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.