Nothing evokes the sentiment of the holidays more than the wide array of joyful traditions that are celebrated. Customs such as eating tamales for Christmas in Mexico or 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve in various countries throughout Latin America come to mind– but as the cheer around the holidays nears, there are also distinct and shared expressions of beauty styles. These styles are often modeled and passed on through the generations. Whether the occasion of doing it up with red lipstick for a party, spritzing on a lush fragrance for the family hang out en la sala, or braiding hair to pay religious reverence– beauty application serves as a way to honor the festivities while connecting to a legacy of heritage and culture. We spoke to three women from Mexico, Haiti and Dominican Republic, and Perú who described their personal, family, and cultural holiday beauty traditions.
Jessica Monzalvo is an esthetician, makeup artist, and a self-care brand founder of SBJ Esntls from Pachuca-Hidalgo, Mexico. La Virgen de Guadalupe in December is a holiday that brings back memories of tradition and beauty for Monzalvo. “Roses are all over the city, so you usually get a huge whiff of rose scent. Chloé Eau de Parfum tends to remind me of the floral fragrances from those celebrations,” Monzalvo tells Remezcla. She reminisces on the especially attentive beauty care she received from her grandmother that day, “My abuela would braid my hair with threaded red, white, and green ribbons.” She adds, “My abuela’s whole beautification process involved so much care by brushing and putting oil on my hair before braiding. Braiding is especially sacred for indigenous cultures because it holds a lot of energy and tradition.” Monzalvo likes to use It’s a 10 Miracle Shine Spray and Coily Miracle Gelled Oil, which reminds her of the oils her abuela applied to tame flyaways and create sleek-looking braids.
New Year’s Day is another holiday favorite for Monzalvo, “There’s a renewed sense of hope that people feel that day. I love how everyone resonates on a frequency of ambition and desire,” says Monzalvo. Monzalvo describes honoring the tradition of renewal, by washing away the lingering energy that no longer serves her to receive good energy that will propel her forward into the new year. “My mom takes a bath with honey on New Year’s Eve. Since honey is a natural antiseptic and originates from bees collecting pollen from various flowers, a honey bath is said to bring abundance into your life and prosperity for good health,” says Monzalvo. SheaMoisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Crème Body Wash is a decadent option to aid in manifesting for the New Year. Monzalvo shares that she achieves a similar effect by showering with Dr Teal’s Restore & Replenish Himalayan Sea Salt Scrub. “It helps to exfoliate and get rid of any negative energy,” Mozlavo states.
The makeup artist adds her New Year’s Eve tradition of wearing red lipstick. “Wearing something red on New Year’s Eve is said to attract love. Whenever my grandmother applied red lipstick that day, I knew it was to bring in more love for the new year,” Monzalvo shares. She honors the red lipstick tradition by putting extra care into her lip prep with the Ulta Beauty Collection’s Lip Scrubber, then the MAC Prep + Prime Lip Primer for added moisture and lasting wear. Finally, she coats her favorite new year’s red lip with MAC Lipstick Matte in Ruby Woo.
Jamé Jackson is a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle creator and CEO of The Blonde Misfit. ”On New Year’s Eve, I’m eating soul food and also eating soup joumou from Haiti. There’s a beautiful blending of traditions and cultures not just with food and language but also beauty and fashion in my household.” Jackson describes her multicultural heritage from Haiti and The Dominican Republic, as a process of reclaiming their traditions while combining them with her own. “Traditions are foundations within a culture that you always want to honor and pay homage to, with the understanding that you have the power to adapt them in ways that best fit your own legacy.” Jackson states
Jackson stresses the importance of skincare during the holidays. “Skin should not only look good, but it should feel good too, so I like to exfoliate a lot. In Haiti, women often exfoliate with grounded coffee beans, which makes your skin smell amazing and feel super soft by removing dead skin cells and allowing new cells to emerge,” Jackson tells Remezcla. Jackson’s mom carried on that tradition by making DIY scrubs, which she used when giving Jamé a bath as a child. “Even back then, I realized our beauty held a tradition to present yourself well by having smooth and hydrated skin,” Jackson says. We recommend Tree Hut’s Vitamin C Shea Sugar Scrub and Luv Scrub’s Mesh Body Exfoliator Cloth, Jackson’s favorite, to get the job done. She then follows up with an almond or jojoba oil such as Ulta Beauty Collection’s Sweet Almond Carrier Oil and Pure Jojoba Carrier Oil to replenish and moisturize.
Although the holidays in the United States often evoke the typical seasonal scents like pumpkin, cinnamon, or pine, for Jackson, it’s more traditional to go for signature tropical citrus and aquatic fragrances that are reminiscent of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Her go-to for special times of the year is TOM FORD Neroli Portofino Acqua Eau de Toilette. “It connects me to the environment of the Caribbean islands and makes me feel light, airy, and fresh,” Jackson adds.
Jackson traditionally visits a Dominican hair salon around her neighborhood before the holidays to touch up and seal her locks with moisture and gems for an added ornamental dazzle. “Moisturizing is an important tradition passed down throughout generations in my family. I like to use Kreyòl Essence’s Haitian Black Castor Oil mixed with some of my versatile almond and jojoba oils for healthy, hydrated, happy hair.”
