IT’S BOBBI BROWN’S WORLD, AND WE’RE JUST LIVING IN IT. If you were a teen growing up in the nineties, Bobbi Brown Beauty was not just a makeup how-to book, it was a bible. The makeup artist turned cosmetics giant turned lifestyle guru is the reason we seek that incandescent “glow,” favor neutral hues in makeup and hunt for that elusive “natural beauty” look. “When I started in this industry 35 years ago, it was heavy contoured faces and crazy colors,” muses Brown curled up with a bowl of zucchini pasta in her den. “I thought no, people look better when they wash their face, so I started doing what I believed in. Cut to today and here we are again. Everybody is contouring. I don’t want a mask, I want transparent makeup to see the skin. I like freckles. I like the skin. You should leave the freshness of the person.” To wit, Brown’s latest tome, Beauty from the Inside Out seeks to uncover just that. Most recently, Brown is embarking on her second act as wellness and lifestyle guru, currently enrolled at the holistic health coach program Institute for Integrative Nutrition in addition to revamping the New Jersey-based The George Inn and expanding her Just Bobbi empire with concept shops at Lord & Taylor. Recently, the beauty icon welcomed us in her home where we discussed intuitive eating, the future of clean beauty and why aging is a blessing.
By Ariel Okin
Photography by Sasha Israel
When did your interest in wellness begin?
I’ve always been obsessed with improvement. Looking better and feeling better. When I was a teenager, health and wellness was, “What diet should I be on to lose the weight the quickest?” I really mastered losing weight and basically starving myself. I’ve done the Beverly Hills Diet, which was only pineapple for most of the day. Then my cousin and I went on the Liquid Slender Diet. That’s when I fainted at the dressmaker. Then I continued in a more sophisticated way, I would see different people and they would put me on different juice cleanses, which I would always be on or off.
What was your breaking point?
I started having children at 32. With three kids and a business, I realized if I did not take care of myself and eat the right way, with all my traveling and working, I couldn’t function. I’ve always been very high functioning, but you have to eat right. I realized when you’re sitting on set all day and there’s a beautiful gourmet spread, if you eat the food, you’re going to feel awful in the afternoon. So I went from trying to be thinner to realizing it’s about being healthier.
How would you describe the way you approach your own diet now?
Food has to be real. I don’t like anything to be processed. If I want cheese, I want real cheese. I don’t believe in dairy-free, I don’t believe in anything-free. Just eat the best quality possible whenever available. I like really good tasting food, I like really good salt, cracked pepper, everything tastes better with garlic and I like little bits of things. I’ve recently fallen in love with anchovies.
Do you believe in cleanses?
I was doing a lot of grabbing almonds and having some dark chocolate and I realized this summer that it’s still a math thing and it adds up. My team and I did this group cleanse called Burn and Build Body. I realized how much we were actually eating between meals. Sometimes I intermittent fast and it makes me feel really good. It helps with my digestion.
Do you have any hacks to whip up a quick healthy meal?
It’s important to have things ready. I always have a cooked chicken that I buy from Whole Foods. On Sunday, I make all different pastas, drain them and make something like a salad bar.
What’s that green drink you have in your fridge? (Pointing to a Tupperware quart of an unidentified green liquid)
I have a vegetable garden so I grabbed kale and happened to have bone broth in the fridge. I threw everything in the Vitamix with some pepper and put it on the soup setting. It was delicious.
What’s your ideal dinner?
The other night I had a veggie burger with sauerkraut and a Tito’s and I was happy. It was a great dinner.
I’ve given up everything. I’ve given up sugar, I’ve given up white flour. I’m not giving up my Tito’s, we’ve gotta make it work. I also love Casa Dragones or Casamigos tequila. There has got to be a way to make some kind of tequila or vodka that is also a probiotic.
What are your meals like at the office?
My new team and I are all inspired to not order takeout, so we’ve been doing co-op meals. Last Friday I brought over the most amazing giant wooden bowl and we just made a salad with things from the garden, things from the fridge, a side of tuna and a side of beans because we have a vegan. The Italian tuna is so worth it.
What are your favorite condiments?
Himalayan salt, sea salt and Rao’s Marinara. I’ve stopped using dressing.
What does your morning routine look like?
The first thing I do when I wake up is have 16 ounces of water and sometimes I put lemon in it or a green powder in it. I either use Elle MacPherson’s Super Elixir or Dr. Daryl’s Greens Alkamind. I have a double espresso that I’ll put either the Laird Hamilton Superfood Dairy-Free Creamer in or do it black. I sit on the couch while my husband jumps on the treadmill. He reads the paper, and I’ll read my iPad on the couch with my dog, and then I exercise. I don’t eat until later. Usually it’s a smoothie and sometimes it’s protein powder in a cup with hot water, so it’s like a hot cocoa. On the weekends, I do a Barely Bread bagel with smoked salmon and capers.
Supplements that you live by?
I’ve been doing a lot of collagen powder and I swear by it. I notice a huge difference in my skin and my eyebrows seem thicker. I’ll do it with water, it’s a way to get water in my body too.
Where do you eat out in the city?
I go to Soho House a lot, Balthazar and The Grill. Red Cat, Trestle on Tenth, and Seed & Mill for the goat yogurt with tahini at Chelsea Market.
When do you feel you’re functioning your best?
