Lorde Talks Lipstick, Leotards, and What Makes Her Feel Dirty
Not many 17-year-olds can make a suit look badass, but in her Alexander Wang jumpsuit, styled with a black lace Lonely Hearts bra running across the back, and lush mess of long, thick curls (reminiscent of Alanis Morissette—minus the naked music video), that’s exactly the vibe Lorde puts out. In an industry filled with pop stars in marijuana-print leotards and ill-placed foam fingers, this New Zealand native seems like a godsend to mothers and fathers of angsty adolescents everywhere. “I feel really cool and really pretty in a suit—that’s my leotard,” she said. And to that mature sartorial decision I applaud. As for dealing with the pressures of the industry, Lorde’s response is that of a typical teenager: “I’m not really very good at listening to what other people want me to do, which is bad sometimes.” With a MAC collection launching in June—consisting of her signature vampy purple lip (Pure Heroine) and black liquid liner (Rapidblack)—I’d say that her selective hearing is working out just fine. Here, she reveals the one beauty trend she won’t try, the secret to those black-stained fingertips at the Grammys, and the music royal who will never be “corny.”
You have a signature look and your MAC collection is obviously modeled after it. How long have you been rocking the dark lips and liner?
It has definitely fine-tuned itself over time. When I was 12, 13, 14, I would wear a much stronger liquid eye and I wouldn’t wear lipstick so much. Then I started wearing a dark lip around 14, I reckon, and I’ve been wearing it ever since. It helps to work with a makeup artist because they understand subtlety.
Have you dabbled with any other looks over the years?
I used to get these black circular stickers from the dollar store and I would stick them on the corners of my eyes for school. It was a little dramatic. I bought them once for a dress-up party and they kind of stuck.
How many lipstick shades did you go through before finally landing on Pure Heroine?
I went through all of the dark purples that MAC had, and I obviously wear a lot of the dark MAC shades. We loved the idea of making a lipstick called Pure Heroine, which was based on the shade Heroine, just a little darker. So we made up five different shades with five different finishes. I would try them out when I was going out to a party or out to lunch to see how they worked and how they felt. One of the things that was really important to me—because a lot of people who are going to be wearing it are teenage girls and they don’t have a makeup artist to help them apply it—is that it be easy to put on and press on lightly as a stain. I love matte lipsticks because they stay forever, but they dry you out and they are super-intense feeling, so I wanted something that felt a little lighter.
What about tricks for keeping a dark lip budge-proof?
We put a liner underneath it, which I never do when I’m putting on my own makeup because I’m lazy, but I really take care with eating, drinking, and talking. I’m always aware of the sides because that’s where it moves.
What is your best tip for applying liquid liner?
A good rule of thumb is to make it thin until you get a quarter of the way into your lid, and then [turn the pen] and go parallel to your crease. As long as you keep in line with the crease, you’ll be fine.
I can’t stop looking at your brows—I think they could rival Cara Delevingne’s.
I haven’t plucked them in three months. Amber [Dreadon, MAC senior artist] does some gel and brushes them, making the hairs all go in one direction.
You’ve made many interesting beauty moves thus far—including black fingertips at the Grammys. Is there a trend you’ll never try?
I kind of struggle with a smoky eye, and that’s one I haven’t found a way to make cool. I feel quite dirty—it’s not super-wearable.
Speaking of your black-dipped fingers, whose idea was that?
That was my idea. I actually stumbled across it on Tumblr and it’s obviously Michèle Lamy’s thing, Rick Owens’ wife, and I didn’t know that at the time. We didn’t know how to make it work because I had to perform and then I had to accept awards and I didn’t want to have it on the whole night. We did my fingernails in gel polish and we did the stain in a normal nail polish so we could just take it off with nail polish remover.
Smart. I was trying to figure out how you pulled that one off. What is the best beauty trick you’ve learned on the job?
