Gucci Westman pioneered the glowing, “no-makeup makeup” look long before Sofia Richie Grainge took TikTok by storm or Hailey Beiber launched her viral hydrating Peptide Glazing Serum. Westman is known for using pigment and coverage sparingly and expertly to create the effect of supple, luminous skin. There’s an elegance to Westman’s work—and a very human, natural quality. She got her start on film sets, collaborating with directors Spike Jonze and Vincent Gallo. Since then, she’s done countless runway shows and created looks for everyone from Natalie Portman and Drew Barrymore to Gwyneth Paltrow, who booked the California-born artist for her 2018 wedding.
Still, Westman’s five-year-old cosmetics line, Westman Atelier, may be her most delicately seductive offering yet. The products are designed to act as a system, enriching and enhancing your skin while working in partnership with one another. The latest addition to the lineup is the Eye Want You Mascara, a plant-based wax and shea butter formula cased in a cherry red tube, which was inspired by packaging that caught her eye when she and Cameron Diaz traveled to Tokyo together years ago. In classic Westman fashion, the achieved look is natural and precisely defined, and one that can be built upon for evening. Just before the launch, Westman chatted with us about the heart of her brand, her morning wellness routine, and the beauty splurge she’s saving up for.
What was the driving force behind Westman Atelier?
When you do something like this, you have to be fully in it. You can easily detect when it’s not part of who you are. This brand is basically me. I have a lot of experience from working with both Lancôme and Revlon as their Global Artistic Director, and with Lancôme in particular, I was at the lab a lot. I realized quickly that the magic happens when you’re with the chemists, because then they see your passion, they see your intent, and they understand your dreams. I loved creating things that I felt resonated with people, but I wanted to do it in a different way. I’ve always been very interested in merging both skincare and makeup. And I have always been known for how I do skin. It used to bug me when I would be doing an interview and the journalist would always start with, “You’re known for this beautiful skin you create.” But then I thought when it came time to do my brand, I should harness the skin factor. I also wanted to create products that were safe and that focused on the efficacy of the active ingredients. I didn’t really feel like there was anything on the market that spoke to those things. There is a purpose for every product. It’s not like anything is frivolous or created just for the heck of it.
There’s always this idea of transformation in beauty, and how you can use the color in more glamorous ways, but at the core you’re working with what’s there, your real self.
Yes! It should feel joyful. There is that confidence boosting element to makeup. It’s always lovely to feel like you nailed something but you still look like yourself, you just have a little more sparkle. That’s always been my kind of thing. Of course I love getting my rocks off creatively, but my main thing for our brand is I love enhancing. I worked on a couple movies in the beginning of my career and I think that was really helpful when it comes to creating authentic looking skin. When you’re watching a movie, you don’t want to notice the clothing and think, Oh, it doesn’t look like it’s really from the 1800s. It’s the same with skin. It’s beautiful to create skin that feels like an emotion.
What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without?
My absolute must have is the Westman Atelier Skin Activator, because it has changed my skin. I had really bad rosacea that I got from using products that were too aggressive for me. When I was younger, I thought I had to use really aggressive products for them to work. For the Skin Activator, we partnered with Dr. Sang Hoon Park, [a Korean cosmetic surgeon] who pioneered this multilaminar system that allows you to include more active ingredients, and ideated the active ingredients that would best work together. Now, I don’t really have rosacea anymore. It’s unbelievable. Currently, I’m not using any other skincare. I use sunscreen when I don’t have a massive hat. In terms of makeup, another must have is our Liquid Super Loaded in Peau du Soleil.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from working in the beauty industry that most people wouldn’t know?
You have to be really flexible with your schedule, embracing everything that comes with it. You’re a little bit of a therapist, you’re a little bit of a best friend, your opinion matters but sometimes you have to lay low and other times you have to exude confidence. Early on in my career I was on a shoot for a month with Bruce Weber, and [the stylist] Joe McKenna, said to me, “Oh, Gucci, you’re going to be like the rest, married to your makeup bag.” And I said, “No, I’m not going to be like that.” But that mindset is a big part of the fashion industry. I missed so many weddings, so many special things. It is super fun and exhilarating but it is super hard once you have a family. I don’t know if I knew that. Now I have to be a little more discerning. I see where my priorities lie.
What’s your morning routine?
Before I get out of bed, I meditate for twenty minutes. Then I like to have a double espresso with either oat milk or homemade almond milk, and I’ll have a shake. That’s my breakfast every day. After I make my kids breakfast, I go for an hour-long walk if I can. I do like to get some exercise in and usually it’s better if it’s earlier. I’ll go for a paddle board or a swim in the bay, or I like a cold shower. Then, I’ll just do a little basic makeup that involves my Skin Activator and a combination of Complexion Drops and my Foundation Stick. Then Beauty Butter Bronzer to give myself some warmth. Depending on what cheek color I have in my toiletry bag, I’ll use one of those, and a little bit of something on my lips like a Squeaky Clean. Just fairly natural so I feel like I’m awake.
Now that summer is winding down, do you have any beauty treatments lined up??
I am so excited—when I get home, two days after school starts, I’m getting a facial with Nicole Caroline in Greenwich. I haven’t had a facial all summer. And I’m going to see Dr. Sarah Dolder, my dermatologist, just to check out my skin quality and look at any pigmentation that I’ve gotten over the summer, to see when it’s a good time to address that. I’ll go to see David Mallet for a cut, and Lionel Atzas will color my hair.
What’s a piece of makeup advice that’s changed your perspective on beauty?
Makeup advice for our generation is different from makeup advice ten or fifteen years ago, because there was no awareness around ingredients. I did this class for several women the other day and someone asked me, “How do we know what to avoid?” Westman Atelier has a super strict blacklist, but the best thing to do is find a brand, get yourself educated and see if their priorities align with your own. That’s more relevant for me today than giving tips, because I have young girls and I want them to be part of the conversation. They don’t need to be taken for a ride. They can inform themselves. For us as a brand, we’re not perfect, but we’re trying to do our best in many areas. It’s like with what you eat: You want to know that you’re not eating a bunch of hormones and disrupting your endocrine system. We owe it to ourselves.
What was your biggest beauty splurge and was it worth it?
I haven’t made it yet! I really want to get a cold plunge at home. I think that would be the biggest and most worthwhile beauty splurge. The combination of an outdoor sauna and a cold plunge just sounds amazing—we could use it as a family all year long! That company Renu looks pretty sweet, but we need to sell some more makeup for that.
Who is your beauty icon?
I would be a little bit in the dark if I didn’t mention Estée Lauder. I admire her resilience, and the fact that she works with her husband (like I do).
Has how you personally define beauty changed over time?
For me, it is now about lifestyle. I think that’s the clearest change—it’s really part of my life. And skincare. I find it really fascinating finding new active ingredients and thinking of our own way to combine them. That’s something we have been doing since the beginning and it is not a trend for us. Our brand is so special. I just want more people to try it!