Olivia Culpo is living her American dream. The beautiful brunette from Rhode Island achieved her childhood dream when she was crowned Miss Universe in 2012 while representing her home country, the United States. Today, Olivia is a fashion and beauty influencer, who is pictured on the front row of every international fashion show (in fact she was jetting off to Paris Fashion Week straight after we met her in Dubai.) She’s also an actress, model, presenter and she even plays the cello – you name it, she does it. Aside from sharing her style tips on her lifestyle site (oliviaculpo.com), she also recently launched her own fashion line. Looks like nothing is going to burst the 25-year-old’s bubble.

Dress, Dh1,302, Zayan The Label at Sauce
Aiza Castillo-Domingo

Friday caught up with Olivia in Dubai as she announced this month’s Beauty POP DXB festival (more about that later). In an email interview, Olivia shares her secrets to making fashion and beauty pop.

What differences did you notice about beauty in the UAE compared with the US?

I think beauty is everywhere and I see a lot of beauty in the people in UAE because they are so warm and inviting. I also love that the UAE loves glam. I am that way too. Ever since I was a little girl I loved to play with my mum’s make-up.

Did you purchase and beauty products while you were here?

I didn’t have too much time, but I did stock up on Huda Beauty. I love her products. The lashes, the lipliners – such great-quality make-up.

What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without?

I cannot say just one, but I will say I bring a lip liner with me everywhere. I think a little liner goes a long way when you don’t have time to do a full face.

What’s your morning make-up routine when you’re not working?

I wear so much make-up when I work that I like to give my skin a rest. I usually use a tinted moisturiser and a little concealer, if needed, under eyes and on any blemishes. I always curl my lashes and do a quick groom on my eyebrows with a mascara wand. Finally, I use a light-coloured lip liner and fill in with chapstick or tinted gloss.

What about your skincare regime?

Believe it or not, often times I don’t wash my face in the AM with soap. I feel like that strips the natural oils. At night I cleanse with products from SKII and Dr Barbara Sturm and use a really nice cream – Charlotte Tilbury and La Mer have great ones. I aways make sure I use suncare before going out for the day.

Are there any skin treatments you regularly have?

I love Nurse Jamie. All her treatments and products are amazing.

If you could change one thing about your face what would it be?

When I was younger, I would have said that I would like to change my thick eyebrows because I got teased for them, but now I love them. So I am hesitant to say I would change anything. I also find that people are most beautiful when they are comfortable in their own skin. Uniqueness is beautiful.

What, for you, makes a good make-up artist?

I love working with different make-up artists because they each have their “tricks”! Hung [Vanngo] is so amazing at eyes, Sir John has fun and different ideas, such as the purple eye we did for the Golden Globes, while Mary Phillips does beautiful skin. My go-to make-up artist is Liz Castellanos and we are always experimenting with different trends and looks. She is also so fun and easy to be around – that is really important.

Dress, Dh3,600, Alexis at Bloomingdale’s Dubai; Earrings, price on request, Messika
Aiza Castillo-Domingo

And a good hair stylist?

Justine Marjan and Jen Atkin are two of my faves. They are amazing because they can do so many different hair styles and it never gets boring.

Do you know how to contour?

I think so! I had to learn how to do make-up when I was doing the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, so I studied all the different methods for everything.

What’s your go-to lip colour?

During the day I often do a plum lip, but at night I love a bright red lip. It adds so much to the overall look.

What’s your favourite beauty trend for this season?

I really like this no make-up trend, which looks very fresh. I always love a cat eye and I have seen them more often lately.

You always look amazing on social media (Olivia has 2.6million Instagram followers). What’s your secret for taking a great selfie?

The most important thing is good lighting. That changes everything.

Top, Dh1,300, Cinq a Sept at Harvey Nichols Dubai; Trousers, Dh2,765, Ingie Paris at Etoile La Boutique; Necklace, price on request, Messika
Aiza Castillo-Domingo

After Dubai you went straight to Paris Fashion Week – how was that?

It was exhausting and fun! Fashion month can be pretty busy but it is so inspirational to see so much creativity in one place. I love to come home and play with some of the trends that I saw on the runway. I also just released a capsule collection on revolve.com called Marled by Olivia Culpo, and I get ideas for designing my own stuff when I am at the fashion shows.

What was your highlight?

A few of my friends were there, so we got to have some fun girl lunches and I got to see some of the sights. I also attended a dinner with Virgil Abloh [founder of the Off-White label and men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton]. He is so smart and talented and it is an honour to get to spend time with people like that and learn from them.

Which fashion trends should we be trying this season?

Pinks and neons, small-frame sunglasses, sneakers, asymmetric earrings and statement hats. I list my favourite trends and give ideas on how to recreate them on my site.

Who is your favourite designer?

It changes all the time, but right now, I love Off-White and Gucci.

Hair and make-up by Belle Femme

Dress, Dh2,020, BCBG Max Azria; Earrings, Dh583, Sandy Hyun at Sauce
Aiza Castillo-Domingo

Beauty lovers, this is for you

Put down those Instagram tutorials for a minute: Later this month, you’ll get to see some of the world’s top beauty professionals and influencers in the flesh – and learn from them. The likes of Jen Atkin, Mary Phillips, Camila Coelho and Dubai’s own Huda Kattan will be dishing out techniques and tips during panel discussions and masterclasses at Beauty POP DXB from April 19-21.

The weekend of classes, talks and meet-and-greets (so get that Instagram back out) takes place at Dubai Design District, and will also give you the chance to try out and buy the latest products from around the world. Also on the line-up: Celebrity skin expert Nurse Jamie, hair colourist Tracey Cunningham, make-up artist Bassam Fattouh and blogger Desi Perkins. Tickets start at Dh157.50; visit beautypopdxb.com