She also shares the hilarious way skin care brought her and her girlfriend closer together.
In Elite Daily’s One Nightstand, your favorite celebs and influencers spill allllllll the details about their Holy Grail beauty products — the select few they always have within arm’s reach on their nightstand. In this installment, Olivia Ponton reveals her top three picks, including the $5 skin care product she won’t go anywhere without.
For a model and social media influencer like Olivia Ponton, beauty comes with the gig. The 19-year-old, who served as Sports Illustrated Swim’s social media host and walked with Boohoo in Miami Swim Week, has likely spent more time in hair and makeup chairs on opposite ends of the country than she has in her own bed. “There are never two days that look the same,” she tells me over Zoom recently. Understandably, her beauty routines never do either, at least not when she’s working. But when the makeup comes off and the extensions come out, beauty represents something more than whatever Ponton’s skin care or makeup routine of the moment is.
“Beauty, for me ... could be something as simple as taking care of myself. Every so often, I like doing the 45-minute routine in my bathroom, where I have a gazillion products, go through each of them, and ... massage my face for 20 minutes and it’s like, ‘Olivia, what are you doing?’” she says. “But it makes me feel confident. And it’s good for my mental health to kind of click that reset button.”
Using beauty as an act of self-care hasn’t just introduced moments of calm to Ponton’s busy days; it’s become a common thread for her and her girlfriend, Kaila Novak, a college athlete and social media influencer. “When we first started talking and hanging out all the time, I would go wash my face in the morning, at nighttime, or in middle of the day, and [Novak] was like, ‘Why do you wash your face so much?’ I was like, ‘It’s not a bad thing to do,’” she says, joking that she’d force Novak to wash her face more than once per day. Eventually, Ponton started recommending Novak try certain skin care products, setting her up with her own routine Ponton “literally makes sure” Novak does before bed. “Now, it’s just our little inside joke that we have, where we always do our skin care at night or in the morning.”
Ponton’s skin health has long been a priority for her, especially given the industry she’s in, and maintaining a healthy complexion is no walk in the park. Previously, Ponton spent seven months on Accutane, an intensive acne treatment known to make skin incredibly sensitive. And now, with the amount of products slathered on and wiped off her face every day, her skin takes a beating. After particularly grueling days, Ponton’s skin care routine might look like the hourlong pamper session she described. Other times, she’ll spend just stick to the basics. After using a micellar water to remove any forgotten makeup — “I woke up this morning and I had dark under-eyes from my mascara. I was like, ‘Oh, no, that is not good,’” she says — she cleanses with Clinique’s Liquid Facial Soap for oily skin ($19, Clinique), which has consistently worked for her even when she’s zipping between humid Florida and dry Los Angeles weather.
If her skin is dehydrated, she’ll apply Tatcha’s The Dewy Skin Cream ($68, Tatcha) next. But otherwise, she uses the “straightforward” CeraVe SPF ($19, Ulta Beauty) recommended by her dermatologist. Most of the time, she’ll stop right there. “When I have a good skin day, and my skin is glowing, I don’t even feel the need to wear makeup,” she says. If she does, though, she’s not doing much outside of a little concealer, blush, and brows, which are a relatively new development for her. Growing up in Florida, Ponton’s hair was so blonde, her eyebrow hairs weren’t even noticeable until about two years ago, when they began growing in deep brown.
Following their debut, Ponton and her toddler-age brows have become the newest stars of Benefit’s recent campaign for the brand’s new Gimme Brow+ shades, as well as for the brand’s BrowBar at Ulta Beauty, a frequent stop for Ponton. “I’ve been using [Benefit’s] products literally since I was in eighth grade,” she says. “I would always steal the bronzer from my sister when she’d get it in her Ipsy bag.” Knowing this, the partnership feels even more kismet.
Having tried “every [beauty] product in the book,” Ponton has a select few she holds high above the rest. Ahead, she breaks down the three key products she always has within arm’s reach on her nightstand.
Elite Daily: A refreshing choice! How do you, personally, use it?
Olivia Ponton: I use it for my lips, and I just don’t think it’s meant for your lips. I’m not exactly sure what it's meant for exactly, but I am telling you, when I get burnt in the sun or when I’m out somewhere super cold and dry and my skin starts flaking, I will put Aquaphor all over me. It sounds weird because it’s, like, an ointment. I use it every day on my lips as a natural gloss. I’ve just become [obsessed] with it at this point. I have, like, 10 of them around my house, in all of my purses. I take them everywhere I go.
ED: When did you first start using Aquaphor?
OP: OK, so this started when I was on Accutane because, on Accutane, your skin gets super, super dry, especially your lips. ... My dermatologist was like, “Hey, try this product out,” and I literally have been obsessed with it since. I think I went on Accutane around two years ago, so I’ve been using it for a long time now, and I’ve put all of my friends on it, which is really nice, so if I ever do forget Aquaphor, one of my friends has it.
ED: Yassss, your favorite cleanser. Why does this one make your top picks?
OP: I’m very picky with my face washes. I’ve probably used about a thousand in my lifetime. Normally, [cleansers] dry my skin up super fast. I think my skin is also at this point where it’s very used to the face wash that I use, so ... I just have a special place in my heart [for it] and I literally bring it everywhere that I go — all my trips, all my vacations, everything.
ED: How does your face feel after you use it?
OP: Honestly, it was a weird feeling at first, but now, it’s just, like, a very natural feeling. I would say it definitely feels like everything’s off my face. It gets all my makeup off, which is really good because some face washes won’t do that — one that I used when I was on Accutane was just a hydrating one and didn’t take off any of my makeup. Then, [the Clinique cleanser] is obviously for oily skin, which I have. It removes my excess oil, but it doesn’t strip down my whole face.
ED: And you said your mom uses this one, too. Did you learn about it from her?
OP: Yes, I was around 14 or 15 when I started taking care of my skin, and my mom was like, “OK, you should probably start washing your face because of the hormones and oil you have.” Before Accutane, I had super, super oily skin, and I was always like, “Mom, why is my face always so shiny?” She helped me [get into a] routine. ... She’s my queen, so I was like, “She’s probably right about everything.” I started following her lead on all of those skin care steps. Eventually, she gave me this face wash and was like, “Try this.”
ED: A solid choice. How long have you tried it?
OP: I have been using it for about a year now, and it’s my all-time favorite.
ED: And why this particular brow product?
OP: Benefit’s line of eyebrow products is just wild. I would say, in comparison to other brow products I’ve used — which sometimes leave a residue or peel off and you can see in your brow or on your skin — this Benefit one is almost like a gel, so it goes on and then there’s no residue that gets left behind. There’s nothing that will stick to or peel off on my forehead or anything.
ED: How does this product fit into your current brow routine?
OP: I, personally, almost never do my eyebrows, like plucking and tweezing. I only really let Benefit do that. They have a little salon in L.A. that I'll go to, where they do my unibrow and all that. But besides that, I don’t really like touching them. I kind of put the same few products in, which would be the [Benefit Gimme Brow+] or the Benefit 24-Hour Brow Setter and just kind of let them do their own thing. I also [like to] use this one on the go, like when I’m at the airport, when I’m about to go to castings, and whatnot. I’ll slide the formula right through my eyebrows and then fill them in if they need it.