Singer Gwen Stefani is the new face of Revlon makeup.
The singer talks embracing positivity, when she finally stopped doing her own makeup and why she would be "dead without music."
As soon as I answer the call, I can tell she's smiling. Gwen Stefani's joie de vivre—whether felt through a heart-bursting single or an electric red lipstick—radiates through her telephonic voice, too. Fresh off a photo shoot for her new gig as global brand ambassador for Revlon, Stefani tells me about her simple kind of life.
How does it feel to be the new ambassador for Revlon?
It's pretty exciting. To be at this point in my life and have this happen—you never believe it but then as your career goes on, you thought you were grateful, but then it becomes more intense when you start to question it. Like, 'how can they want me now?'
What was your reaction when this was presented to you?
I was like ‘are you serious!?’ Because I never thought any of this stuff would happen to me. You know? I’m from Anaheim, California. I am just that regular girl! But then I also think they are really smart, because I love makeup. So it’s genuine and real.
And how do you relate to the campaign?
The “choose love” campaign is so in line with the positivity and the place that I am at in my life. It is a perfect fit. And I love, love shooting campaigns. I got to work with Revlon this week for three days straight and shoot three commercials where I talk about choosing love. So it's a cross-pollination between something I love which is makeup, and then also being positive and thinking, ‘OK, I am going to put this message out there for myself'. And that's something I really, really worked on in the last couple of years of my own personal life, so it’s exciting.
Do you consider yourself to be a positive person?
I’ve always been a positive person—naively—and I think through the years there has been a little strain, you know? There was a time—and I’ve talked about this loads in the past year and a half—that I kind of got down and I lost some of my confidence. My inner voice started to sound a little evil, but through love, music and spirituality I dug myself out of that hole. It has been an incredible blessing-filled life since then.
For sure. What was your relationship or association with Revlon prior to this do you have any memories of using particular Revlon products?
I do. I was that dreamer who would be in the drugstore while my mom was grocery shopping, sitting in those aisles literally on the floor, trying on every single thing that they had on the counter, which is totally weird now that I think about it—but I couldn’t help it! And even as a teenager, I became really, really obsessed with Old Hollywood hair and makeup. I just loved that retro aesthetic so much, that I adapted that into my look you know from a really young age.
Do you remember when you started wearing makeup?
I remember seeing James Dean and Marilyn Monroe in some old films—like not together but separately—and then getting on my bike and riding down to the poster shop a couple blocks away. I bought as many posters as I could of them, and plastered my whole room with them like wallpaper. I would spend hours and studying their faces and thinking, ‘How did they create that makeup? How did they do that hair?’
Did you have any mentors helping you with that like did you know any makeup artists?
No. I was really in a band with all boys; I had nobody. I had my own drive. I had a girlfriend named Amy Hunter and her mom owned a lot of makeup. So I would force her to tell her mom to let us play with her makeup, and then I would put it on Amy. She wouldn't put it on me; I apply it to myself and her.
And were you always doing your own makeup in the early days of No Doubt?
I did my own makeup probably until my solo records [Love. Angel.Music.Baby was released in 2004]. I still do my own makeup on tour. I love the ritual of putting on makeup, it’s a process that I really do love.
So the Marilyn Monroe reference you talked about earlier—is that where your signature red lip came about?
Yeah I think so. But I used to watch I Love Lucy and every single thing on [the TV channel] Turner Classic Movies. I don't know why, but you know how you get obsessed with something? I guess it was my destiny. Who knew that I would be recognized for it and influence people? It's hard to believe but pretty awesome.
I think it is a natural fit because as you mentioned earlier you are known as such a makeup girl. And you have an aesthetic that is very recognizable, and you’ve stuck to that. How long would you say you’ve been wearing the red lip and the black liner?
