A $25 mascara and a "well-kept secret" concealer: Everything Maria Thattil puts on her face.

With as many passions as accomplishments, Maria Thattil is one impressive woman. She's a writer, speaker, content creator and equality activist - she also has a degree in psychology and management. Alongside all of this, she also happens to be Miss Universe Australia 2020. And she's only 28.

Watch: Poh Ling Yeow told Mia Freedman she wants to live in slo-mo - and we're here for it. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia

With her many talents, her undeniable confidence and her striking physical beauty - it's easy to think Maria's journey and success has been pretty smooth sailing.

However, as she sits down with Mamamia in a refreshingly honest interview, we learn that that finding her feet in an idealised beauty industry has been anything but easy. 

Here, the Olay ambassador talks about everything from navigating her self-image to the importance of representation. 

Maria Thattil's approach to beauty.

If there's one thing you've already noticed about Maria, it's just how diverse she is in her career path - which is something the former makeup artist says heavily influences her approach to beauty.

"This seems to be in the fabric of my DNA - appreciating differences."


"Beauty is an appreciation for what we all uniquely appreciate. That means that beauty is synonymous with differences, and so I like to honour that what is beautiful to one person may not mean the same thing to the next." 

"For me, I love emphasising my melanin and enhancing what’s natural to me - this includes the big lips, pigmentation around my eyes and dark features I was conditioned to whitewash away."

"As someone who once used skin bleaching creams and makeup many shades too light to fit Eurocentric standards of beauty, my evolved approach to beauty is now embracing what is uniquely you, nurturing it, celebrating it, investing in caring for it and ‘being it’ - not hiding it."


Maria Thattil's skincare routine.

When it comes to skincare, Maria takes a less-is-more approach, summing up her skincare routine with two key steps: hydrate and protect.

"To hydrate, I love my Olay Super Serums. [I'm] currently loving the Luminous Niacinamide+ Hyaluronic Super Serum ($59.99), because my skin has experienced a little dermatitis in response to weather changes, and it’s loving the hydration."

"Then, if I want the extra moisture, I’ll use the Olay Luminous Niacinamide Sheet Mask, ($10.99) to moisturise and prime my skin. The formula feels like cooling jelly giving you luminous glass-like skin because it helps to plump, refresh and smooth skin."


"Now, as a woman of colour who is prone to hyperpigmentation under heat and exacerbation of melasma, a high priority is sun protection and doing it diligently as a staple in my skincare routine."

Sun protection as her highest skincare priority? Sounds like our kind of girl.

Maria has also been using the Olay x Keith Haring Collagen & Vitamin C Power Duo Gift Set, ($82.99) to tone her skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots, she told us.

Maria Thattil's everyday makeup look.

For her everyday makeup look, Maria said she likes to keep things pared-back and simple, focusing on dewy skin coupled with a natural, bronzy eye and a glossy lip. 

"Most days, I’ll just sweep a bronzer around the periphery of my face to add a light contouring effect and in my eye sockets for a wash of colour," she said. 

"Then I’ll use mascara to open up my eyes, brow gel to fluff up my brows and a lip balm to hydrate my lips."

Maria Thattil's favourite makeup products.

Anyone else curious as to which products are actually in her makeup bag? SAME.

And surprisingly, we found that most of her go-to formulas are pretty affordable, hard-working brands.

"Products that make my list of favourites are those that stand the test of time, are high quality based on performance and formula and are easy to use and accessible," she said.


"These include the L’Oréal Paris Lash Paradise Mascara ($24.95) because of its affordability, and how cleanly it separates lashes whilst still serving volume and length." 

For foundation, her all-time favourite is the Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation, $65, "one I will wear irrespective of the agenda," she said. 

"I wore it to a family brunch recently and also to my first print magazine cover shoot! It is buildable, has a soft, skin-like finish and ingredients to target dark spots and hydrate."


When it comes to concealers, Maria said her "well-kept secret" is the L’Oréal Infallible More Than Concealer, $29.95. 

"With it, I never have to colour correct because the formula is thick, blends well, has a variety of undertones and shades and lasts all day."

Another one of her ride-or-die staples? Clinique Hydro Plump Lip Treatment, $37.

"It's plumping, nourishing and looks beautiful on a naked lip. The Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb, $32, is also up there amongst my holy grail lip products. I can never fault this gloss in the shade 'Fenty Glow' - then again, who can fault Rihanna for anything?"

