Wake Up Call

How do you spend the first five minutes of your day? In our Wake Up Call series, we take a look inside the morning routines of people we admire to inspire our own AM rituals. See All

If you love beauty as much as we do, you may have noticed that the line between makeup and skin care gets increasingly blurry. In the past, the quest for clean, non-toxic beauty hasn’t always gone hand-in-hand with fun color cosmetics, but that’s a-changing. Now you can get that glow whether you go bare-faced or love a solid makeup routine, and our favorite beauty entrepreneurs are turning out clean products that are not only good for our skin — they make us look great, too.

Take Tower 28: a skincare and makeup brand created by Amy Liu that marries skin benefits with color cosmetics. The brand‘s mantra is everything we could ask for: clean beauty with minimalist design that gives you that dewy glow — all without breaking the bank.

A former beauty executive with more than 15 years in the industry, Amy created Tower 28 after suffering with eczema for years. She created a company that was inclusive of all skin tones and types, budgets, and beauty philosophies.

“I’ve never been a huge makeup junkie. I don’t wear a ton of makeup, and with my sensitive skin, I never felt comfortable getting too experimental with skincare.

But I love the way that great beauty products can change the way a person walks through the world. No doubt, it’s done that for me.

From my personal experience with eczema, I’m acutely aware of what it’s like to be uncomfortable in the skin you’re in and want to hide a blemish or imperfection. The idea that I could help lend a boost of confidence to someone else is really motivating to me,” she says.

Less than a year old, LA-based Tower 28 already has a cult following and is quickly expanding, recently entering 500 Sephora stores nationwide and in Canada. After scoring some products myself, it’s easy to see why the brand has become so popular so quickly: there’s truly something for every type and shade of skin. “At Tower 28 Beauty, we like our beauty products the way we like our beaches: clean, full of sunshine, and for everyone,” Amy says.

We chatted with Amy at her cozy chic LA home where she spilled all things wellness, beauty, her inspiration behind the brand, and how she sets herself up for the best day ahead. This inspiring mom of three is changing the name of the clean beauty game and helping to heal our skin in the process, one product at a time.

Tell us how Tower 28 came to be?

I’ve worked in the beauty industry for over 15 years at brands like Smashbox, Kate Somerville, and Josie Maran Cosmetics. But as someone with a history of sensitive skin and eczema, I couldn’t enjoy the best part of working in this field: trying out all the products!  My years-long search for skincare and makeup that was clean and wouldn’t irritate my skin, while still being *fun,* is what inspired me to create Tower 28. This philosophy, combined with my love for beach culture, led to its launch last year.

What inspired the name?

Tower 28 is a lifeguard tower in Santa Monica that (pre-pandemic) used to be a favorite meeting spot for my friends and family. To me, the name Tower 28 evokes the feeling of safety, community, and fun!

Tell us more about the mission behind the brand. 

Our mission is to build Tower 28 as an approachable beauty company inclusive of all skin tones, skin types, budgets, and beauty philosophies. All of our products are under $28, and we believe that #ItsOkayToBeSensitive – we want to be the brand your skin can count on, regardless of your skin type. We are the only makeup brand to adhere to the National Eczema Association’s ingredient guidelines, which means our products are free of any potential irritants and allergens.

Tell us about your personal skincare journey.

I’ve struggled with pretty severe eczema for most of my adult life. There was actually a time when it was so bad that I wouldn’t wear shorts or skirts because my legs were so scarred. I lived near the beach in Santa Monica, so this was problematic! Because of this condition, I developed a minimalist skincare routine over the years, out of necessity and fear of causing an eczema flareup. It also inspired me to search for clean products that were also safe for sensitive skin, which is harder to find than you’d think.

Before I created our SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray, I was relying heavily on topical and oral steroids to manage my eczema for longer than I care to admit. Gratefully, with the help of this miracle product, I no longer have to take steroids to keep my skin under control. My eczema still flares up but the hypochlorous acid in SOS stops it in its tracks so it doesn’t spread.

