I started following Jillian Mercado years ago on Tumblr. Currently featured in Diesel's "We Are Connected" spring/summer 2014 campaign, she has a fire in her eyes you can tell won’t be stifled. Our mutual admiration for outlandish hair, bright lipstick and bold outfits created a common ground and served as a great foundation for our friendship. I have watched her grow enormously as a role model for girls and women everywhere, including myself, and have consistently looked to her for that “I can do whatever I want to” kick-ass inspiration.
Jillian is definitely one of the most fearless people I know when it comes to her makeup and hairstyles. She’s done the pastels, the ombres and the bold reds. She rocks extensions and crazy hairstyles like nobody’s business. Her makeup is always on point, and she’s never afraid to go big and wild with her colour combinations.
I interviewed the girl behind those perfect brows and crazy lipsticks to find out what she always has to have in her bag, what scared her the most about initially getting into makeup, fragrance, and some advice she wishes she could have given herself earlier on.
Thanks to her work as a bona fide model for Diesel and her work with WeTheUrban, Jillian has been to Venice, LA, New Orleans and back in the past month alone. So I asked her about it.
You wear some seriously bold lip colours. How did your standard makeup routine compare to what you saw while you traveled?
I felt like I was always the one--I’m, you know, I’m like red lipstick, pink lipstick, purple lipstick--it’s like... no lipstick [laughs]. It depends on where you go. If you go to West Hollywood, that’s where the “city” city is. [In the south], the people I saw would have, like, mascara and their eyebrows done. That’s it.
There are two standout colours for me when it comes to Jill’s beauty looks: the deepest purple and the brightest pink lipsticks I’ve ever seen. I sent her over some sample photos from her Instagram and she let me know what she wore.
You’ve modeled for a while now, and you’ve been exposed to some serious product. What are your favourite finds thanks to makeup artists at shoots?
Givenchy. That sh** is EXPENSIVE. I was like "Oh my god, this is AMAZING on my face! I look like a doll!" And I go to Sephora and I’m like [laughs]... no.
I’m a crazy person, so I always have a crazy amount of product in my bag. What do you carry around with you?
In my bag, I always have whatever lip I wore... and that’s it! Unless I know I’m going to stay over at someone’s house or I know I’m going to be gone forever and won’t be able to get back home.
I have a little pouch that has a brush, a blush brush, two blushes--an orange one and a pink one--a little sample of foundation from Sephora. You know why? Because the last time I [carried my whole foundation] it BLEW UP in my bag. It was a nightmare. I think I cried. AND my eyebrow powder. My eyebrow thing is the most important. And Clinique mascara.
I’m lurking your Instagram. You’ve always had crazy hair colours and you've gone blonde again. So of all the colours you’ve had, other than blonde, what’s your favourite that you’d go back to again?
I used to have jet-black hair, like Wednesday Adams, and I’ve always wanted to go back to black but it’s like [sighs] that process of coming back to blonde from black. It’s just... no. I think eventually one day I’m going to go back to it.
But a crazy colour? Candy pink. Not because I have TWO tubs of cotton candy pinks just sitting in my room, unopened. I was going to do pink before I did blonde, and I was like, I can’t pick, I’m just gonna go blonde.
One thing beyond the outrageous makeup and hair colour that stands out when it comes to Jill is her seriously gorgeous complexion. She probably has the clearest skin of anyone I’ve ever seen. I needed to know: HOW.
Your skin is basically flawless. What do you do?
I’m a big believer in water. I hydrate as much as I can. I drink a lot of water, and it’s stupid to say it because it’s water, so it’s [obviously] important for your skin.
Other than that, before I put my makeup on, I use Ponds. I do that before I put foundation on. At night, because our winter was brutal--my skin was, like, coming OFF--[I use] Weleda Skin Food. It’s intense, so use a teeny bit at night. It wasn’t that expensive, and it lasts. I use it every night because it has every oil--the ingredients are just a list of oils. It’s really helped my skin A LOT.
Are you a huge fragrance person or...?
You know, I am but fragrances are SO expensive, so I’m trying to switch to oils. My friend said it lasts longer and it sticks on you forever.
What kind of scents do you usually go for?
It depends, For a guy, I love that musky James Bond smell, but for me it has to have a teeeeeny little hint of that plus, flowers.
I had this perfume for a really long time, Pink Sugar, and it smelled like sugar cookies. Everybody around would be like “Something smells like cookies,” and I’d be like, THAT’S MEEEEE. It’s such a good warm smell.
I have Miss Dior--that’s my "sophisticated" [scent]. Then I have Prada, which is my strong "badass" smell. So I have different smells for wherever I’m going... or for whoever I want to meet [laughs].
As someone who wears deep purple lipstick like it’s no big deal out on the town on any given day, I was curious as to how she got to that point. I’m pretty fearless when it comes to my personal look--I’ve had some audible gasps and reactions to my hair colours (my fluorescent pink in particular)--but I still can’t bring myself to rock some of the looks Jill does as much as I want to. I wanted to know if she had to work up to the totally fearless Jillian Mercado we all know now.
Growing up, were you ever afraid to wear makeup?
Yes and no. I remember putting on my makeup on my school bus because I didn’t want my mom to know I was putting makeup on. And I would have the whole shebang of makeup on my lap as the bus was bumping around. I was always afraid of my mom--I used to use her makeup and destroy it. I remember her having this Revlon Victorian-style packaged [lipstick], and it was brown--her colour was brown--and I put it on SO hard that it broke. And just me trying to smush it back in--oh my god. TERRIBLE. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
Any final makeup advice? Maybe something you wish someone told you?
I feel like if I waited a little bit my skin would have been better. If I had any advice, I’d say wear as little makeup as you can [as long as you can] because you have baby face. Once you hit puberty and you have acne, then maybe drift into it; but if I could give myself my own advice I would say to wear minimal makeup as long as you can. I think I was very insecure when I was little with my face. I didn’t know any better.
My lengthy conversation with Jill only strengthened my belief that she is a perfect example of using makeup to project who you are instead of hiding who you are. Sure, she’s had some makeup snafus growing up (she refers to her days naively caking on bronzer as a “hot mess”) but she learned from it.
She’s turned these lessons into a tool to further project an all-real, in-your-face image of herself. It’s no wonder she’s reaping all the benefits of being totally and unapologetically her awesome self, all day, every day.