Beauty Lessons With Make-Up Legend Bobbi Brown
Beauty Lessons With Make-Up Legend Bobbi Brown

Beauty Lessons With Make-Up Legend Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown needs little introduction. Known for her iconic make-up artistry, eponymous beauty brand and the launch of a new one – Jones Road – in 2021, she is one of the most respected figures in the industry. Her keen eye and intuition for what women want has earned her a legion of loyal fans. Best known for her natural looks and back-to-basics formulations, she’s made it her mission to help others enjoy and understand make-up. Here, she talks about her career highlights, the importance of creating your own luck and the advice she’d give to her younger self.
By Rebecca Hull

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College was when I realised I wanted to be a make-up artist. I graduated high school a semester early, went to the University of Wisconsin, and then the University of Arizona, because that’s where all the Jewish kids went. After that, I transferred to Emerson College in Boston. It was there where I was allowed to design my own degree – I never wanted to go to a traditional ‘make-up school’ – so I studied theatrical make-up and minored in photography. 

Getting into the industry wasn’t as straightforward as people think. Once I finished at Emerson, I moved to New York and picked up a Yellow Pages, looking up models and agencies that could help me make connections and get into that world. I didn’t know anyone at the time, and it was hard to break through, but eventually I figured out how to become a fashion make-up artist. Perseverance was key.

I’ve learnt to just get on with it. IF YOU WAIT FOR THAT ‘PERFECT MOMENT’ to do anything, NOTHING HAPPENS. That’s great life advice, too. I don’t wait, I create.

My first magazine job was for Vogue advertising. I was asked by someone if I could do hair and make-up and I said yes immediately – I couldn’t do hair, but luckily the model had very short hair and I managed to get through. I did jobs like this for seven years until I reached my ultimate goal – a Vogue cover with Naomi Campbell. It was her first cover and the whole experience was so special. 

When I turned 30, things changed. I didn’t want to be sitting on shoots until midnight and I was tired of the constant travelling. It was then that I started to realise no one had done a great collection of edited, natural-looking make-up. So, when I met a chemist by chance, I asked him to create a lipstick for me – the best red, the best orange and the best beige. Everything went from there. When I met a cosmetics buyer at Bergdorf Goodman, I pitched it to her – that was the first store to pick up my line.


I’ve loved working for and with real women. That’s what being a make-up artist is all about. I love the challenge that comes with it, especially when someone has an idea of what they want to look like and it’s my job to make them feel great. One of my favourite people to work with was Michelle Obama – she is the epitome of cool. I also had the joy of doing the make-up for L’Wren Scott’s fashion shows with Mick Jagger as her creative partner – that was amazing. 

There have been endless career highs. One was selling the Bobbi Brown company to Estée Lauder and another was having a party thrown in my honour at the American embassy in the UK and in Paris. Of course, launching Jones Road in my 60s has been a huge privilege as well. 

My career peak is where I am now. The love for Jones Road makes me feel so alive. As for pits, I would say there were some very tough times at the old brand. I didn’t realise they were tough back then – I consider myself a fighter – but looking back, they weren’t always my finest moments. But that’s life and that’s business. 


Leaving Bobbi Brown Cosmetics gave me time to think. I’d been so busy at the brand, I barely knew what I was eating for dinner each night – let alone what I was thinking about creatively. The one thing I did know I would be doing was promoting my ninth book, Beauty From the Inside Out, which was really more about nutrition and wellness than beauty. Promoting that book is really what put me on my new entrepreneurial path. First, I went back to school to become a certified health coach. Then, I launched EVOLUTION_18, a line of wellness and ingestible products. Then, Masterclass called me and asked me to do a make-up class, which was such an honour. Doing Masterclass reminded me that, before anything else, I’m a make-up artist first and foremost – I’ve been doing this for 40 years. At that point I realised it was time for me to get back to my roots.

