Heather McMahan on Beauty, Comedy and Body Positivity: ‘Why Is It Always About My Weight?’

Heather McMahan on Beauty, Comedy and Body Positivity: ‘Why Is It Always About My Weight?’ featured image
Getty Images / Mike Coppola / Staff

Heather McMahan, the comedic force behind sold-out shows at Radio City, her Netflix special “Son I Never Had,” and a global tour, is not just about laughs. With her signature wit and charm, she opens up about her journey into comedy, being the unofficial “face” of body positivity, and of course, her beauty and skin-care must-haves.

From Childhood Dreams to Comedy Stardom

Heather McMahan’s journey into comedy wasn’t just a whim; it was destiny. “I was always a funny kid,” she tells us. “I always knew I wanted to do comedy.”

Reflecting on her childhood, she shares how her natural knack for humor led her to pursue comedy, despite initially considering college theater. Eventually, her passion for comedy led to the stages of New York City—most notably her sold-out Radio City show in 2023.

“Since I’ve been touring for the last four years, I just keep moving and keep going to the next city and keep rolling through. It took me about two weeks after I performed a Radio City when I woke up one morning, I turned over to my husband, and I was like, ‘Did that happen?’”

Behind the Scenes Rituals

Before hitting the stage, McMahan has her rituals down to a tee. While her green-room requests may not be extravagant, a good Oregon Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley sets the tone for her pre-show relaxation. But it’s her time alone doing hair and makeup where she finds her Zen, listening to her favorite Spotify playlist, Cocktail Jazz, before switching gears to pump-up jams.

“My ritual is that I do all my own hair and makeup. I’m an old school theater kid—that is my Zen time. I don’t like anybody to be in my space—I [need to] conserve my energy because my shows are wild. I’m giving you two hours of me running around across the stage, we’re laughing our asses off. So that’s my real time to get Zen.”

Beauty Favorites Unveiled

A surprise to no one, McMahan does not mince her words when asked for her favorite beauty products. “Let’s split this up into two camps: beauty products and survival products—the ones that I need for my life to function correctly,” she jokes, albeit seriously. 

In the survival camp: MegaBabe and Lumi. “I swear by everything MegaBabe makes,” she says, counting Bust Dust ($16) and Thigh Rescue ($14) as life-savers during high-energy performances. Another beloved product: Lume ($18), a whole-body deodorant cream she says was a must while shooting her Netflix Special. “I was covered in Lume and MegaBabe—I did a whole dunk in it.”

As for her favorite beauty products, McMahan loves YSL All Hours Foundation ($62) for flawless stage makeup, and all-things Doll 10, a brand celebrity makeup artist and friend Jamie Greenberg introduced her to. “I use everything from Doll 10—their setting powders, their foundation. Their concealer, though, is the best concealer I’ve ever used in my life.”

Another brand McMahan is a mega fan of is Beauty Pie. “It’s the best shit on the planet. Their blushes are amazing, their lip stuff is amazing. If you were to open my makeup kit, you wouldn’t see the usual Armani, and Givenchy stuff everyone’s using on TikTok. I have a mix of stuff that makeup artists will send me and then I become obsessed with it.”

Skin-Care Secrets

When it comes to skin care, you can probably guess McMahan doesn’t mess around. She raves about iS Clinical’s Hydra-Cool Serum ($99) for pre and post-show skin prep—”it makes your makeup perfect,” she says—and recently discovered an at-home peel she says changed her skin: iS Clinical Active Peel System ($92).

“I get a ton of facials, I’ll do the lasers, I’ll do it all, and who knew these peel pads would give me the smoothest face of my life?” 

As for her everyday routine, she says Beauty Pie’s Triple Hyaluronic Acid is “the best hyaluronic acid I’ve ever used.” The brand’s Youth Bomb, a retinol serum, and Biologuqie Recherche also make the cut. 

Beauty Treatments on the Radar

Despite her hectic schedule, Heather prioritizes self-care, including regular facials, along with select in-office treatments. 

“I don’t understand these gals who have three weeks to hide after some Fraxel or PRP—I don’t ever have that downtime. I’m jealous. I have to keep it really light,” she says. Her go-to treatments: DiamondGlow and Hydrafacial, the latter of which she gets once a month and describes as refreshing and cleansing but also hydrating.

However, should some downtime arise, McMahan has big plans. “I’d love to just slough off the entire top layer of my face and look like a mummy for a month and come out looking like a 15-year old girl. 

Embracing Self-Love

“When people say, ‘You’re the face of body positivity,’ it’s like, I’m just living my life, you know? I’m actually kind of sarcastic about it. I’m the first one to make a joke about it and to be like, ‘Oh my God, we’re talking about this again.’ 

“Even as a kid, I always thought, ‘I’m beautiful, I’m funny, I’ve got all these great things going for me.’ Even then I thought everyone should catch up to the fact that this should be a non-starter. Why are we talking about this? Why is this a thing? Why is it always about my weight? 

“But I still have my moments. You find haters on the internet, there’ll be a Reddit thread of people saying stuff about my weight. I just have to not look at it because it’ll make you crazy.”

Dealing With Negativity

“If somebody’s really coming after me, they must be insecure, upset about something that I’m already trying to work through myself. So I’m kind of like, you’re spinning your wheels, right? What are we doing here? I think everybody now thinks that they have a voice online. The comment world on Instagram and TikTok is pretty gnarly. You put something up, it’s clearly a joke, and then the keyboard warriors just aren’t in on it. So for me, I just feel bad for the people who are missing out on the levity and the humor of what I do.

“When I put up clips from my podcast, I’m clearly being sarcastic. It’s clearly a bit, a joke. And some people just lose their mind. And I just have to sometimes screenshot those comments or the crazy DMs I get and put them up in my office, and be like, this is why I do it, for the crazies.”

The Bottom Line

“I know this sounds so cheesy, but all I want to do today is bring people joy. That is my job. That is my goal. And as long as you can watch my Instagram or TikTok videos or come out to a stand-up show and you’re thinking about anything other than your own shit for 90 minutes, then I’m doing my job.”

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