Suni Lee's Olympics Self-Care Includes Fake Lashes & No “Crusty Nails”
The gold medalist also dishes on the “super important” advice she got from Simone Biles.
Not many people can say they’re an Olympic athlete, and even fewer are gold medalists, but Sunisa “Suni” Lee can claim both titles. The 2020 all-around gymnastics champion took home gold, silver, and bronze medals at her first-ever Olympic Games, and she’s already got her sights set on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. “I'm definitely a lot more nervous for this one,” Lee tells Elite Daily at a LEGO Play Stadium Experience in California earlier this month.
Lee was chosen to be a part of LEGO’s Team Unstoppable, which includes a roster of influential and inspiring content creators, activists, and other athletes, like Olympic gold medal soccer player Megan Rapinoe, that young people can look up to. After fulfilling her dream of competing at the Olympics two years ago (since the 2020 games were postponed to 2021), the now-20-year-old gymnast can definitely add role model to her resume, but she admits “there’s a lot more pressure” for her to perform to the same standard at her second Olympic Games. Not only does she have a title to defend, but “a non-gymnastics health-related issue” in April forced Lee to end her college gymnastics career at Auburn University early.
The slight derailment won’t affect her Olympic dreams, though. Lee was already planning for her sophomore year to be her last with Auburn, so shifting her focus to Paris full-time wasn’t a major pivot. She even has a training schedule she keeps up with wherever she goes. In fact, she tells Elite Daily she penciled in gym visits while in LA for the LEGO event. “My coaches are friends with everybody, so when I travel, I'll reach out and we’ll go and train at someone’s gym for a couple days,” she says. Below, the gold medalist shares her Olympic beauty must-haves, the self-care routine she swears by during competition season, and the advice Simone Biles gave to her at the 2020 Games.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Elite Daily: As part of LEGO's Team Unstoppable, you're inspiring young girls to go after their dreams. What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten in your gymnastics career?
Suni Lee: My dad would always be like, "Just go out there, do your normal thing, and be your average, because your average is good enough. You don't ever have to try too hard." I took that to the heart because whenever I go out and compete, I'm always super nervous. I want to go out there and do my best, but I try not to be too hard on myself about it.
ED: You said working alongside Simone Biles really pushed you to be the best version of yourself. Did you get any advice from her while you were on a team together?
SL: She was our biggest hype man and constantly cheering us on. She would always come up to me and tell me how good I was doing, or to just calm down, because I was always trying super hard. She was like, "Just go out there and have fun. It's gymnastics.” That's super important to remember, because it's not your whole life. It's a sport.
ED: When the 2020 Olympics were delayed, you said that you learned an important lesson that even if you missed practice, you could come back and still have all the same skills. Knowing this now, do you purposefully schedule in time off and rest when you're training?
SL: Not necessarily. It's definitely different now because I have work trips and places that I have to be at. It’s all about knowing that I can go into the gym and still be able to do all of my stuff and keep myself accountable, but it's not like I take time off. I think about how my competition is working harder than I am, so I like to be in the gym as much as possible and just do everything that I can.
ED: What’s your go-to self-care routine when you're in competition mode?
SL: I like to do a lot of face masks, take care of my body, and make sure that I feel good, because I've always told myself that if I don't look good and feel good, I'm not going to be able to go out there and do my best. I also like to take baths, hang out with my friends, and I journal. I visualize a lot, just making sure that I'm getting myself into the best possible mindset before a competition.
ED: Was there a beauty, skin care, or wellness product you swore by for the Olympics?
SL: I always had my eyelashes done and my nails. I can't go anywhere without my eyelashes.
ED: Do you feel like your nails and your eyelashes boost your confidence?
SL: Definitely. When I go out to compete, I try everything I can to make myself feel good. Also, I just don't want to compete with crusty nails.
ED: Do you practice with your nails on?
SL: I usually do. Right now, I've been taking a break from it just because I'm still not consistent enough in the gym to where I'm like, "OK, I'm not going to break a nail." But before I was always, always practicing with nails on.
ED: You've recently had to stop competing with Auburn University due to some personal health issues. Have these issues impacted your Olympic training at all?
SL: Yes, definitely. I had to finish my season pretty early due to my health issues because I wasn't able to compete or even get into the gym.
ED: Are you taking a step back from your studies while you're training?
SL: Yes, I'm done with college for now, just so I can be at home training. In college, you can only practice 20 hours a week, and for an elite level, I practice eight hours a day. I had to choose one, but college is always going to be there, and I know that I want to go back after. So after this Olympics, I'll probably go back and finish.
ED: Recently, Olympic athletes have gone viral on TikTok, sharing their experience. When you go to the Paris Games, will you be vlogging?
SL: Yes, I have to. It's so fun, and it's such a cool experience to document that. You want everybody to see. Also, I have to do it for the memories. I love watching people when they are on trips and vlogging, so that's something I want to do.
ED: Are there any wellness or beauty trends that you love on TikTok?
SL: Heatless curls and glass skin. I also go on hot girl walks, and love the clean girl aesthetic. Anything I see on TikTok, I buy. I love watching people do hauls or GRWMs where they show their favorite skin care.
ED: What's a product that you've bought from TikTok?
SL: Paula's Choice Exfoliant, the snail mucus for the glass skin, the Dior lip oil, and Dior blush. All of my makeup I buy off of TikTok. I also buy all of these activewear sets to make myself feel better when I'm working out.
ED: Do you have to set phone limits at all when you're training?
SL: No, not really. I'm not on my phone when I'm at practice. I'm usually practicing for four hours straight. Then, I have a little bit of a break, but I usually take that time to nap. When it comes to competition and social media, I usually try and delete my socials before, just so I don't get distracted.
ED: When you're competing, do you switch up your skin care routine at all?
SL: No, not really. I usually use the Paula's Choice Exfoliant, and then, I'll go on with hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary. Then, I'll use the INKEY List retinol serum, and La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer. That one is so good. And I always top it off with Aquaphor. I love Aquaphor.
ED: What is your morning routine the day of a competition?
SL: I'll get up around 6 to start getting ready, and then, we'll have a practice. After, I'll usually have lunch and then take a nap. When I wake up, I’ll go get a coffee, and I always have to get ready for my meets two hours before because I take so long. I like to take my time listening to all my meet songs, and then, I’ll do my hair and makeup. I need 30 minutes to take pictures in my leo, and then, I'll get ready to go.
ED: And your nighttime routine before a competition day?
SL: It's normally pretty calm. I'll have dinner with my coaches, and then we'll come back and I'll get in the shower. I'll do my skin care, and settle in by watching a movie, a couple shows — I’m watching Jane The Virgin right now — or I’ll read a book to calm my mind. Before I go to bed, I like to write down my goals and how I'm feeling in the moment, because I stress myself out a lot. I’ll also lay there and visualize all of my routines a couple of times. I normally visualize some bad routines just to get it out of the way.