For makeup legend Bobbi Brown, beauty is about embracing who you are.
That ideology became the foundation of Brown’s eponymous cosmetics line, founded in 1991. But before that, it presented itself more as a workplace problem: Brown, who had become an esteemed makeup artist in the New York fashion world of the ‘80s, wanted to create soft, feminine looks that celebrated women’s natural features. But this was the ‘80s—with its bold colors and exaggerated accents—and the palettes Brown was looking for were nowhere to be found.
Her solution was to create a line of products that felt more subtle and accessible for everyday wear—and women lined up to buy them, fast. As Brown’s business grew, she became interested not just in natural looks but in natural ingredients too, noticing that what we put in and on our bodies directly affects our appearances.
In April, after leaving her brand last year, Brown published Beauty From the Inside Out, a lifestyle guide that looks at beauty holistically, offering tips and insights about makeup, of course, but also about self-care and achieving confidence.
Here, Brown talks about what that journey has looked like for her, her lasting beauty secrets, and the wellness hacks that keep her looking and feeling good:
Live The Process: How did your interest in beauty first develop, and when did it transform into an actual career path?
Bobbi Brown: I fell in love with beauty at a young age, watching my mother put her makeup on the in ‘60s. She was incredibly glamorous. On the contrary, I also loved watching my grandma putting her lipstick on her lips and cheeks, and that was it—she was done. I combined both of their beauty styles when I started creating my own makeup. I experimented with different looks but, in the end, always wanted to look like myself, only prettier. My mother encouraged me to follow my passion and find a college to study makeup. I found Emerson College’s makeup artistry program and became smitten with the whole industry. After graduation, I moved to New York to break into the fashion industry as a makeup artist.
LTP: When you launched Bobbi Brown, what set it apart from everything else on the market? To what do you attribute the line’s great success and how do you continue to separate yourself from the pack?
BB: In the ‘80s, when I was starting out as a makeup artist, I could never find the right products to work with. The makeup was incredibly artificial and so not pretty. I was always trying to “fix” and color-correct the products I was using on set. After a chance meeting with a chemist, I asked him if he could make me a lipstick that looked like lips. I showed him the taupe eye pencil and pinky blush I used to create the nude color I wanted. I quickly realized that all women have different lip colors and sought to create ten lipsticks that represented that range. After selling the products out of my home, and using all of my savings to fund my venture, I got an offer to sell in Bergdorf Goodman. I thought I’d sell 100 lipsticks in a month—I ended up selling out in one day.
What set the line apart was that I was offering what was otherwise not available: skin tone correct foundations, yellow-based concealers, natural-colored lipsticks. That, coupled with my mantra for women to be who they are by enhancing their features rather than hiding them, made my company stand out from the rest. Since I’ve left my brand, I've continued to fall in love with the whole natural cosmetics market along with health and wellness—a natural progression for me based on lifestyle.
LTP: Your new book is a departure in that it’s about whole body wellness as opposed to makeup and cosmetics. What inspired you to create this book about beauty from the inside out? Has this always been an important concept to you?
BB: As a beauty expert, I have always known that healthy skin comes from what you put in and on your body as opposed to solely what you put on your face. I have watched models arrive on the scene young, wide eyed, and fresh faced but struggle to maintain that exuberance after not treating their bodies well and living unhealthy lifestyles. Health and happiness, along with being comfortable in your own skin, that is the true meaning of beauty.
LTP: As a no doubt busy woman, what wellness practices, rituals and obsessions do you use to keep yourself feeling balanced and healthy on a daily basis?
BB: Wellness is based on regular habits and fitting healthy lifestyle choices into your daily routine. Wherever I am, I schedule time to exercise and try not to eat badly every meal, every day just because I’m traveling. I raise my heartbeat every day and do at least two weekly strength and conditioning workouts, trying new workouts when I can.
Getting your blood flowing is the easiest way to add a natural flush to your cheeks, making you look heathier and more radiant. I also do little things like adding Himalayan sea salt to my water so that my body absorbs more of it and adding a splash of coconut oil to my espresso each morning, which boosts digestion.
I also try to incorporate Zen into my life. Don't forget to take a moment to recharge and breathe each day. During those weeks or days when you just can't figure the timing out, just let it go. Don't beat yourself up. Life is stressful, but carving out time for yourself is a necessity, no matter how hard it may be.
Lastly, a great moisturizer that is hydrating and plumps up the face, is life changing.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
BB: Happiness is being with people you love, being confident, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. The happiest women I know are the ones who make no apologies for who they are. They own it.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
BB: To me, living the process means recognizing we are all a work in progress. While some people are born confident, for most of us it takes some work. Everyone’s journey to health, wellness, happiness and beauty is different. Above all, my secret—which is also the motto of the brand I founded—is to be who you are.