Melissa Barrera on Beauty Staples, Scream VI, and the Importance of Inclusion


(Image credit: @melissabarreram)

Whether you were first introduced to Melissa Barrera after seeing her as a struggling fashion designer in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stage musical In the Heights or as an emerging scream queen in the fifth (and now the sixth) installment of the Scream franchise, it’s evident that this actress is making major waves in Hollywood. Since her 2017 arrival in Los Angeles as a talented newcomer with hopes of breaking into the industry, Barrera has had roles in a number of notable films and television series, establishing herself as a star on the rise.

We had the opportunity to talk beauty, horror (you can catch Scream VI in theaters beginning on March 10), and everything in between following the announcement of her exciting new role as brand ambassador for Clinique.


(Image credit: @melissabarreram)

Can you share a little about your experience being a Clinique brand ambassador and what it means to you?

I love it! I love representing Latinas as a brand ambassador because I grew up with Clinique, and I know the presence that Clinique has in Mexico, which is huge. Being able to be the face of Clinique and having so many women look at me and think, "Yeah, she looks like me” or "Because she’s a brand ambassador, I could be a brand ambassador one day,” I find that beautiful. Clinique has been in my family for generations, so it feels very full circle to be an ambassador for a brand I actually know and love and that has been in my family for years.

How does being the brand’s ambassador reflect your idea of beauty?

One of my favorite things about the brand is that they genuinely care about making people feel good and making everyone accept their own unique beauty. I love how all the makeup products are skincare first. … When we look in the mirror, if we like what we see, it affects us in a positive way for the rest of the dayhow we carry ourselves, the energy we go into every room with. I always thought growing up that some people have flawless skin in middle school and high school, and some had constant breakouts and pimples, and it just feels unfair sometimes.

I feel now, being with Clinique, that beauty is an energy that comes from within, but we also want our outside to match our inside. I think that’s the mission of Clinique: to create products and be a brand that’s safe for all skin types and helps everyone achieve their best self. I love being a part of that message and knowing it’s a brand that’s accessible and safe for everyone to feel beautiful.

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

It depends on what I’m doing! Let’s say I’m going to an event or lunch and want to apply a little bit of makeup for a natural look. First, I would have my Moisture Surge, which is my holy grail. I apply it morning, noon, and night. What I love about it is that it gives a glowing, dewy look. Then I would apply some of the Even Better Clinical Foundation and mix it in with the Moisture Surge to create a tinted moisturizer that can even out my skin tone.

I would also probably curl my lashes and use the High Impact Zero Gravity Mascara because I think it [makes] a huge difference by opening up the eyes and the face. And of course, the Black Honey lipstick—I don’t go anywhere without it! It works as a lip balm and gives me a little pop of color but still feels natural without being a full-on lipstick.


(Image credit: @melissabarreram)

How would you describe your approach to an easy everyday makeup routine?

I’m all for simplicity. I feel like I move a lot, and I’m always in a hurry, so to me, it’s important to have as few steps as possible in both my skincare and makeup routines. So a moisturizer, SPF, a little bit of foundation, some mascara, and sometimes some blush to add some color to your cheek, like the Chubby Stick that can also be used on your eyelids and lips. I love multipurpose products.

I can’t help but be obsessed with your bold and gorgeous brows. How do you make them look so great?

Honestly, I just don’t touch them. I have been tweezing and plucking my own brows for 10 years. No one has touched my brows. I think that’s the key! I just do them myself.


(Image credit: @melissabarreram)

How has your culture influenced your approach to beauty?

In every way. Being Mexican, being Latina, beauty is so ingrained into who we are. We always want to look good. I come from a very matriarchal family, and being "presentable,” looking good, and coming out of the house ready for whatever comes is so important. I remember my mom always used to say when I was about to leave for college in the United States, "Just remember, never leave the house without looking good and put-together.” It’s such a big thing in our culture. When you look good, you feel good, and you’re walking around the world like you own it. That’s such a Latina thing.

I distinctly remember when I moved to L.A. in 2017 getting stopped on the street multiple times by people and asked where I was from. And I would wonder, "Why do people know that I’m not from here? Do I look like a tourist?” Eventually, I asked the fifth person to tell me what was going on, and he said it was because I looked very nice and well put-together. I feel like that’s also a very Mexican thing since we like leaving the house and looking good.

You’ve also claimed your spot as one of the top scream queens in entertainment. If you had to take on one of the styles of your characters, who would you pick and why?

I really liked my Vanessa wardrobe from In the Heights. I got to wear some really iconic looks in that movie that I really liked that were unlike me. Sam in Scream dresses very similarly to how I dress in life, so it wouldn't be very different, which is why I didn’t say Sam even though I do like the clothes since it’s what I wear in life!


(Image credit: @melissabarreram)

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Maya Thomas
Assistant Beauty Editor
Maya Thomas is Who What Wear's assistant beauty editor based just outside of Seattle, Washington. Her strong love for all things beauty and fashion stems from a strong childhood interest in the fine arts. During a gap year spent in Paris studying the history of French fashion, she shifted her focus to English literature and journalism as a student at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of one day pursuing a career in fashion. After graduating in May 2021, Maya began freelancing for as a contributing commerce writer while also building a following on her lifestyle blog, When she's not writing, Maya spends her free time catching up on reading, perusing art galleries, and enjoying a night out at the ballet every now and then.