When does a beauty routine make the jump to become a full-fledged signature look? For Harley Viera-Newton, a model/DJ who’s been featured in Vogue and spins with Roc Nation, it was kismet when she realized a simple cat-eye and red lips go with everything.
Viera-Newton says she’s “not very good at putting on makeup,” so once she found a look she could manage, she stuck with it. The look has become what she calls her “makeup uniform.” Five years later – incredibly not quite as long as Taylor Swift – she’s still rocking the casual glam look.
I sat down with the new UBU beauty brand ambassador as she moved from photoshoot to party prep in the NYC Z100 offices. Like any in-demand DJ, she has a hectic travel schedule (and the baller Instagram account to show for it) so we chatted travel beauty, playing fashion parties, and what it means to have “effortless style.”
YouBeauty: Can you tell me a little about how you started DJing?
Harley Viera-Newton: I went to NYU and I started DJing in college, mainly just for fun. I had a friend also called Harley and we were like, “we should do something with this gimmick ‘Harley and Harley, Let’s Start a Party’.” And he DJed a little bit and I had been interested, but, you know, it was more just about using our funny gimmick and throwing a party. Obviously, as the night went on, I would be like, “I want to DJ! I want to DJ!” and the party actually ended up doing pretty well. We had just moved to New York and kids didn’t really know where to go yet. We threw that night for, I think it went on about 6 months, but, sort of through that, I ended up booking another night at this place called Beatrice that had just opened. It ended up being an amazing club, but at the time no one knew what it was; it had just opened. And from there I started booking more jobs, so it was sort of a very natural, happy accident. It was very much just for fun. I was working retail at the time and thinking, “This is way more fun than my day job.”
Do DJing and beauty mean something to you? I imagine – you’re doing a UBU photoshoot in the Z100 offices – they mean something combined.
For me, DJing and beauty have a lot of history just because one of the first brands I worked with was Dior Beauty. It was through them that I started working more in the fashion world and DJing more fashion events. Now that I travel a lot for work and I’m kind of all over the place and the schedule can be kind of nuts at times, I feel like figuring out your beauty routine takes so much stress and pressure out of that schedule.
How do you deal with beauty when you travel?
It helps to figure out your sort of “makeup uniform.” Whereas before when I was traveling, I would be like, “Ah! What do I do? I just got off a 12-hour flight! I look awful! What do I do?” now I kind of have my routine. I know exactly how long it takes me to get ready. I’ll land in a city and think, “Ok, I have an hour. I need 10-15 minutes to make myself somewhat presentable” and I know what I’m going to do and use.
Do you have travel essentials or pieces that are a part of your makeup uniform?
Absolutely! If you bring your essentials with you, it can help you feel at home no matter where you are. And that, you just learn through practice and by forgetting that one essential where you’re like, “I can’t believe I forgot my lipstick. What am I going to do?” For me, I wear red lipstick almost always just because I feel like it wakes me up if I have come off a terrible flight. I use MAC Ruby Woo and I love it. I think figuring out a color that works for you and having it on you at all times is just very helpful ‘cause you can just put that on and it makes you look like you’ve tried, makes you look awake. UBU tools are really useful for me. I love a cat-eye – finding an eyeliner brush like the luxury liner brush that made it easier was super helpful. The lippety stick helps so your lipstick isn’t all over your face and your fingers, which it was for me for a long time. Also, mini-everything. UBU does mini-tweezers, which are obviously so great to have on you.
So how did you develop your makeup uniform?
During the day, I’ll wear barely any makeup – just mascara and a lip tint. But when I’m going out, and especially for DJing, it’s nice to have a fun, bold look and it’s something that I am drawn to because it’s a very classic look that goes with everything. So, again, it’s sort of taking the stress out of it. I know a red lip and a black cat-eye will go with whatever I’m wearing, no matter where I am. It can be very glam or sort of a dressed down look in a weird way. You know, if you put it on with a T-shirt or whatever, you’re good to go. I don’t have to overthink it. Makeup isn’t something that causes me stress anymore. Which is maybe boring because I’m so predictable in that way, but any time I’ve experimented since, I’ve regretted it.
Your style is incredible [Editor’s note: Check out 30 days of Harley’s outfits in Vogue UK.] Do you have a way of describing it?
It’s always such a hard question for me because style is kind of something that I let happen naturally. I really try not to overthink it because when I see people and I’m sort of drawn to their style, it’s because they look really effortless and natural. I feel like that sort of ease and that confidence is the most attractive thing. Any time you’re trying to force a trend or force something that isn’t you, you’re going to look like you’re forcing it. Like, I don’t wear hats. If I put on a hat and try to wear it down the street, I’m going to feel awkward and I’m going to look awkward. It’s not going to work on me. It’s that weird thing of “you’ll look the best when you stop trying,” which is very easy to say and sometimes hard to do, but I actually do adhere to that now and I wear what I feel good in. I find I wear a lot of vintage and there are a lot of shapes that I’m drawn to because I think they work on me and then I just feel really great and confident, you know, when I throw on “that dress.”
That’s great to hear, but also a bit depressing as an outsider because it’s like, you either have it or you don’t.
No, I don’t think that’s true! I think as soon as you sort of identify what works on you and what actually makes you feel good, I mean, any time you’re trying to force something, you’re aware of whatever it is. Let’s say you’re like, “Ok, I need to wear a statement necklace. People are doing that.” And you don’t actually like it or it doesn’t feel like you, you’re so aware of wearing it that you’re sort of distracted and you’re not feeling confident because you’re not yourself. I don’t even think it’s something that you have or you don’t have. It’s literally about just wearing what you feel good in. And that will translate. It could be a white T-shirt and jeans, but if you’re feeling beautiful, other people are going to see that and that energy is going to come across.
And it’s just like your makeup – just find what works for you.
Yeah, obviously it’s easy to say, “be effortless.” But, you know, I’m wearing red lipstick and a cat-eye. That’s not effortless. Effort is going into that. But it’s about feeling good in your own skin. That’s the important part. Clothes should be a second skin. You shouldn’t feel like you’re wearing an outfit. You should feel good in it and feel powerful and confident.
This interview has been condensed and edited.