Playing Iraq vet, helicopter pilot and sometimes-EMT Marisa Benez on NBC’s Trauma, which returns to Monday nights on Mar. 8, Aimee Garcia never gets to glam it up in designer dresses, diamonds, dramatic makeup, or daring hairdos. No wonder she was doubly thrilled to be at the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s 13th annual Impact Awards. Not only was she honored for Outstanding Performance in a Dramatic Television Series, she happily posed for the cameras in an Alice + Olivia strapless dress, Yves St. Laurent shoes, and Neil Lane jewelry. The inspiration for her look? "Audrey Hepburn. Classic, clean and fresh," she said, joking that it "took a village" to achieve it.
But before her hairstylist and makeup artist worked their magic, there was plenty of pre-preparation. “For me, it’s about having a good skin day, and that starts 24 hours prior,” she said. “You have to start out with a good canvas and that means a good night’s sleep. If you don’t have bags, there won’t be any bags to cover the next day,” she pointed out. "Hydrating is essential," she added, outlining her skin care regimen. "I exfoliate every other day, I use a masque once a week, and I clean with Kiehl’s daily cleaner and then I moisturize and use Kiehl’s balm on my lips."
The day of an event, Garcia takes a hot shower or steams her face over a pot of boiling water, a towel over her head. “When you don’t have the time or money, there’s your homemade spa,” she said, noting that her skin needs extra moisture to counteract the dry air in airplanes when she travels and the windy climate in San Francisco, where Trauma shoots.
The wind also does a number on her hair, so she gets it cut often by Jonathan Antin and uses his hydrating vegan and organic shampoo and conditioner. "Being Latina, my hair is naturally wavy so this is blow dried and flat ironed," said the Mexican-American actress, who gets her eyebrows professionally tweezed at Anastasia in Beverly Hills. "I feel that eyebrows are the frame of the face," she said, adding that she always keeps a Bobbi Brown eyebrow shaper, Kiehl’s lip gloss, a lip plumper, and Clean & Clear oil blotting sheets in her purse.
One trick she learned from makeup artists is to never add more makeup when your face gets shiny. "It just increases the cake factor." Instead, "just blot your T-zone—forehead, nose and chin--and you’re good to go." Garcia also favors Sue Devitt eyeliner, which she finds "thicker, almost like a Crayola." For the red carpet, "I make sure to wear makeup that’s not going to get lost in the bright lights."
Asked whose red carpet style she most admires, Garcia names Natalie Portman, Rachel McAdams and Amy Adams: “I love her hair. It’s really thick and rich and pretty.” But Sandra Bullock gets her highest marks. “Every time she’s on the red carpet she has a great sense of self,” she explained. “That to me trumps any sort of product.”