Krissie Garland never saw herself becoming a world traveler. But working as a visual manager for H&M (she’s in charge of making those mannequins look so cool!) ignited her wanderlust. She now lives in Shanghai and fully embraces the expat lifestyle. Ahead, Krissie tells us how living abroad sparked her mask obsession and shares a surprising mascara tip…
How did you start working abroad?
I’ve worked for H&M for more than 10 years. I started as a merchandiser in L.A. and worked my way up the ranks until H&M asked me to open a store in Mexico. The funny thing is, my whole life I’d never thought about leaving America; it never even crossed my mind. But after my three-year stint in Mexico, I didn’t feel the need to go back. Now that we’re all getting older, my friends at home are starting families; everyone has their own lives. Since I’m not interested in the settling down scenario, I was like, I am just going to go with this. And I took a job in Shanghai.
Tell us about Shanghai.
I live in a typical lane house off the most crowded metro stop. When it rains, you can barely walk because of all the umbrellas. Some areas are so busy that it feels like walking around in Times Square after you’ve just woken up from a 70-year-coma. But then you have lovely quiet areas like the French Concession, where the tree-lined streets are peppered with tiny cafes and hole-in-the-wall dumpling shops.
What has surprised you about life there?
I was stoked to see so many folks walking around in daytime hours wearing full on pajama sets. I’m definitely inspired by this look — I’m all about pjs in public. Also, the food here is really, really good. Of course, there’s amazing Chinese food, but sometimes I want a Japanese poke bowl or good bagel, and I can always find that, too.
Tell us more about the food!
I’m still nervous to eat whole pig brains, even when it comes in my favorite spicy sauce. And, so far, no chicken feet, coagulated blood, beetles or scorpions. But I’m all about pork dumplings, sautéed eggplant, spicy tofu, cauliflower with Sichuan peppers, and this crazy steamed chicken thing that just falls off the bone.
Has your beauty routine changed since living abroad?
I never cared that much about beauty before, but now I am hooked. People are really into skincare here, and it’s so cheap! In Shanghai, I’m into massages, facials, and am obsessed with masks. One of my coworkers is 44 and uses a mask twice a day, morning and night. I’m not THAT devoted, but I definitely use one at least three times a week. Lately, I have been using Dr. Jart sheet masks.
What’s your facial skincare routine?
Every morning I wash with Rx for Brown Skin cleanser, and I just become obsessed with a daytime primer/moisturizer/magic potion by the Korean brand Too Cool for School called Egg Cream. It helps my makeup stay on while somehow illuminating my skin from underneath. I also make sure to detox my skin weekly with a charcoal soap now that I live in one of the most congested countries in the world.
What’s the pollution like?
On bad days, kids will be advised not to go outside. You can see only like 100 feet into the sky, there is a light ash floating in the air, and you can smell and taste metal. My hands will get covered in the soot, and then I’ll know I should wash my face midday. But we haven’t had a day like this in a while. Breathing in polluted air is quite exhausting for the body, and I can definitely see it in the extreme bags under my eyes. For that reason, I use the concealer Garnier Anti-Dark Circle Roller, which is really effective.
Do you wear makeup every day?
Yes, I wear a tinted BB cream (with SPF) by Maybelline. I have tried a LOT of mascaras, and the drugstore mascara that makes my lashes look longest is Rimmel. I also wear a cute pink lip tint by Too Cool for School. Recently, on heavy pollution days, I started substituting my BB cream for a thicker Clinique Anti Pollution cream, which is tinted and has SPF 45.
What products do you use on your body?
I get body breakouts from time to time, so I use Neutrogena Clear Body Wash in the shower. Once a month, if I can’t get to the Korean spa for a “bacial” (yes, a facial for your back!), then I will use a super intense body brillo pad to exfoliate my skin like whoa. In the summer, I use Palmer’s Skin therapy oil. As I’ve gotten older, my legs have some less-than-sexy things happening on them, and this oil keeps varicose veins and discoloration at bay. In the winter, I use Malin + Goetz Vitamin B5 Bergamot moisturizer. I looooove the smell, and the luxurious moisture lasts for 24 hours.
Do you have any skincare travel tips?
On a long flight, I get on the plane, I’ll have one glass of wine and watch one movie, then brush my teeth and put on my moisturizing sleep mask.
What do you love most about your look?
I do love my hair. I know most people wish their hair did something different, but the only thing I wish about my hair is that it would grow longer so I can have more of it.
You really do have amazing hair. How do you take care of it?
I wash it once a week using Pantene for Women of Color shampoo and conditioner. I have to brush my hair in the shower; otherwise it’s impossible. Then after the shower I separate my hair into four sections and work through L’Oreal Melting Gel and let it air dry. It’s the only product I’ve ever found that actually separates and defines my curls for days.
What’s the most drastic thing you’ve done with your overall look?
When I was 10, my dad made me cut off all my hair because he said I didn’t know how to take care of it. That’s actually something I’ve heard from a lot from mixed girls. I had crazy hair that my mom, who is white, didn’t really know how to deal with. I never wanted her to comb it, and he was like, “Nope, that’s enough.” My hair was short for four years! I didn’t cry a lot when I was young and I still don’t cry a lot, but I cried for so long after that cut. It was horrendous. Once when I was wearing my cheerleading uniform and selling cookies at the supermarket, I asked a woman if she’d buy some, and she said “Sorry, young man…” I said, “What? Are you serious? I’m wearing a skirt, I’m a girl!” She ended up buying two boxes of cookies.
What did other women in your life teach you about beauty?
There’s one random lesson that I thank the beauty gods for quite often. My friend, who is a makeup artist in L.A., told me that I should apply mascara to damp lashes, right after I wash my face. There’s an even application without clumps, and my lashes have never looked longer.
Thank you, Krissie!