Interview: Jennifer O’Shea


One of the hottest names in the cosmetic industry, Bobbi Brown chats to us about what inspired her to start the hugely successful brand, the lipstick shade that changed everything and where she loves to spend her weekend down time.

In the 80’s your original vision was to make lipsticks that were natural looking in comparison to the strong bold make up that was on trend at the time, do you think it was this choice that led you to a breakthrough in the cosmetics industry?

As a working makeup artist in New York, I found that often I couldn’t find the right shades of foundation, or the perfect lip color to use on models.  It was the 1980’s, and most of the foundations were too pink-y and the lip colors were never quite what I wanted.  I realized that most makeup I bought I had to fix – blending it with other shades to change the tone.
I met a chemist and told him I had an idea to create a special lipstick that had a natural, yet beautiful color. This color became my Brown #4.
I then had an idea – a collection of ten lipsticks that looked great alone or could be mixed and blended to create any perfect shade.  The models loved it, and before I knew it, I’d developed a range of 10 lipstick shades. The Bobbi Brown brand was officially launched in 1991.

You have become an inspiration to many women, tell us who is your inspiration?

My beauty inspiration when I was young was always my mom, because she was the most glamorous, beautiful woman.  And my grandmother, who always said that the lines on her face were evidence of a full and wonderful life. I just thought she was gorgeous because she was so nice and so wonderful.

Share your top summer beauty tip with us?

To accentuate your sun-kissed skin try using coral and nectar shades. Try a soft shine coral lipstick or an eye shadow with a gold tint and leave the rest of your face natural.

What is your favourite beauty trend this season?

Makeup trends come and go but flawless polished looking skin never goes out of style. This Autumn, give skin a fresh, hydrated and luminescent glow. Anyone can get a vibrant glow, but this look works especially well if you have dry skin because it’s all about adding moisture to create a healthy and refreshed look.

You have said you ventured into the make – up  as you felt self-conscious because of your height and wanted to feel ‘prettier’. Do you think it was this idea that shaped your iconic love for the more ‘natural’ look as a way to enhance beauty rather than alter it?

When I was growing up, the popular beauty icons of my time had blonde hair, blue eyes, and long, pencil-thin legs. As a five foot tall brunette, I often felt like I wasn’t pretty enough. I eventually learned to embrace what makes me unique and I discovered how makeup can enhance what you have and make you feel more confident.

Many young girls become so obsessed with what they see as their flaws, that they overlook the qualities that make them beautiful.  I use a little makeup to play up those qualities and more often than not, they’re happily surprised by what they see in the mirror.  It’s important for young girls to find a role model that they can relate to.  For me, it was Ali MacGraw.

What would be your top 3 Desert Island essentials?

I never leave the house without concealer, mascara and blush. Concealer is my ‘desert island’ cosmetic—I wouldn’t dream of living without it. When applied correctly, it instantly makes you appear awake and refreshed, no matter what’s going on in the outside world. Blackest black mascara makes eyes pop. Last but not least, blush is the epitome of instant pretty. A tip for finding the most natural look, go for a shade that looks like your cheeks after you’ve just exercised.

What would be your ideal weekend plans?

I love the beach – it’s where I feel happiest and most relaxed.

If you didn’t get into makeup artistry, what career path do you think you would have followed?

If I wasn’t a makeup artist, I’d be a nutritional chef. I love to cook, and my sons like to help me so it tends to become a family activity. I like to experiment and try new healthy recipes.