It’s pretty obvious from her signature red lipstick that Gwen Stefani is big on beauty — but now, she’s making it official.
The singer-actress-designer is the latest global ambassador for Revlon. It’s a long way from the Borghese counter at The Broadway in Anaheim, Calif., where she spent some of her younger years testing out her makeup artistry skills on shoppers.
“I was a makeup artist when I was in my early twenties at the mall, they never trained me,” Stefani said. “I worked behind the counter there for Borghese, which nobody bought because it was expensive, and Ultima II, which I think is actually owned by Revlon.” (It is.)
Her target was the shopper who was intimated by the other salespeople (“they purposely make you feel horrible,” Stefani contends).
“I’d be like, ‘Let me put some makeup on you, let me show you what you could look like,’” she said. “I just remember making people feel so much joy and so inspired and so full of confidence, and that’s what makeup can do.”
But Stefani wasn’t chosen for the Revlon gig for her makeup application skills, advanced as they may be.
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“Gwen will clearly appeal to makeup enthusiasts,” said Benjamin Karsch, Revlon’s chief marketing officer. “She’s known far and wide for her red lips, so that’s definitely part of the attractiveness as a brand ambassador for Revlon, but that’s really combined with who she is as a person and also her love story.”
Karsch is referring to Stefani’s blossoming romance with Blake Shelton, one of her fellow mentors on NBC’s “The Voice,” following a public split from ex-husband Gavin Rossdale. She joins the ranks of Ciara, Halle Berry, Olivia Wilde and Alejandra Espinoza, who are also Revlon ambassadors.
“They have this Choose Love campaign, which is full of choice and positivity and dreams and truth and I feel like that’s aligning exactly with where I’m at in my personal life in the last couple of years and how I’ve had to kind of choose love, choose truth, choose to be positive and work my way back to a place of using my gift and sharing my love with people,” Stefani said.
“From the very beginning of her career she inspired fans by sharing openly about her own love story and the importance of love in her life,” Karsch continued. “She’s been a model of female empowerment for many fans across the spectrum, and the way she shares her personal story fits very well with our brand positioning around Choose Love.”
Stefani agreed wholeheartedly that she’s the right fit for the movement.
“They’re so smart to pick me,” she said. “This campaign…is really where my heart is at. Not to mention my obsession with makeup for my whole life.”
The job also had her playing with an entirely new set of products. “For me, I get stuck in a routine,” she said. “Like, OK, this is what’s safe and this is how fast I can put this on before I’ve got to go on the school run.”
These days, brows are a primary focus. “It’s so youthful to have a heavier brow, it makes it look so clean and so retro,” Stefani said, adding she’s been using a Revlon brow pencil. “If you’re using just powders and things like that you get home and half your eyebrow’s gone and you’re like, ‘Oh well, that’s embarrassing.’”
Stefani’s makeup fascination took hold at a young age, when she watched her mom and grandma get ready. “They had a look,” she said. “My mom didn’t play — she put it together — she looked incredible. It was always a bright pink cheek and bright pink lip, that was like, my first inspiration of color on lip.”
She also watched the girls in her class, she said. “I grew up in Anaheim, Calif., super heavy Hispanic [population] you know — a lot of girls, like Chola girls, that had unbelievable makeup…I would daydream and watch them in class putting their makeup on, as people do when they’re in class, and just be like, mesmerized,” Stefani said. “That had a huge influence on me.”
After perfecting her cat eye — which she donned with a frosted pink lip — her paternal grandmother gifted her a lipstick set. “I just remember being in my car…and trying on this burgundy lipstick and thinking to myself, ‘Wow, that’s it. This is never going to not be on my lips again.’”
And that deep lip has stuck with her from the days of braces and No Doubt through to solo albums, ready-to-wear, accessories, cartoons (she has one called “Kuu Kuu Harajuku” on Nickelodeon) and the breakup that prompted her latest album, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like,” released in March.
“When I went through all my personal tragedies in the past…music was the thing that was like my savior,” Stefani said. “Being on ‘The Voice’ also was a thing that helped turn back on my light, I had lost a lot of confidence…Playing a different role in being a coach, and sitting there and watching everybody work so hard and make so much progress in such a short amount of time and having to think back to my own career and think of all the music I wrote, like, how did I do that?”
So she went back in the studio, writing most of her latest album in eight weeks and then embarking on a tour. “Being on tour is like, a real exchange of love,” Stefani said. “You literally are giving all of yourself every night…everybody there was clearly connected to my story…it was just an incredible healing, amazing, mind-blowing experience.”
But despite the positivity generated from her most recent tour, Stefani hesitated when asked about potential new music. “I don’t know if I’m going to do new music, I’m definitely at the end of a chapter,” she said. “I did the tour, I know I’m doing ‘The Voice,’ we already started filming…I’m doing the stuff in my fashion, but I have some dreams inside me and I know that I have some stuff brewing so we’ll see.”
On the fashion scene, Stefani seems to have her finger on the pause button of her rtw collection and is focusing instead on products in more accessible price points, collaborating with Burton a handful of times for winter gear and debuting an optical collection in 2016. “Rtw doesn’t reach everyone, whereas when I do things through my brand that are accessories or now with the eyewear, it’s so fun to be able to reach everyone,” Stefani said. “It feels so good to not exclude people.”
That being said, a future RTW collection isn’t out of the question, she hinted. “I definitely am working on a potential rtw collaboration, but it’s a little early to be talking about it.”