Sailor Brinkley-Cook is so chill, you almost forget you’re in the presence of supermodel royalty. Just one example: When I ask her about what’s in her bag right now, she doesn’t drop the name of triple-digit moisturizer; instead she tells me about how obsessed she is with Aquaphor. But then she’ll laugh and toss her (never been colored!) golden blond hair over her shoulder, and the 21-year-old is the spitting image of her mom, the iconic Christie Brinkley.
The model just got off a whirlwind cycle of competing on Dancing With the Stars, and she’s in the process of figuring out what’ll be next in her jam-packed schedule. But for now, she’s enjoying the time off. “For six weeks I was going nonstop,” she says. “I was doing seven-hour rehearsals and living this whole other lifestyle I didn’t even know existed. Then I got eliminated. So now I’m like, What do I do? It’s so weird.”
That’s not to say she’s walking away from the experience empty-handed. Not only has she made lifelong friends—“When I was eliminated, I immediately thought, Now I can’t see everyone every day!”—but also picked up an obscene amount of on-camera beauty secrets. “The makeup and hair there is insane because it’s all stage makeup; it’s so wild to see,” she says. “It’s so different from street makeup. They really have to add so much extra lashes and foundation that it looks so crazy [in person], but then you see it on the screen and it looks just like normal makeup.”
And that’s just the beginning of her encyclopedic knowledge of beauty, which is why we asked her to answer Glamour’s Big Beauty Questions, a rapid-fire Q&A on everything from the best getting-ready music to unrealistic beauty ideals. Find out more about her favorite drugstore products, what she does to keep her hair healthy, and—of course—the best beauty advice her mom’s ever given her.
What’s one beauty trend you love but would never try?
I don’t feel like there’s anything I wouldn’t try. Well, actually dark black lipstick I don’t like. I don’t get it. It just looks like you ate charcoal or something. Only Rihanna looks hot in it. She’s literally the exception to the rule.
What’s one beauty trend you wish you’d never tried?
Oh my God, there are so many. I got side bangs in middle school, and they were so not cute because I have pretty naturally wavy hair, so the bangs were wavy. I have a big head too, so it really didn’t accentuate anything. I remember crying in the mirror for an hour. It traumatized me.
What’s one beauty rule you swear by?
I think drinking a lot of water is literally the most important beauty rule people forget about. You can put on the different masks, the different serums, everything—but when I drink a lot of water, like three liters a day, I swear after a week I see a difference in my skin. Well, that and exfoliating. I use the Barbara Sturm exfoliator. It’s a loose powder that you put on wet skin then wash off. It’s calming, but it also gets in there and gets the grime and dirt out. I use it every night.
Fill in the blank: “I love my hair…”
I love my hair because it’s treated me well, and I’ve treated it well. I’ve never dyed my hair. I’ve never really done anything crazy to my hair besides the side bangs. I’ve had so many moments of wanting to dye it dark brown or pink or blue, but I never go through with it. My mom has always given me so many compliments about my hair, and people always ask, “Who does your color? Who does your cut? Who does this or that?” I’m like, “I haven’t gotten a damn haircut in three years!” I think having very low-maintenance hair care has made my hair very grateful.
What do you use on it to keep it so healthy?
I really don’t have a hair care routine at all. There’s this OGX Coconut Milk Serum stuff that I get from Rite-Aid. Whenever I put it in with damp hair, it just makes it super shiny and thick. I have a lot of breakage on my ends from putting my hair up so much tight buns, so it really helps with that too.
Do you think you’ll ever dye it?
I don't know. I think when I get older I’m going to be one of those ladies who’s going to have pink hair when she’s 75. Because why not? But for now I want to live as low-maintenance as possible. I don’t want to be keeping up with something that I have to go to the salon for every week. I’m lucky that I like my hair color. So I’m just going to chill with it.
You’re always traveling. What city or country gives you the greatest beauty inspiration?
Paris. I love the way Parisian girls put themselves together. I think it’s so beautiful and effortless. Whether it takes them two hours and not, I love the little liner and little red lip. Or how they’ll put their hair up in a low bun with a turtleneck and a pair of jeans, grab their bag, and they’re out the door. They always look so strangely healthy. Yet they’re smoking cigarettes and eating carbs every day. And I’m like, “I don’t know what you guys are doing, but I want it.”
What are your favorite colors to wear on your nails right now?
I love red. Like, a classic cherry or New York apple red. I always go for either red or a nude.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What three products do you bring with you?
Aquaphor. Aquaphor is the OG—for lips, for everything. Sometimes when I’m about to go to bed, and it’s really cold and everything feels extra chapped, I’ll put it in all the places on my face where there are lines, like laugh lines, crows feet. I’ll just gob it on there. It just feels nice to fall asleep moisturized.
And then honestly my two favorite products that I cannot live without are both by Drunk Elephant—the Day Serum and the Night Serum. They’re all I use. I actually had really bad skin for a long time—painful hormonal acne along my cheeks and my chin. When I went on birth control it helped a little bit. But not fully; it was still aggravated and it hurt. It made me feel so bad about myself. Then I was on a shoot in Australia, where they’re so good with their skincare, and the makeup artists were like, “Sweetie, what are you putting on your skin?”
