Desi Perkins Explores Latina Beauty In L.A. | Skin Deep | Refinery29

Desi Perkins Explores Latina Beauty In L.A. | Skin Deep | Refinery29

I’m Desi Perkins. I’m a social media influencer. I make beauty tutorials on YouTube, fashion videos, lifestyle. I grew up in LA and I’m Mexican-American. Today I’m going to be going around LA to dig a little deeper into my Mexican culture and really show that beauty is more than just skin deep. The first stop is El Mercado and this is located in the thriving Latino community of Boyle Heights. Here I’m meeting Jesse Tapia, a local, to show me around. Hi! I’m Desi. I’m Jesse. Nice to meet you. —So excited to show you Al Mercadito today.
—Me too. Before we get started, I have one quick spot to show you. Alright, let’s go. Great. Let’s go. So this mural, basically everyone that comes visit Al Mercadito comes and prays to her. They bring her flowers. They bring her candles. This is always kind of an either first stop or a last stop. It’s beautiful. Let’s go check out the market. I love Mexican candy. It’s the best. Have you tried the coco one? It’s really good. These are called sages. You turn them on. It’s basically to cleanse your house. All the bad spirits will go away. Oh yeah, girl. I have definitely seen that in my day. My mom and my aunt are always cleansing new houses. Nobody wants evil spirits. No. Right. Jesse showed me around the market. I got to relive my memories. We had drinks that reminded me of memories growing up in Mexico. Just like how I remembered it. It’s really good. Mmhmm. It’s really, really good. It’s so weird having these again. It’s been so long. I think the last time I was 15. Wow. Yeah. But what really caught my eye was a store that sold natural Mexican remedies. —Hi I’m Desi. Nice to meet you.
–Hi. Nice to meet you. Hi I’m Jesse. Nice meeting you. I’m really into skin care and so I wanted to see if you had any good remedies for me. For the teeth we have the charcoal, which also has other plants in there. It’s a wonderful remedy to make your teeth very healthy. And you make all of these? Yes. I use them all. I prepare them all. So they are all natural. You have beautiful skin so I can see that. Thank you. And we make a deodorant. A natural deodorant. Which is also made from a stone and is free of any radicals, chemicals. It’s call alumbre. Would you like to try it? I do. I need to. It’s hot outside. Yeah. It does smell really fresh. Exactly. But clean. You know, just in case. I’m going to have to put it to the test today and make sure I don’t stink later. Thank you. You are very welcome. I’m going to take this. Okay. To dive deeper, Jesse sent me to the next stop of the day. Herbs of Mexico is another Boyle Heights institution. It’s an herb and wellness store that originated in the ‘60s and still serves the community today. Buenas dias! I’m Desi. —Jade. Nice to meet you.
—It’s nice to meet you. I met up with herbal specialist, Jade Lopez, to further explore traditional Mexican remedies. Is there a mask that you would like to make? Definitely. I would love to learn. Let’s do it. So here’s what I have for us today. Bentonite clay, it’s also known as Aztec clay. The herb that I recommend that you use for dark spots is gonna be tepezcohuite. This is a tried and true Mexican herb for burns, for scarring, for reducing blotchiness, and discoloration in general. —So this is a magic herb.
—Ooh. I like that. I never use teaspoons or tablespoons. That’s how old Mexicans do it. That’s the abuela way. They don’t even own measuring cups. And then you can add any essential oil, but the oil that’s going to be most important is probably like an emollient oil like almond oil, jojoba, olive oil. But I think I’m going to use the moringa oil because this is also another amazing herb that’s used for everything from skin care, balancing sugar levels. A lot of people just take it as their daily superfood. And you’re just going to do a thin layer like that all over your face. And this is really great for blackheads… —Ooh yes. …skin discoloration. Wait for it to dry and then wash it off with warm water. And it’s a natural exfoliant. Can I take these? Yeah, go ahead. Okay. Bye! Another big trend in the beauty world, especially in Latin America, is permanent makeup or micropigmenting, which is the process of tattooing semi-permanent makeup on your face. Elite Permanent Makeup Center is leading the industry in permanent makeup. So I met up with specialist, Shunashy Jimenez, to learn more. So permanent makeup has definitely been around for a very long time. Now it’s having a bit of a resurgence where people are more so looking to get it done but more on the natural end of the spectrum. Whereas before it was more of the old school style where you could tell it was permanent —makeup.
