Carissa Walford is sassy, hilarious and not afraid to laugh at herself - just our kind of girl. With boundless energy and that playful verve, it’s little wonder Channel V called her in for a (successful) audition five years ago. Fast-forward to today, and Carissa has made quite the name for herself in television and as an Aussie It-Girl. But what you might not know is that Miss Walford is a trained dancer and singer, and it is this music in her blood that keeps her passion for performing arts burning.
Now residing between Sydney and LA, we managed to catch the effervescent blonde between her trans-Pacific commute. Self-confessed hoarder of one very impressive beauty bounty (we’re unconvinced she’s not moonlighting as a beauty editor), Carissa shared her favourite products, expert tips on skincare, makeup, hair and teased us with her ‘secret’ scent. We’re all ears (and eyes…and lips…).
“I went to NIDA before auditioning for Channel V…
I taught dancing for years and decided to go to NIDA after my performing arts course. I did a presenting Course and an acting course and skewed away from modelling to go down the performance path. I worked on Fuel TV for a very long time doing sports – I was one of the ‘Smokin’ Hotties’ wearing a bikini interviewing surfers! Looking back I was like, ‘Wow, I was wearing a bikini on TV!’ But it gave me that grounding and amazing opportunities came out of it – I went overseas and when I came back Channel V had my show reel on their desk. They asked if I could come in for an audition – it was my dream gig.
I need to be a makeup artist in my next life!
I was always obsessed with makeup. I’ve got to work with some of the best makeup artists over the last ten years like Rae Morris, Tobi Henney, Max May – and I always picked their brains on different products and would go to Mecca before it was even a thing and buy everything! I love that really editorial look. This may make you think I wear a lot of makeup, but I’m all about that minimal, natural look - that takes two hours though! I have this hoarding issue where I need to try every single product from all different brands – I love experimenting. I’m the biggest makeup geek and I don’t think anyone knows that about me!
When I’m not working, I like to keep it really simple but still have a bit of coverage.
The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation makes you look really fresh. I love the YSL Touche Eclat, that is probably one of the things I will not leave the house without - a bit under the eyes and in the T-zone. I put MAC Paintpot in Groundwork just in the socket and it shapes my eye; everyone is like, 'What have you done to your face?' Just one sweep in the right spot and it changes your eye. I keep my lids bare and a bit of Charlotte Tilbury’s duo highlighter under the brow.
For night, I love really deep, highly-pigmented gold eye.
So quite disco. I always us the Tom Ford contour palette and the stick foundation mixed with the YSL primer – oh my God! I love Nars Lipstick Pencils, I’ll pop on Red Square and keep my eyes pretty minimal - maybe a wash of Charlotte Tilbury bronze or purple to bring out my green eyes. Deep burgundy is my favourite colour for cheeks; it’s all about the deeper, matte colour.
I’ve always had big brows.
I went through a stage in year 12 when I would wax them really thin, and then when I started modelling they said I had to grow my eyebrows back. I was like, ‘No, I used to get teased about my brows for years – people used to call me Grouch!’ I was so self-conscious about them, but I grew them back and then they became a ‘thing’.
I can tell you the brand of my fragrance but I can’t tell you the scent - it’s a secret!
Justine Cullen from Elle was wearing it, and I hounded her all night and she would NOT tell me! It’s Coqui Coqui, but I’m not telling you the scent. I need something natural, and this is made by the bottle in Mexico - it’s all natural. Since Justine didn’t tell me, I just smelt her all night and figured out what the plant was, Googled it and found the list of different scents. I picked one on a whim, spent an absolute fortune and they Fed Ex-ed it from Mexico. I opened it up, smelt it, and that was it! Now I’ve got her scent – but she doesn’t know…
I used to be really lazy with skincare up until the last year.
I’ve started to learn the importance of looking after your skin and how certain treatments can change the texture. The only treatment I’ve ever done is Fraxel at The Clinic – it’s next level. I had chicken pox and acne scarring on my chin and uneven skin tone, which Fraxel gets rid of. I also get their Blueberry Peels and I use The Clinic Moisturiser every second night. In between that, I use the Cosmedix Serum which is great for scarring. I had all these red dots that I thought were part of my skin but it was actually scarring and it’s all gone because of this.
I don’t use conditioner…
… I use Kerastase shampoo and Shu Uemura Silk Bloom Restorative treatment for conditioner. When I get out of the shower, I use Kevin Murphy Untangled and Moroccan Oil every time. I use Kerastase Volume Powder, but if I don’t want it too crispy, my tip is to mix it with Argan Oil. Being blonde I need to put the KMS Silk Sheen everywhere as the final touch.
I don’t over think food at all - if I ever got down that road life would just not be fun.
It’s all about balance, I want to be able to enjoy food. I love going out for dinner; I love Italian food, I love my four-cheese Gnocchi! I love having a ‘parmie’, but if I have a big shoot I do one of those two-week diets. I’m not very consistent, but I am trying to cut out as much sugar as possible. As a dancer, I’ve always been comfortable in my skin, you’d get changed anywhere and be on camera. I’m really critical though, and I’ve got a realistic view on when I look my best and when I’m not - like when I’m eating ricotta pancakes every second day!
When I was younger, I wanted to be in the Olympics…
I was a runner, is that not the most hilarious thing? I had a coach and [running] 13 seconds flat [in 100m] was my goal. When you get to 11 or 12 you start to get girl-ier and conscious of things, I didn’t care about sport anymore and stopped. Now older, I need something fun that I’m not going to get bored doing, so a dance or boxing class. I do F45 at Beach Fit in Bondi, probably once or twice a week. I also recently came on-board as a Nike ambassador, and they’ve introduced me to the Nike App - you can do workouts on your phone and it talks to you!
I try to be classic and have that uniform dressing, but a bit edgy.
At the end of the day, I still want to be timeless and classic. That’s the good thing about fashion; I [can] put my ‘Carissa’ stamp on it – I love adding vintage elements like Levis to really classic, high-end brands. Then you can also mix in low-end stuff like Zara and Topshop, which are amazing. My favourite Australian designers are Zimmermann, Camilla and Marc, Dion Lee, Ellery, Georgia Alice, Pfeiffer, Bec & Bridge and I love Daniel Akakian – he’s a real up and comer. I love C/meo Collective, they’ve always got a really cool piece that looks very international but affordable. “
Story by Chrisanthi Kalivioits; Photography by Titus Pengelly; Makeup and Hair by Desiree Wise; Assistant Amanda Chan