Beauty Legend Bobbi Brown on Why You Should Probably Throw Away Your Sunblock and Skip the Botox

The makeup artist turned entrepreneur shares a few tips from her new book, Beauty from the Inside Out.

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Alice Gao

After 21 years helming her eponymous label, Bobbi Brown is kicking off her next chapter her ninth book, Beauty From The Inside Out, which covers such varied topics as makeup, wellness and aging, and a new lifestyle brand. “What I’ve realized if confidence means one thing, it just means you’re comfortable in your skin and it doesn’t happen until you are older.” she says. “It does not happen in your 20s. It doesn’t happen in your 30s. I think it really starts happening in your 40s, 50s, and for some women it’s beyond that.” Here, she shares a few lessons on moderation, taking a stepping back from the mirror, and the magic of pinching your cheeks.

You were a pioneer of natural makeup in the ’80s, which was all about bold colors and heavy contouring. What was that like? Well, I didn’t realize that I was going against the grain, I was just doing what made sense to me. I didn’t think models and actresses looked pretty when I would see their faces with foundation that didn’t match their skin and brown things on the side of their face, so I started doing makeup to make people look healthy. I remember my first [photoshoot], of a beautiful model that looked tan and bronze and I showed it to a very well-known makeup artist at the time and he said, “Oh, you’ll never work. They’re never going to hire you with this kind of makeup. You have to do what we all do,” and I just never did and somehow people realized wow, they do look better.

How did you start your eponymous makeup line? I started really with one lipstick. I met a chemist and I asked him to make this one lipstick for me, because I couldn’t find a lipstick on the market that looked like lips and everything was so artificial. I asked him to mix and blend a few things, and he made it for me. And then I realized it was my lip color, and not everyone has the same lip color. So that’s when I started looking around and making all different lip colors. Honestly, there’s so many different color lips in the world. People don’t realize it, and that’s what makes a difference in the lipstick you choose, not the color of your skin. The color of your lips, because I could have a lipstick that looks like nude on me and someone else could put it on, it looks pasty on them, their lips are dark and if their lips are pale, they’ll look bright orange or bright pink. It’s really interesting.

What was your first book? My first book was called Bobbi Brown Beauty. And the only reason I wrote a book is because I was on the beach and I met this really nice lady and her kid and I said, “What do you do,” and she said, “I’m a book agent.” I said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book.” And that’s how I got my first book.

And how has one kind of led to the next? I can’t believe I have nine books now! The second one, I guess, was [about] teenage beauty. I had a role in a lot of girls’ upbringing because the beauty book was not just how to look like someone else, it’s how to be the best version of yourself and how to deal with mean people, and how to cover a pimple. Being the mother of three boys, I’m so happy that I have been a part in girls’ lives, too.

What are the most common mistakes people make with makeup, in your opinion? Foundation should be the exact color of your skin meaning, hello? It’s kind of like what I’ve done is not brilliant, it’s just common sense. Blush should be the color of your cheeks when you pinch it. It’s common sense, to me. Your eyebrows, what color should your eyebrows be? Whatever the hair is.

Bobbi Brown’s Top 10 Beauty Tips for Natural Makeup

How to find the right foundation shade: “On a makeup-free face, pick three shades close to your skin tone and apply them in two strips on your cheek. Check the colors in natural light; the color that blends in with your skin is the right one.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to use a blemish concealer: ” You never want to use your undereye concealer to cover a blemish because it is one shade lighter than your skin tone and will only highlight what you want to hide. Instead, choose a concealer designed for the face to spot cover any imperfections or redness.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to find the right powder: “For most people, a powder with a yellow undertone works to help cut redness and add warmth. Choose a shade that matches the color of your skin almost exactly. If you have very oily skin, powder can turn a darker shade, so go one shade lighter.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to choose the right bronzer: “Bronzer comes in liquid, gel, and powder formulas. A matte bronzer is the easiest to apply and works day or night. A bronzer with shimmer looks best at night. Gel formula gives a deeper color.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

Finding the perfect everyday blush: “A shade that matches the color your cheeks turn when they naturally flush is a good everyday choice. A pop of a brighter shade of pink or coral to layer over your everyday blush or bronzer will keep the color longer.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to layer eyeliner: “You can achieve many different effects by layering different liner types. It’s fun to play around and see what you like. A thin pencil liner followed by dry powder will create a slightly softer, smudged line. Gel liner on top of a pencil smudged over a powder will create a more intense liner look.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to wear eyeshadow as an eyeliner: “The darkest shadow can also be applied as eyeliner using a damp eyeliner brush.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to perfectly apply mascara: “Always begin by putting mascara on the top lashes, coating the entire lash. Apply one or two coats for a natural look, three for more definition. Bottom lashes need only one coat.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to maintain perfect brows: “Tweeze any stray brow hairs. Try to follow the natural shape of your brows. Don’t overtweeze, as super-thin brows aren’t flattering on anyone. It is helpful to get a professional to shape your brows and then maintain the shape on your own.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

How to find your everyday lip: “To find your best nude–your go-to color for an everyday, natural lip–shop when you are barefaced. Bite your lips and then try to find a lipstick that matches that color. The right shade will give your complexion a lift and make your eyes appear brighter–even when it’s all you have on.”

