beauty interviews

Q&A: Drew Barrymore on ’90s Beauty, How Concealer Can Be Empowering, and More

Although celebrities like Blake LivelyReese Witherspoon, and Cameron Diaz are eager to become lifestyle brands, Drew Barrymore isn’t in any rush. Despite penning 1,000-word odes to egg sandwiches, releasing a best-selling heart-based photography book, and launching her own beauty company, Flower Beauty, Barrymore says she doesn’t consider herself in the lifestyle-brand game. “If it organically morphed and evolved into that, it would be something,” she told the Cut. “But I don’t have any plans for that yet.”

She talked to the Cut about how she would respond to critics who don’t see makeup as empowering, her planned expansion into skin care, and how she’s just “trying to get shit done.” Plus, watch the exclusive video tutorial above, in which she teaches us how to achieve a modern take on ‘90s beauty.

A few years ago, you were People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” How do you feel about beauty now versus then?
That’s so nice they put me on that list again. I don’t take things like that for granted or assume. But I feel no different, really.  I think about beauty more in terms of how to make women feel good and empowered through this beauty company. I think about beauty on a business level. My own personal routine hasn’t really changed much.

What is your skin-care routine like?
I still wash my face twice a day. That’s probably my one sanctuary. I use a cleanser from the facialist Christine Chin. It’s super-expensive and that bums me out because I’m used to drugstore brands. I also love brightening serums now. I have the patchiest, reddest, most hideous/discolored skin, so those brighteners are really a lifesaver.

I’ve been a green-drinker for years. I’m part of that old, original posse of people. I love it. I go and buy fresh ones. I’m not into the pressed ones. I like the ones that are freshly made right there. It’s so amazing how much it affects everything.

But otherwise, it’s just toners, brighteners, and any under-eye love I can possibly get. I have such lack of sleep from raising kids. It’s more like a three-step skin-care routine. I like misters for revitalizing makeup; it’s a great way to wear makeup all day for work. It’s like, “What do you do at 3 p.m. in the afternoon?” You do a mister with a little bit of water, which gives it life again and adds dewiness.

Have you tried those newer cleansers, like the oil-based types?
I’m so scared to try the oil-based cleansers. I still have yet to find a sunscreen that doesn’t make me break out. So I feel like my choices are zits or brown patches. I don’t tan in the sun, so I’m not in danger so much. A lot of stuff just makes me break out.

I have a few cleansing oils that beauty-editor friends have given me, but I’m going to wait until after the pregnancy to try it out. I can’t take acne on top of the pregnancy and feeling like an Oompa Loompa.

So how do you create an “empowering” makeup company?
I don’t respond to a beauty company that’s selling that you have to wear a lot of makeup and is all about glamour against a gold-rain backdrop. That’s not real life. I much more like dancing around in my closet to music. I don’t love overairbrushing or weird fake jungles or CGI. I kind of just like flowers. I like white backdrops and stuff that’s just very grounded in reality.

When you see women who have warmth to them, that’s beautiful. It’s about a good heart and a smile that is coming across. I don’t really connect with a cold, aggressive-type thing. My personality doesn’t really magnetize to that. It’s more joyful than serious beauty. That’s what I did as a creative director at Cover Girl for seven years and what I try to bring to Flower Beauty.

It’s about sitting around in sweatpants — but we need to believe that we are women, too. It’s about dancing around your closet and getting ready for a date or to go to work; that’s more true to life.

Do you find makeup empowering? How would you respond to critics who say it isn’t?
Oh my God. I think concealer is empowering. Absolutely. I felt so good yesterday because someone had done my hair and makeup. This was after months of not fitting into clothes and having very patchy skin and bad-hair days for about six months. I felt so lucky and grateful that someone waved a magic wand on me.

I think there’s natural makeup. I don’t pile it on every day. Most days, I go out and don’t wear any. I want to let my skin breathe. I get photographed like a dark-circle zombie. I just don’t care. I don’t think it’s real. It hasn’t put a gun to my head to put on more makeup. I’m just trying to get my shit done.

However, when I do a little concealer, a little blush and lip gloss, I get mad at myself that I don’t do it more often because it does look nice. I do feel like I look a little prettier.

Do you have any holistic-beauty practices?
No, not at all. I appreciate organic and eco and all of it. We have healing properties in Flower Beauty and it is devoid of parabens and cruelty-free. Chemically, we try to toe a line. I’m not the all-natural guru.

But I don’t feel like I’m a bad person. I don’t use all-organic. I drink out of a Styrofoam cup. I probably would not be a super eco-person’s wet dream by any means. Also, it’s like the way I eat. I enjoy food. If I need to be healthy, I take it down a notch. But if I want that delicious macaroni and cheese at dinner, I will have it. If I gain ten pounds, it will be fine. Life is too short for me to be completely stressed about everything.

What is one of your first beauty memories?
I just loved being in the makeup chair when I was a kid, watching the women around me get ready. I felt like I was backstage in a ballet. It was a really cool world where women could come in one way but leave a totally different person. That always left such a strong impression on me. And in the ‘70s and ‘80s, women did a lot of shit. They really loved their curlers. It wasn’t like “no-makeup makeup.”

You seem passionate about skin care. Are there plans for Flower Beauty to expand into skin care?
We’ve talked about it, absolutely. We’re about to expand into different categories and would love to go into skin care. I’ve learned so much about skin care and have tried so many different products, and I think there are a lot of great natural products.

What is a perfect beauty day for you?
Um, not thinking about it. It means mentally, being free of being any shackles or insecurity or overanalyzing myself. It’s a total absolvement of self-absorption. Sometimes, it’s just because I haven’t had the chance to think about it. I feel like I had that day yesterday. It can also come in a different form where I am happy. My kids are happy and I’m running to the park and not thinking about anything.

Your last photography book was a best seller. What will be your next photography project?
I was just thinking about that this morning, funny enough! It’s been so hard and challenging because I’ve been pregnant so much. It may be soon. I may get back into it this summer or fall. I have no specific plans, but I can’t wait to get back on the horse.

Watch: Drew Barrymore’s ’90s-Beauty Tutorial