Makeup Mogul Bobbi Brown on Her Next Chapter
After stepping down from her 25-year-old eponymous brand, Brown talks bone broth, no-makeup makeup and starting fresh at 59, at L.A.'s Indie Beauty Expo.
Bobbi Brown has made many significant contributions to the beauty industry in the 25 years since the makeup artist founded her eponymous cosmetics brand (now owned by Estee Lauder), not least of which is coming up with the idea of no-makeup makeup.
“I’m pretty sure I did,” Brown tells THR at the three-day Indie Beauty Expo in downtown L.A., where she was the featured speaker, sharing her story and advice with a ballroom full of beauty entrepreneurs and innovators. The beauty mogul has been in the news lately for stepping down from her company in December.
“The backstory is that when I was a young girl I always wanted to be prettier, and I used my mom’s makeup, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was wearing it.” Brown continues, “No-makeup makeup doesn’t mean there’s hardly any there, it means it’s the right colors for your skin, so when you pinch your cheeks that’s the color blush you should wear.” The first makeup artist to start her own line — a novelty no more, now that it seems almost everyone has their own brand — she always has been anti-trend but says, “I think common sense and authenticity is a trend now, which is kind of funny.”
She cites Alicia Keys, who in 2016 became a role model for the no makeup look, as helping make it more acceptable to be yourself. "That was always my motto my whole life: Be who you are. When you are, you’re comfortable." When it comes to her contributions to the beauty industry, besides creating gel liner, she mentions, “I’ve given women permission to look at their own beauty and be confident in their skin." With her ninth book, Beauty From the Inside Out, out April 18, she’s also spreading the message that what you put in your body and how you take care of yourself are as important as what you put on your face.
From her new “small, cute, industrial” office for four — a vastly different environment from the corporate Manhattan space in which she had a staff to get whatever she needed — she’s devising all sorts of plans, not just in the wellness and beauty arenas, but also in design. She’s excited to put more energy into her 3-year-old eponymous eyeglass collection with Safilo, and to decorate a forthcoming hotel, The George Inn in Montclair, N.J. (opening in summer), with her husband. “Now I have to get my own smoothie, but guess what, it’s finally the way I like it; I’m like the queen of Uber — and I get more steps on my watch. My hair is in a ponytail, my sneakers are on, and I’m really happy.”
As she hits the ground running, wellness is still a big part of her vision. From drinking bone broth somewhat obsessively — “it’s delicious, it’s filling, it’s 80 calories, 50 grams of protein, and it’s got all this collagen that really does help your skin” — to adding a dash of Himalayan salt to her water (which allegedly helps the water absorb into the body’s cells better), she’s willing to experiment. “I see everything, whether it’s Reese Witherspoon's new lifestyle brand Draper James, Goop, Violet Grey — there are a lot of cool, interesting things, and a lot of women supporting and helping each other. A lot of them have husbands, kids, and a you-can-do-anything attitude.”
At events such as the Indie Beauty Expo, which runs through Thursday in downtown L.A., she’s keyed into helping others and boosting other women. She met “a cool girl with her baby,” who reminded her of the days she was starting Bobbi Brown with a 1-year-old in tow, and had a work lunch with an entrepreneur who was talking business while juggling a breast pump and paying the restaurant bill. “That’s what women do now,” says Brown, who doesn’t see actual retirement anywhere in her future. “I don’t think I’ll be the woman who knits, plays mahjong, I think I’ll be doing yoga forever and exercising, and if I’m not creating my own things I’ll be working with people to teach them, mentoring.”
Even with all the lifestyle and beauty brands out there, Brown still believes there’s room for innovation, and perhaps even another startup. She has her own eye on the world of nutritional supplements. “I am very interested in doing some kind of edible, an internal wellness thing, whatever it is,” she says. “I’ve always said I’d love to create all your vitamins in a potato chip. I mean, it’s a joke, but wouldn’t you buy that?”