When we set out to chat Iranian beauty secrets with Mercedes "MJ" Javid, the Shahs bride-to-be let us in on the biggest one of all. "You don’t give away your beauty secrets," she said. "My mom is always like [in Iranian accent]: Don’t reveal your secrets.”
That advice came back to haunt MJ during one appearance on WWHL. "I had duct tape underneath my jumper, and Andy was like: oh my God your boobs!," she recalled. "I was about to start explaining that I use duct tape [for support], which is a fact." But she thought twice about revealing the sticky truth when her mother's warning came into her head. "We’re not trying to be greedy with the information. But you hear that something is 'un-American.' Well it’s very un-Persian to advertise what you do to keep it up." So, reader: what follows stays between us, yes?
"The thing is, the secrets are very basic," MJ said. Iranian women tend to sip lemon water throughout the day. MJ's mother always taught her to stay out of the sun. And the women have a great trick for exfoliation. "There’s a piece of clay that’s called sefidab, which means white water. It’s a white water rock, and you break off a little piece and emulsify it with water in the palm of your hand," MJ instructed. "You can rub it on any part of your body, especially your face, and it takes off all the dry skin. That is the biggest, number-one, top any-and-everything beauty product." There's only one catch: "You have to get it in Iran."
Luckily, some ancient Iranian beauty secrets are easer to replicate stateside—and are suddenly big in L.A. You thought compression garments started with the Kardashians? "What’s now called 'waist training'—home girl, we [Persians] have been doing that all along," MJ says."The sauna-steam-sauna-steam thing is also big. The place that I like to go to in L.A. is called Raya."
But back to that avoiding-the-sun thing. In sunny Los Angeles, MJ doesn't keep her glowing complexion intact without a bit of TLC. "Another major beauty secret of mine is to use zinc sunscreen [when driving]" she says. "And if I go out in the sun, I do not believe in 20, 30, 40 SPF. I believe that the only thing that works is if you’re wearing the biggest, most giant hat possible. If I had an umbrella with an elastic around my head, I would do an umbrella hat."
That doesn't mean the real estate pro doesn't believe in a good tan—she'll just take hers without the UV rays, thanks. "I always use a spray booth, and I make sure that the spray tan is extra intense on the abs," she reveals. "You can never be too tan there. It will just make you look more slender." She's also learned to tan the underside of her arms, from arpit to elbow. "That underside of the arm is an area that girls are always trying to tone, to get the muscular definition of Jennifer Aniston. If you can’t tone it, tan it," she says. "And always go a few shades darker. It’s never going to be: oh my God, the fat part of my arm is too dark. Never."
As for fragrance, MJ has a thing for floral scents—and she's a goner for anything with jasmine in it. This summer, she's leaving a trail of Tom Ford's Fleur de Portofino in her wake. But when the weather gets cooler, she goes "a little more musky" with Tom Ford's Tabacco Vanille. Oh, and for the record? Any body oil will help you remove duct tape from your boobs.
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