“Since New Year’s Day is also Haiti’s Independence Day, there’s so much imbued in their celebration. It’s all about vibrancy and taking up space. Everything from beauty and fashion is bright and colorful to honor that legacy,” says Jackson. The beauty creator begins her New Year makeup look with Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Wear Foundation, “I saw Lupita Nyong’o as their spokesperson a long time ago and I thought it was amazing to see a woman so beautifully rich and chocolate representing a brand. I’ve been a fan ever since,” she adds, “Also, I like a more full coverage look because if I’m going to go glam, then I’m going to go glam!” Jackson gushes. After her foundation is set, Jackson emphasizes that a classic New Year’s red lipstick like the NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Dragon Girl or Star Woman are the traditional go-to. The bold lip with her KISS Lash Couture Triple Push-Up Multipack Bombshell false lashes gives her lashes added length for New Year’s Eve panache, then she adds Live Tinted Hue Glow highlighter to complete the look. ”It’s about being bold and achieving radiance. Unlike many places in the States where it can get dry and cold, the weather is still warm during the holidays in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, so for us, beauty is about exuding that lush vibrancy year-round. Even if I’m somewhere cold on New Year’s Eve, I still want to look sun-kissed and like I’ve been drinking my water!” Jackson quips.
Danielle Alvarez founded The Bonita Project; a Latinx-owned media agency with an impressive roster of multicultural beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands. Alvarez comes from a long line of well-put-together women, who especially show out for the holidays. “Even if it’s only two people and we’re just sitting in the living room, we are all dolled up, I’m likely wearing my red STILA Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, and dressed to the nines. That’s just a tradition that has been ingrained in me since I was a kid when I’d visit my tía’s and my abuela in Perú,” says Alvarez
Growing up, she observed her grandmother and mom getting ready for Christmas and admired the beauty traditions she learned along the way. “My mom would give special care to emphasize her lashes. She loves to curl them with the spoon trick; you put some Vaseline on a spoon then you take the spoon and bend your lash with it. That was a very big beauty tradition that I observed in both my grandma and mom. Even though I’ve tried to learn the trick, I never got the hang of it, so I mostly just stick to using my L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara,” Alvarez shares.
Alvarez also has fond memories of bringing new products to her grandmother to update her beauty collection during the holidays. “I’d take a look through her vanity and tell her, ‘This nail polish isn’t good anymore, so we’re going to get you a new one.’ My mom and I loved getting her things we knew she’d use often,” Alvarez recalls. Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel Merry and Bright Nail Polish Collection has a range of colors inspired by tradition and celebration that we recommend for holiday dazzle and shine.
The Bonita Project founder describes voluminous hair as another part of the holiday prep process where there’s careful attention to detail. “Both my mom and grandma loved to use hot rollers. My mom has very straight hair, so she doesn’t like her hair to look flat – she wants drama, volume, and curls. It’s the lengthiest part of her beauty process so she always makes sure to allow time in her routine when getting ready for the Christmas celebrations,” Alvarez tells Remezcla.
Though Alvarez has naturally curly hair, she also relates to her hair being the longest part of her beauty prep before a holiday event. “I’ve had to learn to embrace and work with my hair to give it the patience and time it needs to form its well-defined curl pattern. I’m always making curly concoctions for my hair so that the pattern maintains its hold. I also use Dyson’s Special Edition Supersonic Hair Dryer in Vinca Blue and Rose and diffuser – that’s an absolute must. I can’t go anywhere without my Dyson!” Alvarez laughs. To perfect one’s curls during and beyond the holidays, we recommend PATTERN’s Styling Cream.
Fragrances were always a sentimental final touch of beauty related tradition during the holidays, for Alvarez. Her grandmother used a Peruvian brand fragrance that had sweet citrusy notes, “almost like a sweet cocktail” she says. Alvarez cherishes the scent and keeps a bottle safely stored as a relic from those holiday memories with her grandmother. The fragrance her mom wore also has a nostalgic backstory. “The first year I moved from New Jersey to Florida, Clinique had just launched this perfume, so my mom got it, but then it ran out. It was the first year I really wanted to buy her something for Christmas, so I saved up for it. My mom’s best friend took me to the mall and I bought her the Clinique Aromatics Elixir Riches Fragrance Set. Ever since, that’s been my mom’s all-time favorite perfume. That fragrance always brings me back to our first holiday together when we moved to Coral Springs, Florida, and every holiday after.” Alvarez mindfully reflects on what it means to covet the cultural and traditional heirlooms she’s inherited, “Tradition is about keeping the culture alive. Everything that’s passed down through generations from your family members to remembering where you’re from and keeping those conversations and practices active– not only during special occasions like the holidays but also in your day-to-day [life.]” says Alvarez.
Whether cultural, familial, personal or a blend of all three – we celebrate these diverse holiday beauty customs across Latin America, to honor the traditions of our individual and shared heritages. In addition to continuing the legacy of looking and feeling great while doing it.
Belleza Remix is a Remezcla platform presented by Ulta Beauty that celebrates Latine beauty through the diverse cultures, countries and rituals that make us all unique. Jessica’s, Jamé’s, and Danielle’s stories are just one of many perspectives of Latine beauty. Shop their Beauty Picks below.