Hear, hear.

"Finally, the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, ($33), is undoubtedly the best in the market. I have worn this over concealer and gone for a swim and the makeup hasn’t budged. It’s how my makeup lasts for 16hr+ days. I use it in the colour 'Honey' for a natural, non-ashy finish. There’s a reason it’s a cult favourite."

Maria Thattil's best beauty tricks.

As a professional makeup artist and a model - you better believe Maria has a beauty trick (or two) up her sleeve. 

Her go-to trick the night before a shoot? Popping under-eye gel masks and a sheet mask in the fridge and using them the following morning.

"The cooling effect feels amazing. Once I take them off, I use my Foreo Bear device to really work the residual product into my skin but also push lymphatic fluid out of my face if I am having a bit of water retention," she said. "It works a treat!"


"Another beauty trick I love is the lazy smoked, natural eye that I wear on a day-to-day basis (lighter, bronze colours so it's more natural) or when I go out (darker pigments for a look more suitable for nighttime)."

To achieve it, Maria said she uses something like the Clinique Shadow Tint for the eyes in ‘Fuller Fudge’ and applies it over her lids and socket before using an eyeshadow brush to blend it out.

"Then I pick up a dark brown eyeshadow with an angled brush and smudge out a smoky winged liner. Finish with mascara and voila! You have a subtle, natural eye in minutes."

Maria Thattil's haircare routine.

When it comes to hair, Maria said, "Being Indian, I grew up learning about the importance of hair care. As my hair is colour treated and often heat styled, I like to invest in care and avoid heat where possible."

"Once a week, I use Dabur Amla Hair Oil in my hair. It contains the goodness of real alma and is an Ayurvedic oil to nourish and strengthen your hair; you can pick it up from local Indian grocers (support local!)." 

"I have fond memories of my mum applying it to my hair and braiding it for the hour or so it would be left in and singing to me whilst she did it."


In the shower, she uses the Eleven Australia ‘Keep My Colour Blonde Shampoo, $27.95, and conditioner to ensure her caramel locks don’t go brassy in between hair appointments. 

Post-shower, she said she uses hair care products to de-tangle (the Philip B De-tangling Toning Mist, $40), moisturise and protect from the heat (Eleven Australia Miracle Hair Treatment, $24.95). 

"My work means that my hair is heat styled a lot, so when I do my own hair, to minimise the heat damage, I use my Dyson Air Wrap, ($799), to dry and style it. It uses the Coanda effect to attract and wrap the hair so you’re styling it with air, not extreme heat. Cool, huh?"

Maria Thattil's favourite fragrance.

"In a fragrance, I want to capture my personality, energy and presence. For me, it needs to embody modern femininity and sensuality - be chic, graceful and clean, and importantly, memorable," said Maria.


When it comes to her signature fragrance, Maria said Si by Armani Beauty ($220) has been her go-to for years - and we can totally understand why.

"With blackcurrant nectar and musky white wood, it is one of my favourite scents ever," she adds.

"However, recently I have introduced the Rose Gold by Tiffany & Co perfume, ($170). It's a floral, fruity fragrance but so clean and elegant."

Maria Thattil's health and wellbeing routine.

When it comes to health and wellbeing, for Maria this is something she says is physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual for her. 

"Being an ambivert with such a fast-paced career and lifestyle, making time to unwind and recharge is essential to my wellbeing," she said.

"I often take solo days where I don’t leave my apartment or attend social gatherings and just laze on the couch with Netflix, food and just relax."

"I’m trying to make time for this regularly after the craziness of the last 12 months as they have trained my brain to be in go-mode and feel guilt when I do slow down."

Can anyone else relate?!

"Rest isn’t something to feel guilty for and is as essential as the items on your to-do list."


"Nature and reading are also hugely invigorating and recharging for me, so I will make time to switch off socials and wander in nature like in the local Botanic Gardens with my read of the moment (currently devouring Untamed by Glennon Doyle)."

"I also decompress by blasting music and just vibing. The simple things that raise our vibration often end up being the most important."

Maria has partnered with Olay on their #GlowUpYourOwnWay campaign, and worked with Sydney Mardi Gras to share her coming out story. Check it out here.

Feature image: Instagram; @mariathattil