Lauren Velez of Showtime's 'Dexter' Talks Red Carpet Glamour

As Miami homicide department chief Maria Laguerta on the Showtime series Dexter, Lauren Velez doesn’t know that her blood splatter expert (Michael C. Hall) is secretly an avenging serial killer, and until recently, she was keeping a secret of her own—a hot and heavy love affair with Detective Batista (David Zayas). But when it comes to beauty secrets, Velez is happy to share.

"My skin care routine is so minimal. I wash my face with regular soap," she begins. "I recently switched to Cetaphil. It’s really good, clean. Sometimes I use Kiehl’s products," she adds, noting that she likes trying the free products she gets at events.  But if she does splurge, "it’ll be on a skin cream, Crème de la Mer."

An Afro-Latina of Puerto Rican heritage, Velez finds that for her, "Bobbi Brown is the best foundation. It’s the perfect color, the perfect skin tone. The coverage is great--not too much, not too little."

For her eyes, her favorite feature, she favors MAC eye shadow that does triple duty as a liner and brow color.  "I’m really simple.  I’ll find as many purposes for one thing as I can," notes Velez. Her favorite advice from a makeup artist is just as simple: "If you keep your brows neat and your skin clean, you can get away with almost anything."

Velez, choosing the half up, half down hairstyle and red Nicole Miller gown she wore to last year’s Emmy Awards as her favorite red carpet look to date, keeps her hair in good shape with products from Ellin LaVar, who operates a Manhattan salon. "Her products are wonderful for ethnic hair. Being Afro-Latina, I have all kinds of crazy textures going on in my hair," she explains.  "It’s extra moisturizing and it really takes care of my particular hair needs."

Nevertheless, she worries about damage during filming. "If I can, I try to wear a hairpiece," she says, hoping that Dexter’s producers will just allow her to wear a wig next season, "because my hair can’t take it.”

Velez, who feels best in warm hues like olive and gold, observes that the older she gets, the more she likes bold colors. "It’s the Latina coming out," she says, describing her style as "classic, funky, with a touch of glitter." She often works without a stylist, shopping at Saks in New York or at vintage shops to find red carpet outfits. "You think someone else can style you better but the best is when you can do it yourself." 

As for her other secret ingredients to a great red carpet look, Velez believes all you need is self-confidence, a smile, and to stop worrying about your flaws. "I spent a lot of my youth focusing on what I didn't like about myself," she says. "I don’t do that anymore."