Many of us know and adore Stacy London for her work as a style expert and the co-host of What Not To Wear. These days, though, she’s less concerned with looking great than living well. And in her new role as CEO of State Of, a line of skin and body products for menopausal symptoms, she’s excited to help others do the same. Here, she talks about her grey streak and the iconic lip color that looks good on everyone…
How did you first get into beauty?
Growing up, I was obsessed with anything sparkly, whether it was clothing or makeup. StageLight Cosmetics came out when I was in seventh grade, and the coolest possible thing you could do was have pots of their powdered eyeshadow. It was SO SHINY. I had no idea what I was doing; I would just put it over my entire eyelid and thought it looked great.
What other makeup did you like as a teenager?
Clinique’s Black Honey Almost Lipstick was de rigueur for my generation. It’s still a Clinique staple to this day. It’s one of those chameleon products that looks great on all different skin tones. But my relationship with makeup has changed as I’ve gotten older.
Well, first, I do find that as I age, wearing lots of makeup makes me look older. Second, as much as I enjoy makeup, I’ve never been good at the application. When I worked in TV, I felt so lucky to have professionals to do it for me. But at this point, I just don’t feel the need for that much artifice. I always love to try new things but I usually wind up going back to basics.
What are your basics in terms of makeup?
The only things I highlight nowadays are my lips and brows. I use Boy Brow from Glossier in black, and I also use the grey-brown brow pencil from Winky Lux. It’s a miracle pencil, I don’t understand it.
Do you tweeze your brows yourself? Because the shape is fantastic.
I don’t tweeze them at all! The truth is, they were tweezed to death in the 90s. I met the makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin when I worked at Vogue, and he was like, ‘Girl, I need to get you in a chair and get on those eyebrows.’ I told him, ‘I don’t want to live with a tweezer next to my toothbrush.’ But of course he wound up tweezing them, and of course he made them really, really thin. They grew back a little bit but not much, and I tried to maintain the shape. Now they just stay this way. That’s another perk of getting older: You have less hair!
Do you still have fun exploring and finding new products?
Oh, yes, makeup is still fun — and I doesn’t have to be high end to be great. I recently wandered the makeup aisle at CVS and found some incredible stuff. I got a Maybelline lipstick called Red Revival, and I’m OBSESSED with it. It’s a classic satin red.
Do you always do a red?
No, I’ll often wear another Pat McGrath lipstick called Beautiful Creature, which is a great everyday pinky plum.
Any other drugstore makeup staples you love?
I don’t often wear mascara, because I wear glasses and mascara tends to get on the lenses. But on that same CVS trip I picked up a tube of Covergirl Total Tease, which stays put. It darkens and thickens, but not too much, so it looks very natural. It’s also waterproof. I’m in the throes of perimenopause and makeup melts off my face when I have a hot flash. So, I never put anything on that could wind up rolling down my face.
Okay. Let’s talk skin care.
I have always been into skin care, because I got psoriasis as a child. So, I was constantly putting on creams to help heal my skin. I’ve been diligent about moisturizing and caring for my skin my whole life just because I’ve had to.
What does your morning routine look like?
I wash my face with Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Cleanser, which is very gentle. Then I’ll put on Sunday Riley’s Tidal Water Cream, which is a great moisturizer but not at all heavy. I finish with a Supergoop sunscreen. I love it because it’s the only sunblock that doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to sweat to death underneath it.
And how about nighttime?
Since the pandemic, baths are my new thing. I never really took them before — maybe if I was in a fancy hotel or something. Now, I take one at least three times a week. My entire self-care routine is about reducing discomfort in my body; I didn’t exercise for most of the last year, and now I’m getting back into strength training. On the days when I know I’m going to be mentally and physically worn out, I always plan to end with a bath. I use our Lavender Bath Salts from State Of, and when I get out I slather myself in the CBD Body Oil, for muscle fatigue.
You’ve been using those products for a while, right?
Yes, I’ve been dealing with perimenopausal symptoms for a while, and it changed the way I thought about my body. No one ever talks about this stuff! I’d actually been having symptoms for years before I knew that it was perimenopause. You get insomnia, mood swings, drier skin, drier vaginas! But I just thought I was crazy. When I finally learned more about it, I felt a bit like a superhero — because I still experienced these symptoms, but I was armed with information and could actually start to manage them.
Do you have a favorite product from State Of?
Yes, the Face Oil is my favorite. All the products are designed to absorb completely into the skin, so you don’t feel sticky. The Face Oil sinks in immediately, and makes my skin feel so nice and yummy and moist. And if I have a hot flash, it’s not like, uh, oh, there’s oil all over my face.
So, I have to ask about the famous streak. Do people still bring that up all the time?
ALL the time. People used to tell me to dye my hair because it made me look old, but I’ve had the streak since I was 11! I’ve never felt uncomfortable about it. I think it puts me in the same category as Cruella de Vil or Rogue from X-Men. That’s pretty iconic! There are actually easy ways I could hide it — I could part my hair a certain way and it wouldn’t show. But I would never. It’s a part of me. By the way, it’s not like I have this one little line of grey anymore. I’m going grey all over.
Has that been an adjustment?
Yeah, but I’m trying to train myself to look at these changes with wonder and fascination, rather than anxiety. Because the whole world tells us that aging is bad, and I just don’t buy it. Change is scary, and yeah, it is weird to look in the mirror and be like, ‘That’s not me. That’s not what I looked like at 38.’ But I want to be welcoming to those changes. So, when I notice more grey hairs, I’ll say little things to myself in the mirror, like, ‘I can’t wait to see more of you.’
You’ve been pretty outspoken about the term “anti-aging.” Can you talk about that?
I know, it’s so cliche to be like, ‘Anti-aging marketing is bad!’ But I cannot stand it. To be against aging is to be against the thing that’s inevitable for all of us — if we’re lucky. So, I can’t understand how anybody could write that on a product or in an ad campaign. What I’m hoping is that we start to lower our beauty expectations. And I don’t mean that we should think less of ourselves or that we aren’t good enough. I mean I hope we start to realize that we’re good enough as we are.
You’ve been very vocal about the process of aging, especially since entering your 50s in 2019. How did it feel to hit that milestone?
Sometimes I feel so excited about hitting this stage that I want to shout it from the rooftops. I have nothing to prove to anybody! Other days I wake up and feel lousy about it. It’s been a tough year in general. My dad got sick and then recently passed away. That’s another thing about middle age: It was time for me to lose my dad. That loss made me feel like a child again. I suddenly felt like I was six years old and lost in the supermarket. But it did really shift my thoughts about aging. It made me think less about my appearance and more about keeping my body physically strong and healthy. I’ve always been great about skin care, but now am I getting better about taking care of my bones and muscles. Every day, no matter how I feel about being in my fifties, I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to be here.
Thank you so much, Stacy!
P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, including a polar explorer and a yoga teacher.
(Photos courtesy of Stacy London.)