Bobbi Brown Says Be Authentic

We hate to toot our own horns, but it’s safe to say we feel we’ve outdone ourselves – yet again – when it comes to our Monday morning read this week. While we’ve sat down before with makeup legend Bobbi Brown for a bit of a boot camp, this was the first time we really were able to delve into subjects like Brown’s career, beauty from the inside out, and advice on brand-building from the star brand-builder. Look no further for your Motivational Monday morning fix…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

I’d wake up in the morning with a double espresso, the best loaf of French or Italian bread you can possibly find, and butter. For lunch, a glass of white wine, definitely French bread, and probably the best cheese you could find – so basically a cheese sandwich. That’s my lunch. For dinner I will have the same French bread, steak tartar, a martini with three olives, and then a second martini with three olives. And then I think I would have either an ice cream cone or a hot chocolate soufflé and another espresso. That would be if nothing counted and I wouldn’t have a stomachache or headache.

I don’t eat bread – only in France. I don’t eat bread, and I would never have another martini. And I would never have a chocolate soufflé. It is the opposite of the way I eat. I won’t even do that on my birthday because I’ll feel so bad the next day, I won’t get out of bed. That’s my dream food day if nothing bothered me. Every menu I look at I always say “If I wouldn’t have a headache, stomachache, gain weight, or have insomnia, what would I eat?”

Normally, I wake up and I either make a smoothie with protein powder, kale, chia, and all that kind of healthy stuff. Or I have a poached egg or scrambled egg whites. No bread. But then I usually need a snack, so at eleven o’clock I’ll have either half of a high fiber bar or some almonds and apples. Lunch is either a salad in the summer or cooked vegetables, quinoa and a small amount of protein with avocado. And then at dinner I have tequila on the rocks with fresh lime almost every night. I feel better the next day on tequila than I do on vodka, even though I love vodka. The fresh lime juice is so good — no sugar. And then I’ll always have fish for dinner and some fruit for dessert.

TNP: If you could define the Bobbi Brown woman, who would she be?

BB: The Bobbi Brown woman is someone that is smart and comfortable in her skin. Confident, classic, simple, and brilliant.

TNP: How has the beauty industry changed since you started?

BB: The beauty industry has changed a lot. When I first started it was the eighties, and it was all about very artificial makeup, about changing your features with makeup and very, very overly bright lips. Contouring was big when I started. I started my business realizing that contour was not the way to go, and I still refuse to do contour or sell anything to contour. I don’t even like the word. I’m probably the only cosmetics company that would say that. I don’t do contour at all. That’s one of the reasons I started my company, because I hated it.

I believe in highlighting and putting on either shimmer, color or illuminator to bring things up, so you’ll naturally have beautiful shape in your face. I don’t believe in using dark color to change, and I would never look at someone and say, “Your nose is too big, let me make it smaller,” or “Your eyes are too small, let me make them bigger.” I don’t believe in that. Contour tells you what’s wrong with your face, and I’m telling people what’s right with their face.

TNP: So, what makes a great brand?

BB: A great brand is one that you trust, that has integrity, and that you know tells the truth. It’s also a brand that makes you feel good and that you can rely on. Whether it’s Kleenex, Bobbi Brown, or Vaseline, you know what you’re going to get.

TNP: What would be your advice for those trying to create a brand?

BB: My advice is to be authentic, be yourself, and know what your point of difference is. Don’t follow rules, just make up your own.

TNP: What is your personal definition of good content?

BB: I really believe that good content is anything that is visually stimulating. It is also information that is very clear, concise and simple, like a beautiful image.

TNP:  How does content play into what you do both at Bobbi Brown and at Yahoo?

BB: It really goes into everything, even as far as my artists — I teach my artists by showing them. I just believe that [content] has to be a very simple, clear message because there are so many things going on in everyone’s life. If it’s not simple and clear, you don’t know what it is. It’s the same thing with applying makeup or teaching people how to do something.

TNP: I’m curious about your new ad campaign [featuring athletes] that just came out, which got so much great buzz…

BB: I love some of the press I read that said most companies are telling you what the products do, but here’s a company that’s actually showing you what it does. We’re not the first to market with long-wear, but we’re the best to market it I think, because it doesn’t look like long-wear product — it looks like regular product, but it stays on all day. As a matter of fact, it could stay on for a couple of days. I know people that do a smoky eye and the next day they’ve got less of a smoky eye. It gets better the next day.

TNP: Whether it’s online or print, do you think there’s a platform for showcasing beauty that’s most important?

BB: I think it’s really everywhere, whether you’re listening to the radio, watching a talk show, or looking at anything from Twitter to Instagram to great websites. It’s about a common message, and again it’s very visual. I think it’s important for most women to know what they aspire to in beauty. There are many different ways to be beautiful. I happen to think people look most beautiful either without makeup or makeup that looks like they’re not wearing a lot of makeup. That’s my opinion.


TNP: Our site is very voyeuristic. Do you think that voyeurism is stronger in beauty than it is in other industries?

BB: No, I think it’s stronger in food. I think by far it’s food. What attracts me, being someone in the beauty industry, is food, because I also believe that what you put in your body is such a big part of how you look when you get older. Sometimes, I get a lot of inspirations in my makeup for creating colors based on food. My brown shadows and my chocolate palettes are all chocolate bars that I bought at Dean & DeLuca — big chunks of chocolate. We sat down with them in product development, we took pictures, and we studied them. And then we ate them! It was a wonderful thing.

TNP: What’s your advice to women getting up, looking in the mirror, and getting dressed every morning?