—Oh yeah. I’ve seen some brows. Really thin, kind of Sharpie-looking brows. So what kind of permanent makeup are people doing exactly now? What are all the options? So right now the most common one is microblading. Microblading for sure. The lips. The lips, definitely. So lipliner or…? The full lip actually. And I feel like, especially in Latin America, we love our liner and we love our brows. So it’s definitely becoming really popular in a lot of cultures, but definitely in the more kind of Hispanic, Latin American culture. I, myself for example, am Mexican. So I actually have my brows, my eyes, and my lips done. And my mom, she has it all done also. —Brows, eyes, lips too.
—Oh yeah. My aunts too. Yeah. We can actually go watch the owner do one right now. Oh yes! We have to. Let’s do it. Let’s go see that. Okay so we’re going to go ahead and we’re going to introduce you to the owner, Mahnaz. —Hi.
–Hi. I’m Desi. NIce to meet you. Alright so how does this work? What do you use to do it? We use this digital cartridge machine. This is the color she chose. Ooh nice. This is all disposable. It’s really safe. This is the machine and this is the needle. Are you nervous? I hope it doesn’t hurt. No it’s not going to hurt. I feel nervous just watching this. It’s about to start. Ready? I’m going to start from the bottom of the lips because she doesn’t want any line or any lipliner. She wants just natural-looking like everything blended. Is it painful? (disagrees) It’s not painful. It actually ended up looking really relaxing. So how long does this last, the tattoo? It lasts for a couple of years. It depends on the skin. On some skin, it fades faster. And on some skin, it stays longer but it depends on how she takes care of it. Oh my god! It looks so good! Wow. And it does look natural. You have really flushed lips. So did it hurt? No. I just felt a vibration. I could feel the machine. But no, it was super numb. Oh it looks really good. So pretty. Wow. That’s incredible. Really cool. For the last stop of the day, I’m visiting celebrity makeup artist, Andre Sarmiento, to talk to me more about the impact of Latinas and beauty. —Hi Desi! How are you, honey?
—Hi! I’m excited to play with makeup today. I know. Thank you for coming today. Andre’s work has been featured in the pages of “Elle,” “Cosmopolitan,” “Glamour,” and “Vogue.” I’m seeing a lot of Latina-owned brands here. Yes, exactly. That is our focus today. Since you brought your lovely makeup, I figured it would be great to explore other brands that have been created by other Latina entrepreneurs such as yourself. So let’s play with some eyes. Let’s play a bit with your palette. This is exciting. Wow that is gorgeous. Yeah I actually created this with my best friend, Katy. Another Latina. Yeah she’s also a Latina. I heard that you were a big Selena fan. And I happen to have some of the collection —here with me today for us to play with.
—Yay! Selena from Mac. Also it’s really amazing that her legacy continues on in beauty and since beauty is such a big thing today, it’s just so cool that her name gets to be part of something that’s so huge. Yeah and I feel like she was such a strong influence for a lot of women growing up, a lot of Mexican-American women especially. I’m Mexican-American and she was the ideal beauty for me. She gave me more confidence to be proud to be Mexican-American. I feel like that’s such a good thing because she really broke through. She did. And it makes me sad and I don’t even want to. I know I can’t even use it. I have it and I don’t even want to use it but… I’m going to tap the edge over here because I don’t want to brush over Selena at all. I know it hurts kind of, right? Being Latina, especially my skin tone, I feel like it’s really hard to find foundation shades that have that really olive undertone. Our whole collection, we wanted to make sure anywhere from really fair to really deep skin tones can wear it. Yeah that’s so smart. It’s hard to kind of get that nuance, that subtlety. They may not always have the thing we need. But we have to try this amazing highlighter of yours called Fuego. Fuego! You know I had to hit ‘em with some Spanish pigment. Yes. You had to. This is amazing. Gorgeous! Wow. This one is called More Creamer Please. Wow that is gorgeous. And then I’m actually going to take a little bit of this Nuance Firming Day and Night Cream, which is by Selma Hayek. And I’m actually just going to use it just to amp up this highlight a little bit in a natural kind of way. It’s nice to kind of touch up this area with a little bit of moisture. Alright, so we’re finished playing with these products. Let’s take a look. See how you feel. Oh I love the lip. I love how you added that little sheer. Just a little tint. Mmhmm. It was a blast and I hope we can do it again. Thank you for doing my makeup. You look amazing. Thank you, thank you. Well all thanks to you. After a long day on the streets of LA, it was really nice to just see what a strong bond our community has. From the market to the permanent makeup center to meeting with Andre, I feel we all just have this really strong connection and bond. I’m really happy I got to meet all of these people along the way. And that they share with me a pride in their Latin identity. Thank you guys so much for watching. To subscribe to Refinery29, click here. And to watch more videos, click here.

