A few months ago, as Bobbi Brown beamed onto my Zoom screen from her home in Sag Harbor, New York, we exchanged pleasantries and marveled at the absurdity of the moment: To get the best lighting and camera angle for our call, we were both sitting on the floor in our respective homes—she in black-rimmed glasses of her own design and layers of black performance wear from Outdoor Voices and the French brand Base Range; me, in an outfit not fit for description here. Neither of us were wearing makeup, nor had we had our hair done in months. “I can’t believe I’m doing this again, talking to a Vogue editor,” remarked the now 63-year-old beauty legend, who created the “no-makeup makeup” category thirty years ago with the launch of her namesake line of natural-hued lipsticks that beget a full-fledged color line anchored in ease. “Back then,” she recalled of that post-disco climate in Manhattan, which favored heavy contours and formality, “you had to be very fancy. Now,” she laughed, “I can be myself.”
Brown was speaking as much to the collective casualness of the COVID era, as she was to the freedom she feels at the helm of Jones Road, her first new beauty venture since leaving her eponymous brand in 2016. Named for a small street in East Hampton that she discovered via Waze while driving with her husband, the collection of edited essentials launched in October—exactly 25 years after her non-compete expired with Estee Lauder, which purchased Brown’s company in 1995—and includes an ultra black mascara with a never-crunchy texture Brown describes as “soft”; a melt-on-your-mouth lip gloss; two different eyeshadow formulas; the best eye pencil that is literally called The Best Pencil; a new ultra blendable Face Pencil; and the already best-selling Miracle Balm, a light-reflecting tinted cream in four different shades that can be worn anywhere/everywhere. Perhaps most impressively, the entire line-up is formulated using the Credo Clean Standard, the California based-retailer’s rules of engagement, which prohibits the use of over 2,700 ingredients (formaldehyde, phthalates, methoxyethanol, et al) due to safety and/or sustainability reasons and also accounts for ingredient purity and sourcing, none of which is currently regulated by the FDA. “I’m not one of these people who says you need only clean makeup,” insists Brown, who is refreshingly non-monastic about ingredients, and who has always tried to live “well” long before “wellness” was a trillion-dollar industry. (“This is an extension of what she’s always done,” confirms New York-based functional medicine pioneer Frank Lipman, M.D., Brown’s longtime doctor, who has helped her lean into an intuitive approach to what she puts into her body that has organically lent itself to a similar approach towards what she puts on it.) “I just want to make good products that people want to use, that make them look better,” Brown says, which happens to be an apt description of Jones Road’s newest category: skin care.