If you told my 14-year-old self I’d one day have the opportunity to speak to the legendary Gwen Stefani (a woman who truly needs no introduction), I probably would have had a minor fainting spell. I’m not kidding when I tell you the playlist of my early teen years consisted solely of Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and every No Doubt song known to man. I’ve always deeply admired Stefani’s creativity, spirit, and ability to stay true to herself throughout her decades-spanning and extremely successful career. First, she started with music, then a clothing line, and now, years later, she has decided to return to her roots and gift us with an awe-inspiring makeup line, GXVE Beauty.
When I say “return to her roots,” some of you may not know that I’m referring to Stefani’s early career as a makeup artist. She worked as one at a mall in Anaheim, California before becoming a musician full-time and recalls this time in her life as the spark that fueled her passion for makeup as an art form.
And yes, she’s also just as kind, painfully cool, and down-to-earth as you think she is. Hearing her speak about this collection made me feel some type of way. This is a woman who has been on stage and in front of a camera for over 20 years and still manages to speak so honestly about the challenges she faced that brought her to the creation of this collection. It’s a cohesive and stunning line I can’t wait to get my hands on, and you can tell she put a lot of heart and soul into it. Last but not least, she’s finally offering the masses a way to achieve her iconic red lip—and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, either. Read on for my honest beauty chat with Stefani and discover all of the details on the new launch.
I would first love to first start by talking about the inspiration behind the line. How did this formulate in your mind and how did this come together over the years?
Well, I kind of feel like this has been something that was always going to happen in my lifetime. This is going to be my legacy. This is going to be the give-back chapter of my life. And I prayed about it a lot. I definitely went through a really traumatic time about seven years ago, and really had to pick the pieces up and go, “Who am I, what happened? Like, what do I do next?” God helped me—it was just a whole down on the knees [thing]. And at that point, you know, I had already done a lot—not just the music, but with L.A.M.B. for all those years, Harajuku, fragrance, clothes, I’d also had babies. It was a lot. And you know, I don’t really think I need to do anything else in my life. I don’t, but I knew that if I didn’t do something else, I would feel useless and not be happy because I’m a creative person and I get my thrills from touching people and from making a difference.
So I just sort of had the idea that I wanted to do makeup and it probably came from being the face of L’Oréal for a while and the face of Revlon. [It came from] going back and working with those companies, using their makeup, and then being able to create a palette with Wendy from Urban Decay. That was definitely an eye-opener. It was such a challenge in the way that I had never experienced design like that before. Design, for me, is what I love—that creative process. It’s like the process of making cookies and then you actually eating them because I’m making makeup that I know that I’m going to consume myself. It’s sort of selfish.
But yeah, that was where it came from. Back when I started, I really just wanted to create a makeup line that I would love and that would be high-quality enough for makeup artists to use and love, too. But through the process which took four years, it really turned into something bigger than that. I want to foster a community of like-minded artistic people who want to express themselves through makeup and share each other’s creativity and beauty.
I really love that! And I just love that you also have a background as a makeup artist—shout-out to Orange County! I went to CSUF there. That’s what I think is also so cool about the line. Can you tell me a little bit about your time as a makeup artist in Anaheim and what you learned from that experience?
I think the biggest lesson I learned—or the most I learned—wasn’t so much technical because honestly, I worked in a different department and I dreamed of being one of those girls [at the makeup counter]. They were flawless, they were intimidating, and they were above all of us. And not that I wanted to be above anyone, I just wanted to be pretty and look like that, you know? I knew I loved makeup and that I could do it. And I knew I was good at it. So, I asked if I could do it. And they just said “Sure.” After working there for quite a while and in Plaza Sportswear, which is an older women’s department, they just opened the gate to the island and said “You’re going to make a display.” They literally didn’t teach me one thing. They didn’t tell me one thing about the brands. It was like they just needed someone to stand there in case someone might want to buy something, which nobody did because nobody buys those brands at the $1 mall.
So I was on the same island as Clinique, which was basically what people came in to buy because they could afford that. And it just seemed a lot more simple, you know. It wasn’t as artistic, it was kind of like a broader thing. So I what I really learned about was that feeling that you can give people through makeup, and I love a makeover. And it wasn’t ever about selling products. It was about, “Can you do my makeup because I’m going to be going out tonight, and I want a free sample?” And that was kind of the mall that I worked at. So I just really enjoyed the joy and the hope that people would get afterward. It was literally like a transformation and a temporary place that people could land and go, “Oh, I didn’t know I could be this person,” or “Oh, that makes me feel like I can go out and conquer the world right now.”
And that’s really what I think people don’t realize about makeup. All those years of being criticized—people saying “She’s wearing a mask. What’s she trying to hide under there? She’s probably this and she’s probably that.” You think I didn’t hear that shit? I heard it loud and clear. And guess what? Yeah. Yeah, I’m wearing a mask of makeup today that looks like this. And tomorrow will be a different one and you’re going to enjoy it. Because what we do is we give whatever version of ourselves in the morning that we want to give, and I don’t go around looking at myself all day in this makeup. You get to receive this gift that I give you. And that’s kind of where the name came in.
There’s so much giving when it comes to yourself, like giving yourself the opportunity to have that feeling in the morning and do whatever you need to do. I’ve done my own makeup on stage my entire life. And I’m still getting better—I’m still learning and that’s what I love about it. It’s such an incredible community where people aren’t scared to be copying each other. And there’s no shame in it. I love it. People on TikTok are going, “Look at how gorgeous this girl is.” I want to look like that. And I’m going to try it right now. I’m going to celebrate her and show you who she is. Then I’m going to try copying what she did. And you’re going to see my version and then you’re going to try it. And that’s positivity to me—that’s joy. That’s everything that I want to give back to people in this chapter of my life. So, I know I’m making it sound dramatic. And it’s extreme because that’s who I am. But I can cry right now talking about it because I care that much. That’s my destiny.
