The beauty disrupter will inspire you to embrace the less-is-more mindset

By By Didi Gluck
June 05, 2018
Photo: Lesley Unruh

"One of my favorite quotes is, 'The best cosmetic is happiness,' and I really believe it," says Bobbi Brown, the makeup artist who many say pioneered the notion of inner beauty. "I was never someone who transformed people. I enhanced them," she explains. "As you're applying someone's makeup, you see the real person, and you bring things out." (Related: How to Apply Bronzer for a Natural Glow)

And long before Marie Kondo was selling simplification, Brown was already an early champion of minimalism. In fact, Brown famously upended the more-is-more cosmetics industry by introducing a pared-down line of 10 flattering-to-all lipsticks called Bobbi Brown Essentials. The move was especially prescient when put in historical context: The year was 1991. Contouring, huge hair, and lacquered red lips were still very much a thing. (Fast forward to 2016, and no-makeup looks and undone hair are on the red carpet.)

But as a makeup artist, Brown has always had a knack for seeing well beyond the surface, which is a talent she's tapping into again. Case in point: Since departing her namesake brand in 2016, Brown has turned her eye to Beauty Evolution, her new lifestyle company. Under the Beauty Evolution umbrella, she has launched Evolution_18, a line of ingestible wellness products;, an inspirational website; and a cozy boutique hotel in Montclair, New Jersey (her hometown), called the George. Brown has no plans to add cosmetics to the portfolio (at least not yet), but beauty is still a guiding principle in her life. She's just approaching it from a slightly different, more personal angle. Here's what's fueling Brown now.

1. Brown Eyeliner

"If I could use only one item of makeup to make an impact, it would be a brown pencil. I could use it to do my brows, line my eyes, fill in my part, maybe even to create a sheer stained lip."

2. Styling Cream

"I've been using a lot of Ouai products for my hair. They smell good and tousle my hair just right." Try: Ouai Finishing 3 Crème ($24;

3. Perfume

"The second the weather turns sunny, I start spraying on my Cristalle by Chanel." ($100;

4. Flowers

"Big pink peonies are my hands-down favorite."

5. Her Baggage

"The possession that makes me happiest, apart from my family, is a cool Louis Vuitton vintage trunk that I've brought everywhere."

6. Running Shoes

"I like to exercise in sneakers with some neon to offset all the black I wear." We like Asics Gel-Fit Yui ($59; (Here are more neon fitness pieces to add a kick to your gym outfit.)