Not to use my hands to apply everything! I used to apply foundation like sunscreen and rub it all over my face, but it’s a bit different if you use a brush. I’m still up for using my hands because brushes are expensive, but they do make a difference.
Your selfie that showed you wearing spot cream to bed resonated with so many people—especially teens. Why do you feel strongly about embracing imperfections in a world so concerned with image?
As a young person who is obsessed with popular culture, fashion, and beauty, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming thinking about all your imperfections compared to these people who are flawless. I think a lot of people believe that being famous makes you superhuman. I think the standards don’t have to be how they are. I just think about my girlfriends and how we all get acne. We feel terrible about it because we feel like it doesn’t happen to anyone else. So I’m like, “Look, it’s OK.”
What is your definition of beauty?
I think the people I’m drawn to and the people I think are really beautiful have an inner intelligence, sense of humor, or confidence—you can see those qualities in people. A person doesn’t have to be conventionally beautiful in any way, but I just want to look at them all the time.
Who would you say meets that definition?
I see it in a lot of my friends. When I cast the music video for “Team,” it had this community of young people, and it was really important to me that we didn’t cast just models from a talent website. I wanted kids who look like kids, and who look odd but in really beautiful ways. A lot of those kids in that video are just amazing.
Do you have any beauty icons?
Not so much for makeup, but I think Grace Jones has a lasting, iconic look. She’s so beautiful and so confident—it’s such a strong look, and I’m really inspired by that.
Whose music career do you admire?
I think Prince is really amazing because he’s very himself all the time. It’s not like, “Oh, Prince got corny.” He’s consistently killing it.
Getting back to you, what’s the key to your porcelain complexion?
I never use sunscreen, which is really bad. I’ve always been pale. I use tinted moisturizer and that has some SPF in it. And there’s a big hole in the ozone above New Zealand as well.
It’s never too late to start slathering it on! What about the rest of your skincare regimen—what are your go-tos?
In the last six months I’ve tried out a million different cleansers, spot creams, moisturizers. Some things are harsher than others, and when you don’t have the easiest skin you just need really gentle products. I’ve been using something from a dermatologist at the moment. I use a foaming cleanser, and I just put a really gentle, amazing moisturizer on, and then use a little spot cream. Those are all from the dermatologist, but there’s a really good acne cream called Crystacide. And there’s a good French moisturizer called Embryolisse and MAC Mineralize moisturizer in a pot that I like. And the one from Cetaphil is really good.
Would you ever cut your hair?
I’ve never had a little pixie cut, so I’ve been growing this for a really long time. It’s very much a part of my vibe and my sense of physicality and movement. I always think about how I would perform on stage if I had really short hair because it’s definitely a part of me. I love that it can be that much of an identity. It’s also a good safety blanket; I definitely hide behind it sometimes.
What do you loathe about having long hair?
It gets really matted if I don’t wash it for a while. It gets these big knots, which can be a handful to deal with.
How do you define your curls? Is there a curling iron involved?
The best product for curls that I’ve come across is Potion 9 by Sebastian. You just scrunch it in when your hair is wet, and then I just leave it.
How long did it take to straighten your hair for the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday?
It was really fast, like an hour—very swift.
Let’s get deep for a second. You’ve declared yourself a feminist. What does that mean to you?
I don’t really think about it that much, to be honest. It’s just important to me that things are equal. I don’t see why I should be held back in any way because of my sex.
True that. And on a less heavy note, I’ve heard you are quite the thrift store shopper. What’s your best find of all time?
We were in Palm Springs at Resale Therapy and they have this amazing vintage section. Are they called St. John, those suits? They had all this amazing St. John. I got this navy blue vintage suit with gold buttons. It fits me perfectly. I wear it on stage all the time. It’s my favorite and I didn’t even need to get it tailored. It’s my best find by far and it was 50 bucks, which is more than I like to spend at a thrift store.
Somehow, I think your bank account will recover from this splurge.