Photo by @justbobbibrown

When did you first become interested in the idea of beauty from the inside out? I’ve always have been. When I was young I was always on diets trying to figure out what to eat to really to be skinny and to look like someone else other than me, which was models. And I tried every single diet out there, lost weight, then I started eating bread again. It was constant, and as a young makeup artist there was always really extensive catering and I used to eat it. And then one day I realized it doesn’t make me feel good and I was gaining weight and I stopped and I started bringing my own food, just really simple, and I realized the better you eat the better you feel, you don’t fall asleep in the afternoon, and it’s been an evolution. And every one of my books have had something on it. But probably the past couple years even when I was working at the brand, I was so much more interested in how you live your life than what you put on your face. So it’s an interesting space for me to be right now, and it happens to be a huge trend that I don’t think it’s going away. I don’t think in five years people are going to not care about it. I think it’s only going to be more and more and people are going to realize that the things you do on a daily basis is what makes you who you are, not the things you do for a week, like it’s not the juice cleanse you do for five days.

I just think about like holistic, being well rounded. It’s not just here, you could put this cream on to look healthy. No, it’s be healthy and be positive and don’t look in the mirror a lot, because when you look in the mirror you are looking for what’s wrong. That’s my other secret. So I stopped looking. And if I look and I look terrible, I find good light and I look again because then I feel better. It’s honestly, I used to have like a standing mirror when I was young and it was on an angle so I was really tall and skinny. I walked out the door every day feeling great.

I also stopped wearing foundation and I like the way I look better without it. I use concealer, I have to. I use concealer and I have to fill in my brows and mascara. I only do liner when I’m going to be on TV or something, and I don’t even wear lipstick any more. I don’t wear lipstick or foundation any more. It’s just organic for me now. I do blush and if I don’t have blush… pinch and then you’re good.

You’ve talked a lot about loving the lines on your face. How did you embrace them? Well, it’s not just that I like lines on the face, I like it much better than the alternative. I mean, I see all these pictures of women who’ve had, you know, there are some people that had great Botox. I know. but there’s a lot of people that haven’t and like there’s an eyebrow going this way and the other one’s going this way and it’s like it doesn’t look authentic. I wish that there was something you could just rub on and it would go away and it wouldn’t be poison and it wouldn’t mess you up. I tried it a couple times and I just hated it. Hated it. I just didn’t feel authentic. So I prefer lines over overdone faces. But I will do every laser in the book, I just wish that I was an editor again to get it for free because it’s really expensive. But I will try all of that because I do believe that those things really are amazing. You look exactly the same, you just look tighter and brighter and better. And I go in the sun. I put sunscreen on but I go in the sun.

Are you a mineral sunscreen fan or chemical? No. I just whatever, like sports stuff, I just spray on me or something.

What kind of sunscreen do you like to wear under makeup? You know what? None of it really sits well under makeup because it’s kind of have something in it. One of the doctors in the book, Dr. Amy Shaw who’s a holistic doctor, actually brought me a bag of [zinc oxide]. It cost her five dollars and she said all of her derm friends are taking this powder and mixing it in with their moisturizer and making your own. It’s a full block. It’s like putting zinc on your nose… I think a little more information has to be told to me, which is how much do you put in? People don’t realize that whatever sunscreens you buy, a year from the day you buy them they’ve lost a lot of their effectiveness. So how many times do you buy sunscreen in July and August and then now you pull them out again? So I started with a pen just writing the dates on them.

So what I bought last summer isn’t good anymore? Well, it’s not as good. But look, I think everyone needs some sun and I think you need to check. It’s common sense. You just need to not be in the sun at hot times in the middle of the day, wear a hat, moisturize, and just you don’t want to look like the people that have over tanned their skin, though I do love freckles. The sun makes you feel good, and by the way? My skin looks good when I get a little sun. And I have a place in the Bahamas now so every couple months I go and okay, I don’t sit there baking but I go for walks in the morning, and there’s days when I forget to put sunscreen on. You know, 7:30 in the morning but by the time you’re home by 9 it’s a little sunny.

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