You could call the life of the woman best known as Anastasia Beverly Hills a fairytale, if you ignored all of the hardship and hard work behind the scenes. Born in 1950s Romania, her father died when she was 12, so young Anastasia grew up spending a lot of time in her mother’s small atelier, where she would design dresses for her tailor mother's clients. There, she learned first-hand the practical lessons about art and beauty that would so influence her later career. She eventually moved with her daughter to the US in the late ‘80s, to join her then-husband (who had sought asylum there a few years earlier). Finding work as an aesthetician, with each client she saw, Anastasia began to develop her theory about the important role brows have in framing faces. When her manager couldn’t see the potential of brows as the next forefront of beauty, she rented her own rooms, whose early visitors were such no-surname-necessary clients as Naomi and Cindy. In 2000, she launched her own line of products, the aptly-titled Anastasia Beverly Hills. The inextricably-linked success of the brand and the woman continues to grow; the brand now has over 400 SKUs and 19 million Instagram followers, and last year, Forbes valued her personal net worth at a very tidy US$660 million. Now 66, Anastasia spoke with us about just how hard it was building her life in a new country, what she misses about the early days of her career, why taking care of her health is such a priority and, of course, how to get your very own perfect brows.

“I was born in the historic port city of Constanta, Romania, and I grew up immersed in culture. We studied the classics in school, would listen to operas and concertos during music lessons, and would visit the theatre once a week. The arts were such an integral part of our upbringing.

I also spent a great deal of time in my mother’s atelier. It was there that I think I first picked up on the concept of proportion – that different angles and fits hitting at certain parts of a unique body could be instantly more flattering.

When I was 17, a painter friend of my mother’s would bring me back materials from Italy and smuggle them into Romania, since they weren’t allowed there at the time. He restored churches, and I used to make eyeshadow from a green pigment (the colour was in fashion at the time). He’d also bring back mascara, and I remember it had a head like a toothbrush and it didn’t yet come in a tube. Romania was very secluded, but that never stopped me from always wanting to be ahead of the curve.

Romania gave me drive and endurance. It gave me a deep-rooted sense of heritage and the resilience to work through hardships. The United States was the place that gave me the opportunity to put that resilience into motion, to carve out a space for myself. I will forever be grateful to both. I’ve lived the American dream because of my Romanian roots.

The ABH flagship store in Beverly Hills, opened in 1997
Inside the flagship space

When I moved to the United States, I knew no one and I didn’t know the language.

There are certain challenges you encounter while navigating a new country that only other immigrants can truly understand. I was constantly on a mission — to convince the bank to give me a credit card, to convince the landlord to rent me the salon space, to convince detractors that eyebrows could be big business. I believed in my vision, and that is what kept me going. I learned to never give up, to never take no for an answer. Skills you can learn, experience you can gain, but determination and passion will always be your guiding lights.

I sacrificed so much when I left Romania, but I knew that I wanted to create something for myself that would give me purpose every day. I pushed and strived, and worked seven days a week. In a way, I wish that I had had the reassurance back then of knowing that of course it’s not supposed to be easy. I can’t tell you the number of evenings I went home ready to give up, not sure I could continue one more day. And then I would wake up in the morning and start it all again. I love this Mahatma Gandhi quote, ‘every night when I go to sleep, I die. And then the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn’.

Anastasia tending to the brows of J.Lo, an early client
Anastasia with Oprah

I did the eyebrows of many of the ‘90s supermodels. No one else was doing brows at the time, so agents would send them my way.

However, my first clients have always been an incredibly diverse demographic of women. In addition to the supermodels and celebrities, they were entrepreneurs, suited professionals, artists, tourists, service industry workers, and everyone in between. The salon might be in Beverly Hills, but with our Golden Ratio Shaping Technique, line of products and education content, our signature ABH eyebrows can be found in all corners of the world. The brand has always been for everyone.

Anastasia with Naomi Campbell, one of her first brow clients

Beauty is about balance and proportion, not perfection.

The key to unlocking your perfect brow is the ABH Golden Ratio Shaping Technique, which relies on three measurements:

1 – brows should begin directly above the middle of your nostrils
2 – brows should end where the corner of the nostril connects with the outer corner of the eye
3 – the highest point of the arch should connect the middle of the tip of the nose with the middle of the iris

To avoid over-tweezing or ruining your brow shape between appointments with your aesthetician, try filling in your brows before you begin grooming, then only tweeze the hairs that fall outside this guideline.

To look their most natural, eyebrows should always be filled in using an ombre technique. To achieve this effect, use a light hand and start applying product at the arches, working towards the tail. Then, with the last bit of remaining product, fill in the inner part of the brow. This ombre mimics the density and shadow of naturally full brows.

