged my feet. But now that I’ve started using it, my skin looks super dewy but never greasy. Two or three times a week, I’ll use the Clarisonic brush to remove any residue from the day. New York City is a dirty, dirty city! You get kind of a sick thrill when you see everything come off on the brush.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

What is your desert island item that you cannot live without?
My Shu Uemura eyelash curler. Even when I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup, I have to curl my lashes no matter what. It makes me look awake and brightens up my face. I can use that thing with no mirror! The Shu Uemura is the only curler I’ll use. I’ve tried others, but this one is the best. It’s smooth and never breaks my lashes.

How about any beloved drugstore finds?
My trusty tub of Vaseline. I use it as lip gloss, to hydrate my skin, and sometimes I even apply it on my eyelids for a little glow. It also works as eye makeup remover. It’s everything.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

What do you love most about your look?
It took me a long time, but my freckles. I used to despise them, but as I got older I began to look forward to the warmer months when the sun would deepen their color and they’d start to sprinkle across my nose and cheeks. Now, I intentionally don’t wear foundation that fully covers them because I think they add character.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

How do you typically style your hair?
My hair is pretty straight but very, very thick. I’m not always in the mood to blow it out because it takes forever to dry, so most days I keep it up in a towel for 20-30 minutes and then let it air dry. I always add a drop of Moroccan Oil to the ends. Every other day, when I’m between shampoos,  I use Kevin Murphy Fresh Hair dry shampoo spray. My hair gets really greasy really fast, and this is the only thing I’ve tried that lets me go a day or two between washes. It makes your hair fluffy, and it smells good, too.

What about hair color?
My hair is extremely dark and has naturally red undertones (which I try to avoid, because I prefer more ashy tones). I’ve tried several colorists over the years and have never been happy with the results. Last year, I stumbled across Betsy Duggan on Instagram, and reached out to her by chance. I swear I will never go to anyone else; I leave every appointment feeling beautiful. She also recommended I use silver shampoo to help prevent brass tones between colorings.

nicole-family-at-home

What’s your nighttime routine?
I love putting my diffuser on at night, with lavender essential oil, which calms everyone down. That smells like nighttime to us. I go to bed after everyone else; the night is my alone time and 100% necessary for my sanity. I just decompress.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

Do you ever splurge on any treatments?
I think it’s so important to take the time to treat yourself, and I wish I was better about it. Now that I’m out of the newborn haze (which is SO real!), regular pedicures are a must. I always splurge on the deluxe package with the 10-minute massage, because it gives me life. Other than that, I thread my brows every two months or so. I like how threading keeps the shape. They’ll trim them with a little scissor and it’s so cheap — usually $7. And there’s no irritation!

beauty-nicole-gonzalez-

What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done to your appearance?
I never thought I would get a tattoo, but two years after my son was born, I got his middle name (León) tattooed in my handwriting on the side of my ribs. I’m very, very, very indecisive and I thought about it for months. I wrote it out a gajillion times and couldn’t make up my mind. Finally, I woke up one day like, “I have to do it today or I never will.” Now I’m so happy with it. I’m deciding where to get my daughter’s middle name (Sol) next.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

How did you and your fiancé meet?
We met when we were seventeen! We’d been in the same homeroom since freshman year but didn’t speak to each other until we were seniors. I have zero memory of him from those first three years! But one day, he struck up a conversation and it just grew from there. It has been 15 years since we met, and it’s so funny to look back on that now. We’ve made all the mistakes that you make. Crying, makeups and breakups, we did it with each other. Now we can look back and be like, “We did it!” We got engaged a few years back, then immediately got pregnant with Lucas, so we put off the wedding. And then I got pregnant again! But we’re looking forward to getting married next year. We’ve been together for so long that I already call him my hubby.

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

Any tricks for keeping the sparks alive?
In the last few months we’ve made it a point to go out just the two of us at least once a month. It’s not always easy to swing it, but having that quality time makes us a better couple and ensures we have a moment to kiss and hold hands. The best feeling in the world is to go out with him and feel those butterflies that I had over 10 years ago. He’s still my favorite person in the world (and the hottest!).

My Beauty Uniform: Nicole Gonzalez

When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I’m playing with my kids — usually on the weekends — and I look up and catch my fiancé staring at me. I’m usually bare faced, most likely wearing mismatched pajamas with holes, and he just has this look of such adoration and love for the kids and me. He makes me feel like the best thing since sliced bread.

Thank you so much, Nicole!

P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, and a random trick for feeling pretty on a date.

