The Nonprofit Manager With 5 Conditioners Under Her Sink

The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of Into The Gloss’ lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Submit your own on Instagram—post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie for a chance to be featured on ITG.

“Hello world, I’m Sobaika Mirza (@sobaika). I work in nonprofit management and recently started a new job with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. I’m on their civic engagement team, advocating for the inclusion of domestic workers, most of whom are immigrants and women of color, in labor protections. Before that I worked on Cory Booker’s presidential campaign. He has beautiful skin, in case you were wondering—must be the vegan diet. I don’t want everything in my life to feel like an Ethical Stance, but I also know that small choices are meaningful, especially until there’s broader policy change. I gave up liquid hand soap and body wash to cut down on my plastic. I don’t take a product out of its packaging until I’m ready to use it in full, and then I cut it up to scoop out every last bit when I’m at the end. I’ve been eating less meat and dairy. I just want the world to be a bit better than I found it, or at least be able to say I tried my best to get us there.

I don’t think you can talk about beauty without talking about lifestyle. I aim to drink a gallon of water a day and usually manage it—bring on the clear pee! I also take a wide array of supplements, which may or may not just get expelled in my aforementioned clear pee. My mainstay has been Hairfinity, which has helped my hair though many color changes and makes my nails grow like weeds. And I also take calcium because I am a woman with bones. I had a doughnut for breakfast today, so I need all the nutrients I can get, OK?

My face leans oily, but I keep it balanced in the morning with Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel. I leave it on like a mask while I brush my teeth, and after I rinse, my skin is so bright and bouncy. If I could talk to my younger self I’d force her to start using eye cream sooner—now I’m playing catch up. I like an eye serum for the day, and either use The Ordinary Caffeine Solution or Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective. The rest of my skincare is Innisfree’s Minimum Essence and Glossier Priming Moisturizer, and I set with Supergoop’s SPF setting mist.

I am an only child raised by a single mom, and when I was little I loved watching her get ready in our tiny shared bedroom—always kohl-smudged eyes and berry lips. My family is Pakistani, so you might say I came out of the gate reaching for highlighter. Now, my daily base is Hourglass Immaculate Foundation in Golden. It’s the only foundation that doesn’t need a finishing spray or powder. When I do feel like using something to set it, I like Ben Nye’s color-correcting powders and Fenty’s brightening Lavender one. The only concealer better than Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer is Nars Soft Matte. What a finish. And my current favorite blush is Black Up’s NBL 01. It’s a bright doll-cheek pink that’s pigmented enough to work on darker skin tones—with a light hand, it gives me a soft flush.

I almost don’t want to include this because my secret will get out but: no one talks about Pat McGrath’s mascara and everyone should. It gives me the most fluttery lashes. I tend to feel naked without eyeliner, so I’ll usually just smudge on some Clinique Kajal. When I want to do a cat eye, the formula and shape of Fenty Flyliner is perfect—the bigger the wing the greater the power, them’s the rules. I leave my eyebrow grooming in the capable hands of a threading professional, but will use Glossier Brow Flick to fill in sparse bits. Then I use Becca highlighter in Moonstone on my brow bone and the inner corners of my eyes. Though I’m pretty loyal to the super juicy Dior Lip Glow in 001 for everyday, I own every lipstick shade under the sun. The most perfect, classic red called is Hourglass’ Icon. They make the same shade in every formula, so you can pick your ideal finish.

Have you seen The Umbrellas of Cherbourg? It’s a French musical from the ‘60s with whimsical storybook colors and pop-art pastels—very striking and chic. I like to live in that color story. I went through a hair dyeing phase of purple, gray, platinum… picture a pastel-hued Snooki running around New York, and that was me. It was very expensive and time-consuming but I never regretted it, because it made me feel as exuberant on the outside as I did inside. I’m back to my natural brown for now, and trying to keep it really healthy. The night before I wash my hair I’ll do a treatment with Olaplex, which helped nurse my hair back to health after all the bleach. And right before showering, I’ll spray diluted apple cider vinegar onto my scalp to reset my hair’s pH level. I let it marinate for about 10 minutes, using that time to shave my legs or throw on a messy mask like Glamglow Supermud. Then I shampoo with Lush’s Godiva bar [Ed note: discontinued], which smells like an entire jasmine shrub packed into the palm of your hand and makes me feel like one luxurious bitch. My conditioner might be Leonor Greyl Orchid Mask, Kristin Ess The One, Garnier Oat Delicacy, Virtue Recovery, Living Proof Repair… I always have tons of backups stored underneath my sink. And once my hair dries, Ouai’s Hair Oil works as a heat protectant when styling.

The hot shit happens at night. I wash my face right after I get home, and often find myself fielding dinner invitations while I’m halfway through my routine. Sorry! First Aid Beauty’s Face Cleanser is perfectly frothy but still gentle, and enough to get all manner of makeup off. Next I use SK-II Essence, which I’d bathe in if I could, or Ranavat Jasmine Tonique if I’m craving something sensory. Then I like to layer my serums. My biggest issue is hyperpigmentation, and a blemish that came and went in two days will leave a mark for two weeks. I try to reduce inflammation and speed up cellular turnover with thin layers of The Inkey List Q10 Antioxidant Serum and Shark Sauce. I wait a few minutes between the two to make sure they’ve absorbed. Since we’re trying to turn back time over here, I use the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Eye Repair next.

My final steps change with how my skin is feeling and what it needs. Retinoids can treat nearly every possible skincare concern, and I like Curology’s formula so much that I stopped refilling my tretinoin prescription. I’ll use that about four times a week, and on the other nights I do a treatment. Quick question: what is the deal with sheet masks? Is my face just not the right size for them? Does no one else hate the feeling of excess liquid dripping into your hair and ears and down your neck? Instead, I reach for Glow Recipe Watermelon Mask constantly, which also works on my legs to help fade cuts or mosquito bites. Ren’s Flash Rinse is an excellent brightener, and I worship at the altar of Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask. I prefer a patch for the undereyes and lips—Patchology makes great ones, and I buy Shiseido Retinol Express Eye Masks and Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Masks on repeat. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate seals it all, or Farsali’s thicker Volcanic Elixir, which (despite the fancy name) is just pure tamanu oil. And I always end with the Innisfree Lip Sleeping Mask and Grandelash.

I want to treat my skin below the clavicle as well as I do the skin above. I moisturize with the Hyaluronic Concentrate and Retin-oil from The Chemistry Brand, and in the winter slather First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream all over. In the shower I love my Shea Moisture soap, but if body acne or ingrown hairs are an issue, Mario Badescu Cleansing Lotion O gets the job done. And if I have a gentleman caller, I’ll swap that out for the more fragrant Body Hero or Sandalwood Nécessaire. My favorite perfume is Organza, which definitely smells like something your grandma might wear but absolutely sings with my body chemistry. People stop me on the street to ask me what I’m wearing… you know, when I used to walk on streets with other people. I never let anyone shape my fingernails, and instead do it myself twice a week with a glass file. They’re much finer than traditional files which gives me a more precise shape. Dior’s Crème Abricot is the absolute last thing I do at night, because although it’s amazing for my nails and cuticles, it’s also super waxy.

I’ll throw on a podcast like Natch Beaut while folding my laundry, and am always on the lookout for shows and movies with great makeup and costume design. (Please watch Cabaret, Killing Eve, and Ram-Leela if you haven’t yet.) But it’s also important to me to read something for personal pleasure, even if it’s only a few pages before bed. I can’t function without a good night’s sleep—I need eight hours, minimum.”

—as told to ITG

Photos via the author