In the world of beauty, Bobbi Brown’s backstory is widely known, but here’s a quick primer: She designed her own major around makeup in college, then moved to New York and worked as a makeup artist for supermodels like Cindy and Christy. After she launched ten lipsticks, Leonard Lauder came knocking. (She famously named her boat TYLL — Thank You Leonard Lauder.) Then, in December 2016, she and Estée Lauder parted ways. Wait, what???
This news was huge, and had everyone speculating her next move. One thing she didn’t do was lie in bed and stare at the ceiling.
“My husband immediately said, ‘You’re working with me on this hotel,’” remembers Brown, whose husband, Steven Plofker, had recently purchased a building in their hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, that would become the George Hotel. “And I went back to school to became a health coach.”
While earning her degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she also formed a lifestyle company, Evolution 18. Under its umbrella, which includes the aforementioned hotel and a photo studio, she launched a lifestyle website (Just Bobbi), a podcast (Long Story Short With Bobbi Brown), and, most recently, a supplement line.
Brown has been searching for that dream nutrition product since her late 20s, when she would bring her own lunches of salad and protein to the carb-heavy spreads that catered every photo shoot back in the ’90s. At the office, she was famous for making hot chocolate that was “sweet and creamy, but not fattening,” she recalls. “The girls would line up for it every afternoon. It kept you full and it had a kick. I knew I wasn’t the only one who’d get starving and tired, then go to dinner and order the drink and eat the bread.”
Afternoon Chocolate, a powder you add to water (think Swiss Miss, but super healthy, was the first product Brown created with vitamin company Vitaquest. Four more quickly followed, including De-Bloat, another powder that acquired a wait list of 6,000 after she talked about it on Elvis Duran’s Morning Show. Six months later, Walmart called. And, yesterday, Evolution_18 by Bobbi Brown debuted on the megastore’s shelves. The ten products include capsules, gummies, and Beauty Bubbles, which absorb into your tongue, but Brown is working on more new delivery systems.
“I don’t love taking pills, and I think a lot of people don’t,” says Brown, who takes Evolution_18 Probiotic and a chocolate-flavored fish oil every day. “But you can’t only take gummies because you might as well be eating a cupcake.”
She’s also playing around with everyone else’s makeup, something she hasn’t done in decades.
“Everyone’s being very generous, sending me stuff — Nars, Anastasia, Trinny Goodall, Emily from Glossier, Trish McEvoy. Marcia Kilgore keeps saying, ‘Whenever you’re ready to come back, I’ve got the lab for you,’” she smiles. “It’s funny: We all used to be in major competition years ago, but now we’re all super supportive of each other. It’s a very different world right now.”
Brown spoke with the Cut about the beauty looks even she can’t pull off, the kitchen oils she uses on her face, and the unclean items she just can’t quit.
What’s your definition of the word “beauty”?
Something you like to look at.
What’s your definition of the word “wellness”?
Feeling good in your skin.
What do you think when you hear the term “clean beauty”?
Something that doesn’t have chemicals in it.
Are there places in your life where you just can’t bring yourself to go “clean,” “green,” or “sustainable”?
Straws! I’m trying so hard to be a metal person. I have paper ones, but they fall apart. If I get a smoothie somewhere and they have a straw, I’ll take it. Probably the worst thing I put in my body, about once or twice a month, is a Diet Coke.
What was the biggest “No” you heard in your career and what did you learn from it?
When I first had the idea to start a makeup line, someone said, “The world does not need another lipstick.” And I just didn’t pay attention. I learned there are a lot of naysayers, but you just have to go with your gut and keep doing it.
What is the opposite of “beautiful”?
People who aren’t nice.
What is your morning wellness routine?
I always have 8–16 ounces of water before I drink my espresso. I’ve been trying to intermittent fast a few days a week. I try not to eat late, but a couple times a week, we go out to dinner and sometimes the reservation is 8 p.m.
What is your morning beauty routine? Exercise. I don’t look good until I exercise. I usually get about 10,000 steps walking around the neighborhood.
What’s the last beauty product you use every night? I’m in love with Garnier Micellar Water. It takes everything off!
What aspect of your beauty routine tends to be neglected?
Makeup. I often go out without it.
Mascara of choice:
Blush of choice:
Whatever lip stain I’m currently using.
Bath or shower?
Both, with epsom salts.
Shampoo/Conditioner of choice:
Since I go to the Bahamas a lot, I wear 50. Either Neutrogena or Coppertone.
What beauty look do you personally struggle with achieving?
I can’t pull off a smoky eye or a red lip.
I think about _______ a lot:
How to do things better.
Daily carry-all of choice:
As soon as Phoebe Philo left, I bought the Celine black sack, and I also have L.L. Bean camouflage green totes, in big and medium.
How do you like your bed?
A lot! It’s my favorite place. I have a king, Casper sheets, a lot of pillows, a bunch of different comfy blankets, pictures of my babies on my bedside, and I have a TV and usually there’s a dog.
How I Built This. I also listen to mine, which is really helpful so I can see what I have to work on.
What makes a good interview?
People who aren’t boring! Sometimes, people break the news on my show that they are getting divorced, like in the one I did with Joey Fatone. He was like, “Oh my God. I haven’t told anyone this!”
Favorite meal and where:
Steak tartare, with the most amazing bread and butter and frites, in a park in France. I don’t have a favorite restaurant.
What is always in your fridge?
Apple cider vinegar, organic Half & Half, and berries.
What should be in everyone’s fridge?
What do you foresee as the top beauty trends for the remainder of 2019?
I think we’re going to see more clean brands. And I think the makeup is going to be cleaner, too. The pendulum is strongly swinging in that direction.
Please share a moment from your career that touched you.
There have been so many, but the first thing comes to mind is when I was invited to speak about beauty and self-esteem for the widows of the World Trade disaster. There were all these beautiful women, a lot of them holding babies, and I got up to talk and I just burst into tears. They were all holding Kleenex boxes, and I told them, “I didn’t expect this. Here we are doing makeup,” and they said. “You don’t understand. Everything that makes us feel better is part of the puzzle to the bigger picture.” That was pretty touching.
What is the biggest tip you can give that will change people’s lives?
Treat everybody the same. Always remember that everybody is going through something, and we’re all the same.
What do you want?
Health and happiness for the people I love.
If you won the Power Ball tomorrow, what are the first five things you would do (after, of course, donating the majority of it to your top charities)?
I’d buy each of my kids a house, and I would send more kids to college. I wouldn’t do anything more. When we sold our company, we didn’t buy a thing. We just sent everyone to college.
Last great book you read?
Becoming by Michelle Obama.
What would the name of your autobiography be?
It will be about business, and it will be called “Duh.”