(Photos courtesy of Nicole Gonzalez. Interview by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. This was such an inspiring portrait! I especially love her subtle style, and the fact that she’s doing it with two kids and a marriage on the way, gives this air of a graceful ‘can do’ attitude. I’m really glad I got to read this today. Thank you!

  2. Hi Jo

    Another great beauty uniform post – I love getting to know all these beautiful women you share with us.

    I don’t often comment but today I have a suggestion: I think Audrey Gelman would make for a great beauty uniform post (for those who don’t know her a couple of interesting articles: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/fashion/audrey-gelman-the-girl-most-likely.html?_r=0 and http://www.thecoveteur.com/2013/06/02/audrey-gelman/). She is such a fascinating character and interesting role-player in the new generation of ‘politicos’. She also has killer style and surely lots of tips to share.

    Love
    Maria

    • Deb says...

      I do believe that Joanna’s husband, Alex, wrote the first article ;) about Audrey Gelman.

  3. Alexandra Marie says...

    She is such a beautiful woman and super inspiring… But am I the only one who gets discouraged a little when reading about women who “just put a little tinted moisturizer on”? As someone who struggled with acne a lot and still struggles with it as an adult, (as well as scarring) I don’t think my skin will ever be at a place where I can just put on Chapstick. I’d love to see a beauty uniform of someone with imperfect skin.

    • True :) Full on empathy here!

    • Sammi says...

      Totally agree! My chin spots just won’t give up :/

  4. stunning, both inside and out!!! i need to try vaseline because my skin is so dry. maybe i’ll try coconut oil and see which works better!

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  5. Amy says...

    Gorgeous and so genuine! Loved reading this post – thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you for featuring a Latina! She’s gorgeous! And I love her beauty routine. Mas por favor! xo!

  7. It’s great to be introduced to another beautiful Mama to follow on IG! Nicole you make beauty look effortless which I love.

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  8. Lidia says...

    What a great beauty uniform! I love all beauty uniforms but this one was extra special because it’s great to see a fellow puerto rican being featured! She’s absolutely beautiful inside and out!

  9. Kathryn says...

    Favorite beauty uniform post yet! Love how simple she keeps it! Inspiring. She is stunning!

  10. inna says...

    she is simply gorgeous. love all the pictures she shared!

  11. I really enjoy the Beauty Uniform series. Nicole’s style is so unique and absolutely flawless.

  12. CW says...

    Loved this post! I just bought some matte lipstick from Colour Pop. Can’t wait to try it :)

  13. Cheryl says...

    Whoa, legitimately a natural goddess. Nicole, don’t change. Never contour, wear those freckles, give that flavor, be your own version of perfection. Such an inspiration.

  14. Laurel says...

    This is very random but my son’s name is Lukas and his cousin, born 3 weeks before him in Argentina is named Leon!

  15. Laura C says...

    This is a really down-to-earth Beauty Uniform. At last I can feel close to someone who features in it. No expensive products, just simple rituals.
    Nicole is an inspiration. Thank you!
    xoxo

  16. Mel says...

    Just wanted to say how much I love this series!

  17. Theresa says...

    Simply gorgeous! The swimsuit shot is fabulous!

  18. Katie says...

    What a babe! Love her style.

  19. Gennarina says...

    Joanna,
    Would you ever consider giving us some insight on products or methods to reduce dark under-eye circles? I’m a medical student, and despite using some great Clinique products, I’ve noticed that I look tired often. The women in your Beauty Uniform posts seem to have such fresh looking skin!

    Thank you!

    • When I was a resident in emergency medicine I had the same problem, even when I did get enough sleep. What worked for me were two things: applying nourishing oils to my under-eye area (I used jojoba and argan oils), and using a facial toner with apple cider vinegar. I used this recipe (http://www.lovingfit.com/beauty/anti-aging-anti-blemish-homemade-face-toner-recipe/) but water and ACV should work fine too. Made me look a lot fresher and brighter.

  20. Sophie says...

    I love Nicole’s style. She exudes so much confidence and beauty. After reading this interview, it’s nice to see how smart and down to earth she is too!

  21. Bailey says...

    I loved this! She has such a down-to-earth beauty uniform that celebrates both inner and outer beauty. Her simple make-up routine, her thoughts on love, and the last paragraph about feeling beautiful when her fiance saw her playing with her children — perfection.

  22. Erica says...

    This was a great edition of Uniform! Nicole is compelling… I immediately insta-followed her. =)

  23. Loribeth says...

    Love love love!!! A new favorite Beauty Uniform post and such a down-to-earth woman!

