Erica Chidi is a Los Angeles-based doula, chef and founder of The Mama Circle, a modern resource for new and expectant parents that helps women navigate their journey into motherhood. We're big admirers of her Instagram, so we were thrilled when she agreed to share her beauty uniform. Here are her secrets, from buttery coffee to a genius shower trick...
How did you first become interested in your line of work?
I've always wanted to work with women and the body, so when I found out about doula work it seemed like the perfect thing. Growing up with a father as a doctor and a mother as a nurse, I was always exposed to the art of caring for others. I trained with a midwife in San Francisco and then started working with women around four years ago. At The Mama Circle, we nurture women into motherhood and help new parents feel confident. I love it.
What is your daily beauty routine?
My skin is quite sensitive and needs a lot of moisture so, for my body, I use Mustela Stelatopia Cream Cleanser in the shower. In the evening, I follow up with Mustela Moisturizing Cream.
For my face, I've used Bobbi Brown’s line for years and swear by it—it's lightweight, basically fragrance-free and super moisturizing. I start by washing my face with Extra Balm Rinse, followed by a quick spray of Hydrating Face Tonic and finish off with a pump of Extra Repair Serum and a dab of Hydrating Face Cream. When I exfoliate, I use a Clarisonic.
Is there one product that has been a complete game-changer?
Yes, a beeswax salve called Earth Tu Face’s Skin Stick! This tube of goodness ended my addiction to petroleum-based lip balms. You can use it everywhere on your body, and it’s great for dry patches. It’s completely natural, incredibly moisturizing and has a subtle, herbaceous scent that I just love.
Do you have a signature scent?
For years, my signature scent has been Tom Ford Oud Wood. Every time I smell it, I’m transported right back to the first night I met my fiancé Jordy. I was covered in Oud Wood—basically drenched. It was still new, I loved it so much and used it with abandon. He remembers it, too. Our first date was at Flour + Water in San Francisco; it was one of those whirlwind, cinematic nights. I like to think our first date was the beginning of our lives together, because we never stopped dating after that and we’re getting married in a few months. I prefer masculine scents. If I’m not wearing Oud Wood, I’ll have on Hope Gillerman’s Jaw Clenching Remedy. It’s an essential oil blend of lavender, palmarosa, vetiver, German chamomile and patchouli. It’s totally addictive and helps me stay relaxed and balanced all day. I get so many inquiries about what I’m wearing when I have it on.
What makeup do you wear?
I use Bobbi Brown BB Cream in Deep. It provides great coverage and has SPF 30. If I’m going out for dinner or an event, I’ll throw on some eyeliner—I really like Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Liner—and a dark lip. NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Volga is my jam. I pretty much always try to fill in my brows with Laura Mercier Brow Definer.
What do you do to style and care for your hair?
I started locking (aka dreadlocking, but I think the term "locking" has less cultural baggage) my hair about a year and a half ago. Initially I didn’t know how to care for my hair; it was frustrating and a serious learning curve. Currently, I use Davines Purifying Shampoo and Well Being Conditioner as my weekly go-to’s, and then Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two when I want to eradicate product build up. Scalp health and moisture balance are really important in lock maintenance. To seal in moisture, I use a combination of black castor oil and emu oil on my scalp and hair, since both are great for dryness and sensitivity. In the hot summer months, I make a spray of filtered water and aloe vera liquid. I usually carry it in my bag with me and use it as an on-the-go moisturizer for my hair and face.
When's one time that you felt really beautiful?
When my fiancé proposed to me. He proposed while we were in Palm Springs and completely caught me by surprise. I had no makeup on and I was wearing a black smock dress—but in that moment I just felt grounded and beautiful. It was one of the happiest days of my life!
Do you have any regrettable beauty moments/trends you tried?
Wigs. When I was transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair, I reached a point where I just couldn’t deal with the difference in my hair texture, so I bought an afro-style wig to cover it up. I wore it for a day—it was super itchy and I kept having daymares about it flying off my head.
What did your mother—or aunts or grandmothers—teach you about beauty?
When I was younger, my mother always told me that I looked beautiful with my hair up, and that I shouldn’t hide behind my hair. At the time, I didn’t really understand it, but looking back I think she was encouraging me to be open and confident in my life.
What is your stance on bath vs. shower?
I’m all about a really long bath, but to save time, I shower during the week and I love to tie a bouquet of eucalyptus leaves to my shower curtain rod. As the steam builds, eucalyptus vapors fill the bathroom and it gives me an aromatherapy boost.
Do you have any beauty pet peeves?
Yes! I won’t use anything with glitter or microbeads in it. I also have a terrible aversion to anything with a synthetic strawberry scent.
Do you eat or drink anything that you feel contributes to your overall beauty routine?
I take a large dose of chlorella and chlorophyll every day which apparently helps to move heavy metals and toxins out of the body and promotes optimum body functioning. I noticed a big improvement in my skin when I started taking them a few years ago.
I’m also a big fan of “oiling your insides," or loading the body with essential fats. Eating good fats has so many benefits and I think healthy glowing skin is one of them. So I take Omega 3-6-9 daily and have become really obsessed with making buttery coffee. I just brew up some French press coffee and mix it with a teaspoon of organic coconut oil and organic grass-fed ghee. I pop the coffee and oils into a blender for a couple of seconds and drink. I always feel great for hours after that! I also try to drink a good amount of water everyday.
As a doula and lactation counselor, do you have any tips for pregnant and nursing women?
The skin is the largest organ of our body and absorbs most products into the bloodstream—some in as little as 60 seconds. So being mindful and selective about what we put on it is so important, especially when you’re pregnant. I know it can be hard to cut out certain makeup and skincare staples, but consider swapping out your baseline products, like body lotion or foundation for something with organic and naturally-derived ingredients. For nursing women, it’s important to keep in mind that breast tissue extends into the armpit, so consider selecting a deodorant without chemicals and preservatives. Soapwalla and Lavanila make wonderful chemical-free deodorant creams that don't skimp on performance.
Last but certainly not least: Do you have an overall beauty philosophy?
Yes, don’t be afraid to show the world who you are. Find your groove but allow others to inspire you. Also try to tell others what you find beautiful about them.
Thank you so much, Erica!
P.S. Three more beauty uniforms...
(Photos provided by Erica Chidi; graphic design element at top by Rachel Ball; interview by Caroline Donofrio)