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Elk Studios, Birchbox
Katia Beauchamp founded Birchbox, which delivers monthly packages of trial-sized beauty samples from well-known and emerging brands.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 8/8/2012 10:17:50 AM ET 2012-08-08T14:17:50

In our new series "What Beauty Means to Me," women from different backgrounds share their thoughts on aging, modern challenges, and of course, their makeup and skincare secrets. This week, we interview entrepreneur Katia Beauchamp.

It was during a ballet recital when she was 11 that Katia Beauchamp vividly recalls feeling confident in her beauty for the first time.

“I remember feeling coordinated and graceful as I made different shapes and crossed the floor. Performing was a freeing feeling,” said Beauchamp, 29, founder of the beauty sampling service Birchbox. “I also got to borrow my mom's red Chanel lipstick, which I used on my lips and cheeks. I'll never forget.”

Now, the Manhattan resident aims to help other women, as well as men, find their own feeling of confidence through Birchbox, which she started with Harvard Business School friend Hayley Barna. A leader in the discovery retail space, Birchbox provides its 100,000-plus subscribers with a monthly sampling of makeup and beauty products tailored to customers’ personal needs and preferences.

“We’re giving every woman insider access to a beauty editor’s closet,” she said, adding that trying things first helps them avoid “spending a lot of money on a lot of products and building up a graveyard of products.”

Prior to Birchbox, the Texas native worked in financing commercial real estate deals. But she always had a knack for following the latest beauty trends.

“I always appreciated the beautiful packaging, how fun it is to get to change the way you look,” she said. “I did my friends’ hair, experimented with new makeup trends. Today I look more natural and myself.”

Working in the industry stepped up the pressure to look her best. “It’s really different,” she said. “When I worked in finance, I wasn’t the type of person who had to do my hair or do my eyeliner before I left the house in the morning. Today, I’m really aware of what nail polish (I have on).”

Beauchamp said it is fun and a great conversation starter to wear the latest, edgiest trends. But there are times she would like to be more low-key.

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“Every now and then I want to wear jeans and a T-shirt and put my hair in a bun,” she said. “There are very few days I get to do that. I definitely do that on the weekend.”

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She said women should feel free to express themselves at work without concern that it compromises professionalism. “You should embrace what comes naturally to you,” she said. “If you want to get ready for work in a very feminine way, part of your expression can be putting on your makeup in a certain way. And it’s art — it doesn’t mean you’re not serious about who you are and your job and your ambition.”

While the beauty industry is often criticized for placing unrealistic expectations on women and girls to look a certain way, Beauchamp said it is becoming more democratic in its approach.

“The industry is dynamic and responds to society’s changing perception of beauty,” she said. “From porcelain dolls to more natural looks, and to brand ambassadors who are real women, I believe recent years have seen significant change.”

Beauchamp said she hopes all women can find their own versions of a Chanel lipstick moment.

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“Everybody is beautiful,” she said. “It’s such a personal thing. It’s fun to see how people do think about beauty and what they value ... they are enriching their bodies and dedicated to wellness ... you can tell when people are living beautiful lives.”

Here is Katia’s beauty lowdown:

Image: Boscia Luminizing Black Mask
Boscia
Katia depends on Boscia's cult-fave Black Mask ($34), which is made with deep-cleansing clay.

What are your favorite beauty products?
“My shampoo is an oil-based shampoo, using the same concept as oil-based cleanser — Shu Uemura Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo ($55, shuuemuraartofhair-usa.com and Birchbox.com). It doesn’t strip hair of its oils. I also love, for hair, texturizing sprays, which help make your hair have more movement. I use Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray ($35, oribe.com). It holds anything in your hair — use heat, a curling iron or scrunch your hair and it holds but is not sticky.

“For skin, Boscia Luminizing Black Mask ($34, bosciaskincare.com and sephora.com) is unbelievable. It literally is black. It dries and you peel it off like a giant pore strip for the whole face. I love doing that.

“In terms of skincare, I use a hybrid beauty cream moisturizer and tinted moisturizer, Boscia B.B. Cream ($38, sephora.com).

“For makeup, I love Benefit’s They’re Real! Mascara ($23, Birchbox.com). It’s amazing. I couldn’t believe that a mascara could actually lengthen that much while not flaking off during the day.”

What’s your makeup routine like?
“I just added a primer to my routine and it’s been phenomenal. I always understood the concept behind the primer — that it keeps your makeup on all day — but it really, actually doesn’t clog your pores at all. I also always use concealer under my eyes and fill in my eyebrows with a little bit of brow pencil. Then mascara and Chap Stick during the day or I might use a lip stain and crème blush.”

Is there one thing you absolutely must do before ever leaving the house?
“The brow thing. I think it’s one very important point of reference on your face ... Frame your face, it makes a huge difference.”

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Who’s your style icon?
“British model and television host Alexa Chung. She isn’t tied stiffly to one style, and it seems like she has fun with it. Alexa easily incorporates vintage, modern and bohemian, without confusing anyone. I also love the way her hair always looks effortless and chic.”

Image: Alexa Chung launches British Designers Collective
Danny Martindale  /  Getty Images
Katia's style icon? British fashionista Alexa Chung, shown here at the Annual British Designers Collective on March 21 in Bicester, England.

How do you manage your hair?
“I don’t like to wash my hair every day because I’m in the beauty industry and I know what it does. ... It’s probably counterintuitive that I’m not obsessed with washing. It’s a super-balanced, much happier head of hair. I shower every day, ladies.

