Sali Meets Bobbi Brown

bobbi sali

The original celebrity make-up artist and beauty guru talks about her new campaign to empower women, and why we all need to stop looking in the mirror.

You’re a big advocate of looking like yourself at your prettiest. Why is make-up important?

Every woman looks better with a little make-up. After this many years in the business, I know it to be true. That doesn’t mean that an extreme look in a make-up artist’s coffee table book is going to make you look better. I often prefer the before shot and want to take it off. It’s about comfort – you need to feel comfortable in your make-up. But a great protective moisturiser, a little concealer, some blush and mascara will always make you look better, healthier, more awake. A little more colour on the face is always flattering.

Have you always loved make-up?

When I was 16 I had a professional make-up artist do my make-up – a woman who owned a salon. She started with “Oh your skin is too yellow, let me make it pink”, then “Your nose is too big, I’m gonna shade it to make it smaller… Your eyes are too deep set, I’m going to make them bigger… Your lips are too teeny, I’ll make them fuller”. I walked out of there at 16 years old and thought I was the ugliest human being. And then I went home and washed my face and said, “Yeah, I’m okay”. This is the exact opposite of how I feel good make up works. It should accentuate what makes your face yours. It should make you feel more comfortable with what you have, not less so.

What does your Pretty Powerful campaign mean to you?

Pretty Powerful symbolises my belief that all women are pretty, and with the right tools, are empowered to a higher level of pretty – it’s all about being confident and about being who you are. It’s this philosophy that fuels the campaign and the charity work, and motivates me every day to do all I can to empower women and girls.

You work with models and beautiful celebrities every day. How do you keep that separate from how you see your own face?

I don’t microscope myself, which a lot of women do. I’ve been married to the same man for 25 years and he loves me for who I am. I feel very lucky. He likes me looking natural, he likes me in flat shoes because he loves to walk everywhere. I complain about how short I am and he says “But you were already short when I fell in love with you”. I’m five feet tall and I would kill to be 5’2″. My height is probably the only physical feature I’ve ever had a complex about. I’m in the fashion world and everyone I work with seems to be really tall. I wear my YSL Tribute shoes and I still look like a very small person next to them.

You are running out of the door. Which one product do you grab?

My SPF25 skin protector in tinted. I wear it every single day. A protective moisturiser is the most important thing you can put on your face.

Which product do you wish you had invented?

When I had babies, I’d tell my colleagues in the office that I wanted to take one of my sons’ wipes and take off all my make-up with it, I was so tired. Now, decades later, wipes are one of the biggest success stories in cosmetics. But I wouldn’t recommend them all the time – I’ve never found any that really make my skin feel good.

You’re a big advocate of healthy living. How important is that to you?

I’m a health fanatic because it makes me feel good. To be healthy is always my ultimate goal. Because as much as I know how extremely helpful make-up is, there isn’t a cream in the world that can make as big a difference to your face as what you put inside your body. I eat extremely good food for 95% of the time so I can indulge in vices for the other 5%. I have a double espresso every morning and enjoy the occasional tequila slammer or a vodka on the rocks in the evening. I exercise a lot – running, lots of walking and pretty much everything else you can think of. It makes me feel great, clear headed and full of energy. Even if I have only fifteen minutes free, I like to do something energetic.

How do you feel about the ageing process? Is it important for women to make the best of themselves at any age?

I think it’s time for women to just stop what they’re doing and listen to me. Look in the mirror once in the morning, check your teeth after lunch and then stop. There are so many more important things than this perfection that doesn’t even exist. I think that a lot of the celebrities have had such pressure that in the past they’ve done too much correction and now the backlash is starting. It’s time to get a little more relaxed, more accepting of who we are. Everybody has beautiful things about them and we’re all focusing on the things we <don’t> like. But I wouldn’t say I’m ready for old age because I feel so young at heart. I hang out with my (university student) sons and their friends. I still love my work. I may run a little slower but I can still touch my toes, and I still love to dance. I may look older, but I feel as young as ever.

The Bobbi Brown limited edition Pretty Powerful Pot Rouge for lips and cheeks is on sale now in the UK, at £18, with the full RRP minus VAT donated to Dress For Success London. Follow the campaign on Twitter via the hashtag #PrettyPowerful

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  • Oldgirlrunning

    Interesting quote… we all seem to be focusing on the things that we don’t like rather than focusing on good things about us. Very true.

    • Fee Bee

      It so is. And is exhausting and a habit I’m trying to stop. We have one life, spend it focusing on the good.

  • Fee Bee

    What a great interview, Hughes.

  • Amy Page

    I love that someone who is so well-respected and successful in the field is using her voice to say such sane things. If only more people in power thought like her! I’m an even bigger fan now.

  • Elizabeth Benson

    Great interview. I love the ‘microscoping’ description. I really must do this to myself less, I never look at other people in that way.

  • yen

    I particularly like her views on the ageing process and perfection. I do hope the backlash is starting but I don’t see enough evidence yet – please prove me wrong!

  • Sherry Trifle

    Great piece Sali. I want to buy all the Bobbi make-up

  • Tindara

    So jealous. She sounds like a brilliant woman, I’d love to meet her.

  • The Heronwife

    Love this – She has made such a difference to my Mum particularly!

  • Linda0506

    People love Bobbi Brown, I am sure with good reason. However, I can’t get on with her foundations. Colourwise, I mean. Being rather pale and sallow, I often have to buy two shades and mix. Same with a lot of other brands. And I have given up asking the advice of Sales Assistants, who always make me look like Morticia Addams. It ain’t funny..

  • mimi smith

    Great interview Sali. I love the things she
    said about getting older, I couldn’t agree more. I would love to meet her.

  • Sequinator Gtl

    Such a warm, enlightening and heartening interview. I think Bobbi has done a great job of creating a brand and products that truly embody her sentiments and ethos.

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