Melissa Barrera On Anxiety, Aloe Vera, & Finding Self Love

The actress opens up about her year — and what she’s looking forward to in 2023.

Written by Brittany Leitner

In Beauty Roots, Bustle chats with diverse celebrities and creators about how their heritage has influenced their businesses and routines. Here, Actress Melissa Barrera discusses the differences in working in the U.S. and Mexico and how her Latina heritage influences her beauty routine today.

Melissa Barrera just wants less time in the makeup chair. The actress — who starred in the movie-musical In The Heights and is set to appear in the much-awaited 2023 film, Scream 6 — launched her career in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico 10 years ago as a telenovela star. And it turns out, Mexico and the U.S. have very different views on how hair and makeup should be tackled for filming.

“In Mexico, when you’re doing a TV show or a series, usually you’re getting hair and makeup done at the same time,” Barrera tells Bustle. “But [in the U.S.], it’s separate. It stresses me out still to this day. I’ve been in the U.S. for almost six years and every time I have to get in the chair and it’s like, ‘Go to hair first!’ It’s double the time.”

But of course, working in the U.S. has some perks. For one, Barrera says self-care is prioritized after a long day of shooting, and now that she moved to Austin, Texas, she appreciates maintaining a separate home base while getting settled into the world of Hollywood. As a year of successes comes to an end, Barrera reflects with Bustle on her self-care secrets as a Clinique ambassador, how her Latina heritage influences her beauty routine, and what she’s most looking forward to in the new year.

What’s your skincare routine after a long day of working?

I’m obsessed with Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm. It’s my favorite thing to use at the end of the day because it melts your makeup off. It’s so gentle on the skin. I have such sensitive skin around my eyes that every time I cleanse, I feel like my eyes are burning and red — with this product, none of that happens.

How has your Mexican heritage influenced how you see or think about beauty?

I think in a big way, I always saw the women in my family [looking] put-together. I learned from my early days just watching my mom and my grandma taking care of their skin. “Always, always, always be presentable when you leave the house,” is what my mom would tell me. So I think we value how we [present ourselves] a lot.

We value at least putting on a red lipstick and a little bit of mascara — just a little pop of color on the face when you go out. I think it’s, in general, a Latina thing where we like to look good. We know that if we look good, we feel good, and that radiates in the energy of how we carry ourselves in the world. I remember when I was going to move to the U.S. for school, my mom told me, “Just don’t forget yourself.’”

What’s your favorite skin care ingredient?

Aloe vera was always present in my backyard, on the kitchen table, and in the bathroom. It’s always been a natural skincare remedy [I would use]. I would constantly see my mom using a lot of aloe vera. To this day, there’s aloe vera in my house. When I had my first chat with Clinique, they told me about the Moisture Surge 100h Moisturizer [that uses] aloe vera to the 200th potential.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn in your adult years in terms of self-love?

I actually had a really hard time in the last few months with really heavy anxiety. I usually have my handle on things, but the last few months, I just felt heavy. I [realized] that it was a lot of work-related anxiety. I am a workhorse. I’m usually happiest when I’m busy, when I’m working, when I’m on set. And I started to give myself value exclusively tied to my work.

Then when I wasn’t working, I was like, I’m a failure — and all of these feelings that start creeping in. When I understood it for what it was, I was like, I’m so much more than my work. I’m a good daughter, a good sister, friend, wife, a good mom to my dogs. I love acting, but I love so many other things that I needed to remind myself of.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023?

I’m most excited about 2023 because that means 2022 is over. I think it’s a new, blank slate. All the lessons and all the hard times that I passed in 2022, I’ve understood and I’m moving past and I’m working through. And so going to 2023, I feel more powerful. I feel like I’ve regained the reins in my life and am going in with a very positive mindset.

I have a bunch of things that are going to premiere that I’m excited about, and I really, really hope that I get to spend a lot more time with my family in 2023.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.