Djuna Bel, LA Stylist and Health Junkie
When we drove up to Djuna Bel's oasis on the East Side of LA, we were immediately greeted with an over six-feet-tall drink of warm, radiant, all encompassing lover of life (and several cats). Djuna Bel, who started her career modeling in NYC, is now a prominent LA stylist, working with everyone from Rashida Jones to Ryan Gosling. But working with Djuna includes more than just a collaborative effort of creating 'real life only elevated' moments through her styling - she's also quick to tell anyone who will listen her skincare secrets, her newest supplement obsessions, her adventures in micro-needling and life lessons she's learned through growing up in a the harsh fashion industry.
At the most perfect intersection of style, health and self-awareness, Djuna is someone you are damn lucky to have in your squad. Oh, and did we mention her outdoor steam room and private pilates studio? Excuse us while we teleport back to LA...
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from styling, to health and wellness, to living in this beautiful oasis of a home here in Los Angeles?
I grew up in Santa Cruz, California, which is pretty healthy. I grew up with a loose vegan diet - well, as vegan as a Dutch mom can be. It was vegetarian, but we still had an egg for breakfast and cheese, but only European cheese. I feel like, as far as health and wellness, it's been ingrained in my brain.
I got into styling because I was a model first in New York when I was quite young and was like, 'This is great, I'm booking jobs and having fun!' Then all of the sudden, nobody wanted to hire me. It worked out though, because I had been on set so much that the stylists just swooped me up. They were like, 'You're young. You'll work for almost nothing, you know set etiquette, which is a big deal, and you know the difference between one brand and another.' I just kind of fell into it that way.
I owned a vintage store for a while in New York, and then, when I moved to LA, I couldn't decide if I wanted to open another vintage store or go back into styling. I started booking jobs just because I was a New Yorker living in Los Angeles, and there were certain clients that trusted me. So much of it was luck and timing and opportunities presenting themselves to me, so i just made it work. I feel very grateful for it.
Working in the fashion industry has also inspired my health and wellness journey. So many people take such extremes in the industry, that it's really inspired me to live a moderate life. I feel like I'm kind of a big sister to a lot of my friends and younger girls that I meet on set that are struggling with their weight or with eating, or whatever it might be. In some way, it has become my personal mission to try to inspire them to find whatever is moderate for them and what will make them happy.
Oooh, we love using the word 'moderate' in place of 'balance'. Balance is such a buzz word, so it's nice to have an alternative. Moderate is such a good one. Can you talk a little bit more about your 'moderate' lifestyle?
I like making shakes in the morning. I love green juice, but I also like fried chicken and tequila. I try not to be extreme. I like exercise, but I'm not fanatic about it. I'm not going to wake up at 5 in the morning to go on a run, especially if I'm going to be working all day. Instead, I'll find a moment and figure out some kind of exercise or brain exercise within the day.
It's definitely more socially acceptable to exercise and to eat right, and to take that time out for yourself in Los Angeles. I felt like people in New York would give me a hard time. No one in NYC wants to admit that they exercise, or that they go to the gym. Everyone's just like, 'I do whatever I want. I drink all day and eat all the food I want, and I just happen to look good.' In LA, you can say, 'You look great! Have you been exercising?' People here are proud to be like, 'I have been!'
It's also a lot harder to drink the way you do in New York, at least for me, because here, you have to drive everywhere. When I go back to New York, I'm like, 'How on Earth did I just survive last night?' Here, you are on a 3 drink maximum and I'll still be like, 'Oh no, tomorrow's gonna suck.' It's such a difference in cultures.
Can you tell us about your love for new wellness rituals and products?
I'm a total health and wellness junkie. I spend way too much money on this stuff. I read an article about CBD oil a couple weeks back and its health benefits and now I'm completely obsessed. I had a conversation with my in-laws last night about fish oil. They were talking to their cardiologist, and he was like, 'You know, the only fish oil that you should be taking is krill from Antarctica, because of mercury and everything else.' In my mind I was like, 'I need this krill fish oil.' This was 12 hours ago and the krill fish oil is already in my kitchen with the rest of my supplements.
