by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Photographer Elvina Farkas on Morning Rituals & Disrupting Beauty Standards

Creative director and photographer Elvina Farkas is someone to look up to if you’re thinking of going off the beaten career path; she went straight into the workplace after high school. Today, she runs two businesses with her husband: Singapore-based photo and video boutique studio Anue Studios, and immersive media production division AnueX in Australia. The pair have collaborated with international names like Tao Okamoto, Rita Ora and Georgia May Jagger, alongside Singaporean household names and international fashion brands.

And as if her schedule isn’t packed enough, Elvina also works with Singapore Press Holdings as Head of Audio & Video.

We caught up with Elvina to discuss how she got her start in photography, her worst beauty disaster, and the beauty standards she’s passionate about disrupting.

How did you get started in your field?

I grew up in a small country town in the heart of Australia. I was acutely aware of being different since I was of mixed cultures and mixed-race in a predominantly white and indigenous society. A lot of this reflection around identity resulted in a passion for writing and photography as creative outlets.

My grandmother was a pioneer of women in business during her time and my parents managed their own businesses too, so for me, it was a no-brainer to head straight into freelance production work straight after high school. Being of a more traditional mindset, my mother had concerns over my chosen path and the fact that a degree wasn’t in my game plan, but those just drove my desire and ambition to build a successful career in media further. Back then it was really a game of talent, networking and resilience, but the landscape with social media today has changed the game entirely.

Where are you finding your inspiration these days?

My inspirations have always been very rooted in life and experiences, whether they are mine or belong to others. Although I’m a total introvert and homebody, I often enjoy chatting with strangers and having open and honest discussions about unusual subjects. It’s an extremely important way to learn different viewpoints, context, and understandings to better shape your own expressions on a matter. It’s entirely alright to disagree and still be cordial with people; I think that’s an important lesson to learn when you’re actively seeking out other people’s opinions.

Apart from photography, what do you like to do when you are not swamped with work?

My downtime is very low-key: reading, listening to music, watching movies or bingeing TV shows. At the moment, I spend a lot of time researching and marking inspiration for our upcoming home renovation. As soon as borders reopen again, I would love to go on some sourcing trips for some particular items. West Africa, Morroco and Italy are first on the list, so I’m very eager to get vaccinated and back in the air!

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? How do you get your day going?

My day only starts after I’ve finished having coffee with my husband—this has been a routine ritual for us since day one of our relationship. From there it’s a quick cleanse, shower, moisturise, outfit selection and an updated to-do list of the day’s tasks ahead!

How do you look after your skin?

I always joke that my beauty routine is an expensive and long-winded way to look like I do nothing at all! I’m really more of a messy hair, flick of mascara kind of girl.

My morning routine starts with a quick and gentle cleanse with Fresh’s soy cleanser, followed by a flash mask of Sunday Riley’s Blue Moon Balm to relock lost moisture in while I brush my teeth. After that, it’s Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, Dr Dennis Gross’ moisturiser, sunscreen and CC cream.

At night, I always start with a double cleanse using Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser or cleanse and exfoliation with Grown Alchemist’s Polishing Facial Exfoliant. Then, it’s either Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Oil or A+ Retinoid Serum, topped off with Dr Dennis Gross’ Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion.

I always end my skincare routine—both morning and night!— with Grown Alchemist’s lip balm and Lancôme’s eye cream.

What is your go-to makeup look?

I prefer quick and easy, so my makeup style is rather ‘rock and roll’;- because it’s either a rough and smudgy eye look or a winged liner with some highlighter on my cheeks. I’ll throw on a bold lip colour depending on the occasion too.

Because I work alongside a lot of beauty bloggers and beauty editors, I have a stash of high-end lipsticks, eyeshadows, blushes, highlighters and contours gifted to me but I very rarely get through them all since I’m not a heavy makeup wearer—it’s really a shameful guilty secret that I have!

What was your worst beauty disaster and when did it happen?

It’s rather unconventional, but ever since the age of 15, I had been reliant on birth control to manage my skin and body. After almost 15 years of dependency on it, I finally decided that I needed to take charge and learn to take cues from my body off of synthetic hormones.

The first 6 months post-pill was a total nightmare, to say the least. I certainly don’t regret the years I was on the pill as it empowered me with a lot of freedom and the control that I needed during those years of sports, travel, career and relationships, but as I’ve shifted into the post-30 stage of my life, I’ve finally learnt to understand my cycle, body cues and patterns, and in a similar vein, it is also very empowering.

Which beauty standards are you passionate about disrupting?

The systemic and ingrained notions around status, beauty and skin colour. My mother is Singaporean Malay and my father is Hungarian, with light hair, fair skin and blue eyes. Out of the genetic mix pot, I ended up with naturally light brown hair and fairer skin.

I would get a fair number of comments from my Southeast Asian family and colleagues about how lucky I was being fair-coloured and occasionally over my tanned skin (as a sun-loving Aussie at heart). Even today, sometimes strangers will remark how I couldn’t possibly be mixed-race because I’m so pale.

“The general obsession with whitening skin tones is destroying so many young women’s ideas around what beauty is and how to love their natural self.”

What is most important to you: comfort, beauty, or innovation?

100% innovation. We are a constant work of art, so we need to never stop evolving, inside and out.

Elvina’s Beauty Picks

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, SGD23
Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm, SGD76
Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion, SGD92
Sunday Riley Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, SGD130
Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals SunProtector, SGD80.25
Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals Celltalk Cosmeceutical CC Cream, SGD70
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser, SGD65
Grown Alchemist Polishing Facial Exfoliant, SGD69
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, SGD83
Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, SGD128
Grown Alchemist +3 Antioxidant Lip Balm, SGD38.95
Grown Alchemist Hydra-Mist+, SGD33
Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Smoothing Eye Cream, SGD105

Want more ‘BEAU-FILES’? Hit that ‘Sign Up’ button at the bottom to receive the latest round-up.