The divine Bebe Buell is one of my personal goddesses. I've read her book, Rebel Heart, about 15 times.
Yes, Bebe is Liv Tyler's mama, but she's also an icon in her own right.
She's a rocker currently working on a new album, and she's a pop-culture historian of sorts: She was an integral part of the '70s glam rock and CBGB punk scene, a cover model for fashion magazines, and a Playboy centerfold in 1974.
With her beauty, smarts and wit, Bebe, who turns 60 this summer, enraptured a bunch of awesome dudes like Todd Rundgren, Elvis Costello, Stiv Bators and, obviously, Steven Tyler. And did you know the Almost Famous character Penny Lane is partly based on Bebe?
In honor of Mother's Day, I chatted with the ultimate hot mama (and grandmama to Liv's son, Milo) about her beauty routine through the years and what she hopes her gorgeous daughter has learned from her.
KARA: What's the Bebe Buell beauty philosophy?
BEBE: I think for me, personally, there's something to be said for the expression "You are what you eat." My skin, my nails and my hair have stayed healthy and youthful because I don't eat meat. I eat avocado, fruits and vegetables, lots of fish. But I'm starting to get to the point where I can't even eat fish because I'm such an animal lover. I’m getting to the point where I can’t eat anything with a face.
Another secret is just keeping yourself clean. Wash your face, moisturize. One thing a girl should never skimp on is good face cream. I use La Mer and always have. It's my splurge. I'm addicted to the Korean wellness philosophy, which includes exfoliation and a lot of steam. I steam at least three or four times a week.
[Beauty] also comes from something inside. I meet a lot of girls in their twenties who don't eat right, smoke, do drugs. You can get away with that when you're young, but you can't keep doing it when you're older!
You started out as a model in the '70s, then became part of the rock scene in the '80s and carried that through to today. How has your style changed throughout the years?
I'm a hybrid of fashion and rock. When I was a young girl, I'd look at Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Pattie Boyd. That's who cultivated my style. I threw a little bit of the boys in too: Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards.
The modeling and rock world, they cross-pollinated. They proved that at the Met Ball, devoting the night to punk. I've always had an individual style, and I don't think I've ever followed trends. My last manager was like, “Why don't you dress sexy? Why don't you wear push-up bras?” When I go onstage, I'm more comfortable dressed like a boy.
Let's talk about today. What skincare products do you use?
Every day, I cleanse. I love Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub and their Cucumber Herbal Toner to close up my pores. I let my skin breathe for a few minutes and then I slap on my La Mer. I still, believe it or not, use Noxzema. If my face is feeling chapped or raw, I'll take a fistful of Noxzema and leave it on an hour. I find that those old products work great. You don't have to spend a lot of money on cleansers and toners.
In the summer, I don't do anything to my skin. I pull my hair back and let nature do its thing. Sweating is good for the skin.
How about makeup?
I love a pink cheek. You have to do it properly, or it looks awful! I use Chanel blush, for the quality. Face cream and foundation--that's what you spend money on.
My daughter was the ambassador for Givenchy beauty for nine years, so we got pretty stocked up with that stuff. Givenchy stuff is good; I'm addicted to the foundation and powder. There's certain things I stick to and hope they keep making. When you find something you really like, nail polishes and glosses especially, if you don't get a couple, you may never find them again.
What's on your nails right now?
Essie French Affair. In this season, I do the light pinks. It looks clean and fresh. In the winter, I'm one of those girls who wears red nails and red toes.
What about perfume?
I'm a Chanel No. 5 girl forever and ever. It's comforting. I think of my childhood, I think of my mother, I think of the beautiful women shopping in Bergdorf where I used to spend my paycheck as a young model. I mix it with The Body Shop White Musk. I put White Musk on each wrist and Chanel on my wrists, my neck and my navel. I learned that from Liv's babydaddy: if you put scent in your navel, it really sticks with you.
Speaking of mothers, what's the one beauty lesson you hope Liv has learned from you?
My mother taught me everything I know, and I taught Liv. My mother's big thing was moisturizing. When you get out of the shower, moisturize. Try not to go to bed with makeup on--I know it's hard. Keep yourself clean. If you're not feeling well, jump in the shower. When I feel disembodied or I can't think straight, I take a shower and it snaps me back. I love hot baths, and Liv loves her bath, too.
I know it sounds corny, but if you can do something kind for another person every day, it opens up something inside of you that makes you shine a little bit shinier than most.
Such an inspiring woman, inside and out. In fact, I used this picture of Bebe and little Liv as inspiration for a beauty look.
I took a cue from Bebe and prepped my skin with a teeny bit of La Mer. (I have to beg for samples from my friends at Nordstrom.)
After I'd applied my usual brows/foundation, I took an angled brush and tapped it in some bronzer. To give my cheeks a sculpted look, I sucked them in and shaded in the hollows.
Since Bebe loves a pink cheek, I went VERY pink. I used MAC pigment in Fuchsia, which is the brightest pink powder of all time. Use a tiny bit--I mean TINY. If you're thinking you're using enough, it's too much. I dusted the powder high on my cheekbones with a big fluffy brush and feathered it slightly up to my temples.
Seventies-era Bebe wore very little eye makeup, but my inspiration was early-‘80s rock mama Bebe. For her bronze smoky eye, I used NARS Shimmer Eyeshadow in Etruesque all over my lid.
I followed that with a tiny bit of darker shimmery brown, Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Darkhorse, lightly in the crease and under my lower lashes, almost as though I was drawing a sideways "V" on my eye. Brush the darker color slightly above your crease if you want to look a bit more '80s. I like to dust just a little under my lower lashes.
For liner, I used MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy, a warm bronze. Bebe likes to accentuate her blue eyes, and this is my favorite shade to do that with. You want kohl liner to be pliable, so warm it up. I warm the pencil up by sticking it in my mouth for a few seconds or holding it near a curling iron.
I simply lined my lid from inner corner to the edge. No cat eye. Smudge it a little with your finger--we're going for rock 'n' roll here. I lined under my eyes as well.
Finish with mascara and an almost-nude lip. I did the old "put on red lipstick, let it sit a few minutes, then blot it off" stain trick, then followed it with a tiny bit of NARS Lip Gloss in Stella, a neutral mauve.
Now spritz on some Chanel No. 5 and go flirt with some rock stars!