Jones Road took two years to go from inception to execution. The challenge was I had no team and needed to hire and build that out first – any entrepreneur knows that takes time and a lot of trial and error. Then we needed to find the right lab that could create the kind of clean, quality formulas I was looking for. It was very rewarding to be a part of every single aspect of the birth of this brand and to have my hand in every decision along the way.


The brand is tightly edited, so everything is a hero. But if I had to pick just one product that every woman should own, I would say it’s the Miracle Balm. I am obsessed with it. It adds a wash of colour to your skin, as well as a hit of hydration and it subtly enhances the complexion with a light-reflective sheen. I use it on cheeks, lids and lips. It’s made with jojoba seed oil, argan oil and vitamin E so it also nourishes your skin. It’s high performing, multipurpose and full of amazing ‘good for you’ ingredients.

An entrepreneurial lesson I’ve learnt is to just get on with it. If you wait for that ‘perfect moment’ to do anything, nothing happens. That’s great life advice, too. I don’t wait, I create. I honestly believe we all need to be in this mind frame more – especially if you’re looking to make a change in your life, whatever that may be. You could wait forever and end up with nothing but regret. Leonard Lauder also gave me the best piece of advice. He told me to ‘never ask for permission, only beg for forgiveness’ and it’s stuck with me. 

HYDRATION IS MY NUMBER ONE BEAUTY TIP. People don't realise that often, when you don't look or FEEL YOU’RE BEST, it’s because YOU’RE DEHYDRATED.

If I could go back, I’d tell my younger self to chill out. I used to worry all the time and stress about the future. I think we all do this, but if I could, I would now tell my younger self to relax and know that things will work out. 

Q-tips are the one product I’m never without. I’ve used them since the beginning and I always have heaps in my kit. They may seem boring, but I use them for everything – cleaning up lipstick, tightening up feline flicks and picking up glitter or product fallout. They’re simple but very effective.

Eye contact is essential as a make-up artist. I’m often asked what advice I’d give to younger artists and making eye contact is key. Say hello, ask how they are and really understand what they want to achieve through the make-up. I’ve always done this – whether my client is a regular person or a celebrity.  



Women shop differently for beauty today. When I look back at my original brand and fast-forward to now, it’s fascinating to see a whole new business emerge. Women today have a new definition of what beauty is. Imperfect is beautiful, and it feels as if the industry and all of us are finally understanding that. Launches are now far more dedicated to the ‘no make-up, make-up’ feel and everything is working hard to help you embrace your natural features. Even I am wearing less make-up today and so are the models in my chair. That transparent, naturally beautiful look feels very modern right now.

Hydration is my number one beauty tip. I don’t think people realise that often, when you don’t look or feel you’re best, it’s because you’re dehydrated. When I feel like that, I first ensure I’m hydrated and nourished internally throughout the day. Eating some healthy fats and using a hefty dose of hydrating moisturiser on your face, neck and hands makes all the difference. 


I swear by a good multi-tasking product. The three I’d take to a desert island include the Jones Road Beauty Miracle Balm, the Multivitamin Serum and U Beauty’s Multimodal Defender Broad Spectrum SPF 30 – it’s so lightweight. I also love Sam McKnight’s haircare range – simple and effective – while Ruby Hammer’s clever range is full of hard-working multi-taskers with great shades for all skin tones.

Less is always more. It’s a cliché but it’s true. I don’t believe in a ten-step routine or putting endless products on my face. When it comes to make-up, I believe you should first conceal any redness on your face, concentrating the product around your nose, mouth and cheeks where there’s often some hyperpigmentation. Concealing under your eyes is worth doing too, using a lighter shade than the one you use on your face to brighten and get rid of darkness. This is all you need to look awake and refreshed. 

The contouring trend is so wrong in my opinion – you’re essentially telling women there’s something wrong with their face and its structure. There’s so much beauty in a full face, so I don’t like to paint in a cheekbone – you just want to subtly enhance what you have naturally.

For more beauty tips & inspiration, follow @JustBobbiDotCom


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