Clara Villanueva

Image: Cliff Roles

Like many artists, Clara Reynardus de Villanueva feels like she was born with paintbrush in hand. Originally from New York and raised in Puerto Rico, this first-generation Cuban-American completed her undergrad degree in psychology and social relations at Harvard, but she's also a self-taught fine artist and muralist who's completed numerous commissions across the U.S. She's also a board member of the Cuban Art Alliance, founded by her father, author and fellow avid Cuban art collector Jorge Reynardus. 

Though her move to Sarasota brought with it a shift away from fine art and into fashion styling, most recently for The Met Fashion House on St. Armands Circle, de Villanueva recently emerged from a painting hiatus. Her passion for philanthropy drives her belief that the purpose of her gift is to give back. To that end, she recently co-chaired the Child Protection Center’s Blue Ties and Butterflies and donated the auctioned painting, which she titled Pillar of Hope after its namesake at CPC headquarters on Orange Avenue.

Now that you know more about de Villanueva, we asked this stunner to share her beauty routine and how she emanates grace and style in such an approachable manner. 

Describe your morning makeup routine…

My morning makeup routine always begins with kisses from Bonham, my four-month old puppy—oh, and hubby, too! I aim for a natural, even, flawless appearance by avoiding heavy and dramatic products; I use a combo of Trish McEvoy’s Beauty Booster dry oil and her beauty balm with SPF35 turn my face into a smooth, silky palette that won't break me out. I absolutely love my thick lashes and neat but not over-groomed eyebrows thanks to Revitalash and Revitabrow.  

What did your mother/mother-figure teach you about beauty?

Though my mother passed away very young age, she left me a glamorous and elegant image to which to aspire. There were many fashion and beauty misses along the way, but I’m finally almost there. 

How do you nourish your beauty from the inside?

Because of food allergies, my eating habits are atrocious. Thank goodness for seemingly good genes, as it definitely isn’t the SlimFast I guzzle for breakfast and lunch. Kidding aside, though, I nourish my soul by filling it with kindness, generosity and, I hope, grace—all of which I aspire to reflect into the universe. 

Any treatments you outsource?

I’m a huge fan of The Met’s Day Spa and Salon, just upstairs from the Fashion House, where I work.  I love a Brazilian blowout to tame my wild Cuban hair.  Sugaring is a new favorite treatment—it’s virtually pain free and longer lasting than waxing. You’ll thank me later. For event make-up, I love Nina Guy, who I’ve dubbed “the Nina filter” for her luminous, age-erasing work. 

How about your nighttime skincare ritual?

Each morning and night I wash twice with Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, followed by applying prescription metronidazole topical cream (.75%). These two steps keep me blemish- and rosacea-free. I also love Cellcosmet Switzerland’s Cellular Eye Contour Cream. 

Do you have a signature scent and what do you love about it?

Rather than a signature, I have a neighborhood of scents, all by CreedVirgin Island Water is for when I’m feeling beachy. Vetiver is moody and rebellious. Aventus for Her is a new fave, though on me it’s a chameleon and changes dramatically as time passes.

What is the biggest beauty blunder you've made?

That would definitely be Botox—let me explain. In the right spot—say, between the eyebrows—it’s magic.  On me, though, when injected at the outside corner of my eyes, it made my undereye skin droop for three months.  

More women should…

Realize how beautiful they truly are.  We are our own toughest critics. 

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