  24. Samantha says...

    I loved her so much. I like that she keeps her beauty routine very simple, and didn’t name a gazillion expensive products. Totally agree on the pedicures. The more expensive ones are definitely worth it, specially if you’re someone who walks or is on their feet a lot. Nothing makes me feel yuckier than ugly feet and a good pedi leaves me feeling like a million bucks. I would like to try the lavender oil around the house, and see how it works with my hyperactive boyfriend who’s a little too active at night :)

  25. RT says...

    WOW. This was my favorite beauty uniform yet! What an absolute beauty she is. Love her style!

  26. Erin says...

    She is a bombshell and even better seems so smart and grounded!

  27. “When I was 10, my class at school went on a field trip. On the bus, a boy commented that my legs were hairy. I came home and begged my mom to teach me how to shave my legs. She made me wait another two years,” isn’t it funny how those moments stick out in our minds. I had a similar experience at 8, with an older girl on the school bus. Yeah, I’m talking about you Melissa!
    I think this series just keeps getting better and better!

    • Ha! Me too! On the bus! Hairy arms!

    • Ellen says...

      Haha, I had the same thing and my immediate reaction was to defend myself by saying that being born in England meant I had to have more hair to keep warm. My Australian classmates fell for it!

    • Laura H says...

      This actually just broke my heart. It really bums me out that the first exposure to the idea of beauty was defined by a boy who probably was just parroting what he picked up from someone else. Here’s the thing: I enjoy my freshly-shaven legs; even though I’ve found that most of the women I sleep with/date really don’t care, it’s something that I do for me. But I wonder how much it really IS for me. I enjoy wearing makeup and rarely leave the house without a bright lip, but these past few years I’ve realized that I do it because people are MUCH nicer to me when I’m wearing makeup. It’s like the price I pay for being treated with kindness is to have to wear makeup? It takes the joy out of it.

    • Kirsten says...

      Laura, I thought of that too! For many girls at a young age, make up isn’t about curiosity but feeling like it is required to be “pretty.” While I share that same memory of being teased for my hairy legs, it’s a memory that embarrassing to me, and led to me tearing up my legs with a razor that night alone. I have also noticed that I am treated better with makeup on- from men and women alike. I often wonder if I subconsciously treat women with makeup on differently than those choosing not to wear it

    • Lisa says...

      Laura- yes yes yes

  28. A stylist once told me that my Vaseline-for-everything habit was unhealthy and counterproductive, but I have used it as such since I was 14. Reading about Nicole using it too makes me feel hip and cool!

    • katrina says...

      As a dermatologist, I always quake when I hear people use Vaseline for everything… it’s literally petroleum based, and blocks the skin from sweating out toxins, as well as letting our skin breathe. If you’ve used it for years and have great skin, it’s because you have good genes – it’s actually very harmful and aging on skin. I’d suggest replacing it with organic coconut oil and Shea Butter blends! : ) At the very least, please don’t use it on babies and children.

  29. One of my top Beauty Uniform features! Nicole has an effortless grace to her! Going to try this Vaseline thing, I usually use coconut oil to get my makeup off- coconut oil and Sephora’s Makeup eraser(damp).

    • Heather says...

      Ike, please see Katrina’s comment above re: vaseline (it’s petroleum – a carcinogen), you’re so much better off with coconut oil. You’re already doing it right. Vaseline will eventually be banned – Johnson & Johnson Baby Talc is about to be, because of the high levels of asbestos in it (because of how naturally occurring talc, is mined).

      That aside, totally agree with you on this being one of the best Beauty Uniform features!

  30. Whitney says...

    I love how this article conveys her concept of beauty without directly asking. Well written and inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to dig deeper and include a variety of women in this series!

  31. This has to be my favorite beauty uniform post so far. As a freckled latina, it was really refreshing to see some of myself in this. You can tell she is so content in her life and herself. So sweet. I admire her natural beauty and love for her family. Thanks for sharing such a well-rounded cast of women. xoxoxo

  32. Angela says...

    I love hearing that other women love their freckles! I get more and more each passing year and I LOVE them! Here’s to celebrating the little things that make us unique and special!

  33. Katya says...

    What a lovely profile! I absolutely love this series! I wonder where is a good spot to thread in NYC?

    • Kate says...

      I go to Pinky’s (407 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10016) and it’s only $7! They also have a loyalty card where the 10th is free. The salon is very small though, and skips on luxury but most important to me, it’s clean.

