Beauty isn’t only skin-deep, it turns out, but exerts an irresistible primal force. New research suggests a person’s attractiveness signals to our brains that he or she is also likely to be healthy, with greater survival potential. We feel good about this: someone’s not just handsome, but here to stay.
Bedford’s Gucci Westman, founder and “face” of Westman Atelier cosmetics, has become a global — and indisputably glamorous — authority on the inextricable link between beauty and health. In a crowded field of luxury makeup brands, her complexion-focused line stands out as equal parts glam and good-for-you.
“Enhancing, not covering up skin is where confidence comes from,” observed Ms. Westman. One of the great challenges clean beauty proponents face is the almost cartoonish, computer-enhanced images that promote a Barbie-doll esthetic that floods social media daily. “There’s a big audience for that, of course,” observed Ms. Westman, “and I try not to be judgmental. But it’s not good when young women and teenage girls get the message they’ll only be affirmed if they look artificial.” Fortunately, she acknowledged, “there’s a shift happening toward clean looks.”
Not that Ms. Westman is adverse to an Egyptian-style cat eye; she even demonstrates how to master it in one of her many makeup tutorials on the Westman Atelier website.
“Clean beauty can be fun and creative,” she confirmed, “but people also like to hear that we have 100% visibility over our supply chain — where it was made, where the ingredients were sourced. Some of the most popular mascara brands are made of the same ingredients as antifreeze,” she noted.
But beyond the eco-standards and brilliant branding, Ms. Westman really learned makeup by “doing.” The first gig for the California-born makeup artist was in Los Angeles for Italian Vogue with legendary fashion photographer Bruce Weber. Celebrities began lining up, and soon Ms. Westman counted Drew Barrymore, Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow as friends and clients. After a move to New York, she was quickly booked to do covers for Vogue and Vanity Fair, fashion shows for Carolina Herrera and campaigns for Ralph Lauren.
Ms. Westman’s easy way with models and actresses, her vision for natural beauty and her ability to execute that vision led to her being appointed international director of Lancôme from 2003 to 2007, and then global artistic director of Revlon from 2008 to 2015. Then in 2018, the same year she played herself in the film version of “Sex and the City,” she launched her own line, Westman Atelier with her husband, David Neville, as CEO. Mr. Neville was a co-founder of rag & bone, the hip downtown-inspired sportswear company, so success was in the cards.
All those makeup tutorials Ms. Westman fastidiously posts on her website (and to her 213,000 followers on Instagram) is good business, but also reflect her joy for schooling people in the ways of beauty. “A makeup master class is human connection in real time,” she said. “You can ask a question and get a live response. Anyone can be insecure about how to use an eyeliner or how to manage a skin issue.” Recent lessons include the “Ultimate Red Lipstick” master class and the “Summer Skin” master class for a golden bronze glow.
No wonder there’s been tremendous excitement at Rippowam Cisqua School since Ms. Westman, a RCS parent, agreed to offer a makeup master class for up to eight people at the Bedford school’s April 23 annual benefit auction. In one live session she will demonstrate shade selection, application and industry-coveted tips and tricks. The bonus is a goody bag of eco-luxe Westman Atelier products.
Ms. Westman and Mr. Neville have three children at Rippowam, son Dash, 15, and daughters Gray, 13, and Petal, 6. Weekenders here for several years, the family relocated permanently from Manhattan two years ago during the pandemic. “We wished we’d moved to Bedford long ago,” remarked Ms. Westman. “We love everything about Ripp, too, and I’d do anything for them,” she added.
“We are so excited to have Gucci be part of the auction as she embodies the year’s theme which is ‘Illuminate!’” enthused RCS auction co-chair, Payson Murray. “We love having her in our community, and her impact here is felt far and wide.”
Despite her own unmistakable celebrity glow, Ms. Westman remains wholly relatable. “I don’t know everything, but I’ll answer any question with my honest opinion,” she said. Ms. Westman often shares about her own challenges with rosacea, and how she was able to develop a foundation to address that issue while also imparting the perfect luminosity.
“Whoever wins the master class at the auction, I hope will bring their daughters,” she said with a laugh. “It’s going to be fun and informative — and of course, teenage girls never listen to their own mothers.”
Westman Atelier products are available locally at Scout, 72 Westchester Ave., Pound Ridge. For more information, visit westman-atelier.com.