Steve Mack

Even pageant queens can't resist a trip to Sephora! 

Nikki Brown
Jun, 09, 2017

Pageant makeup treads the very thin line between glam and over-the-top, but that hardly reflects Kára McCullough's personal beauty philosophy. 

The 2017 Miss USA winner tells ESSENCE, "You know I'm a minimalist. I used to use so much crap in my hair."

Today, a less is more approach has served her well both off and on the stage, where she made headlines for competing in curls. In the midst of competing, the 25-year-old stuck to a simple routine that she continues to use a month into her reign. 

"This Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream ($13, sephora.com); I love that. And I also have Chi Biosilk ($20, jcpenney.com)." She continued, "And when it came to on stage presence, I always had a teasing comb or brush, to get the roots really good. And just some holding spray. That's what really helped me keep the hair bigger, so it didn't look like it was flat on stage."

As for her makeup routine, Kára isn't afraid to admit that she's still learning to perfect her beat.

"I'm very hard on myself," she shared with ESSENCE. I'll see these looks; especially these editorial looks and I'm like, 'oh my gosh, I want to look like that.'"

"I would give myself a good seven [out of ten] because I know there's still like such an area of improvement that I want for myself."

For now, she's depending on a few Sephora faves, like the Laura Mercier Translucent Powder and the NARS Lip Pencil ("It's like lip gloss almost. Those are my favorite!") to keep her camera-ready.

Shop all of McCullough's beauty must-haves below and learn more about her journey to the Miss USA title here