I feel like that attitude of passion and purpose really shines through in the collection. And yeah, I have heard that you like to do your own makeup 99% of the time, which I think is so cool. What are a few looks that you just really love creating for yourself?
I love that the process of doing it makes me feel ready. I mean, I go back and forth, because I’ve been doing it my whole life. And I bet anyone that does makeup does the same thing. I get into one thing (and I do this with clothes too) that I’m obsessed with. Like, my latest thing that I learned from a makeup artist that is literally a master—I don’t even understand how someone can be that talented—is how to do my eyebrows, which is my least favorite part. Just to focus on the brow and make that the framework of what you’re doing. How dark you want them that day, how fluffy you want them, how sharp you want them, and what shape. And that’s something I only learned a couple of months ago. So it’s cool—there’s so much information out there. It’s a moving target, especially the older you get. My skin through the years has been so different, you know? And I’ve learned tricks that I didn’t do before, like putting oil inside [my makeup]. I have an oil that comes with my collection.
I saw that and I was so excited because I wasn’t sure if there was going to be skin prep in the mix. And I was like, “Oh my god, she included an oil. That’s so cool!”
I want to do everything and skincare makes me nervous! It’s going to be very, very hard. It’s the time that it takes, the amount of testing and trials, and formulations. It’s a really in-depth design process, which I really really enjoy. And everyone’s using these layers of primers and I’m like, “That is ridiculous. Who (especially an old person) would put all that on their face?” [There was this] oil inside my [previous] makeup and I just started noticing there was something really nice about being a little more reflective, and dewy, and shiny in certain places on your face and not wearing so much foundation. So I said I would love to be able to [create something] as good as that oil if I could. And I beat that shit. Like, I’m not even kidding. I didn’t think it was possible because [some] skincare [feels like] a lot of fraud. Do you know what I mean? It’s a lot of branding. It’s a lot of ‘This will make you look like you don’t have wrinkles,’ and I don’t believe any of that. That’s just not true. And we know that that’s not true. What is true is that makeup can transform your face if you have good makeup and you learn how to put it on right, which anybody can—you just have to practice.
Not everything’s for everyone, you know? We’re all different, we don’t wear the same colors, and we’re not the same color. We’re not the same skin type and we have different features. So, what I tried to create with the first collection are the signature things that I think people would identify me with. You can never have too much makeup! The better you get at makeup, the more you want. And so, you know, everyone says, “Oh, another celebrity makeup line” or whatever. Well, yeah, who cares? It doesn’t matter. If you love makeup, you can never have enough. It’s so true. Whether you fall in love with one thing, and then they take it away and you have to find a replacement, or you fall in love with something you didn’t think you would like and now that’s your new favorite. I do think that I have signature looks that I do all the time, which is a cat-eye, a brow, and a lip. This collection has those things in it. So I started there, but there’s going to be so much more.
That brings me to the question that I absolutely have to ask. Obviously, everybody knows you for your iconic red lip. How did that play into the creation of the new lipsticks?
Well, I know what I used my whole life and know that you don’t just use one kind of formulation for everything. When I had babies, it had to be different. You can’t wear [something like] Anaheim Shine [with a toddler]. If you have a toddler, you don’t because they would swipe it and it would be everywhere. But a formulation like Anaheim Shine is grippy, has that shine, it doesn’t bleed, and it’s not going to slip around. And when you eat, it can stay. It is an amazing luxurious formula. I really had a hard time because I was trying to beat something that I wore my whole life. I thought, “Do I go with the one that I think is a little more normal? Or do I go with this one?” And I just went for this one, there’s no denying it. This formula is so amazing.
So that’s for when you want to have more shiny lips and you like that comfort of being able to put your lips together. These formulas are also going to come in so many colors. I mean, we started with red because that’s obvious. I mean, it’s the color of love, we needed to start with red. And so I think that with that formula, it’s the shine and then with Original Me, that would be my typical, I love a matte lipstick. I love the way it looks, I think it looks retro. It’s kind of what I’ve always worn. It’s safe, there’s not a lot of movement, you can eat [in it], and it lasts a long time.
I keep shouting myself out, but I did what I was trying to do on this one which is [create] more comfort with matte lipstick. [Normally], it can be so dry for stage and stuff like that. You wouldn’t believe what I would go through with the dryness, but it was what I had to do. If it hits the microphone, or my hair gets in it, it’s a wrap. You don’t have a mirror on stage and you’re up there for two hours sweating. So what I love about this is that it’s still matte, but it never dries. It always feels like it’s still comfortable. I’m really getting into the formulas here [laughs]. It’s fun, but this formula is really is great. I’m wearing it right now.
The other formula which is really interesting is the I’m Still Here Longwear Lipstick. Typically, [longwear lipsticks] are so uncomfortable. I mean, you have to suffer. They do a good job and they don’t come off, but this one is such a light formulation. I don’t know if you tried it yet, but it’s the lightest one I’ve ever used. I wore it on stage just last Wednesday when I was in Aspen and it performed really well. It was only an hour up there, it’s pigmented but it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. If I had to choose one, I would just go with this as my favorite for all-day wear right now. Anyway, I know I’m going to change my mind.
Well, I’m so excited to try the collection. Thank you so much, Gwen. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today and congratulations!
I can talk to you all day! Thanks for hanging out with me. I appreciate it.