I feel the best right after I exercise. It’s something I include in my life on a daily basis, whether it’s walking or weights. I also do the Barre Method. During the winter I do Soul Cycle more. I try to get outside. I do most of my phone interviews while walking. I do really well when I’m moving.
Let’s talk a little bit about your new book, Beauty From the Inside Out. Where did the concept for the book come from?
For me, being a makeup artist has so many different meanings – from doing editorial work, to fashion shows, to weddings, to people who have gone through cancer. I realized how healing it is when you make someone feel better. I’ve done it almost all through makeup. If you want to look healthy, it’s much better if you are healthy. To do that, I realized there was so much more I wanted to know. So I wrote this book almost as a journalist.
What are some wellness tips you’ve learned throughout researching the book?
I learned from Harley Pasternak that 10,000 steps a day is fine for maintenance, but if you want to lose weight, do 12,000 and do it everyday. He’s the one who told me I should do all my interviews while walking. I learned how to alkalinize my body from Dr. Daryl and Elle MacPherson and how that makes a big difference.
How does it make a difference?
A lot of the food we eat turns acidic in the body. I love steak tartare and I love a good hamburger but meat and a lot of the things we do on a daily basis aren’t great for us—my beloved espresso, my beloved Tito’s. If you’re not doing the proper greens, your body is not balanced. Dr. Daryl taught me how to use the strips to see how alkaline my body is.
Are there any wellness practices you do regularly?
Breath work is the thing that makes the biggest difference for me. Even if it’s five seconds, it makes a difference. I actually learned that from Elvis Duran, who’s a friend of mine. He said to literally just stop and focus on your breathing for 10 seconds. Anyone can breathe for 10 seconds. It’s breathing that gets oxygen in your brain.
Are there any foods you’ve cut out over the years that affected your skin in a negative way?
I’ve certainly cut out anything processed. I will read the back of ingredients. One of my kids was cooking and bought cheese. They put potato starch in the cheese. You have to be conscious of the ingredients, that’s number one. I don’t eat fried foods and I really limit my grains. I love grains. I would eat bread, pasta, tortillas and potato chips over anything. I don’t eat cookies or cake. I used to have frozen yogurt every day of my life and I craved it. And I just stopped. My sugar of choice now is coconut sugar. I find it tastes the best, it doesn’t bother me. And I can satisfy myself with blueberries and some really good cinnamon.
Do you have top 3 tips when it comes to your wellness regimen?
- -Water. If you’re not hydrating yourself, your skin is not going to be good and you’re not going to feel good. Sometimes I put sea salt in the water because that helps you absorb it. Sometimes I put apple cider vinegar in or lemon in it.
- -I really discovered collagen this year. Not the kind you shoot in your face but the kind you put in your body. I use Dr. Kellyann’s Slim Collagen Cooler. It’s an orange drink that you mix in your water, it tastes like a creamsicle, it’s delicious and Vital Proteins are my favorites.
- -Just put greens in everything. I put frozen spinach or frozen kale in my smoothies. It helps alkalize your body.
Are there any wellness specialists who you see frequently?
I go to two kinesiologists/chiropractors who do muscle testing on your body. One is more physical and one is more emotional, so I go to both. Dr. Ken Davis is the emotional guy and Dr. Jeff Lally is the more physical guy. Even after I left my brand, I never went to a therapist. These guys helped me release what I was feeling.
Are there any treatments you swear by?
Laser on the skin is incredible. I’ve done it for years. I was the kid who laid in a tin foil box with iodine when I was sixteen. Back then, no one told us that was bad. Now I’m doing something called Pico. It gets rid of the spots and makes your skin even. It also increases collagen. The other thing I love is this little device called NuFace. It really does lift. It’s the only at-home machine I’ve found that works.
Any products you absolutely love?
I am obsessed with Ouai products; Marvis toothpaste; Hello charcoal toothpaste; and Dr. Bronner’s peppermint body wash.
What are your thoughts on clean beauty?
I’ve been hugely interested in it for years. I’ve searched those products and there is an opportunity for improvement.I’m excited about the possibility of what’s possible. For myself, I’ve been using coconut oil and olive oil and I make my own scrub with sugar. I’ll mix coconut oil with sugar and just put it on my face and make a scrub. I do salt on my legs in the shower. I think keeping chemicals out is a great thing.
What is your stance on fighting or accepting aging?
I find that whenever I feel I don’t look good, instead of saying, “Let me run to my doctor,” I say, let me examine what I’m doing and my lifestyle. Maybe I’m not eating healthy, maybe I’m going out too much, maybe I need to meditate. You have to retrain your brain when you look in the mirror. I have lines in my forehead. My group of friends all have lines in their face. We make jokes about it. I find I’m happy that way. The answer for me is to realize what is important in life. How you look is important, but it pales in comparison to other things that really matter. It’s a funny thing for a beauty expert to say. Makeup is great, but honestly, if you feel good, you look good. Oh, and find the best lighting and look at yourself every day.
Bobbi’s Zucchini Pasta with Italian Spices and Tuna
2 cups of spiralized zucchini
1 package of Marinella Spaghettata Pasta Herbs
1 jar of Italian tuna packed in oil (to make vegan, sub with cannellini beans)
1 jar of Rao’s Marinara Sauce
Optional: Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
In a hot pan, heat olive oil. Add herbs and saute until fragrant, a couple minutes. Add in zucchini pasta and saute until tender. Mix in tuna or beans and marinara sauce until well coated and mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with parmesan if using. Serve hot.