Big Girl Talk with Gucci Westman
The makeup artist on the discontinued pan stick she’ll never forget and the Cameron Diaz beauty blunder she can't live down.
On a recent afternoon, the makeup artist Gucci Westman stopped by the W offices for a chat. She had just come from the dermatologist’s. Funnily enough, I’d also recently been to mine to get a wart removed, leaving a teensy little dot on the tip of my nose. “I have a scar here [points to cheek] because I had cancer last year, so I have to be extra careful,” she told me, which reminded me of exactly how careful you have to be. I saw another beauty director another time and she was wearing a big wool hat. I was like, “Oh that’s so cute and ghetto fabulous on you.” And she said, “I had a basal cell removed.” No one is immune! Ok, time for some questions.
What beauty products are currently in your purse?
I would normally have SK-II Mid-day Essence [she has a partnership with the brand], but this purse is too small. I can’t fit everything. I have a Tom Ford foundation stick, I have this Tata Harper little rollie…
[Reads] “Tata Harper Aromatic Irritability Treatment.” Ok, so we’ll try not to irritate you. Do you ever put a lip balm in? Because I can’t go anywhere without my lip balm.
Dior Lip Maximizer. I like how it tingles on my lips, and I use this Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Bahama. I also use it on my cheeks and a little bit for the problematic lip diffusion thing that happens when you’re older. I just like the color and the texture.
What was your first beauty memory?
It probably has to relate to doing my mom’s makeup at a young age. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, but she always had me do her makeup and I just remember how I felt like it transformed her. She looked so beautiful suddenly. I just remember watching her do her makeup and I’d be like, “Oh my god! Why don’t you do that all the time?”
She didn’t usually wear makeup?
No. We lived in the country in Sweden, she had four kids, she had no time for makeup, but she did wear makeup every once in a while and I was like, just the contrast of the eye shadow with her eye color and when she did her skin. I was really mesmerized.
Were you really into art as a child?
Yeah. I used to paint all the time. I remember in 3rd and 4th grade, my teachers said I needed to take proper classes because they thought I would be an artist. And my mom was like, ‘You need to keep painting!’ But then we moved to Sweden and I didn’t want to paint, so I just started painting my mom and my friends, and, secretly, myself. But I always loved playing with color at a young age. Too much bronzer, perhaps. And too much blue eyeshadow.
Everyone’s childhood has too much eye shadow.
Oh, I know. But it’s so fun and innocent. You feel like you look so major!
I feel like blue eye shadow for a certain age range that you and I may both be in, I feel like it’s just a rite of passage. Just go with it!
Yeah. I did the whole thing. The baby blue mascara, the matte blue eye shadow. I loved it. It was so fun.
I used to take this acne medication, called Rezamid.
That name alone!
It was this heavy beige color.
Your skin is great now, though.
Well, when I was wiping the oil off in my 20’s, I always said, ‘I’ll be happy when I’m older!’ Well, it’s dry now! Anyway, I would wear it as foundation, and I looked ridiculous! It was his muddy peach color.
Get out of town.
I wish I had pictures. All over my face. I thought, “’Oh! This is a genius idea! I have pimples everywhere, I’ll just make it my foundation!” Yeah. Bad demarcation line…
And did it stop here? [points to her jawline]
Probably. It always did. Ok, back to you! What was your worst beauty blunder?
Well, I have maybe a couple. I thought this was a big deal. I was working with Cameron Diaz for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and I remember, we were all watching her on the screen, and I was like, ‘Ugh! I didn’t do her neck.’ Just what we were talking about, and I was dying inside. I felt sick. And I didn’t say anything, but I was freaking out. But I did learn.
Did she notice?
No. No one noticed. I was just, you know how these talk show hosts like to be really tan, but they never do their hands? So they hold their hands up, and their face is kind of orangey-bronze-y? It was like that, and I was just like…I never did that again. Then, I did that movie, ‘Being John Malkovich’, and I was not the person who should’ve been doing this, but I did Charlie Sheen’s bald cap, with just a few hairs…And it did not look blended. Now, they would not accept that. They would just digitally diffuse it.
But when you see the movie, are you like, ‘Oof!’?
No. I mean, back then at the premiere, I was dying.
I think it’s also because, as an artist, you’re probably a perfectionist about your work.
Yeah, I do tend to go home sometimes and go, ‘S–t, I should have done…’
You know what? [hairstylist] Serge Normant said the same thing. When I interviewed him for a profile I did [March 2015], at the interview, he said, ‘After every shoot, I always think, ‘I could have done more.’’
