Actress Jaina Lee Ortiz knows a thing or two about beauty — you could even say it runs in her family. Fun fact: Prior to landing her upcoming leading role in the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Ortiz worked as a makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics, following in the footsteps of her own mother, who worked for Revlon. The fresh-faced beauty took time out from her busy filming schedule to chat with us about all things pretty. Read on to get the 4-1-1 on her own skincare and makeup routine, the pressures she faced early on to conform to Hollywood standards and her number one girl crush (hint: It’s a fellow Bronx-born babe).
“I think the most valuable thing I learned working at MAC was that a lot of women came expecting that they needed a ton of makeup to achieve a certain look,” she says, “and a little actually goes a long way. The less product I used on them, the bigger impact it had.”
That’s not to say the Rosewood actress doesn’t like getting a little elaborate from time to time. Just like her former television alter-ego, Detective Annalise Villa, she says she loves the glamour of dressing up and getting girlie. “The thing about her that I love and that I can compare with myself,” she says, “is when she dresses up and has to go out dancing for a night out (oh BTW: Ortiz is also a professional dancer!), or goes to an event and has to look all glam from head to toe — that’s how I am,” she says. “I definitely relate to her in the sense that she doesn’t do it half-ass.”
She isn’t kidding. Ever the perfectionist, the 30-year-old says she even took the reins on her character’s makeup from time to time. “I did my own smokey eye for the pilot,” she shares. “And I [did] apply my own fake eyelashes.”
She also took her makeup space into her own hands. “I actually made a vanity!” she tells us. “I went on YouTube… and I did it myself. It’s gorgeous,” she proudly says. “I have the dimming light so I [can] make it really bright.”
All the better to emulate the looks of her beauty icons, such as Jennifer Lopez. “I love her fashion and makeup trends,” Jaina says. “[They’re] always flawless and classically beautiful. She’s almost 50 and she looks my age (29), which is pretty incredible.”
Citing Rosario Dawson as another beauty idol, it’s clear that the Cali-born beauty admires other Latina women. Yet, she wasn’t always so accepting of her culture when it came to her own outward appearance.
“When I got my first headshots, my hair was dyed blonde,” she says. “I considered buying blue contacts. I thought I had to fit into this box, and that maybe I should be more Caucasian,” she admits. Ortiz even went as far as considering a surname change. “I did have that episode,” she says. “Thank God I didn’t do that!”
Nowadays, she’s is a hell of a lot more comfortable in her own skin, and she’s totally owning her heritage. “Growing up, I never saw many Latinas on TV,” she says. “So to actually be shown in a female lead as a Latina playing a Latina is so inspiring.”
With her naturally dark locks and smoldering brown eyes, her look now accents her biologically given features rather than covering them up, both on and offscreen. “With Detective Villa, when she [was] in work mode, it [was] very simple, very minimal makeup,” Ortiz says.
It’s a look that isn’t too far off from her own personal daytime preference. On a warm spring day, she says she’ll leave the house with little more than a tinted moisturizer, lip gloss and mascara. As for foundation, she also prefers a less-is-more approach, favoring brand Koh Jen Do ($62).
“I like more of a glow-y, dew-y, satin-y skin finish,” she says. While she has to compromise for the cameras on occasion (“On camera they tend to matte me down a little more because the shine can be too harsh for the cameras,” she says), the Miami heat actually helps her cause to keep things authentic.
“Since the show [took] place in Miami, I can still get away with some dewy-ness,” she says. “It wouldn’t make sense for me to be too matted down.”
On her days off, the makeup maven’s routine consists of plenty of maintenance. “In the morning I use a gentle face wash and I always use rose witch hazel as a toner,” she says. Following it up with a moisturizer and an eye cream, she says she always finishes her skincare routine off with a healthy dose of sunscreen. “I never leave the house without it,” she says. In fact, she cites sunscreen as one of her biggest beauty secrets. “My number one beauty secret is sleep,” she says. “You need your rest! Sleep and sunscreen – s + s.”
Ortiz is also a huge fan of the oils. At the end of the day, she uses jojoba oil to remove her makeup, and she puts coconut oil on before she goes to sleep. And for an extra bit of luxury? “At night, if you put a drop or two of lavender for a spa-like treatment. Since I have no time to go to a real one!” she jokes. But at the end of the day, the actress says it doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as it makes you feel beautiful. “Makeup is just an additional cherry on top.”
What are some of your top beauty secrets? Fill us in @BritandCo!
(Photos via Frederick M. Brown/Jemal Countess/Getty and @jainaleeortiz)