Ashley Graham on the Power of Affirmations and How to Self-Tan Like a Pro


Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh, new beauty series where you’ll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favorite celebrities. They’ll reveal their guilty-pleasure beauty practices, the five-minute routine product lineup they can’t live without, the one good-skin tip they’ll be forever thankful for, and so much more. To bring every conversation full circle, we ask each celebrity to send us a selection of self-shot, filter-free photos of their choosing to capture the essence of their Unfiltered beauty philosophy. 

Up next, we’re getting to know model and St. Tropez global ambassador Ashley GrahamAs a fellow beauty enthusiast, she’s answering all of our rapid-fire questions and sharing her best-kept beauty secrets below. Enjoy!


(Image credit: @ashleygraham)

If you had to leave the house in five minutes, what are a few staple beauty products you’d apply or bring with you?

Okay. Five minutes. Sunscreen for my face because I feel like that’s always overlooked, an eyebrow spoolie, and my St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Mousse Kit ($55).

Do you have a favorite sunscreen? It’s so hard to find a really great one that ticks off all of the boxes.

Yeah! I have two favorites. One is from Dermophisiologique. Have you heard of that one? It’s great because it doesn’t turn my face white. And then I like the Supergoop! Glow Oil SPF 50 PA++++ ($38)—I literally never burn when I'm wearing it even though it feels like tanning oil.

I love that one too. Okay, so on days when you’re not working or you’re just staying in, what does your skincare routine look like both morning and night?

I try to keep it really simple. I don’t really cleanse my face in the morning. I just kind of rinse it and then put on some kind of serum, moisturizer, or something with just a little bit of vitamin B, vitamin C, or vitamin A depending on if I have any congestion. Then I’ll put on my SPF.

And then in the evenings, I’ll cleanse, and if I have makeup on, I’ll usually do a double cleanse. I’ll add a little bit of dew to my face with some rose water, I’ll add a serum, and then I have this deep, nourishing face mask from my acupuncturist, which I’ll sometimes use. I put a nice balm over it, leave it on all night, and then I just wake up super dewy. I love it. And then, after the balm, I like to spray St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist ($30) over it to keep me tan.

Okay, let’s say you can only use three beauty products for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Hmm, I would use… Okay, sorry to bring it up again, but definitely, my Dermophisiologique sunscreen because it’s such a tried-and-true product on my vanity that never goes away. Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($10)—one of my favorites. It’s always on my lips, and I’ve also been known to lather it on my legs when I’m on my way to an event. And, I mean, I know I already mentioned my St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit, but I’m obsessed.


(Image credit: @ashleygraham)

You’re a global ambassador for St. Tropez. What are the best tips and tricks you’ve picked up for mastering an at-home self-tanning routine? It can be tricky and intimidating!

First and foremost, you have to use a mitt. The mitt is your best friend. If you use your hand, you will regret everything in life. Second, I think people are afraid of lotion. You just have to make sure you're hitting all of the areas including your hands, your knees, your elbows, your feet. And then as far as successfully tanning that hard part on your back that you feel like you can’t quite get to, I just spray the St. Tropez Purity Bronzing Water Face Mist back there, too. Like, loads and loads and loads of sprays, and it will tan your back! 

Ooh, that is a good tip!

[Laughs] Yes, if I don’t have someone here to support me, that’s what I do.

Is there anything about your beauty routine that would surprise people?

That would surprise people? I feel like people probably assume that I use a lot of products, but I really don’t. For me, it’s really about less is more, and I think the less you have in your routine, the better it probably is for your skin. It's not like your skin wants loads of stuff anyway, at least mine doesn’t! But yeah, I just keep everything simple. I’m down to earth. I’m not too fussy about things. I’m very much a just-run-out-the-door-as-I-am type of person. 

I want to switch gears a little bit to your wellness routine. Health and beauty are so intertwined. Do you have any self-care practices you rely on to help de-stress or stay centered?

For me, everything is all about how beauty comes from the inside and extends outward. I really think that’s a motto a lot of people have to remember even though it can be challenging. It’s not always easy to say that to yourself. Prayer and meditation have also really kept me centered and sane, especially through this last year or so. They’ve always been staples in my life, but I think I bumped it up during the pandemic, but also after becoming a mom. I had to really think about how to cut out alone time for myself and what I really wanted to do with that alone time. Finding ways to move my body every day is also really important to me, whether it’s yoga or working out or taking a walk or Pilates. 

Completely. And I’m glad you brought up life as a new mom. Congratulations, by the way! How has that experience been so far, and how has this new role impacted the way you approach beauty?

Well, it DID remove a lot of steps. Efficiency is key, and you know, if a product isn’t multitasking, I kind of think twice about it. Like, why am I even using it? The St. Tropez Ultimate Glow Kit has so much nourishment as far as essential hydration that’s already built into it; I don’t have to think about lotioning up constantly, and it also has ingredients like rose hip, so I know that I don’t have to OD on my hyaluronic acid.


(Image credit: @ashleygraham)

When do you feel most beautiful or confident and why?

Man, I think there’s something about being on a date with my husband when we’re mid-conversation, and just out of nowhere, he will tell me, "You’re so beautiful.” It’s just like, awww! Thank you! It still gives me butterflies, and it’s been almost 11 years. 

That’s amazing. I love that! You know, it seems like every generation inherits more and more societal pressure to look and present themselves in a certain way. What’s your advice for anyone who struggles to feel beautiful or empowered?

It’s so hard to be around the constant comparison on social media. You have to remember that your words have power and that other people don’t dictate who you are. You dictate who you are. Remember to have things written down—put them on your mirror—that will remind you of who you are so that in those lowest moments, you can say, I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful, and you don’t second-guess yourself. Affirmations are so powerful.

Definitely. Our inner monologue and what we tell ourselves is so important—resisting that temptation to cut ourselves down. And then I actually just have one more question for you. What’s your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or less?

Okay wait, six, seven, eight, nine… Can I do nine?!

[Laughs] Yes! And you can explain it and provide a little context, too.

Okay, yes. For me, it’s going to be the affirmations I had to tell myself when I was in my late teens. I am bold, I am brilliant, and I am beautiful. I am bold because I’ve always had to stand up to an industry that has tried to tell me who I am. And now it’s even worse; it’s not even just the fashion industry telling you who you are, but it’s social media telling young people who they are, too. So I had to be bold and stand up against that system. I am brilliant because I was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia, and I was always told I wasn’t good enough to be a this or that or a businesswoman or to even read a teleprompter, so I have always had to remind myself that I am brilliant. And then I am beautiful because it’s like what we were just talking about—social media and this industry are constantly trying to feed us this comparison game if you allow it to. That’s why I really feel like having affirmations is key and having them close to your heart is very important.

Shop Ashley's Unfiltered Beauty Edit

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.