With beauty stuff, I'm a Korean beauty junkie. That's really my thing, but I also do laser facials. I just got into micro-needling. I love all that stuff so much. I'm the type of person that, if I love something, I have to tell all my friends. If someone says, 'You look great,' I don't just thank them and move on, I'm like 'Do you know why?! It's because I've been doing this, this and this and it's changed my life, and this product is amazing, etc...'
The other day, I went into an isolation tank and felt so amazing and clear. Now, I want to do it before every job, I felt so open to bigger thoughts. It's helped with my creativity.
What are your other must-have's or the things you recommend the most?
Laser facials have really changed my skin because it's really sensitive. A friend just recommended these alpha hydroxy pads, which I was always nervous to try because I do have really sensitive skin, but the first time I used them I was hooked. My skin was so tight and luminous, no pores. It was the shit!
Then I got into that Biologique P50, which is amazing and nobody admits that they use it. Now that I have been telling people about it, everyone's like, 'Oh yeah, I use that.' I'm like, "Okay, thanks for telling me." But, it's just amazing.
I also have a morning ritual that I love. I'm obsessed with Sun Potion products and think they're amazing. I've probably bought almost every single thing that they've made but every morning I put a scoop of Sun Potion's Anandamide Powder in earl grey tea with coconut milk and a little honey, and it's amazing. I'm not a coffee drinker. My morning tea though is such a mood enhancer and wakes me right up. It makes me feel ready for the day and I'm like, 'This is going to be good!' It really does tweak my mood.
You mentioned modeling when you were younger and how you are now trying to help women in the field. What's some advice you can give? Was there a time you had a different relationship with your body than you do now?
For sure. I think it's really hard to be a young model with a body that's changing. The way your body looks determines if you get jobs or not. It's as simple as that. Do you fit into samples, or do you not? There are a million beautiful girls in the world that could be models, but you have to 'fit a certain norm'. I became obsessed because I'm really tall and my shoulders are broad and I started getting a butt and all these things started changing when I was 17, 18 years old. And I thought, 'No, no, no. That can't change!' I would obsess over it.
Even after I stopped modeling, I was like, 'Are my hips getting bigger? Is my stomach measurement still the same?' It was really hard to let go of the idea that my self-worth is equal to my body measurements, but finally there just came a point where I was like, 'This is what my body looks like. It doesn't matter if I diet all the time. It doesn't matter if I work out all the time. My body really doesn't change. This is the way I was meant to look. Just accept it.' Also, who cares? I'm not a model anymore. Nobody's expecting that of me. So eventually there was a time when I just let go. One day I woke up and I was like, 'Nobody cares.'
Was there anything else that you practiced to help you let go of the obsessive thoughts?
Seeing other girls do it really opened my eyes to the fact that I was doing it. I think I was pretty blind to it. I didn't realize I was having those thoughts or vocalizing the same things until I actually listened to other girls say, 'I'm so fat right now. I'm so bloated. I'm so this, I'm so that...'
The more frustrated I got with them, the more I realized I was just getting frustrated with myself. I realized that I had to stop doing this before it became a problem. There were girls that I knew who had been in the industry for a really long time and the older they got, the more obsessed they were and it just kept getting worse. I knew I didn't want to be like that. I also saw how it affected their bodies and skin and I didn't want to look that way.
We like to finish off our interviews by talking about the idea of legacy and what it is that you want to leave behind. Can you tell us what your idea of legacy is?
I was just thinking about this the other day because my boyfriend talks and thinks about it a lot in his industry being that he's an artist. He tries to give people a voice that might not otherwise have a chance. I think that that's so wonderful, but it made me think about my own legacy and I thought, 'I just don't know.' I know that's a little scary and sad, but I don't have some profound thing that I want people to remember. I'm still looking for that one thing. Maybe when I find it though, it will inspire a whole new career or whole new chapter of my life, but I just don't know what that thing is yet.