At that time all I was using was CeraVe. I’m a drugstore girl. I try to keep it simple. But she was like, “You need to put a night serum in there. Try Drunk Elephant.” I swear, after two weeks it was like everything was gone. I had never felt so good about my skin. I wasn’t wearing makeup. I wasn’t covering it up. I was so confident, and it felt amazing. So then I brought the Day Serum into the mix, and my skin’s been so much better ever since.
What’s your getting-ready music?
This morning what really got me pumped was "Motivation" by Normani. [Sings:] “Let me be your motivation.” I’m also all about the oldies. I love listening to the Beatles. I love the Rolling Stones. But then I also have my moments with Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, and Normani—I love a pumped-up female power song. Or something hardcore heavy, like a Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, or Travis Scott. I’m very much all over the place. Music is too good to dabble in one thing.
What’s your favorite way to take a moment for yourself?
I usually just take a walk. I think that’s a really underrated thing people don’t do enough when they’re feeling stressed out. Especially in the city, I’ll put my phone in my pocket, put my headphones in, and I’ll just play my favorite music and take a walk around the city. You just see all these different people of all different walks of life, and the art on the streets, and little fluffy dogs. All these little things remind you that, Okay, we’re all in this together, we’re going through it, you’ve got to make the best of it. That really helps me a lot when I’m feeling chaotic.
Screw, marry, kill: mascara, lipstick, highlighter.
Um, screw highlighter. Because highlighter is important and I love it, but I don’t think I want to marry it. I’ll get down with some highlighter. Marry mascara because I have blond lashes, so putting on some mascara changes the game for me. I love Milk Makeup’s Kush Mascara. It feels natural and doesn’t go on too chunky, which is awesome. I hate when it feels like hairspray on your lashes. Then kill lipstick. I never wear lipstick. I’m a lip gloss gal. There are so many I like, but I love the Glossier one. It doesn’t have much color but it makes your lips look plump.
What’s your favorite emoji?
I love the yellow heart, honestly. It’s soft and not as aggressive as the red heart, but it's like, “Love you, girl 💛” or “Thank you 💛.” I think it just works.
I get that. It’s not as romantic…
Yeah. I'm not like, I love you, but I'm like, love ya. It’s that vibe.
It’s amazing that a color can totally change the meaning.
Yellow heart, man.
You said you’re a drugstore girl, so this is going to be fun. You’ve got $20 and free roam of a drugstore. What do you buy?
CeraVe for sure. I love its oil-free moisturizer. It has hyaluronic acid in it, which is awesome. Then I’d say some Neutrogena Makeup Wipes, some Really Red Essie Nail Polish—because why not?—and finally Aquaphor chapstick. Literally, that’s what's in my bag right now.
If you could change one thing about beauty perceptions, what would it be?
I hate that we’re all so judgmental about everyone’s beauty. I know that a part of this [Hollywood] world is about critiques and judging—and, you know, those red-carpet shows that are like who wore it better? Did she rock this or did she not? But I know what it’s like to go on a red carpet and put yourself out there. To choose a dress and choose your hair and makeup, and then finally have it all come together and be like, “Oh, I feel great,” only to have people say you looked bad or say that it “didn’t work.” I think that’s annoying and lame. We should cut that out. Because if you’re going out in whatever you look like, you feel good. Most of the time you’re not leaving the house thinking, “Oh, I look terrible. I shouldn’t have worn this.”
And if not, you certainly don’t want to hear it projected by a million people…
Exactly. I think us all critiquing everyone all the time on what they’re doing or what they’re wearing isn’t okay. They’re just trying their best, and they’re getting out there, which is awesome. A lot of people can’t even get out there. So kudos if you get out there on a red carpet and try something new. Don’t listen to the haters.
Who are the women inspiring you the most right now?
I have so many. I just watched Mindy Kaling’s new movie, and I love her. I read her book last year too. I love women in comedy. They’re just these powerful women who went into a male-dominated industry and trail-blazed in a lot of different areas without us asking them to or them wanting to. Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler walked into Lorne Michaels’s office on SNL, and they were like, “I can do this.” Then they prove themselves. They have these amazing, hilarious stories of trials and tribulations getting into the industry. I just like the way they look at life.
Last question I have to ask: Do you have any good beauty secrets from your mom you’ve learned over the years?
Oh, yeah. Honestly, it sounds lame, but she always says her beauty secret is to moisturize. She’s always standing there naked in her bathroom for 30 minutes after her shower because she’s moisturizing everything to the most massive extent. Then her other biggest beauty secret is to smile. That’s all she’s ever told me. She’s not saying this product is going to change your life or, ‘Sailor, this workout is going to change your body.” She’s like, “Smile! Have a good time! That's going to show and that’s going to make you beautiful.”
I think there’s actual science behind that. That when you smile, you physically feel better.
Exactly. I’m definitely not the type of girl who’s going to say, “Why aren’t you smiling?” I get it. We all have days. But I always try to put on a smile when I’m stepping out the door, and say, “Okay, let’s see how this works. Let’s walk down the street. We’re chipper, and we’re in a TV show.” Sometimes it really does help me forget about the things that I was worried about. And sometimes at the end of the day, if I want to sit in front of the TV and cry, I’ll do it. Whatever I need. But just putting your best foot forward and smiling. It’s definitely her number one beauty secret.
Lindsay Schallon is the senior beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @lindsayschallon. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Originally Appeared on Glamour