Creative globe-trotter Tsutsumi Hoang on using the world as her beauty moodboard and seamlessly marrying Aussie and Scandi aesthetics

She takes ‘best of both worlds’ to a whole new level

Digital Beauty Editor / July 14 2022

As a Norwegian-Vietnamese beauty who has also enjoyed a stint in (sometimes) sunny Sydney (and frequently racks up passport stamps to keep her inspiration stocks topped up), internationally beloved digital creator Tsutsumi Hoang was tailormade to front our Global Beauty issue.

With a minimalistic, polished and unequivocally cool aesthetic, Tsutsumi Hoang is ‘Oslo chic’ in a nutshell. And yet her beach waves allude to a previous life as a Sydneysider and her glowing, glass skin hints at her Vietnamese heritage (and the DIY hacks it’s gifted her).

Norway isn’t the only nation reflected in her character, you see – as something of a global citizen who has also called Australia home (and whose family hails from Vietnam), Hoang has managed to blend the three to build a beauty routine of the highest calibre.

So in a bid to follow suit (regardless of having our feet planted solely in Australia), BEAUTYcrew chatted to the illustrator, content creator and international beauty icon about her colourful life abroad. From building a brand to healthy skin secrets and why ‘cool-girl’ straightener curls are clearly superior, prepare to be hooked on Hoang’s every word…

“I find beauty inspiration in my surroundings”

While Hoang’s feed serves as a moodboard all its own for her 200k+ followers, she herself searches for sparks of creativity in other places. “My number one inspiration source is social media, but I also find it from watching movies, studying art, and keeping up with the latest beauty trends through magazines and runway looks,” she shares.

One way she keeps her creativity fire fuelled? Travel. “I also find beauty inspiration in my surroundings,” Hoang confirms. “Currently, I am on summer vacation in Italy. After this I’m going on a family holiday to Spain and in August, and I will visit South Korea. There are a lot of new travel destinations that I’m looking forward to exploring.” We’re looking equally forward to spying the beauty moments that stem from those explorations!

“It was natural for me to have a platform to be creative”

So how did Hoang turn a passion project into a content creation career that allows her to scour the globe for inspiration? Well, it all happened quite organically. “Beauty and fashion is something that I’ve always been interested in and using social media platforms to share my love for it has made it possible to turn a hobby into a career,” she explains. “It was natural for me to have a platform to be creative and even more motivating to see people rooting for you and wanting to see more.”

One skill that no doubt fast-tracked her rise to social renown was a talent for capturing crystal clear, stellar selfies (which as anyone who’s given it a go will know is a craft all its own). “Natural light is key! Capture your photos in front of a window or a source of natural daylight,” she advises to anyone attempting to replicate her aesthetic. “Also choose a simple, clean background so that the main focus is on the beauty look. Most of my selfies have been in front of a window and not in direct sunlight. I think those turned out the best.”

Sublime selfies certainly aren’t her only specialty, either; Hoang is also an accomplished illustrator, an area of her work she hopes to progress further in 2022. “What I’m most excited about is working on my personal illustration projects. I’m going to share more of that side on my socials this year and hopefully work my way towards publishing a book,” she shares about her upcoming project plans.

“My personal beauty attitude [is] "less is more"”

While the world may be enjoying an era of bright, bold and brazen beauty trends (TikTok, that one was all you), Hoang prefers a more refined approach. “I would describe my personal beauty attitude as ‘less is more’, [as I opt for] the classic looks,” she explains. “I usually stay true to myself and go safe with a natural peachy look every day. For an evening look or a fancy dinner where I need a bold look, I will spice things up with a red lip or a thick cat eye liner. A bold red lip, naturally dewy skin and defined eyebrows are some of the simple beauty tricks that I think are beautiful without being too much.”

Speaking of ‘beautiful without being too much’, it’s worth noting that Hoang is one of those few magical unicorns who have mastered the near-impossible art of the subtly cool straightener curl. Or wave, we should say. “Curling my hair with a flat iron was a game-changer! It gives natural waves that make it look effortless,” she affirms. “I have more control on how wavy I want the curl to be while with a curling iron it can get too polished and glamour-like. I have had my ghd ($240 at ghd) for years. After I’m done with curling my hair, I finish by applying Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil ($81 at Adore Beauty) for protection and shine, and on days when I feel like having voluminous hair, I spray a hint of Oribe Dry Texturising Spray ($68 at Adore Beauty).”

As for the beauty staples she totes around in every (immaculate) handbag, Hoang shouts out the Dior Addict Lip Glow ($57 at Dior) for “soft and kissable lips”, the Sunnies Face Fluffmate Matte Lipstick in Baked ($12 at Holla Bella) because “you can never go wrong with a peachy lip”, and the Chanel Mirror Compact ($48 at Myer) simply because it’s “a must-have!”. Evidently, her big beauty priority (even when out and about) is perfecting her signature peach lip; no big beauty bells and whistles required.

