American Beauty: Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore’s so not one of us—she’s got wildly successful, simultaneous careers as an actress, producer, photographer, vintner, mom and now beauty mogul—and yet, Jean Godfrey-June finds, she’s totally one of us.

If you ever wonder just precisely how beautiful you are, one very good measure is a hairnet. Particularly a hairnet worn in typical-hairnet environs, meaning beneath the unforgiving lights of a factory floor, the fluorescents’ cold glow bouncing off the gleaming steel machines and shiny cement floor before settling flatly onto your skin. Your face, without its usual flattering frame of hair, is all you’ve got once a hairnet is on your head; imperfections are highlighted, blotchiness exacerbated, and any makeup you may have applied becomes blaringly, mercilessly visible in high relief.

Movie stars are beautiful people, obvs. But Drew Barrymore’s poreless, glowy skin defies the piercing factory lights, the itchy elastic frame of the hairnet and the fact that she and her husband, Will Kopelman, had their first child, Olive, just eight months ago: It’s stunningly dewy and luminous; not even a hint of the chaos of new motherdom (exhaustion, raging hormones) is anywhere to be seen on her face.

Bold coral lipstick from Barrymore’s new makeup line, Flower, lights up her face even further—something of a feat of formulation (if ever a color could go horribly wrong under the best of conditions, it’s coral). Her lashes are thick and glossy; her cheeks delicately, naturally flushed.

“We’ve cut out the middleman!” she says of the line, which is sold exclusively at Walmart and the reason we’re here, walking the floor of a cosmetics factory an hour north of New York City. “Every bit of Flower is full-on, expensive-makeup quality,” she gestures toward a row of fuchsia lipstick bullets advancing along a conveyer belt. “It just costs less.” The line’s name was a natural: “I’ve always asked people, ‘What kind of flower are you?’ ” she explains. “Some people are lilies, others are sunflowers—for a long time, I was a wildflower, a sort of a daisy. I’ve changed: Now I think I’m more of one of those cottage-garden cabbage roses. Holy cow, I’ve changed!” she laughs. She grows plenty of cabbage roses (along with daisies and lilies) at her home in Los Angeles, where she spent most of her pregnancy “on the couch with takeout and TV! I was in full nesting mode, like a cat shredding my paper! I cleaned out storage units, even though it was the hottest summer ever, we built the nursery, renovated the house, cleaned out every drawer … ” Presumably, she also reviewed more than a few makeup samples.

We stop at a pressed-powder machine stamping out smooth round discs that look like little cakes. Barrymore hands one to me. “Feel this—you’re not going to believe it.” The powder is, truly, remarkably fine and soft. “It’s the only quadruple-milled powder you can get at mass,” she says. “This is a powder you’d pay $38 for at the department store—ours is $11 at Walmart!” “At mass” is a term I am very familiar with, being a beauty editor, but one I wouldn’t expect a movie star to recognize, let alone bandy about with the abandon of, say, a cosmetic chemist.

I’m feeling very Laverne and Shirley with Barrymore, dodging between machines in our hairnets and white factory overcoats—or even Lucy and Ethel. She famously has that effect on people, shrugging off her celebrity before you even notice it’s there, connecting instead on a warm, generous level that is instantly and utterly disarming; a great friend is what everyone (Cameron Diaz! Lucy Liu! Jimmy Fallon!) says.
Her friendships and close family relationships are part of what brought her to the beauty industry: Makeup artist Debra Ferullo, who was a creative consultant on Flower, has worked with Barrymore for years. Revlon makeup artist Gucci Westman is another confidante (the two met on-set for Lancôme back in the ’90s). Her father-in-law Arie Kopelman (now retired) spent 18 years as the much-beloved head of Chanel. “Oh yes, we talk shop!” she says. “He picked up some of my packaging that I thought was so tasteful, and he said, ‘Where’s your brand here?’ Needless to say, we changed it. He makes me think.

“One of my favorite things Arie’s said is, ‘Try to see what you’re not seeing.’ That’s how I came up with this rose gold,” she points to the glinting trim on the packaging. “Originally it was going to be chrome/nickel and then I just had this gut feeling about rose gold, and I was like, that’s what I’m not seeing!” She smiles. The two are close enough that Kopelman walked her down the aisle at her wedding; she, Will and Olive stay with him and his wife, Coco, when they’re in New York. “They’re an amazing family,” she says. “Such humor, such warmth, such incredible taste.”

Taste is important to Barrymore. “I’ve been evaluating endorsement deals since E.T., when I was seven,” she says. “You can’t—and don’t want to—do everything. I remember my godfather [a.k.a. Steven Spielberg] emphasizing the need for a level of style and taste … that that was important, that the things you do have a certain longevity.”

We exit back into the world of slightly-more-flattering, standard-issue office lighting through double doors, handing off our hairnets and lab coats as we go, and retire to a conference room. Barrymore’s factory-visiting ensemble involves a sweet floral shirt, slim jeans and a chunky, metallic statement necklace—Marni? Vera Wang? “Topshop!” she says triumphantly. “Can you believe?! I’d rather save on super-expensive clothes and bags, and then spend more money on a really fantastic pair of jeans. I like Rag & Bone, Current/Elliott—they’re not the cheapest, but they’re also not the most expensive, and jeans I feel like you can wear forever.” She smiles. “Jeans and an old, threadbare T-shirt. That’s my favorite combination. I throw a blazer over that, and I can go anywhere!”

Maybe not, say, the Golden Globes or the Oscars? “The red carpet is a great place to play,” she says. “I never get worried about it—you can’t! Who cares? We’re all human, we’re all going to die someday—why spend your life being afraid of what people think? Have fun! Play!”

Despite her flowy-free-spirit-creative nature, there exists within Barrymore a deeply organized, practical, strategic person who accomplishes an incredible amount. “I don’t know who in my family gave me the business gene, but it came from somewhere, and it’s real,” she says. “I do have this … fastidious-executioner aspect to my personality. And part of it is I’m a real believer in partnerships. The first love of my life, [producer] Nancy Juvonen, and I still have the best partnership.” Together, the two made movies like Donnie Darko and Charlie’s Angels in the notoriously male world of Hollywood. Since then she has partnered with the Decordi Winery in Cremona, Italy, to evolve her love of wine and wine-making into a business (Barrymore Wines’ pinot grigio has already won a gold medal in a major competition) and turned the traditional spokesmodel role into a partnership when she served as co–creative director at Cover Girl. She has also evolved a hobby—photography—into a successful side career; she’s now shooting fashion stories for magazines like V and campaigns with brands like Tommy Hilfiger. With the Walmart collaboration, she’s partnered with the world’s most powerful retailer.

“If you have good intentions, everything just works out,” she says. “And—I don’t think you can have it all. Something’s got to fall off the table. Let it fall, mourn it and move on. You’ll get your focus back. You can do a couple of things really well. We come from this generation of women where God forbid you give something up. It’s scary to let go, but you make so much more room for yourself that way.” Making room for herself, lately, has meant fewer never-ending film shoots. “It’s so wonderful to come home every night! I’m so encouraged: I’m working, but I have a peaceful, livable life.”

Barrymore is intent on maintaining that peaceful livable life, so she needs time to make it home in time for dinner: “I can’t wait to see Olive! It’s killing me!” But first she hugs several line workers who’ve emerged from the floor, kisses the plant manager and stops to talk to one of the executives from Walmart. “I just want to make sure the hot-dog maker is talking to the bun maker,” she says. “You know? I love this stuff. I’m in the joy business!”