“One amazing hair tip I’d love to share with the world: wash just your bangs. If you’re feeling like there’s not time to wash all your hair but maybe you worked out, pull out the top, wash and condition that bunch. It’s amazing, a total refresh.”

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Skincare/makeup tip to live by:
“For me, moisture has a lot to do with anti-aging. I’m dedicated to layering moisture. Learn how your skin likes to absorb moisture by building up what works for you. I’ll start with toner then add serum, then moisturizer.”

What’s one beauty trend we likely won’t ever catch you in?
“I’m known around the office for my willingness to always try anything twice.”

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: One makeup artist’s daily makeover project

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  1. The Daily Face

    By Rina Raphael

    Putting on one’s daily makeup is hard enough. Now imagine coming up with a new look every day.

    But that’s just what Annamarie Tendler, 26, did on her popular blog. The creative makeup artist, who noticed a lack of simple and approachable beauty blogs, challenged herself to post a few new makeup tutorials a week in March 2011."

    “I wanted to make something that didn't inundate the viewer with information, but rather offered up a simple concept in a simple way,” Tendler told TODAY.com. “As in, here is a look, this is how you do it, this is what you use.”

    The tutorials range from practical (“how to curl your eyelashes) to wild (a Lichtenstein-inspired look for Halloween), and the work can often be exhausting. “I need to be generating so much material and I'm only one person, who also works on other shoots and projects,” said Tendler. “I find that every couple of months I need to take a two week break."

    Surprisingly, Tendler isn’t even a makeup junkie. Her personal regimen is “extremely simple,” consisting of not much more than Josie Maran Argan Oil moisturizer. But after posting dozens of makeup applications, she does have one beauty she recommends to all women: “Wear mascara.”

    Click through some of Annamarie’s favorite looks: (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Apr. 13, 2011

    "I was inspired to do today’s look when looking at Brassai photos of the 20s," Tendler wrote. "Everyone looks so cool and glamorous."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325
    Eyeliner: MAC Blacktrack gel liner

    Eye shadow: NARS in Galapagos, Make Up For Ever in Aqua Cream 15, MAC in Satin Taupe

    Eyebrows: The Body Shop black eye pencil

    Eyelashes: False lashes by Mattesse on top (#1565) and bottom (#49)

    Cheeks: MAC in Harmony

    Lips: NARS Shanghai Express

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. July 14, 2011

    "The best way to wear bright lipstick is with almost no other makeup. I used no liner for this look, only a wash of bamboo-colored shadow (a light brown) over my lids (diffused above the crease) and a ton of mascara."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeshadow: MAC in Bamboo

    Eyebrows: MAC in Fling

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: MAC in Harmony

    Lips: NARS in Schiap

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Aug. 12, 2011

    "Red seems like a weird choice for eyeliner, since most people don’t want to look like sleep-deprived junkies, but it works as a bold liquid liner. Also, by coupling it with bold brows, you will achieve a defined look, instead of it looking like you might have allergies."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Aqua Eye liner in shade 10 (red)

    Eyebrows: The Body Shop eye pencil in black

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: MAC in Harmony, MAC Highlighter in Pearl

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Aug. 23, 2011

    "This is definitely something I’ll have to experiment with at a dark, nighttime party."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: NARS liquid liner pencil

    Eyeshadow: MAC in Copperplate, NARS pencil in HollywoodLand

    Eyebrows: Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in shade 21 (teal)

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: NARS in Penny Lane

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Oct. 18, 2011

    "I will warn anyone who tries this [Roy Lichtenstein-inspired look] out that pulling this one off if a lot like cleaning your bedroom: it looks worse before it looks good."

    Face: Ben Nye Creme Color in White

    Dots: Ben Nye Creme Color in Red

    Tears: Ben Nye Creme Color in Blue, Cosmic Blue, and White

    Eyeliner: MAC Blacktrack

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Lips: NARS Lipstick in Heat Wave

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Nov. 21, 2011

    "This is a great party look because it’s dark, goes with anything, and you feel festive without being over the top. Yeah, you don’t need to wear green eyeshadow and red lipstick to get the point across that you love Christmas."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack

    Eye shadow: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Strut, Make Up For Ever Flash Color in Silver

    Eyebrows: MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Fling

    Eyelashes: Dior Blackout

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Nov. 28, 2011

    "I probably wouldn’t wear my makeup like this out on the street, but it’s definitely a look that can be modified for everyday wear."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner in Shade 10 (red)

    Eye shadow: NARS Duo in Scorching Sun, MAC Goldenrod, MAC Goldmine

    Eyebrows: MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Fling

    Eyelashes: Dior Blackout

    Lips: NARS Lipstick in Heatwave

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Dec. 19, 2011

    "This is more of a dark look. I started by lining the eyes with Blacktrack, including both the upper and lower inner rims and winging the liner."

    Under-eyes: Make Up For Ever HD Concealer in 325

    Eyeliner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Pencil in shade 10L (gold)

    Eye shadow: Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in Shade 15, MAC Shadow in Satin Taupe, NARS Duo in Cordura, MAC Highlighter in Pearl

    Eyebrows: MAC Eye Brow Pencil in Fling

    Eyelashes: Lancome Hypnose Drama

    Cheeks: MAC Blush in Harmony

    See the full tutorial (Annamarie Tendler) Back to slideshow navigation
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Video: New beauty phenomenon: What is BB cream?

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