With Summer underway, writer Monica Mendal is here to inspire your wanderlust. The VOGUE, Architectural Digest, and New York Times journalist regularly travels the globe covering unique destinations, style, and fashion through a lens of wonder. We sat down with one of our favorite renaissance women to talk beauty secrets, packing list must-haves, and the places you need at the top of your travel wish list this year.
What is your hometown, and where do you live today?
I grew up in a small beach town outside of Boston and now live between NYC and Paris.
In a few words, please tell us about your work and your mission.
I was a fashion editor for many years, working across Vogue, GQ and Glamour before finally going freelance a few years ago and transitioning to travel journalism. I’ve always been someone who likes to dig deep; I’ve never been one to scratch the surface and be satisfied. For me, it’s not just about the who and what, it’s about the why and how. So basically, I write to learn.
What travel do you have in store this Summer / what are you most excited for?
Very excited to explore France’s southwest. A bit off-the-beaten path compared to the French Riviera.
Can you tell us about somewhere you visited recently that surprised you?
Lanzarote! A beautiful volcanic island in the Canary Islands.
What does an ideal day look like for you when traveling to discover a new place?
I always have a loose schedule– just generally break days up by areas/neighborhoods and have some little bullet points of restaurants, shops and things I want to see. But I always leave room for spontaneity. I let the locals guide me… local friends and taxi drivers or shop owners I meet while there… I am constantly asking questions. (I like to be the student in every room, never the teacher!) Sometimes if I see good light coming from a certain direction or hear music coming from somewhere on the side of the road, I’ll veer off and follow it! That’s where the magic happens.
As a truly expert traveler, what items on your packing list are you never without?
Comfortable walking shoes, a notebook, SPF, a portable charger/mophie and an open mind and heart! Also, carry-on bags only.
In a few words, what is your beauty philosophy?
Less is more.
What beauty lessons have you inherited from your mother, family, or culture along the way? How have your Colombian roots played a role, if so?
I come from a line of women who really don’t do much, so I think that’s where my whole “less is more” philosophy comes from. My mom and grandmothers never had a 10-step skin regimen and they’ve never gotten fillers or botox, so in that way they’re quite simple when it comes to aging naturally... they’re not trying to force anything. The one thing is they definitely like me to look put together: manicured nails, brushed hair, groomed brows– they’re very Colombian in that way! They always notice these things and I could probably be a bit better, if I’m honest.. Ha!
What is the one piece of beauty advice you wish you could tell your younger self?
Ditch the tanning oil and wear SPF. AND PUT DOWN THE BRONZER.
What are the highlights of your skincare routine - any products or ingredients you can’t live without?
Water (just drinking enough throughout the day!), my ice roller for depuffing in the morning, Cerave Healing Ointment (or Homeoplasmine in France) and SPF.
Which Joaquina Botánica formula have you enjoyed the most and why?
I’ve only had the opportunity to try the face oil and it’s one of the best in the game. I love using oils after long flights or when I’m traveling because the air always dries me out so much. So many oils make me feel sticky or make me break out, but Joaquina’s is so fine and luxe and leaves my skin bright and plump.
Your favorite way to stay active?
Walking and yoga! But mostly, just living life! I love to constantly be on the move.
Favorite destination in Latin America?
José Ignacio Uruguay or Trancoso in Brazil.
Follow Monica for more inspiration at @monicamendi