Gucci Westman, Revlon Global Artistic Director
"My mom actually didn't wear a lot of makeup," says Westman, an internationally renowned makeup artist. "She wore mascara and always wore Charlie Girl perfume. She was just kind of a 70s babe with too much sun, but it looked great then with long hair and gorgeous lashes. She told me to never use soap on my face because her Great Aunt Maime never did and she had the most beautiful skin she'd ever seen. She also actually discouraged me from wearing makeup, so that's my most memorable beauty tip: That I shouldn't wear makeup when I don't need to because one day I'll need it."
Ted Gibson, celebrity hair stylist and owner of Ted Gibson Salon
"My mom always instilled in me that being youthful is a state of mind—that it doesn't matter what age you are, just to live life to the fullest. Beauty resonates from that," says Gibson. "She was really into baths. She had all kinds of bath salts, essences, bubble baths, and moisturizers. And to this day in her 80s, she is never without lipstick. She knows how color can enhance your complexion and make you look rested, even when you're not."
Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper Skincare
"Every Saturday morning was a special beauty time for the women in our house," says Harper. "We used to get together and make all sorts of concoctions for the hair, body, and face, then go into the steam room with masks and treatments on... We also had a massage therapist come to give everyone deep tissue massages. My mom and grandmother taught me lots of beauty tips—they both had a huge influence on me and my approach to beauty. For Latin women, beauty isn't a chore or a luxury, but a priority. They taught me to steam the face with herbal mixes to detoxify the skin, like meadowsweet, calendula, and comfrey. We make an herbal skin blend on my farm now and use it in our spa treatments."
Sarah Potempa, celebrity hair stylist and founder of Sarah Potempa Hair Tools
"My mom says, 'If nothing else, at least my hair looks good!' She taught me that having great hair can make you feel like a million bucks. I love that she always set her hair every other night. It was extremely important to her that she had good hair. She would use brush rollers, which she claimed were painful to sleep on, but were worth it. Alternate nights, she would throw her hair into a ponytail on top of her head to keep the volume for the next day. On the days she had time, she would even roll her hair in beer cans all day to keep the volume in her set!"
Linda Rodin, founder of Rodin Olio Lusso
"My mom taught me to ALWAYS wear lipstick. She used to drive us to school in her nightgown, but always had lipstick on. As she was backing out of the driveway, she was looking in her rearview mirror, not to see behind her, but to put on her lipstick while driving! She wore Revlon lipstick in Persian Melon," says Rodin. "She and my dad went out every Saturday night and my mom would always do an egg white mask before she got dressed. I thought she was mad!"
Stephen Sollitto, celebrity makeup artist
"My mom never wore makeup, but always put lipstick on before she left the house. She said, 'If you have lipstick on, you can look pulled together.' I love that she did what was right for her. My light hand comes from her telling me she didn't want to look like a 'painted lady'." Sollitto recalls one memory in particular: "When I was six, my mom asked me to put rollers in her hair. Her hair was short, about 4 inches all over. I desperately wanted her to have Mary Tyler Moore's long flip, so I asked her, 'When we take the rollers out, will it look like that?' She must not have been paying attention because she said, 'Yes.' I was crushed when I took out the rollers a bit later. I'm sure crying ensued, or something dramatic."
Michael Angelo, owner of Wonderland Beauty Parlor
"So much of my beauty philosophy is an amalgamation of my mother and grandmother's beauty rituals. They were polar opposites, but both maestras. My mom was natural, my grandmother was a total glam queen. I used to use my face as a canvas to try out makeup looks using my mom's very major makeup kit. Her rule was this: 'Use whatever you want, but make sure you put it back exactly where it came from and in perfect condition.' I think that's pretty special."
Christina Zilber, founder of Jouer Cosmetics
"My mom was a model during the sixties and during that time, models were expected to do their own makeup for shoots or runway. Today, most models don't know the first thing about makeup. My mom taught that me makeup is supposed to enhance my natural beauty, not create a mask. One of her everyday beauty tips was to keep your lips as natural as possible by choosing a soft, creamy lipstick no more than two shades brighter or darker than your natural color. She also used to use baby oil along the top of her cheeks to reflect light for a natural glow."
Polly Blitzer, editor-in-chief of BeautyBlitz
"I got car sick on every family trip," says Blitzer, "so I logged many hours laying in my mom's lap while she played with my hair. To this day, getting my hair brushed feels like the most comforting thing in the world. She used to give me facials in her bed—such a special treat. She'd put sliced cucumbers on my eyes, rub cream on my cheeks, and sing." Among the fond memories, Blitzer also recalls a couple of her mom's rituals: "She used Elizabeth Arden's 8-Hour Cream for most things... similar to how the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding used Windex. It's her beauty panacea."
Pati Dubroff, celebrity makeup artist
"My mother's makeup table was the place I discovered my love for makeup and where I decided—at TEN years old—that I wanted to do makeup for my work. Her makeup table holds sacred ground for me. It helped me find and define my passion and career. She has the most beautiful blue eyes, and really knew how to draw attention to them. She used makeup to enhance... not to distract."
I GOT IT FROM MY MAMA: BEAUTY EXPERTS ON WHAT THEY LEARNED FROM THEIR MOTHERS
More often than not, when you ask a hair stylist or makeup artist why they chose beauty, the answer will have something to do with good ol' mom. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense: She's the first woman we ever see transform. We watch her brush on makeup, spritz perfume, tousle her hair, or apply a face mask. And we were mere children watching it happen, trying to make sense of our mother in the mirror. As you'll see when you flip through the slides above, not everyone's mom had to be a glamourpuss (in fact, the majority of mothers in the slideshow above prefer a natural look over something excessive). But we still think of the first woman we ever loved—she who will always be our most treasured and most gorgeous—when we think about our first experiences with beauty.
It's an honor to feature some of the industry's finest in this feature, but even more of a delight to hear them open up about their mothers. There's a diverse range of tales to tell: Tata Harper's luxurious Saturday spa rituals with the women in her family, a six-year-old Stephen Sollitto throwing a tantrum when he realized his mom's hair would never look like Mary Tyler Moore's, Linda Rodin's delightfully eccentric mother who wore just a nightgown and lipstick while driving her children to school, or Michael Angelo's mother, who allowed her son to experiment with makeup... on the condition that everything was put back in its rightful place. (One trip to the retail space at Wonderland Beauty Parlor, and you'll see that Michael has adapted his mother's philosophy.)
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