BB: My advice is not to spend a lot of time. I believe in effortless beauty. Know what fits you; most women need different sizes for different days depending where they are in their hormones or their party cycle, so it’s important to know what works. When you wake up on a day when nothing fits, you should have some go-to clothes that always work. And the same thing in your makeup drawer. You need your basic things to throw on. I love products that do more than one thing, like a tinted moisture balm that has SPF in it. It’s moisturizer and it’s foundation. You throw it on, throw a little eye brightener on, pop rouge on your cheek and your lips, add a mascara, and you are done.

TNP: If you could tell every woman in the world to only buy one beauty product, what would it be?

BB: Every woman would be different. I’d say for most women it would be concealer. It’s concealer and corrector. Most women, when they get older say, “I look so tired,” because you get darker under the eyes. So you need concealer. But you also need an incredibly rich moisturizer. Sometimes I don’t wear any makeup and I just do a concealer and a great moisturizer, and I feel fresh and really good.

TNP: How do you personally practice beauty from the inside out? 

BB: For me, I exercise six days a week, and even if I don’t have time for my trainer and the gym, I walk. You’ve got to walk 10,000 steps for maintenance, and 12,000 for weight loss. And when you’re sitting at your desk, it’s not easy to do that. It’s a lot. But when I work at home, I do all my phone calls walking, and it’s great. My business calls, my interviews — I’m always on the phone.

TNP: You eat pretty healthy. What foods do you feel like specifically are really good for skin and overall health?

BB: Like my philosophy of makeup and beauty, my food is very simple. No matter what, I have a protein, a vegetable, a small fat, and a healthy carb. I think there’s no question that vegetables are great for your skin. Enzymes are really good for you. You definitely need some kind of fat, and avocado, to me, or olive oil is the best fat to eat. And then I believe, just like I love colors so much, you need fruits with great colors; blueberries and raspberries and blackberries are my favorites. I’ve also discovered that blackberries have the highest amount of fiber of any food. Fiber is the only thing that fills you up, so fiber is really important.

TNP: I’m curious if there was a memorable meal in your career where you just remember sitting at a table, looking around and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m here.”

BB: My most memorable meal was probably at Leonard Lauder’s house. Before I even had anything to do with Estée Lauder, Leonard asked me to come to his house to discuss the possibility that they were going to buy me. I had never been to an apartment like that. We ate dinner on his roof, and he served steamed fish, steamed broccoli, and brown rice, like he knew exactly what I wanted to eat. We were overlooking Central Park, and there was an opera in the park. I don’t know if he planned it, but it was magical. That was probably my most memorable meal.

TNP: What advice would you give your younger self?

BB: Oh, I would so tell my younger self to chill. Just chill. I would tell her to chill and I would tell her to continue doing weights – because it’s not about aerobics, it’s about weights. I would also tell my younger self to enjoy every second of having babies and being a working mom, because they do grow up. Be in the moment.

TNP: Can you take us briefly though your morning and nightly beauty routines? 

BB: I wake up at six o’clock every morning and I drink green powder— ALOHA powder— in my water. I drink that while I’m pressing the button for the Nespresso machine. Then I have a double Nespresso. I put on my iPad. I start at the New York Post, then I go to Instagram, and then I go to Yahoo Beauty. Then I get ready. I’ll exercise on days when I’m working at home. Or I’ll hop in the shower, get out the door, and put my makeup on in the car. I have never sat in my bathroom and done my makeup. Even when I go out in the evening, if I’m at home, I’ll do it on my bed near daylight. I’m not a big bathroom makeup person.

I never do a full face of makeup any day. I never do. I keep it really simple. I do the basic thing, and the less makeup I wear, the better I look.

Before I go to bed, I take everything off with a cleansing oil, because then it’s one step. Everything goes off, and if I’m really tired and don’t put moisturizer on, the cleansing oil still stays on my skin, and it’s really nice. Usually I’ll put a moisturizer on my skin, brush my teeth, and take a couple of bedtime supplements. I always take magnesium because that relaxes the muscles in my brain. And I often take a bath with Epsom salt because that really gets all the magnesium into your body. Did you know we’re all magnesium deficient? Taking a salt bath is the easiest way to get magnesium into your body. So if things ever hurt from being stressed, take a magnesium bath, and don’t wash off afterwards.

TNP: What are some of your favorite cities for food and restaurants you love in each?

I love really good food. I recently went to Carbone with my son, which is his favorite restaurant. It was hard to get into and it was delicious. I equally love The Polo Bar. My favorite Ralph Lauren restaurant by the way is in Chicago. I’m from Chicago; I’ve been going there with my father for years, and it’s one of my favorite restaurants to go to. I walk into RL, and I don’t even have to order. I get a martini, a dover sole, and some broccoli rabe, and I’m really happy.

I’m also completely obsessed by the growing health trend in food, so I’ve recently discovered Indie Fresh. It’s in Gotham Market. It’s all soups and smoothies. And I love Lily, from Clean Food, Dirty City. She’s a doll. She cooks and she drops off food. And Tricia Williams who is a nutritional chef. She’ll interview you and find out what’s wrong, and she’ll heal you with food. It’s really cool. Her company is called Food Matters.

I love Paris, no question – and Italy for the pasta. And my favorite restaurant in London is Scott’s.

TNP: So, in the same vein as the new black in fashion, what is the new potato? 

BB: The new potato is authenticity, being nice to everyone, and doing what you love.

*Bobbi Brown, photographed at Lure Fish Bar in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.

Watch Bobbi Brown teach us how to glow here.

Read our interview with another Yahoo Editor-in-Chief – Joe Zee – here.

Get recommendations from a top beauty editor here.