My mom says I’m an adjective.

“She’s Gia,” she’ll say when I come up in conversation. “That’s just her.”

I grew up with lots of rules about homework, grades, swearing and riding in cars with teenagers who hadn’t had their licenses for more than a year, but there was one aspect my mother never infringed on: my style. For my entire life, my mom let me explore my self-expression through style and beauty and never capped my creativity.

As a little girl, I dove through colorful pouches filled with products inside her vanity drawer. She let me try on all of the different colors of lipstick and eyeshadow and her signature scent (CK be by Calvin Klein — which always reminds me of her) without a second thought. A modern ’90s mom, she ordered from Avon and let me pick out little things, such as nail polish and lip gloss. I started to explore crazier makeup with intense pigments and glitter for different looks (i.e. a LOT of black eyeliner) around 11 or 12. Even if my dad (who is the best, loving dad but also pretty strict) told me to take it off, my mom stayed in my corner, an advocate of self expression.

Mom was there through the not-so-fun times, too. In my late teens, I struggled with severe cystic acne that crowded my face in painful clusters. She took me to dermatologists and bought me any product she could find to try and clear it up. During a particularly bad breakout, I ran out of the only makeup that would hide my acne. I was frustrated, embarrassed and upset, and she offered to pick it up for me so I wouldn’t have to leave the house. She always knew looking good made me feel good and I couldn’t be me if I didn’t.

Why am I telling you this? These moments shaped me into who I am today — a complete beauty enthusiast who loves products and skin care and experimenting with styles. I do tons of research, too, loving not only learning about ingredients, techniques and trends but also hearing from other beauty obsessives on what they use or like. Mostly, I love to help others navigate their way through beauty and grooming. It’s not vain or silly — it’s a way we take care of ourselves and make ourselves feel good.

This blog, “Hey Beautiful,” will encompass anything and everything about beauty and style, including product reviews, tips, techniques, demos, trends, interviews with industry professionals and more. It will cover topics from makeup and skin care to hair and fragrance to style and taking care of ourselvesinside and out.

Mother’s Day is good place to begin, because my mom started me on this journey. If she hadn’t encouraged me to discover what made me happy, I don’t know if I would be who I am. My mother raised me to believe that doing what makes us happy is all that matters and that taking care of ourselves is important. When you look good, you feel good. It’s so much more than skin deep.