"I'm not coming out with any products that are called contouring," Bobbi Brown said on stage at our New York City conference, "How to Make It in Fashion," on Friday. "It's not what I believe in." Brown, who launched her career in the '80s as a freelance makeup artist and then as the founder of her eponymous cosmetics line, finds beauty in authenticity. So the currently coveted contouring technique isn't exactly on-brand for Brown. "It says that there's something wrong with your face as is and there is nothing wrong with it," she said. "Contouring is good when you're onstage, at a fashion shoot or on the runway. It's almost like a car wreck when you're watching people do contouring on YouTube. Yes, they have changed their face but they don't really look so good. I think it's ridiculous and people look like they have dirt on their face." Sticking to her brand's core mission — "being comfortable in your skin and feeling good about who you are" — is key to its success, she said.
At 58 years old, the beauty guru is part of a generation who dabbles in antiaging injectables, like Botox and fillers. "I have a vision for when I'm 80, and I want to look old and normal," she said, adding that what you put in your mouth is more important than what you put on your face. It's not about looking young, it's about looking healthier, she said.
With decades of professional experience, Brown has seen the beauty industry change incredibly, including the rise of the digital world and, with it, social media. (Beauty blogs, beauty vloggers and the fast-paced pick-up of beauty trends weren't around when she started.) As the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Beauty since April 2014, she's embraced the online beauty community — much to her peers' skepticism, especially her three children. But Brown knew she could prove them wrong: "I only like doing something if it's a challenge. Entrepreneurs aren't afraid to do things they don't know how to do to." From the wealth of online beauty product reviews, to the organic successes of under-the-radar beauty brands strictly via the web, Brown enjoys the immediacy and variety of information available on the Internet.
And when it comes to career advice, it's not unlike her approach towards her beauty brand. "Figure out what you want to do. Try things," Brown said to the audience. "Be nice to everyone — and not only because they'll do something for you but just in general. You never know what people are going through. Have an open heart and an open mind."