Scroll on for a peek at Amy’s mornings and how she sets herself up for the best day ahead…

What time is your wake-up call?

I don’t have to use an alarm clock anymore, now that I have three kids! Generally, that means I’m up around 6am.

What wakes you up each day?

My five year old crawls into bed with us at some point in the night and wakes me up! But I love it.

Early bird or night owl? 

I used to be a night owl for most of my life, but I’ve transitioned into an early bird as a result of having kids. I typically get around 7 hours of sleep.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

The first thing I do when I wake up is give my kids a kiss! Then I spray our SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray on my face and make myself a good cup of coffee.

Describe your getting ready routine from start to finish. 

My routine is fast and pretty consistent. I don’t wash my face in the morning, but I do moisturize with a good oil. Recently, I have been loving Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum. I’ve been testing a lot of lab samples recently, so the rest of my makeup routine is a combination of lab samples and Tower 28’s Blush, Lip Jelly, and Highlighter Balm.

Shop Amy’s getting ready routine:

Do you plan your outfits in advance, or create them on the fly?

Always on the fly!

What do you eat for breakfast? 

Coffee in the mornings is a must, then I’ll either have soft-boiled eggs, blueberry oatmeal, or really fresh, in-season fruit.

Any morning media rituals? 

I find that Apple News is pretty comprehensive, so I’ll browse that in the morning to catch up. I also love getting The Skimm in my inbox every morning!

What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?

My go-tos are Best of Prince, 90s Hip Hop (especially anything Snoop Dogg), and Lizzo.

Do you work out in the morning? 

Since quarantine, I’ve started using an app called Presence.fit that I really love. There is a live trainer that works with you in a group session. It’s like having a private trainer in your home, because they can see you, give you real time feedback, and help motivate you.

I never leave the house without _____________.

My cell phone and a face mask!

If you could only put on one item of makeup, what would it be? 

My desert island makeup product would be Tower 28’s BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm. It’s a multi-tasker, so I’d have my cheeks and lips covered!

Do you stick to the same makeup and hair routine, or do you like to experiment?

I definitely experiment with my routines. I’m currently testing so many lab samples in an effort to make the next best Tower 28 product. Stay tuned…

Do you have a signature scent?

No. I have really sensitive skin, so I’ve always stayed away from fragrance.

Healthiest morning habit:

Drink water first thing in the morning.

Worst morning habit:

Check my phone as soon as I wake up. Guilty!

Daily uniform:

In quarantine, my daily uniform is Lululemon leggings and our Tower 28 crewneck sweatshirt. Pre-quarantine, it would be jeans and a t-shirt. Simple and casual, always.

What’s your favorite product in your shower?

I love Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair hair mask.

What are your top three skincare must-haves?
Tower 28 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray, Mara Universal Face Oil, Summer Fridays Super Amino Gel Cleanser.

When you really want to treat your skin, what is your go-to facial treatment?

Furtuna’s Face and Eye Serum. And a Clear and Brilliant laser treatment, now that my skin is more reliable (I used to have eczema, but SOS has really helped me keep my skin under control).

What is the biggest skin mistake you see people make?

I think many people forget that “clean” doesn’t necessarily mean non-irritating, and even natural ingredients like citrus based essential oils, tea tree and peppermint can be problematic for some skin types.

If you had one extra hour every morning, how would you use it?

Meditate, journal, go on a walk with my husband.

One word to describe your mornings:

Joyfully frenetic.

What are your top 5 favorite spots in LA?

  1. Tower 28: the lifeguard tower right at the intersection of Santa Monica and Venice)
  2. Back on the Beach in Santa Monica: where you can put your toes in the sand and have breakfast at the same time)
  3. Hiking in the Santa Monica and Los Angeles Mountains, near Temescal Canyon
  4. Amelia’s: my favorite coffee place…but it recently closed. I love supporting local businesses and was saddened by what Covid has done to restaurant owners.
  5. Koreatown, Sawtelle, and San Gabriel.

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Teal Thomsen