Russian-born, L.A.-based influencer, Sonya Esman, has been a big Sunday Riley fan for years.
“I probably discovered Sunday Riley somewhere online around 2017,” she shares. “It was when I used to live within walking distance from a Sephora and spend my evenings researching new products to try and help with my skin issues — mostly lots of closed comedones, breakouts, and large pores at the time.”
The research paid off when Esman began incorporating one of Sunday Riley’s hero products into her skincare routine. (But more on that later.) We spoke with the model-influencer more about her beauty and fashion favorites, as well as the hobby she wants to try out next, after mastering ice skating, of course!
As a self-proclaimed big Sunday Riley fan, do you have a favorite product?
Well, first of all, I have loved and seen improvements from every Sunday Riley product I’ve tried. But obviously, my favorite product is Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment because it brought to my awareness how much my skin benefits from lactic acid (of all the lactic acid products I’ve tried, Good Genes is still the best). No other skincare product has ever made such a consistent and noticeable improvement in my skin, and I genuinely mean that. I use it every night after double cleansing my skin, using a gentle toner and a serum, and before moisturizing — and maybe a night oil if my skin is dry.
Walk us through your daytime and nighttime skincare routines.
Now that it’s winter, or at least my skin seems to think so, my daytime and nighttime skincare routines look a little different than they did in the summer.
- I wash my face in the shower or sink using a creamy foaming cleaner.
- I use Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Toner to add moisture back to my skin, and I just apply it using my hands. Sometimes, if I know I have a video or photo shoot that day, I’ll skip everything below and apply a moisturizing or brightening sheet mask while I work on my laptop. My favorite ones lately have been Hydra-Lift Gold Face Mask by MZ Skin and Rodial Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Jelly Face Mask.
- If I don’t use a sheet mask, I put Hyaluronic Acid Serum into my skin, such as the one from Isntree.
- Depending on how dry my skin is, I’ll usually rotate between Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream and Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Gel Cream. I just finished my bottle of the original Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Brightening Rich Hydration Cream, which I loved to death in the summer months!
- If I have any makeup on, I immediately reach for my Sunday Riley Blue Moon Clean Rinse Cleansing Balm. Just a small amount massaged into my skin will remove all my makeup within seconds, and is so relaxing to use as well.
- I like double cleansing just to make sure my skin is as clean as possible, so I’ll use a gentle cleanser, or any other neutral foaming face wash, and then dry my face with a soft towel.
- I apply Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant every other day, but any toner with a small amount of BHA will work. If I’m using retinol that day, I’ll skip the BHA and use my Hyaluronic Acid liquid from my morning routine.
- I wait a few minutes to make sure the toner has dried, and then start applying whichever serum I’m trying out at the moment. Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum is my favorite to use in the summer; I now use a retinol serum.
- If it’s a day that I use retinol (I try to use it only 2-3x a week), I apply my retinol and let it dry for 15 minutes or so.
- Then I apply a healthy dose of moisturizers, such as the ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream.
We know you’ve been ice skating — what’s another hobby or interest that’s on your “to-tackle” list?
I have so many! A huge dream of mine for so many years has been to learn the language of music, to be able to combine electronic sounds in beautiful ways, kind of like a DJ, except I want to create original songs and alter existing ones too. I finished a DJ course a few years ago and left that class feeling like I still understand nothing. Music is super complex and I imagine it would take years just to feel like it’s easy to get into the creative rhythm of using the software it requires, so for now that dream is on hold. I would also just love to start taking acting classes again, as soon as possible. When I took acting classes in the past, I felt like they made me much more charismatic and confident, and less afraid of looking stupid in public; no matter what career you end up in, those acting skills are helpful.
Speaking of ice skating — how do you protect your skin during long classes?
Easy question! I protect my skin from the freezing temperatures at the rink with Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream, which is kind of funny since it’s called “ICE.” It leaves my skin soft and glass-like for hours, even after I get home from a long class.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about style and beauty influencers?
I think a huge misconception about style and beauty influencers is that they are unintentional in their content and consistency and that in a seemingly fun industry like fashion and beauty, everything comes naturally for these creators. From the outside, I know a viewer might ask themselves “how does she just keep posting new incredible and unique reels every day?” or “she has it easy, and gets all of these opportunities handed to her,” but planning content, growing your platforms, and thinking of new ideas is 24/7, and such a key part of the job. I think it takes a lot more discipline and laser focus than people talk about. Especially balancing all of the different social media platforms and standing out among the millions of influencers, it kind of feels like an art form to find your niche, build a community, and stay focused on it every single day. It’s also doing at least five jobs at the same time — you’re a makeup artist, hair stylist, stylist, producer, director, editor, trend researcher, idea developer, publicist, strategist, and so much more.
Is there a style trend you can’t get behind? One you love?
That’s kind of hard to answer, because even trends like maxi denim skirts and parachute pants which were very popular when I was a child, and I was happy to see leave, have inspired such cute styling. I think there’s a fun, modern way to wear anything. Something that still creeps me out are Margiela shoes with the toe separated if you know what I’m talking about. I don’t hate them — I love that some people wear them so confidently, but I could never. I can probably get behind anything when done right. A style trend I’m really obsessed with right now is socks, tights, and leg warmers. Scrunchy socks, patterned tights, and lace socks over loafers (or peaking over sneakers) are everything.
What would you recommend to those who aren’t sure how to nail their personal style?
I would recommend sifting through Pinterest or Tumblr, saving pictures of outfits you absolutely love, and either making a photo collage online or printing the pictures out and creating a vision board in your home. It’s much easier to reference a bunch of photos of outfits you love when putting together an outfit or going shopping, and consistently training your eye to recognize what styles you love would definitely help you define your own style. Something I used to do back in the day is create outfits using product images online, and I think that really made it easier for me to think like a stylist.
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