Oh my god, it’s so true. Do you know who Paul Jasmin is? The photographer, he’s in L.A. and he’s best friends with Bruce Weber. He introduced me to Bruce. I remember the first time I did a Vogue cover, with Britney Spears and I called him and I was so depressed after. It’s so weird how you torture yourself. But I felt like I should have done a different red on her lips, all these things and he was like, ‘Oh honey, you know artists. We’re tortured.’ And he told me the story about how Francis Ford Coppola, every time he did a movie, he went into the worst, darkest depression because he felt like he didn’t do his best. And he felt like he hated what he had done, and that’s essentially why he stopped doing movies.
Okay, so you can’t pull a Francis on us.
No, but I feel like, maybe women have more perspective sometimes.
About beating ourselves up like that?
There’s just too many, there are more things to beat yourself up about now, than–
You mean, now more than ever?
No, I mean, about life. Having kids, I just feel like you don’t have the privilege to beat yourself up because you don’t have the time and you’ve got to be less selfish. It’s all petty. Do you still beat yourself up a little bit?
Yeah. Not as much as I used to, but sure. Absolutely. OK, describe your 5 or 10-minute beauty routine:
In the shower, I always do a scrub. I like the Jo Malone honey scrub a lot. I alternate with scrubs on my face but I tend to go for the Drunk Elephant bar, it’s an exfoliator. Then, depending on if I have time, or if I’m traveling, I do the SK-II mask in the shower, too. If I’m washing my hair and the conditioner, I do them in synch to save time.
Wow. Such balance!
Then I do a combination of oil, cream and then I do some quick makeup. A little Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer; a little Chanel Les Beiges Foundation; sometimes highlighter if I have time; Burberry Highlighting Fluid and Benefit’s Ooh La Lift under my eyes. And then a little color, that Nars pencil on my lips and cheeks. And mascara.
I use the Gucci one a lot. I also like the Burberry one.
If you had an extra five minutes in the morning, how would you spend it?
I do this weird thing. I meditate every morning, and I usually do this LED mask by Deese at the same time. It’s 20 minutes. I prop it up in front of myself. I just have to get up 20 minutes earlier. But that is a game changer. It’s amazing. Not every day, but I try two to three days a week.
Which discontinued product or shade do you mourn?
Make Up For Ever had this amazing pan stick that I used to always use, for either contour or, in some capacity, like around the eyes. It was number 041 Pan Stick and I remember when I discovered they were discontinuing the shade, I bought all of them. Not only in America, but also in France, everywhere.
How many do you have left?
Not even one, but all of my assistants somehow do, but I don’t know how that happened…And there was also a Vincent Longo incredible brownish lipstick that I used to use a lot on eyes and cheeks, contour, lips. I did entire stories with just that color.
Do you remember its name?
No. It’s like a metallic kind of chocolate with the perfect amount of purple. Oh my god, I remember I did like a really beautiful shoot with Malgosia [Bela] and her skin tone is just so perfect for the brown. And Daria [Werbowy]. I remember just using this one shade. It’s like survival makeup.
Who is the one beauty professional you can’t live without?
[Facialist] Georgia Louise. And Tim Nolan for haircuts and Astrid from Ion Studio for color.
What beauty trend do you just not get?
I don’t get crop tops.
Ok, I guess they’re sort of a beauty trend…What’s your beauty hack?
I have used herbs or spices, such as turmeric, paprika or beet powder to make a lip or cheek color.
Excellent. And healthy! What are you currently obsessed with?
Can I have a few things? Ok, I’m pretty into Gucci, the clothing line. It makes me happy. I love all the colorations, so beautiful. I envision a room in those colors. The velvet yellow, it’s very painterly, no? I love Sk-II Midday Essence a lot. It’s like a savior, especially now when the freaking weather’s freaking everyone out. Interior designing at the moment is really fun. Choosing all these interesting… I just got those… [points to wall outlet] What are they called? I just got them in black and brass. The chicest, it looks like they cost so much money, too.
Do you work with a decorator? Or do you just Google away and find them?
I just ask the contractor if it’s possible. I just always ask the question. And copper drainpipes on a black house is so beautiful. I wish you could see them, but you can’t. Just so you know. Ah, Petit H. Have you heard of that line?
Qu‘est-ce que c’est?
Qu’est-ce que c’est, it’s amazing. The Hermès family, one of the daughters took all of the scraps and things and makes amazing objects. O.M.G. Last night we had dinner at this woman’s house, and she had a swing in the middle of a room and the handles are stirrups with these gorgeous heavy canvas straps and this beautiful leather seat. She has exhibits apparently like once year. Petit H. How nice is that name?
Oh! Petit H! [says in French] I thought you were saying ‘ash’!
“H!” Little H!
I know, sorry. It’s been a while since I took French.
Jeanne, s’il vous plait.