Achelle and Carly

By Jenn Rose Smith
Besties: Achelle Dunaway and Carly Cardellino | Camille Styles

photographed by belathée

There are run-of-the-mill girlfriends, and then there are the ones who will tell you when you’ve got lipstick on your teeth. The ones who will help you get out of that amazing (but snug) pair of pants. The ones who will always make you feel loved (even when your boyfriend doesn’t.) Achelle Dunaway of e.l.f. Cosmetics and Carly Cardellino of Cosmopolitan fall into that second category — these two beauty mavens met over a deskside meeting and have been best friends ever since. Over the past eight years they’ve shared laughs, tears, and (of course) beauty tips — all while working their respective ways up in the competitive beauty industry. Join us as we follow Carly and Achelle to DreamDry Salon to get the scoop on what makes this NYC friendship so darn beautiful.



We love that you two both work in the beauty industry. How did you meet and how long have you been friends?

Achelle (featured right): Gosh, it feels like forever. It has to be about 8 years now?

Carly (featured left): Right, because I’ve been in NYC for 10 and I met her about two years after I moved here. I met Achelle on a deskside, which — in the beauty world — is where someone from a beauty brand (and the brand’s publicist) comes to the editor’s desk to have a meeting and shows him/her the latest launches. We bonded over So You Think You Can Dance while Achelle was telling me about e.l.f.’s newest products and we’ve been friends ever since.

Carly: When we were both single, we always joked about how each of us would do such nice things for the other and would be the best boyfriends ever if we were dudes.

Achelle: We call each other “BBE” (Best Boyfriend Ever) because we know we will always be there for each other no matter what.

Amazing. We might have to borrow that…

This is such a fun friend date! Do you two visit DreamDry together often?

Carly: We love getting any beauty treatment together — blowouts, manis, pedis — but DreamDry is amazing because it’s not only a chic spot, they use Oribe products (one of my favorite haircare brands!) and always style our hair perfectly in, like, half an hour.

Achelle, tell us about your position at e.l.f. Cosmetics. What do you love about what you do?

I’m the Creative Director at e.l.f. Cosmetics. In the past 10 years with the brand I’ve had the luxury of being able to harness my creativity by focusing on innovating their product assortment. I love that I get to literally “play” with makeup every day and come up with new products, color assortments, creative componentry, copy, color names, packaging, etc. Not to mention I’m also their Chief Makeup Artist so I get to do photo shoots and videos for the brand which is extremely fun.

Are you guys able to share beauty tips and products?

Carly: We’re always talking about the coolest, newest products that either I come across or that she’s whipping up for e.l.f. or stumbling upon as she’s traveling for work. And we’re forever sharing beauty tips! It’s really fun and unique to have someone so close to you in the same industry. My favorite though, is when she asks me for input on a lipstick or nail polish name — it’s fun to then see it in the store and think, I named that!

And Carly, tell us about your career in the beauty field. What do you love about working for Cosmopolitan?

I’m the Senior Beauty Editor of, so I pitch, execute, write, and edit the majority of the beauty stories for the site. What I love most about what I do is that no two days are ever the same — I’m always writing about different things, interviewing different people, etc. That, and the fact that I’m constantly learning and I get to write about and play with beauty products for a living!

How do you like to spend time together as friends? What do you typically talk about?

Achelle: We love to have wine dates, go horseback riding, watch reality tv, vacation, or go shopping together! We cover a plethora of topics when we chat. Anything from family, relationships, career, church, to celebrity news.

Carly: There isn’t a subject that’s off limits — that’s what’s special about a best friend, you can talk to them about anything.


How do you each take your coffee?

Achelle: Organic coffee with almond milk, a little cinnamon and honey.

Carly: I’m already pretty wired as it is, so I don’t really drink coffee. I’m more of a chai tea latte with almond milk kind of girl.

Carly, what do you admire about Achelle in terms of beauty? What’s her best feature?

That no matter what the situation, she is always kind, which I think is more beautiful than any red lip-smoky eye combo she could wear. And hmm, her best feature — it’s so hard to choose one! — I’d have to say it’s her smile. It alone will make you want to smile, too.

And Achelle, what do you admire most about Carly in terms of beauty?

Carly’s Cheekbones are iconic! She has this amazing signature kiss pose that she looks stunning in every time!

What’s the best beauty tip you’ve learned from each other?

Achelle: The hashtag smoky eye. It’s where you create a # sign on the outer corner of your eyelid with a gel eyeliner pencil and smudge it in for an instant smoky eye that’s so selfie worthy!!


Carly: The best tip I’ve learned from Achelle is not really about beauty per se, but rather how to pose. She has this go-to pose that involves her arching her back all the way to the left or right, depending on which side of you she’s standing on, then she props her hand on her hip and bends one foot behind the other — she’s probably doing it in one of these pictures from our shoot! It always gives her the best posture and makes her look taller than she is. She tried to teach me, but I just end up looking crazy while she looks statuesque.

What books are you reading right now?

Carly: My boss Amy Odell’s new book: Tales From The Back Row, which is coming out September 1 — I’m reading a first-bound copy right now and it’s hilarious.

Achelle: I love nonfiction books that are insightful, encouraging, and help challenge you to be the best version of yourself. Currently I’m reading The Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly. It’s a fantastic book about understanding how to build strong connections, and lasting love.

Carly, describe Achelle in 5 words or less:

Dependable; smart; adventurous; thoughtful; and giving.


And Achelle, which 5 words would you use to describe Carly?

Faithful, honest, charismatic, stylish, and outgoing.


How does your bestie inspire you in general?

Achelle: Carly inspires me on how she’s all about talking things through to resolve things quickly.  You can always count on her to tell it like it is. I admire how bold, honest, and dependable she is as a person and as a friend.

Carly: I think that there are friends that challenge you to be better because they’re constantly challenging themselves and that is an inspiring quality Achelle has. She also loves to travel to different countries and goes to a lot of places by herself, which I admire and aspire to do more!

Any recent funny stories to share with us?

Achelle: Well, we’re both a big fan of tight jeans (lol, we’ve all been there when you could use a set of hands to help wiggle your way out of them). I literally helped shimmy Carly out of her jeans on a few occasions, and each time we get a kick out of it and die laughing. (Those hot wide legged jeans in this shoot was one of those occasions…)

Carly: They were were so tight that Achelle literally had to pull them off of me! We were dying laughing — I thought I was going to have to cut them off!

Oh, yes. We’ve definitely been there!

And finally, how do you see each other ten years from now?

Carly: Achelle will probably be running her own business, married to her boyfriend CJ, with some pretty babies running around an all-gray-slash-neutral living room. And hopefully she’ll be living in NYC so I can see her whenever I want!

Achelle: And Carly will probably be a New York Times bestselling author, a style icon, and happily married with kids! (Ideally our kids will be besties!)

Cheers to that! Thank you ladies, for giving us a glimpse into your beauty-filled friendship.

follow these besties on instagram here:
@askachelle and @CarlyCardellino