The only area she doesn’t prefer a less is more mantra? Brows. “One of the beauty trends I have seen a lot lately is having thin brows. Although I think it's super cool, I wouldn’t personally try it just because I love thick straight eyebrows. Also, the thought of waiting for them to grow back to their normal shape is something I don’t have the patience for.” Fair; everyone has their limits and her arches are too majestic to mess with.

ghd

Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil

Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil

Dior Addict Lip Glow

Sunnies Face Fluffmate Matte Lipstick in Baked

Chanel Mirror Compact

“I know that beautiful skin starts with having a healthy mindset”

One glimpse at Hoang’s feed and you’d be forgiven for thinking skin struggles were never a part of her story, but one of the primary reasons she keeps her beauty routine simple is her reactive complexion. “My skin has gone through many ups and downs. Growing up, I struggled with eczema mostly on my face and around my eyes,” she notes. “Fortunately, it disappeared when I got older, but even though I no longer struggle with that, my skin is still very sensitive."

Her skin prep routine is both uncomplicated and efficacious, harnessing both luxurious topicals and DIY tricks. “Before a beauty shoot I start the day with rubbing ice cubes on a clean face to reduce puffy eyes and for glowing skin. I then have a cucumber slice face mask on for 5-10 minutes. Then I wash my face with water, apply Elixir Niactil 4% (unfortunately not currently available in Australia), Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream ($125 at Charlotte Tilbury) and Charlotte Tilbury Collagen Superfusion Facial Oil ($100 at Charlotte Tilbury). For the under-eyes I use La Mer The Eye Concentrate ($340 at La Mer).” Frozen water and prestige eye treatments in one regimen; who said free and finer things can’t coexist?

Self-care and skin care work in unison to keep Hoang’s complexion clear and glowy. “I’ve recently had acne breakouts due to stress, which was something I hadn’t dealt with before, but luckily it disappeared after changing my eating habits and taking care of myself physically and mentally,” she explains. “I know that beautiful skin starts with having a healthy mindset and taking care of yourself both within and on the outside.”

As for the de-stressing techniques that keep her mindset (and hence her skin) healthy, Hoang is all about switching off and sprucing up: “My favourite self-care strategy is having a social media detox, by putting the phone away and being present. I also clean my whole apartment because a clean home equals a clean mind.”

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream

Charlotte Tilbury Collagen Superfusion Facial Oil

La Mer The Eye Concentrate

“The Norwegian/Scandinavian and Australian beauty worlds are so different”

Norway and Australia certainly aren’t anywhere near each other on a map, and according to Hoang, their signature styles are poles apart as well. “I think the Norwegian/Scandinavian and Australian beauty worlds are so different!” she states, explaining that while both favour a less ‘made up’ aesthetic, Sydney’s beachy vibe sees ‘low-maintenance’ become quite high-maintenance indeed.

“When I used to live in Sydney I remember being into self-tan, bronzers, coffee scrubs, summer highlights and just looking like I came straight from the beach. Australians are also more expressive and experimental with beauty looks, while in Norway it’s all about minimal makeup,” Hoang reflects. She does a solid job of melding the two, though – while Scandinavian minimalism is no doubt her primary style, her hair does still show off a little highlighting (in the form of a honey-hued money piece section framing her face) that could have very plausibly emerged from a luxe Sydney salon.

@xoxotsumi

She appreciates some other Australian classics, too. “Aesop is my favourite Australian brand! I like a brand that stays true to its DNA, has a minimalist aesthetic and a sustainable approach,” she says. “I have a favourite scent from Aesop called Rozu ($210 at Aesop) that I used a lot during my weekend trips up in the mountains in Hemsedal and now it's all I can think of when I come across the scent.” An Aussie aroma filling the ski slopes of Norway’s most stunning mountains? Chic!

Aesop Rozu

But while she’s no doubt a Charlotte Tilbury/La Mer fan (aren’t we all?), one of her beloved skin care brands does hail from her home country. “Elixir Cosmeceuticals is my favourite Norwegian skin care brand. I am obsessed with Elixir Niactil and it has become part of my skin care routine,” she explains. “My skin feels incomplete without it. Back in January I had a stressful pimple breakout and elixir helped get my skin back to normal.”

Hoang doesn’t mind a DIY skin-saver, either, with one of her go-to hacks being handed down from her mum in line with her Vietnamese heritage – Vietnamese women were some of the very first to mix up their own masks, after all. “Growing up my mother always taught me to take care of my skin. She had all these amazing and natural skin ‘treatments’ that we would do together at home on a casual Friday afternoon. One of the things we used to do together was mixing egg white with honey for a natural face mask. It was amazing for the skin and left it glowing. From time to time, I still continue to use natural ingredients to make my own face masks.”

And that folks, is how you craft a beauty routine that encompasses the best of every country you hold dear (and do so incredibly chicly, may we add!).


Photography: John Hope

Want more great features like this? Read the rest of our digital issue.

Delaney Loane is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor (and resident winged liner lover). An expert in everything from sensitive skin solutions to superior lip gloss formulas, her words have also appeared across mastheads such as ELLE and marie claire.