  34. What a natural beauty. Inside and out. Loved this interview, Caroline!

  35. Cynthia says...

    Her beauty seems so effortless! Yes, Vaseline is a miracle worker. I really like the dress she’s wearing in the picture with the baby, as I’ve always loved Battenburg lace. The Beauty Uniform is one of my favorite features on this blog.

  36. Talia says...

    What a beautiful woman!

  37. I loved reading this. Her outlook is so fresh and uncomplicated. I feel inspired!

  38. VPo says...

    Thank you for posting about a lovely dark-haired Latina woman! Love how this blog strives to feature diverse subjects :)

    • Exacty! Love this.

    • Roselyn says...

      Yes!! Thank you for that–I find it really hard to find blogs/bloggers on Latina women. It was so nice to relate to someone like me :)

  39. That yellow swimsuit is stunning.

    I love her love story. It’s wonderful that she feels the most beautiful when she’s just at home, being a mom <3

    xo Azu

    http://www.raven-locks.blogspot.com

  40. Nicole says...

    I enjoyed this post but my heart broke a little when I read that after the day a boy pointed out her hairy legs she became more aware of her body (and I inferred, her looks).

    I don’t blame her at all. As a young woman I found that I focused a lot on looking a way that made other people find me attractive. And while I still think about that (and really, who doesn’t?) I now focus more on pleasing myself. To me, that’s what this blog feature is about and why I love it.

    • I completely agree. It shouldn’t be like that. But I too had a similar experience. A little girl told me to shave my legs! lol That made me so self conscious.

      http://www.raven-locks.blogspot.com

    • Sarah says...

      I agree too. That’s why it’s so great to be 32 now and not 12!

  41. christen says...

    yes, ultimate gorgeousness and it gave me major life envy the whole growing up in NY and knowing her man since high school… lovely

  42. She’s such a natural beauty. The Beauty Uniforms are one of my favorite reads :)

  43. Veronica Hohenstein says...

    Ummmm, she is GORGEOUS in a lovely, effortless way. Love her!

  44. Lila says...

    Stunning and smart lady! Love this post.

  45. I totally love and concur with Nicole’s comment about feeling most beautiful au naturel under the gaze of her adoring fiancé. Love is the best beauty product!

  46. Jasna says...

    She is so beautiful, inside and out. Love her!

  47. Very sweet answer to the last question. That’s a wonderful joy moment.

  48. Nice to “meet” you, Nicole!

    I love how she looks a bit different in each photo…the lighting, different hair and makeup, different levels of formality…she really has a dynamic look! That maternity photo in the black dress with the white sunglasses is my favorite – classic and lovely. Thank you for sharing <3

  49. Hillary says...

    Ahh I love her!! So glad you featured her beauty uniform- she’s gorgeous!

  50. J.D says...

    What a beauty! I just peeked at her Instagram and I’m hoping you guys will work on her house tour, it looks amazing!

  51. Madeline says...

    Ahh that last part made me cry. So sweet!

  52. She is so beautiful and radiates a natural glow!

    SarahJaiheLee.com <3

  53. Clare says...

    THAT YELLOW BATHING SUIT! wowza. She is gorgeous and I love the image of her with her babies and fiance. Thanks for highlighting her!

  54. gillit says...

    Horrible boy on the bus! SHe sure got back at him….We never forget what mean boys say to us in elementary school! I trained my twin teenage boys to never be mean!

    • Lindsay says...

      As a former child and current teacher I swear that for every “mean” or misguided boy there are 4 misguided girls. We must model and teach thoughtfulness and kindness above all else.

      Wonderful post. Everyone deserves to be gazed at with such love and adorable. Beautiful imagery. Thanks for sharing Nicole.

  55. Rona says...

    I’m with Jess– where is that bathing suit from?? Great post, and amen to the wonders of Vaseline!

  56. Mary Jenkins says...

    Gorgeous lady! Those lips!

  57. She is very beautiful, one of those people who is stunning with a bare face. And I hope she got back at the boy who body-shamed her hairy legs.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!

  58. Jess says...

    So beautiful! I gotta know where that bathing suit is from 😍

  59. What a sweet article! Love this! Also YES to Vaseline. Say what you want about petroleum jelly but I had this time in my life where my lips were SO DRY that they cracked and were itchy and hurt ALL THE TIME. I tired everything I could get my hands on, even that fresh lip balm that cost a million dollars a tube. One day someone was like “Try Vaseline!” and a .99 cent container from the travel bin at Target lasted me like 3 years and I never had a problem again. BRILLIANT! There’s a reason that stuff has stood the test of time. And Sephora.