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About the Author: John Markowski


  1. Wow I love youtube but I seriously have not found a genuine Mexican American that's not like super whitewashed. I grew up in east la and all these Mexican American influencers including dulce candy and Desi which are huge names are using their Mexican heritage for marketing. At least it's what it feels like. No SE si nomas soy yo not hating pero herbs of Mexico is east la not Boyle heights starting Indiana st its east la just FYI. Plus this was kinda lame for culture shock no justice to the culture so much more to El mercadito than the Mexican candy ????? and in la really? Latinos run this joint and this is ur exploration ???

  2. I am Mexican, grew up in Mexico, and cannot relate to Mexican Americans at all. Mexican women specially in Mexico City wear very natural makeup (meaning primer and concealer) and are more European than American. Highly educated and modern. These flashy, full makeup on women I just cannot relate. However, I am happy to see they are proud of their roots and still have respect to their traditions. Un abrazo!

  3. This video was great but the title is a little misleading because they manly talk about Mexican beauty and it don’t necessarily accounts for all Latino beauty. There’s nothing about showing Mexican beauty, it’s actually amazing, but just a change in the title would be better.

  4. This is the first time I’ve ever seen her embrace her Mexican roots. Funny how it’s in the same video heavily promoting her products. Coming after that Latino coin. I can’t with these youtubers anymore.

  5. I’m from Puerto Rico and im sad there’s nothing from my island in California since I’ve moved here I haven’t found a Puerto Rican restaurant or anything at all. I’ve searched all over

  6. I know the Mercado that they went too I used to go there as a kid when my family would go to Los Angeles

  7. My heart ?? I'm so proud of you Desi!! This definitely motivates me to work harder! So proud of being Hispanic!

  8. i thought this was a makeup video i click it and it just has to be about mexican culture? What does that have to do with makeup

  9. her first and last name sound so not mexican lol is her dad white or something i never knew she was mexican till i watched this video. the entire time i thought she was just another white girl living in la…….

  10. She seems clueless about Latinidad tbh. Should have gone with someone more cultured and connected to their roots. She comes off as white washed.

  11. Does the store in mercadito where you got the natural deodorant have a website to order online? I need natural things to use in my body because chemicals are very harsh and burns my skin.

  12. Love…….
    This video latino power im so proud of being Mexican and how much we give back to the community my favorite stop ws every stop lol you should make more videos like this good job keep it up!!

  13. I love her! That's why I drew her, take a look!

  14. Majority of us mexicans are darker and they chose to only show lighter skin tones…smh. They do it in our tv shows and movies. This needs to change!!

  15. lovely Latina ladies
    I think about my Grandma when she would make tortillas. Or blue corn meal mush Jaquia
    My Grandma Merly Marques
    Now that was a lovlely latina lady.?
    I miss you Grandma

  16. Mexicans are not Latinos or Hispanics. Latinos are those of Italian or Portuguese descent. Hispanics are of solely Spanish ancestry and to identity as such you are denying your indigenous blood. Mexicans are North Americans, not part Central or South America. We are NOT immigrants to the United States but descendants of the native people who inhabited this land thousands of years before Europeans invaded it and then Americans stole it. Mexicans must NEVER forget our ancestors, culture, or traditions.

