One of the most recognizable faces in the world of beauty, we were thrilled, (but not surprised!) when we discovered Gucci Westman’s love for naturals. We jumped at the opportunity to ask what wellness means to her. Read on to discover more about her rituals, big breaks and, of course, a few beauty tips.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started doing what you’re doing?
My dad is Swedish and my mom is American, and when I was 10 years old my dad decided that he wanted us to live in Sweden. We moved to Sweden and I lived there from the time I was 10 until I was 25. When I turned 18, as soon as I was done with high school, I decided I wanted to be an au pair. I found a family in Switzerland and I was an au pair for them. The reason I’m telling you that part is because it led to other things. The mother in the family was a fashion journalist for a local newspaper, and my main interest at that point of my life was riding horses and languages. I knew I wasn’t good enough to take it to the next level riding, so I thought I could be a translator. I speak French, English, pretty good Spanish and German. It’s not that uncommon in countries like Sweden to speak a lot of languages because it’s a small country. I figured I would do one of those things. The mother in this family, Anouk, used to give me giant boxes of makeup, and she would bring me to fashion shows which was really fun. That got me thinking about different careers. I remember taking the bus to school in Sweden when I was 14 and 15 and my friends would ask me to do their makeup, but I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup myself, so I’d get to school and layer it on.
Is that your first memory of makeup?
It’s kind of funny, the fact that I wasn’t allowed to wear it. But the whole experience living with this family, and the mother being a fashion journalist, exposed me to a whole new world of fashion and makeup. And that was pretty cool.
When did you start doing makeup professionally?
I ended up deciding that I wanted to pursue makeup and I had no idea how to do that. Anouk helped me find a makeup school in Paris, and no makeup artist really goes to school for makeup. I’m one of the few. So she helped me find a school that I really actually liked and thought was great. I ended up going there for about 4 months, but it was really interesting and I thought ‘If I’m not good at makeup at least I didn’t waste my time because it was in French.’ It was a great experience and then when I was 25 I ended up deciding that I wanted to go to LA for what I thought would be two and a half months, and I ended up staying.
How did you get to New York?
I was in LA for about 5 years, so when I was 29 I wanted to see how it would be getting more into fashion. When I was in LA I started to work a lot with Spike Jonze doing his music videos and commercials. Then I also met Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber, and I worked with a little gang of actresses. I wanted to see if there was more to it because I wasn’t completely satisfied with just that. I wanted to expand and see if I could get into the fashion world. So when I was 29 I moved to New York, and I shared an apartment with a model at the time on a 4th floor walk-up in the East Village. I had no money and no idea if it was going to work or not. I just had to try it.
What was your first big break in New York?
The big break was definitely working with Grace Coddington, because she kind of introduced me to everyone after a while of working together. We did two shoots back to back and she said to me that she hadn’t seen a makeup artist like that since she discovered Pat McGrath. I was pretty excited because I didn’t even know if she liked me or not, so getting a compliment like that, I was completely blown away. So then I started working with her and then I got so busy. It was crazy, I couldn’t even keep up. It didn’t happen that quickly but I remember being on vacation with my best friend in Italy and seeing Italian Vogue, French Vogue, American Vogue, and British Vogue, and I had done all of those covers and every story in the American Vogue issue. It was so crazy, I felt like I was spinning. I was never home, I was always traveling and I felt like ‘oh my god this is crazy’ but there’s a time in your life for everything and that was such an amazing experience to have and to work with so many talented people. But I also wanted to have a family, and I couldn’t continue carrying on being gone so much. This job entails a lot of travel.
What do you think the best part of your job is?
The diversity. It’s never boring. I get to work with really great people because ultimately you can choose if you want to work with somebody. If you get in with a nice team it’s really fun and a nice collaboration.
Is there a beauty philosophy you live by?
No, I try to not categorize myself. People say I do beautiful skin, but I think it’s important to push myself and do many different things.
What’s one beauty tip or piece of advice you’d give to someone?
It’s good to experience fear and to be bold and get out of your comfort zone.
With all the travel and being so busy, how do you stay healthy and balanced?
In my earlier 30s it was harder for me for sure, because I was literally on an airplane or in a hotel every other day. It was really hard for me to find a good balance with my routine and exercising and eating well. Flying so much is so hard on your body, so that definitely was difficult. Also, it takes discipline and I wasn’t as motivated. I’ve always been pretty healthy but I started doing things the wrong way. I would have a lot of snacks, but they wouldn’t be healthy snacks, and then I wouldn’t have lunch or dinner because I thought I would gain weight. I was constantly worried about gaining weight, I felt like I could never get where I wanted to be with my body. I felt like I was always a few pounds in the wrong direction. So I started exercising regularly, and doing things that I felt like my body responded well to. It takes awhile to figure out what your body reacts to. I started eating meals more frequently, and not being afraid of being hungry and eating. I don’t know when it happened, although not right now because I’m pregnant, but I’m not concerned if I have a bowl of pasta and bread at dinner. I feel like I’m more balanced. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, it’s all about how you experience your own situation. And I feel like personally for me I am balanced at the moment. I don’t have to exercise everyday but I like to, and it’s a big part of my life. But if I miss 2 or 3 days, it’s not going to kill me because I get back into it and it makes me feel good and my body just holds, rather than yo-yoing. I eat a lot of the same stuff: quinoa, kale, lentils, avocado at least once a day. I don’t eat a tremendous amount of sugar, but I will. I’m not a fanatic about it. I’ll try things, and if everyone is having dessert I’ll have some. I don’t typically eat dairy. But that all has made me feel harmonious in my later 30’s, and early 40’s, the fact that I’ve gotten more of an understanding of my body and what works and what doesn’t. Because that really sucks when you’re struggling with that. It can be brutal.
Do you have any favorite spots in New York?
My favorite workout spot is The Class with Taryn Toomey. That’s my favorite. I love it so much. I was doing a modified class version with a prenatal instructor that was pretty awesome. I was asking Taryn what she thought (about doing The Class while pregnant) because I thought it didn’t feel right. It was too high impact. And she said that she had an instructor who was certified in prenatal teaching, so they created a program for me, so that was super cool. Now I’m doing some yoga, but not much of the things I really like to do. But I’m still eating well. When I cook for us at home, I often make my husband either quinoa or brown rice, veggies, avocado, hemp seeds, and maybe chicken or lentils. And for myself I do the same except beans instead of chicken because I don’t eat meat. But if we go out to dinner we’ll go anywhere really. We go to Cookshop a lot Sant Ambroeus, Morandi, Nobu. But I love CAP Beauty for my essential beauty things.
Do you have some favorites from CAP Beauty?
I like a lot of the In Fiore products, and Sun Potion Tocos to make tonics with. I love the variation within CAP and knowing it’s going to be clean and safe. Especially being pregnant, that is really nice.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us that you’re exciting about?
Well, I’m having a baby! I won’t be doing fashion shows this season, because I’ll be out of commission. I’m on vacation right now, so I’m currently just living in the moment and enjoying that. I’m not really thinking too much about work stuff right this second. But I am working, slowly but surely, on my own line of skincare and makeup, but that’s still very far away.
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