You can try downloading the ABH Brow App if you’d like some more guidance on our method and application tips. It uses augmented reality to personalise these to your unique bone structure.

Currently, my focus is on continuing to take ABH global. With a community of nearly 20 million on Instagram and our products available in over 30 countries, we’re certainly on our way.

My favourite part of what I do daily is seeing the way makeup has the power to truly transform someone’s life. Our customers are essentially inviting us into their homes, into their routines, and to become a part of the way they choose to present themselves to the world. It’s a very intimate experience, and I’m so proud to see the ways that ABH gets to be a part of so many people’s lives. My only lament with the way my career has grown is that now I don’t have time to spend in the salon shaping brows for clients. The atmosphere there is so special, and I miss having that as part of my day-to-day.

I love to layer products in the morning.

My skin is constantly dry, and the Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum gives me an instant, unbeatable dose of hydration. I also never skip sunscreen.

At night, I’m diligent about taking off my makeup. I use Tatcha The Camellia Cleansing Oil to take the day off. Then, after my shower, I use the our Hydrating Face Oil and Brow Genius Serum. A few times a week I like to do a K-beauty mask, either the Oh K! Glowing Skin Gold Dust Hydrogel Mask or the Mediheal Airpacking Mint Wrap Face Mask [Ed. note: these masks are not yet available in Australia]. Once I am tucked up in bed, I apply my beauty essential for all-night moisture: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream.

My signature beauty look is what I like to call ‘soft glam’ – structured brows, complimentary neutrals, and glowing skin.

I love to wear black because I can accessorise with big jewellery or scarves, plus it feels effortlessly chic and classic with an edge.

My go-to daily beauty routine consists of products that make me look natural, balanced, and refreshed.

My all-time favourite product to use is our Brow Wiz. I start by outlining the overall shape, then use the pencil throughout, applying in tiny, hair-like strokes. I also like to set my brow colour and lock hair in place with Clear Brow Gel. My alternative is to use Brow Freeze, which delivers a classic and polished laminated look with a few swipes. It pairs beautifully with Brow Powder Duo to disguise areas of sparseness.

Our Luminous Foundation is perfect for achieving a smooth, even skin tone. It blurs imperfections, but it’s so lightweight that it feels like a second skin. It also gives a lit-from-within glow, without exacerbating skin texture or settling into fine lines. I apply it first to the areas of my face that need the most coverage, and then blend it out with the A30 Pro Brush.

Our cream formulas are also everyday favourites of mine – Cream Bronzer, Stick Blush, and Stick Highlighter. They’re weightless, buildable, and blend like a dream. I like to use pressing motions to deposit color, and circular motions to blend and diffuse, then build up if you’d like more intensity.

My final step is our Lash Brag Volumizing Mascara for lashes that don’t dry out, get crunchy, or flake. You can use just a single coat for definition, two to add extra length and thickness, or three coats for volume.

I go from day to night often, and the trick is to touch up and dial up.

First, I touch up my brows and base, then I dial up the intensity elsewhere – I’ll add a slightly deeper contour, more colour on the eyes (using darker shades from our Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette), and maybe a bolder lip (our Liquid Lipstick gets bonus points for staying power). They’re easy changes to make without feeling like you need to start from scratch, and darker accents keep you from looking washed out when you’re tired at the end of a long day.

I am deliberate about my mornings.

I listen to jazz over freshly brewed tea then start my work at home, answering emails, taking phone calls, scheduling my day, and taking my time to get ready. This morning routine is a respite, and essential preparation for whatever intensity may lay ahead in the office.

I work out a few times a week with a personal trainer. When you’re constantly on your feet and on-the-go, it’s important to take care of your body and make training a priority. It’s not even about looking good, it’s about staying healthy and strong.

I try to keep excessive electronics and distractions out of my bedroom, like TV and radio. I listen to my body, rest when I need to, and recharge over good food shared with family and friends. I try to make a point of expressing gratitude every day.

It is a privilege to be alive during every year we are gifted.

No one should fear aging, but we exist in a society that values chasing youth, and it’s a burden that has been disproportionately placed on women. How often are men asked about their attitude toward aging in comparison? It’s important to emphasize that beauty and age are not mutually exclusive. I believe that what makes you feel powerful is also what makes you beautiful. Running a business, seeing people around the world use my products, hearing from others that I am their inspiration on their own road as an immigrant, as an artist, or as an entrepreneur — that’s what makes me feel beautiful. Time is a blessing, because it allows us to realise our dreams.”

Interview and story by Zoe Briggs. Imagery supplied by Anastasia Beverly Hills.

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