Gwen Stefani’s Biggest Beauty Mistake Is Terrifying

Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
When news of Gwen Stefani’s partnership with Urban Decay and the launch of her makeup palette broke, there was quite a bit of excitement around the R29 offices. Like all-caps Gchats proclaiming our undying love for her. Many of us grew up with No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom playing on repeat on our Walkmans (i.e., continuously rewinding it to hear “Spiderwebs” again), or — for those that were still in the womb in the ‘90s — watching her bring her innate cool factor to The Voice. So it was with much anticipation that we jetted to L.A. to chat with the SoCal girl about her favorite SoCal beauty brand. From why there are so many nudes in the palette to the absolute worst beauty mistake she ever made (it’s pretty bad, guys), read on to learn more. And we’re sorry not sorry that you now have “Spiderwebs” stuck in your head. Why were you excited about this collaboration?
“Honestly, what I love about the brand is them — they're from Orange County, they created this brand, they're down there doing their thing, making the dream come alive and they did it! They fucking did it! That's so huge and they did it on their terms, with their point of view. It was really fun and exciting to be creative with other women who have made their way at the same time as me! I mean, 'Just a Girl’ came out and they were starting this company. “I’m about ready to bust out of my cocoon right now, I'm like in this weird transformation phase of my life and with music and the record and things like that — it's a super-exciting time for me.”

Someone would give me something and I'd be like ‘wow, look at those furry triangle bras. They're blue! I'm going to wear that to the MTV awards — I got it for free!'

Gwen Stefani
When we posted about the palette a few weeks ago, many readers were surprised by the amount of neutrals in the collection — they expected more color. Can you tell us a bit about those shades and why you chose them?
“Yeah, well they should do their homework and go look at my makeup and they'll say, ‘Oh yeah, she doesn't really wear a lot of shadow.’ Everything in here is real — it's really what I wear. “[Study] is my base, I wear that on the lid, and then I'll put [Baby] on the center and if I want more sparkle, I'll put [Pop] on top. I’ll darken my crease with [Stark, Anaheim, and Zone] and [Skimp] is actually a color that they have that I used from them before — it's kind of like a highlighter — and then [Blonde] is the real highlighter. I wanted to do some bright colors and only things that I would ever really wear — the pink [Harajuku] and then the gold [1987], because I wore gold a lot during Rock Steady. “I wanted to do something that was real, that I would wear, so that's what that palette is. So there are a lot of neutrals, but there aren't a lot of people who can wear crazy [colors].” What was your first Urban Decay product?
“I think it was Gash lipstick. For me, I was so naive, I didn't know what was good, but I'd be able to run into amazing, talented people along the way. Like someone would give me something and I'd be like, ‘Wow, look at those furry triangle bras, they're blue! I'm going to wear that to the MTV awards, I got it for free!' And then, I'm going to do my hair blue, because somebody sent me it." [Ed. note: Unbeknownst to Stefani, the product she is referring to is actually UD founder Wende Zomnir’s first-ever product, a comb-in colored hair cream.]
Photo Courtesy Of Urban Decay Cosmetics.
We know you change your hair up pretty regularly, but your makeup look tends to be pretty steady — nude lids, lots of lashes, red lips. Why is that?
“I've always done the same makeup my whole life. When I started wearing makeup, I was super inspired by Old Hollywood — I used to watch AMC and every single old movie. I've always loved a cat-eye and I've always loved a pretty arched and defined brow. It all comes from being obsessed with old movies, Marilyn Monroe, and Old Hollywood. “I didn’t wear lipstick until after high school. My grandma had bought me one of those things that come in a tube and there's like lipstick in it in a long wand? It wasn't even red, it was a deep burgundy. I was in my Honda Prelude and looked in the rearview and put that on and was like, 'I gots you.’” That old-school glamour seems like such a juxtaposition of you being in the punk scene.
“I didn't really listen to punk rock growing up. I was really into ska, which was connected to the punk-rock scene, and then by default, we were playing with all those bands. It was like, ‘Oh, I'm competing against these guys? And I'm the only girl?’ I became punk rock real fast...but my style was always about a lot of makeup.”

I left the shoot with bleached eyebrows and I thought it looked really awesome, but when they start to grow out and turn yellow, it's not cute.

Gwen Stefani
Did you have any big beauty mishaps when you were coming up?
"I have so many good ones. I mean I was a chola girl at heart, because I grew up in Anaheim, and there was this girl called Mercedes. She'd just sit there with her compact and she never took her mascara off, ever, just constantly reapplied and would take a pin, like a needle, and scrape it. I would just sit there and watch her. I didn't learn anything. I'd just watch her, like 'wow.' She looked like a doll. “I was really inspired by that makeup surrounding me, but one time I did a shoot, and it was this one really close-up picture of me and it was on billboards — just my eyes. They went ‘let's bleach your eyebrows, so we can do really skinny eyebrows.’ I left the shoot with bleached eyebrows and I thought it looked really awesome, but when they start to grow out and turn yellow, it's not cute. “I had gone to my parents' house in Anaheim and was like, ‘I’m done, I gotta dye them back. I can't deal with this now.’ So I went down to some taqueria/salon — everything was closed and I couldn't get the product to do it back — and the woman goes, ‘Oh yeah, I can do it.’ She didn't really speak English and she put it on and it's burning, and I'm like, ‘I think it's burning!’ "So she gets paper towels and scrapes and it's literally stinging like a tattoo into my face. I didn't even pay or anything — I just left and went home like, ‘Oh my god, Mom, what did I do?’ She had to take me to the emergency room and they were like, ‘This is going to be permanent.’ I had chemical burns all over [my brows]. But I survived! I do have a scar, though.”

What’s your beauty philosophy?
“I don't think I have a philosophy, but I feel so lucky to be able to transform into different things and it's self-expression! It doesn't matter if it comes through music or clothes or whatever perfume you're wearing — it's a mood, it's showing people who you are."

What was your favorite part of this whole partnership?
“I liked the design process. This is exciting, sharing it with everybody — and it's fun to wear it — but more than anything, the whole process, the challenge of okay, what could it be? And seeing all the different variations and the dream of it is what I love. But now I'm greedy and I want to make more.”

Will you be making more? [Zomnir hinted at Gwen lipsticks launching in the next year.]
“I'll just put it to you this way: It’s everything that I would dream. Everything I'd want, basically.” RELATED LINKS:
Gwen Stefani Made An Urban Decay Palette, Proving Dreams Do Come True
You Asked, UD Answered: The New & Improved Naked Vault
Why I Tattooed My Eyebrows — & What It Was Really Like

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