Let’s get right down to it—Bobbi Brown is a legend. Her list of accomplishments is far too lengthy to print here, but allow us to take inspiration from Hillary’s superlative Twitter bio, and we’ll describe Ms. Brown as follows: wife, mother, global beauty mogul, philanthropist, dog lover, traveler, JAY Z aficionado, best-selling author, TBD.
The launch of Barneys’ New Foundation provided the perfect excuse to chat with this trailblazing makeup artist about big topics like beauty, self-esteem, personal style and the importance of going with your gut.
The Window: You began your collection in 1991 as a lip color line. Why did you choose to start there?
Bobbi Brown: When I first started in the cosmetics industry, I couldn’t find shades or colors that looked natural or were truly skin tone correct. I also wasn’t crazy about the way they smelled. So I started mixing my own shades to create makeup that would truly match and complement a woman’s complexion. Then, a chance meeting with a chemist at a magazine photo shoot changed everything. In 1991, I launched my first ten natural, wearable lip colors.
What kind of advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
You need a unique idea, you need to be passionate, and you have to be willing to work hard. And most importantly, you need to trust and follow your gut.
You have a natural approach to makeup. Can the same be said of your approach to style? What are your wardrobe staples?
I believe that makeup is a way to help women look and feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident. Rather than trying to change or distort a woman’s features, I use makeup to enhance the features that make her unique. Makeup is about expressing your personality and being true to who you are—whether that’s wearing the brightest red lipstick or keeping it more natural.
The same holds true for style. It’s not about following every trend, but about wearing what makes you feel your best. It’s about feeling confident. I feel most at ease in clean and classic styles. During the day, I’ll usually wear dark blue jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers. If I’m going out at night, I’ll change into something more pulled-together but still comfortable. I’ll opt for sleek black pants, a sequined cardigan or fitted blazer and high heels. I’m mostly drawn to neutral colors like navy, brown, black and gray, and will punch it up with a statement necklace or earrings.
What five Bobbi Brown products must every gal own?
I couldn’t live without a yellow-toned foundation, corrector and concealer, pot rouge and black mascara. Each of them is an instant face brightener. Foundation helps even out the skin tone, hide imperfections, and give skin a smooth, flawless look. Concealer is one of my all time favorite beauty products—I call it the “secret of the universe.” When applied correctly, it instantly makes you look fresh and well-rested. Blackest black mascara is also a must—it makes eyes pop. Pot Rouge is the epitome of instant pretty and it doubles as a blush and a lip color. My tip for finding the most natural look is to choose a shade that looks like your cheeks after you’ve just exercised.
Besides thoughtful application of makeup, what else can we do to get great fresh-looking skin?
EAT WELL. Great skin is 70% what you put in your mouth and 30% what you put on your face. When you eat healthy foods it shows. Foods rich in Omega 3 oils—like salmon, almonds, walnuts and olive oil—have skin-repairing benefits. Fruits and vegetables with a high-water content like watermelon, cucumber and dark leafy greens will add moisture to your skin. Drinking more water will help too, so don’t skimp on H20.
SLEEP TIGHT. Nighttime is when your body rejuvenates itself, which is why sleep is so important to your well being. Skin goes into repair mode, so applying skincare with anti-aging treatment ingredients is especially important before bed.
EXERCISE. Your skin always looks revitalized afterward. Even 20 minutes a day improves circulation and provides a natural glow.
MINIMIZE STRESS. Think of how you look when you’ve been on vacation. Relaxed, rested and radiant. Our Extra Repair Skincare contains soothing essential oils and clary sage, which is known for its relaxing properties. Take a moment to breathe as you smooth it on.
USE SUN PROTECTION. With an effective SPF, you don’t have to worry about spending time outdoors. I like knowing that Extra Repair Moisturizing Balm SPF 25 is doing triple duty. It moisturizes, helps protect against damaging UVA and UVB rays and works at repairing skin—all at once.
KEEP A BALM HANDY. An Extra Repair balm is a little miracle product. You can use it first thing in the morning as a hydrating makeup base and later, whenever you feel dry. A dab of it on the apples of your cheeks, right over makeup, will give your skin more radiance. When you see celebrities on the red carpet, it’s usually a balm that’s giving them their glow.
You’re a genius when it comes to color. Where do you turn to for inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere, from traveling to colorful fabrics to everyday women I see on the street. I’m also always listening to our international customers and makeup artists from around the world through our social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to make sure that we give our customers exactly what they want. For example, during a recent trip to Asia, I met with my local makeup artists and they requested new nectar, rose and pink shades that would perfectly complement Asian women’s skin tones, and that’s how Rosy, Melba, Baby Pink and Tutu came about.