Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Former beauty queen Olivia Culpo on her beauty routine and how she hopes to inspire on social media

The model, actress, influencer and former Miss Universe is in Dubai this weekend to launch a new beauty festival

Olivia Culpo in a Jacquemus coat and Johanna Ortiz jumpsuit with Jimmy Choo shoes and a Dior handbag. Getty
Olivia Culpo in a Jacquemus coat and Johanna Ortiz jumpsuit with Jimmy Choo shoes and a Dior handbag. Getty

The Middle East beauty industry is booming, and the number of workshops and masterclasses being held in the region is a sign of the overwhelming demand for more: more brands, more products and more guidance on how to apply them. Last year, when Kim Kardashian West and her make-up artist Mario Dedivanovic came to Dubai to host a make-up masterclass the event sold out, even though VIP tickets cost as much as Dh6,000.

That event was organised by Bodour Al Hilali, the founder of Belle Femme Salon. “It was the greatest masterclass that the region has seen,” she claims. “After that, we started working on creating an exclusive platform where every woman wanting to learn more about the latest trends in make-up, hair care and skincare will find what she is looking for, from exclusive products to masterclasses and panel discussions.”

In partnership with Absolute Events, Al Hilali is launching Beauty Pop, a beauty-themed lifestyle fair that will bring international retailers and celebrities to Dubai Design District from April 19 to 21.

To offer a taste of what’s to come, Al Hilali and Laila bin Shabib, the founder of Absolute Events, have recruited an actual beauty queen to come to Dubai and launch Beauty Pop. Olivia Culpo, who was crowned Miss USA and Miss Universe in 2012, is in Dubai this weekend, fresh from a trip to New York Fashion week where she showed up in leather skirts, thigh-high boots and boiler suits, but kept her beauty polished and refined.

A post shared by Olivia Culpo (@oliviaculpo) on

“Since I’m always working and on the go, my typical ­beauty routine is very simple,” she tells us ahead of her Dubai visit. “I usually wear a tinted moisturiser and lipliner, and I curl my eyelashes, and that’s it. But for red carpet events when I’m getting hair and make-up professionally done, it takes about two hours.”

Ritzy, high-profile events come often for Culpo, who is starring in an upcoming E! reality television series premiering this autumn. “Model Squad is based around me and about eight girls, a lot of whom are my very close friends. We take you through our struggles and the reality of our lives, trying to navigate our industry, which is not as glamorous as you may think,” she says.

Culpo emphasises that in this digital age where images can be manipulated, she hopes she can offer a genuine, behind-the-scenes view of her life. In addition to being a former pageant winner, actress and model, Culpo has benefited from the business of “influencing”. She has more than 2.4 million followers on Instagram and regularly updates her website, OliviaCulpo.com, with fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle posts. And while she recognises that self-esteem and body-image issues often stem from social media, her goal is to inspire and uplift.

A post shared by Olivia Culpo (@oliviaculpo) on

“I completely understand that you can look at something and it can make you feel like you can’t have it. But I also feel that personally, through my page, I try to tell a different story. I try to be as real as I can and not make it only about what I look like all the time,” she explains. “I love creating content. That’s why I love having my Instagram and using it as a way to communicate with people. I genuinely feel that if you are a creator and you enjoy putting content together, then it can be like you’re the editor of your own magazine. But if you’re trying to do this for followers or for some sort of outside approval, then it can be very difficult.”

Having more traditional interests and hobbies, such as art, sports or music, is important in terms of maintaining balance, says Culpo, who learnt to play the cello at a young age. “I’m definitely grateful to my parents and how determined they were to make me practise, because it became an outlet for me to help with stress, and it’s so nice to be able to express yourself through music. I hope it’s something every child has the ability to do.”


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Although she now has a Miss Universe win under her belt, along with a Sports Illustrated shoot and reality-television show, Culpo reveals that she did not develop an appreciation of fashion and beauty until relatively late. “I went to an all-girls school, where I used to just roll out of bed and just wear the same uniform every single day,” she recalls. It wasn’t until later that she started testing out make-up belonging to her mother and sister. “It didn’t really matter if it looked good, it was just fun and a way to release energy,” she says.

Bin Shabib of Absolute Events was also a late starter in learning about make-up and highlights the value of beauty masterclasses as a teaching tool. “As someone who wasn’t heavily influenced by make-up at such a young age, these masterclasses are really important to me because I never had someone teach me how to apply make-up daily,” she explains.

Culpo says: “For a lot of people really interested in beauty, it’s so much more than the product, it’s about being able to express yourself creatively, and finding more ways to do that is always a good thing.”

Updated: February 21, 2018 07:44 PM