Anok Yai Once Lost An Eyelash On The Met Gala Red Carpet

The model and face of Mugler Alien Hypersense dishes about makeup mishaps, favorite skin care products, and the best date night fragrance.

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Mugler could not have found a better personification of their latest hypnotic jasmine and woody cashmeran, Alien Hypersense fragrance than Anok Yai. That’s not just because she looks incredible as with the otherworldly glowing purple eyes, fluorescent hair, and claw-like nails she has in the campaign. Nor is it just because she’s an accomplished model who’s walked for every major fashion house, including Chanel, Versace, Louis Vuitton, and Dries Van Noten (just to name a few) and was the second Black model after Naomi Campbell to ever open a Prada runway show. In addition to all of her modeling accolades and talents, she’s a true fragrance obsessive.

“I literally sleep with perfume on,” 26-year-old Yai tells NYLON. She also has the best techniques for making a scent your signature and layering fragrance so it lasts all day long. “Actually, I wore Alien Hypersense on a date recently and, I mean, it worked,” she laughs. “It's very floral, but there's a layer to it that's kind of dark and sexy and mysterious. I just feel really sexy when I wear it,” she shares. It’s hard to think of a better endorsement from a true perfume and beauty lover.

Below, NYLON chats with Yai all about makeup mishaps, lymphatic drainage massages, and the joys of wearing perfume, twenty-four seven.

Courtesy of Mugler
Courtesy of Mugler
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Do you remember the first beauty product you ever loved?

The first beauty product that I loved was mascara. It was the first one I started using and the first makeup product I understood. I started using it in middle school and I used to clump my lashes to the point where it looked like there was a caterpillar on my eye. I thought I looked so good.

So, you were a makeup girl early on.

I tried! But it was just the blocky eyebrows and the chunky eyelashes — that's all I knew how to do at the time. Then, once I started modeling, I started learning how to create better looks. I also noticed that I do makeup better on my friends than I do on myself.

Do you have a beauty routine when you're not working?

I do wear makeup when I'm just hanging around, but it’s the makeup that takes five to 10 minutes to do, unless I going out. Because I'm so used to sitting in a chair for an hour or two hours on set, it drives me crazy to take too long — I have a really short attention span. When I am at home, I always do an eyebrow, then powder under my eyes, and put on mascara. But when I go out, I like to have really feline eyeliner in the inner corner and on the outer corners of my eyes and I love a shimmery cheek.

Do you listen to music when you’re getting ready to go out? Do you set the atmosphere?

I love blasting music. Sometimes I like the process of getting ready to go out better than actually going out. I love blasting music or I'll watch a movie while I'm getting ready. I light a lot of candles while I'm getting dressed and just set the mood in my bathroom while I'm getting ready.

But when I'm on set, when I need to get into character for a video or something, I'll either play Pearls by Sade or Nothing Burns like the Cold by Snoh Aalegra. I make them blast it every time.

Where do you get your beauty information? Are you on TikTok? Are you learning everything backstage?

I get a lot of information backstage from whoever's doing my makeup at whatever show that I'm at. I’m a nosy one, if the makeup artist goes to the bathroom or on a break, I'll go to their kit and be like, “Oh, what's this? What's that?”

2023 Met GalaJamie McCarthy/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
2022 Met GalaTheo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images
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What's best piece of beauty advice you've ever received?

Lymphatic draining massages, sauna, and sunscreen. Every Met [Gala], I get a body and face massage from Dr. Barbara Sturm actually. It wakes me up and I feel like my skin's glowing. Now it’s a ritual that I always have it done the morning of the Met.

Is there any beauty look you’ve ever worn that you really regret or wouldn’t wear again?

There was one Met where I didn't put enough eyelash glue on. By the time I got up the stairs, my eyelash came off. I was walking around with one eyelash on and the other eye just completely bare. You know when you lose an eyelash and your eye looks naked? The whole time I was like covering up one eye to everybody, like, “Hey!”

Luckily, I don't think anyone noticed. Do you have any weird beauty habits?

I spent a lot of time on planes and my skin gets unbelievably dry. So, I became very comfortable — I act like the plane is my bedroom. I will put on a full face mask — it's always a crazy color like aluminum — and go the full plane ride with it on. Everyone looks at me like I'm insane. I'll go to the bathroom and I'll just walk around the plane and everyone's like, “Who's that woman?” If you ever go on a plane and see a crazy person with a aluminum mask on their face, it’s probably me.

What else does your skin care routine involve these days?

Right now I’m using [SkinCeuticals] Phloretin CF, and I'm using a lot of rose oil. That's mainly what I use. I've also been icing my face recently. I get an ice cube and I rub it, then I put the oil on top, after my face is cold, and then do a lymphatic draining massage. That takes care of the puffiness of my face. Some times I’ll use a gua sha, but often I just use my hands.

What beauty products do you always have with you in your bag?

I always have a lip gloss, a perfume, mascara, and something shimmery to put on my body. The lip gloss I have right now is the OG MAC clear lip gloss and the mascara I use is Pat McGrath's — I use that one for shows.

How often do you wear fragrance?

All the time. Twenty-four seven. I literally sleep with perfume on. I like to spray it in layers. I always do behind my ears, on my chest, and then the normal spots, and behind my knees. I used to always just put on my whole outfit and then spray it on, but now I'll spray my outfit, spray it myself, put on the outfit, and then spray it again.

Do people tell you you smell amazing all the time?

Depending on how I mix it, yes. Actually, I wore the Alien Hypersense on a date recently and, I mean, it worked. It's very floral, but there's a layer to it that's kind of dark and sexy and mysterious. I just feel really sexy when I wear it.

Do you change up your fragrance from day to night?

I love picking one and then wearing it constantly. I'll keep one for the whole year and, depending on the season, I'll mix it with something else. I like to have a specific scent that smells like me, and then I change it up a little bit.

I used to mix perfumes together, but I noticed that fragrance lasts longer if I layered oils with it. The last time I did it, I put on rose oil and then Alien Hypersense and it's lasted for a really long time.

You mentioned you wear perfume to bed. Are you showering and then we're putting it back on?

I shower, I oil myself down. I'll spray perfume on my chest and then I'll spray the top of my blanket. I like to smell it when I pull the blanket on top of me. I've never cared for the smell of laundry detergent, so I started spraying my bed with my perfume.

Do you have a beauty philosophy?

Have a signature scent and wear it everywhere!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.