The makeup dynamo answers our Proustian beauty Qs
At an age when most of her peers were dabbling in Lip Smackers, Veronica Chu was getting a beauty education. After her family immigrated to Toronto—“We lived in a refugee camp in China for a year and a half before coming to Canada,” she says—her mom worked as an aesthetician/cosmetic tattooist at her own Chinatown beauty clinic, and Chu began helping out starting in Grade 7.
While learning to do brows on clients, she was also honing makeup skills at home, including on her brother: “He was obsessed with the supermodels,” says Chu of her first “guinea pig.” In her 20s, in order to save money for formal makeup school (spoiler: she never ended up going), she landed a sales position at Holt Renfrew’s Stila counter. She became a trainer for the brand, but dreamed of the glossy editorial world. So she went freelance, building her portfolio by saying yes to every gig, even if it paid little or nothing.
Seizing opportunities, particularly to work with Canadian musicians such as Keshia Chanté, “pushed me to the next level,” says Chu. Today, glamming up the stars is downright routine—she’s not only model Coco Rocha’s longtime makeup artist/hairstylist, but also CoverGirl’s spokesperson in Canada. We caught the expert on a rare break from set life to get her beauty wisdom.
What is your idea of perfect beauty? “Feeling good in your own skin.”
How do you look when you feel most like yourself? “As natural and clean-faced as possible, but I do love mascara and a bit of colour on the lips.”
If you could create a fragrance that encapsulated your personality, what would it smell like? “Fairly unisex. Half citrus, half musk. I love warmth in a fragrance, but also that [fruity] zing.”
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received at a beauty counter? “If you’re going to try a new foundation, go out into the natural light to make sure the colour is working for you.”
What is your biggest beauty extravagance? “I’m a bit of a skincare hoarder. I use, like, 50 products.”
Veronica Chu’s Beauty Picks
Which one of your signature beauty techniques should every woman know? “If you have lashes that go straight down like mine, use a waterproof mascara after you’ve curled them to keep them bouncy.”
Who do you admire as a living icon in the beauty world? “I really admire my mom for what she has done, and where she came from. I find her the most beautiful woman in the world.”
What is your greatest beauty regret? “I was a sun-worshipper for a solid two years. I loved those tanning beds. I was really bad when I was younger. Now, I shellac myself with SPF.”
What is your anti-aging motto? “Your skin is precious. If you treat it right, it will show.”
What do you deem a beauty crime? “I’d never say [a certain trend is a beauty crime], because whatever is not in style becomes the style. To say someone shouldn’t over-contour or wear fake lashes, that’s just one opinion, but that look might make that person feel really good about herself.”
What do you consider an underrated skincare commandment? “Thou shalt wash your skin before bed. And wash your makeup brushes more often, too.”
If you could change anything about the beauty industry, what would it be? “Women need to empower each other. In the beauty industry, we can be quite judgmental, but we need to embrace all colours, ethnicities, sizes.”
This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Cosmetics magazine. For more, download our iPad edition.