Chelsea Handler is not a makeup person. Well, she wasn't until this year, when the Trump administration forced her to finally understand why people wear concealer.
"I've never put concealer on in my life until this year," Handler tells Refinery29. "Like I never cared if I had bags under my eyes. And now I wake up, look in the mirror, and it’s just like, Wait, what? I always look rough when I wake up. Always. It's terrible."
With newfound respect for makeup amidst our never-ending onslaught of anxiety-inducing headlines, Handler is now starring in a new campaign for Cover FX's Power Play Concealer. "They sent me great product, with all these different shades for concealers," Handler says. "I come back from a vacation, which happens quite frequently, and I’m a different shade than the night before I left. They just made it user-friendly — like my Tesla."
In the campaign, the 43-year-old comedian known for her dry, unrelenting sarcasm stars alongside bubbly 20-year-old influencer and YouTuber Bretman Rock, which might seem like an unlikely match. But as Handler expands her career to include political activism (she donated $1 million to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, partnered with Emily's List to elect more women into office, and left her show to tour colleges to speak on the importance of political engagement), she knew it would be a perfect way to reach more young people.
"I looked at his stuff and thought he was hilarious and silly and it was a great opportunity to reach an audience that I probably don’t reach that frequently," Handler says. "I’m so concerned with social issues and getting young people involved and activating that generation. And I decided that it was a great opportunity to blend those two together to get in touch with an audience that I don’t normally have."
In one video from the campaign, Rock hilariously shows Handler how to tap on and blend under-eye concealer correctly. "It might seem like a lot," he warns. Handler smiles in approval before saying, "You're not scared of me anymore, right?" To which Rock replies, "No. If anything, I'm more scared of you than I ever was."
Handler hasn't always been so uninterested in makeup. There was the time when she was a teenager growing up in New Jersey when she fell victim to a specific kind of extreme '80s beauty. "I was blue eyeshadow and hair," Handler says. "It wasn’t really about good makeup. It was just about any deflection from the face. Just like, Stand out, make a right angle with your bangs at the top of your head and then, you know, blue eyeshadow and Silver City Pink [Revlon] lipstick."
Then, when Handler started doing standup, she toned down her makeup because, as she puts it, "It was like, 'You can't be pretty and funny.' It was one or the other. So you had to do a tomboy. I never wore dresses or heels or anything."
"It was like, 'You can't be pretty and funny.' It was one or the other."
Now, she sees that stereotype flipping, with plenty of female comedians dressing and wearing makeup in whatever way they choose. "Like everything, women have a long way to go to really embrace themselves and embrace womanhood and being empowered," Handler says. "But the good thing that’s happening now is people are embracing womanhood, whether it be through makeup or through all the movements that are happening that are female-centric. Women should be proud of themselves. We have to be bold about our choices, and if makeup falls into that category, which it does, then it’s good to see women experimenting and being confident."
For Handler personally though, it wasn't until she got her own TV show that she started wearing makeup at all. "I would easily go to a stand-up club the same way I go around town today and just not do a lot," Handler says. "Then when you’re on camera, obviously that changes and you have to have tons of makeup, which you feel disgusting about."
Obviously, this partnership has already been a learning experience for Handler. Before meeting with the brand, she had no idea what highlighter was, and that foundation and concealer are actually two different things. "I didn’t really know about that," she says. "Not a clue."
Thanks to the Trump Administration and Cover FX, now she does.