Every weekday morning, when Bobbi Brown arrives at the headquarters of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in Manhattan's SoHo, she finds an egg-white-and-spinach omelet and a pitcher of water with lemon waiting on her desk. The makeup artist turned industry titan is so health-conscious that she has an approved menu of acceptable foods for meetings and celebrations that's constantly updated and sent around to employees. Right now the rule is that crudités, hard-boiled eggs, cheese or other wholesome alternatives must join any junk food on the conference table. "I don't care if there are cupcakes," Brown says. "But people have to have a choice."
Brown, who is a slight and youthful 47, built her professional reputation on a "no-makeup makeup" aestheticfocusing on natural beauty, with a spectrum of basic shades meant to complement, rather than cover up, every complexion. This user-friendly attitude proved so successful that Brown sold the company to Estée Lauder in 1994, a mere three years after founding it, and maintains creative control. In her private life Brown takes the same approachhealthy and natural, without fuss or hasslein cooking and entertaining.
Sometimes it seems as though there's a direct two-way route between Brown's office and her kitchen. For instance, she came up with the idea for her best-selling Lip Tints while watching two of her sons, then four and two, eating Popsicles. "One was eating a cherry one, and the other was eating an orange one," she says, recalling the glossy, ruddy color of their mouths. "I thought, Oh, my God, that's so cool." Today her cosmetics and skin-care products use ingredients and colors straight from the pantry: The moisturizer Extra Face Oil contains olive oil; her brown eye shadows were inspired by bars of chocolate; twist up one of her lipsticks and out comes a bullet of, say, mango or wine; and a new nail polish approximates the hue of a perfect vine-ripened tomato (not the mealy, bioengineered kind).