We fell hard for Natalie Alcala last fall, when the LA-based writer and blogger spent a week guest blogging for us. In fact, we loved her posts so much that we asked her to be a contributing editor. In addition to blogging for us once a week, she’ll also be writing for the Birchbox Magazine and keeping us up to speed on all things fashion, beauty, and fun.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I sat down with my beauty idol to learn more about her best secrets, the discontinued products that she wishes would be reissued, and the one tried-and-true product that she’s been using since high school. (Try this Q&A with your mom on Sunday—you’ll learn so much!)
What was your earliest beauty memory?
“I used to really love flipping through Cosmopolitan magazine—that’s where I first discovered vanity. My favorite model was Cristina Ferrare. I also loved Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. I even used to fake Marilyn’s beauty mark with a pencil!”
So funny! Who taught you how to put on makeup?
“I think I taught myself really, but I also got some tips from your Auntie Esther [her sister-in-law]. I first started experimenting with mascara because I was so amazed by how long it made my eyelashes look.”
I remember when you caught me wearing lipstick in middle school—I was so embarrassed! Can you recall the first time you got caught wearing makeup as a teen?
“[Laughs] Oh, boy. Well, I think I was in 11th grade. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup yet, so I snuck it to school and wore it there. One day I forgot to take it off when I got home, and I got busted big time. I still remember exactly what products they were, too: Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and Maybelline Great Lash mascara. My mother took it off with a washcloth and confiscated all my products. I was devastated!”
Lip Smackers is the best. When grandma did finally let you wear makeup, did she teach you any tricks?
“She thought that putting lipstick on my cheeks would make my cheeks rosier.”
When was your most rebellious beauty phase?
“I was way more rebellious in fashion. In high school I was known for wearing micro mini skirts and sky-high heels. That was my signature! [Laughs]”
Wow—you were a fox! Did you ever experiment with nail art?
“[Laughs] See, your mom was cool once. Yes I did experiment, but I preferred neutral nail polishes like peach. I tried acrylics when I was older.”
What beauty category were you most particular about?
“I was very, very particular about fragrances. In the ’70s I wore Revlon's Charlie, as well as Windsong and Cache, and I loved a body splash by Jean Nate. I also used a lot of oils—especially patchouli. In the ’80s, I loved Norell and Beauty by Estée Lauder.”
What was your first expensive beauty product?
“I remember how excited I was to buy Clinique after I first started earning money. I liked their hypoallergenic products. I bought the Clinique facial soap, toner, and perfume, Clinique Happy.”
What is the one beauty product or tool that changed your life?
“There were so many! When I discovered the Vidal Sassoon blow dryer, it was love at first sight. I just always knew that I would have a good hair day when I used it. And Sun-In! I also loved Conair hot rollers—the really jumbo ones.”
What beauty products do you wish would come back?
"Propa PH face wash, Wella Balsam shampoo, Vidal Sassoon shampoo, and Jojoba shampoo. Lots of shampoo!”
What is the one beauty product that you’ve remained loyal to through the years?
“Hands down, it would have to be Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara. I’ve been using it since high school! I’m a creature of habit, so for me it does the job. I know there are all kinds of advanced formulas out there and I’ve tried a few, but I always, always come back to my Great Lash.”
Mother’s day is this Sunday! Need a last minute gift? Find out the must-have products Birchbox Moms are loving right now.