I mean… in high school I was very into looking very mod; I did the frosted lips for a while. Then my grandma gave me those tubes of lipstick for Christmas—you know the ones? They had five or six colours of lipstick in it and it was almost like a candy cane? There was a burgundy shade in there. And I remember sitting in my Honda Prelude that I bought for two thousand dollars, and I looked in the rearview mirror and I put it on. Not while I was driving—I was probably in the parking lot. And I was like 'Wow! Damn, that looks good, girl. You’re going to wear that for the rest of your life.' And at the time, wearing it felt a little rebellious because not everyone was doing it.
Right. Bold lips weren’t really on trend at that time…
At that time, one of the first colours that I used to wear—and I wear it in the campaign which is crazy—it's a pink. It's not quite what they were wearing in the '90s, but it was like a fuchsia. It has like bits of purple in it. So that was quite in, at the time.
Was anyone else in your inner circle wearing a bold lip?
No. In my small, weird world, my parents were really strict and I was in a band with my brother and my friends and I was going to school and I was very passive. So like you said, it is weird when I look back and realize there wasn't another girl around me. Growing up in Anaheim, the only influence I had came from the Hispanic neighbourhood. The girls in that community would paint their faces quite like the Chola style. They would wear really dark lipstick and lots of face powder. They had really thick lashes because they would never take off their mascara. I remember watching them apply their makeup in class and thinking they looked flawless, like beautiful dolls. I was always attracted to it.
Now that the '90s are back in fashion and beauty, how does that make you feel knowing that you were one of those influencers? How does it feel now seeing people adopt some of those trends again?
I think it’s awesome. Its incredible to have any kind of effect on anyone, let alone be part of a trend. It's such a compliment when you see yourself in somebody else. I know that during that time I was doing a lot of experimenting on all levels. I was in my late twenties and that's when you really start to assess yourself. And I think when I had the success from the first record, I felt a lot of pressure to evolve. I was evolving because I got to travel the world for the first time—I saw how girls put their makeup on in London, in Japan and Israel, so there was a lot of experimenting. I look back at that and kind of cringe a little bit, but at the same time I know exactly who that girl was and why I was doing that. I had fun, and it's amazing to see the evolution. That period of time was kind of like a transformation… not a transformation but a growing period.
For sure, and if you didn't try those things, even though you cringe, at least you ventured it right?
Yeah, I feel like when I look back, I wish that I would have had more help. I wish I had of met some of the people I’ve met later who helped refine my look. But I think had that happened, it wouldn't have been what you’re talking about—I wouldn't have influenced people.
You mentioned earlier you mentioned the connection between music and beauty if you could talk a little bit about what that relationship is like for you now?
Music to me is something I never thought I would even be part of, but it has become such a huge part of my like. It healed me this year; I would be dead without music. And then to go on tour and see how it helped people that I don't know—that relationship—that exchange of love through music, is something that I cant even wrap my head around. I am so blessed by it. It is so powerful and it's not something that I can turn on and off. I don't even know if I could write a song right now! I mean, of course I probably could but it is such a magical thing when it happens. I think that makeup and fashion and beauty is really that reward of that. When I am getting ready to go on stage, it's like war paint: This is who I am going to become right here, and I am going to go out and share this version of myself— but I need to look like this. It is like Halloween, getting into character, but the character is another side of you. And I do that every single day without fail. I wakeup in the morning and do it.
But sometimes I get mad at myself because I enjoy it too much and I waste time. Like yesterday. I was getting ready and I knew I was going to do bright lips, but I wanted to try false lashes too. So I started cutting up these lashes and putting them on individually. And it takes time, you know what I'm saying? But I had this idea in my head. I went through two different strips and was like 'Oh yeah, that looks pretty good, good idea Gwen Stefani'. Then I actually got complimented by my lashes by a woman in the elevator. I told her they were fake, and she said, "I know, but they look really good because they're all different." My point is, I will do crazy experiments. I love experimenting and transforming. I don't know what I'm going to do today yet, but I know that when I get off the phone with you, I'm going to get my nails done and put some makeup on.
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