  17. You guys should do one exploring Puerto Rican/black beauty/hair/fashion in New York, that would be so cool to watch!

  18. This is just on Mexican beauty. When I see a title that says Latino beauty, I think of not just Mexico but Central and South America as well. :/

  19. I am 100% Mexican, was born in Michocan Mexico, I do not relate with anything shown in this video. Did not watch past 1 minute of this, I was done with the scene of worshiping idols and death, it's sad to see all Mexicans portrayed as Catholic and worshipers of death , therefore I dont relate, there's more to Mexicans than this. To me this is more Chicano Mexican Americans. My hometown is in Orange County, have Family in the San Fernando valley, Granada hills and Calabasas, been living here since the 90's and we have never visited el "Mercadito".

  20. No one Remember michelle phan the person who also had a collaboration with Desi and as more subcribers


  22. How come they didn’t look into Besame Cosmetics or melt Cosmetics? Both brands fully owned by Latino women

  23. Growing up in east la going to the Mercado was a must & seeing an influencer show my childhood is nice

  24. More like Mexicans… there are so many varieties of us wonder why gringos think all Latinos are Mexicans

  25. Creo que este video debería haber profundizado más en las raíces de los mexicanos,como nuestra comida,cómo celebramos nuestras vacaciones y no creo que el tatuaje de maquillaje fuera un requisito en este video. Parecía tan poco relacionado que solo deseaba que cavaran un poco más

  26. I love this so much I live in boyle heights! In a proud latina myself and hell yes the ladies at herbas Mexico is amazing and cant go wrong with el mercadito

  27. So Latino in the context of this video is Mexican… wrong title should've talked on the Mexican American experience Latino is MUCH MORE then Mexicans.

  28. My first thought when I saw the vid I didn’t think they would mention Mexican culture much but was gladly surprised. Although I’m glad to see stuff Mexican related the title is very misleading.

  29. LOVE IT! The ONLY thing I'd disagree on is the permanent make-up–the lady (owner) is Persian and NOT Latina! I thought this was showcasing only latinos…

  30. To those who say that California is turning into Mexifornia, learn your history because most of the United States was STOLEN from Mexico. Whites illegally trespassed onto Mexican land and then incited a war when they were told to leave. Mexicans are NOT immigrants but indigenous to the United States and Mexico. We were here before there was a New Spain, a U.S, or even a México because were are mestizos which means that we are partly or fully Native American and this is our original homeland. Whites, blacks, Asians, Jews, Middle Easterners, and every other race currently living in the United States ARE the immigrants not us. We are NOT Latinos or Hispanics. Latinos are of Italian or Portuguese ancestry. Hispanics are people of full Spanish ancestry. Although most Mexicans are partly Spanish, to identify as Hispanic is to deny our indigenous blood. We should be supporting our Native brothers and sisters and distancing ourselves from the European colonial mindset. The way Mexican, South, and Central Americans are currently being treated goes to show that whites will never see us as equals or treat us with dignity or respect. So why not embrace OUR roots. Native Americans have been pushed aside in this country and in the rest of the Americas. We should be supporting and fighting alongside them not white colonizers!

  31. No offense to nobody pero like, I was expecting all hispanic culture involved in this not just mexican culture…

  32. That lipstick color she created is ugly. I heard her entire makeup line was awful. she looked sloppy in the shirt she was wearing. yup, that's it.

  33. I’m not Mexican but I’m Salvadorian and I saw the asma remedie at 2:16 and that have me flash backs because I have asma but it hasn’t been active since I was 3 because my mom always made homemade Mexican and Salvadorian remedies for asma and I have never had a asma attack since I was little the doctors always tell me my asma is asleep and I know it’s cuz of my mom lol

  34. I go there every time I go to L.A cuz my aunt lives a street away from the mercadito ❤️❤️❤️

  35. Only people in USA called themselves Latinas. As someone from actual Latin America, so not from US, it’s so weird !! As if Latin America is only one thing. One culture, one country. I understand but it’s still very weird to me! Cuz in the States you use a geographical term, as if it is an ethnic/race/cultural term. It’s not.

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