Known for her über glamorous Old-Hollywood look, Dita Von Teese is not only the “Queen of Burlesque.” She’s also an author (her third book, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, was just released), an entrepreneur, a model, a beauty ambassador (she has her own MAC makeup collection), and so much more. We caught up with the star to find out more about her favorite products, her latest inspiration and her secret for feeling so confident in the tiny corsets she spends so much time in.
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NewBeauty: What inspired your ’50s glam beauty look?
Dita Von Teese: I was inspired by my desire to create beauty rather than lament that I wasn’t born with naturally striking supermodel-type looks. With so much emphasis on natural beauty, I didn’t have any modern role models I could look up to, so I looked to the past, a time when glamour was at its zenith. My look is made up from elements from different eras that I love, from the 1930s to the 1950s.
NB: To what do you owe your body confidence to?
DVT: I think it’s a lot to do with recognizing the things I can do to make myself feel good and confident. With my burlesque shows, for instance, I use flattering costumes, colorful and flattering light, makeup, and carefully considered body shapes. These are tricks one can use offstage too. As an example, I love lingerie because it allows me to accentuate what I like and hide what I don’t. Stockings, corsets and garter belts are wonderful for that. At home, like performers do with stage lighting, you can use flattering lights in pink and peach tones, avoiding overhead lighting and instead using lamps and chandeliers on dimmer switches. Flattering light coming from all angles can fill in and smooth out wrinkles and cellulite! You can even take it a step further and paint your walls beautiful colors that reflect well on skin, like peach, lavender and pink. I also think that being grateful to our bodies is important…so much emphasis is placed on how the body looks, and it’s easy to think negative thoughts about ourselves. I try to replace negativity with thoughts of being grateful to my body for how well it functions for me, and I think a lot about how lucky I am when I feel well, strong and healthy.
NB: What are your go-to makeup and hair essentials?
DVT: Éminence Organic Skincare’s Linden Calendula Treatment Cream, Retrouvé Revitalizing Eye Concentrate, MDSolarSciences sunscreen, Dior Diorific L’Ange Bleu Lipstick, MAC “Von Teese” matte lipstick, Suqqu Frame Fix Foundation, Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer, TIGI Bed Head Masterpiece Hairspray, and a Mason Pearson brush.
NB: What can readers expect from your latest book?
DVT: It’s the antidote to conventional beauty books—a book that celebrates diversity and the art of creating glamour. It’s 400+ pages of eccentric beauty tips from me, plus tips from unique icons of glamour that I admire like Carmen Dell’Orefice, a woman who is the epitome of elegance. She was a supermodel in the 1950s and goes into great detail about her beauty procedures over the years. It hard to get real beauty advice because we are all so afraid of being vilified for not being “natural.” I love the way Carmen speaks about how it was to be a model in the ’50s and how her beauty has evolved since. It’s a fun and entertaining read for anyone interested in glamour; it’s not just for retro fans.
NB: Is your look just as glamorous off camera as it is on?
DVT: I’m not as fussy about glamour as people might imagine. On a normal day, I wear a little more than face powder and red lipstick, which takes mere minutes to do in the morning. I love finding shortcuts to glamour because I feel the difference it makes in my day. I have a very casual and relaxed version of my signature style that is still in line with my glamour code, but doesn’t take any more time than anyone else’s beauty routine. No, I don’t have sweatpants, but yes, I do like to be comfortable!
NB: Do you follow a particular skin care routine to maintain your porcelain complexion?
DVT: I have to admit that I am not big on seeing facialists and that sort of thing. I occasionally like having facials for the relaxation factor, but aside from the immediate results of being moisturized with my skin all plumped up, I don’t really see lasting results. Maybe that’s just my skin type, and maybe some people find them beneficial. I have a good dermatologist that I see for my skin care issues, but he doesn’t have a skin care line, he doesn’t do Botox and he doesn’t have lasers…he’s a specialist in pediatric dermatology, actually. I occasionally have issues like itchy red spots and dryness, and I even had a bout with rosacea once due to my skin backfiring from treatment.
NB: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for the sake of beauty?
DVT: Dying my hair from blond to black for the past 20 years seems rather crazy when I think about it. I do it myself every two weeks. I guess another crazy thing I’ve done is have a laser treatment on my butt…I thought it was a waste of money (I didn’t see any difference), plus it was expensive and time-consuming. I’m fairly low-key about beauty treatments—I don’t even have the patience go to salons to get my hair done!
NB: What is the best makeup trick you’ve learned?
DVT: I’ve had an obsession with red lipstick and bold cat-eyeliner since before I was allowed to wear makeup, so although my personal makeup style hasn’t changed, it has evolved and I’ve become better at it. I always say that if you want to become as great as any world-class makeup artist, just practice one look. Find your signature and keep working on it! Some of my best tricks were learned through trial and error. Even though I love doing my own makeup and hair for my shows, red carpets and photos, I still love to work with certain makeup artists that are really good at things I can’t do, like shading and highlighting. But on the same token, I’ve taught many makeup artists how to do my style makeup and hair.
NB: Who are your beauty icons?
DVT: I love glamour of the past, models of the 1950s that did their own makeup and hair, like Lisa Fonssagrives. I also love Marlene Dietrich and the way she turned herself from a modest beauty into the icon she was. She knew everything about lighting. As for modern icons, I love Carmen Dell’Orefice and Suzanne von Aichinger.
NB: What do you do for “me” time?
DVT: I really love to cook and entertain for friends at home. On the weekends, I like to peruse antique flea markets and take little weekend road trips. I like ring-leading my friends to go on little trips, renting log cabins in the woods and things like that. My last trip was to Big Sur and my next is an RV trip to the desert. I’m into glamping!