"There is no routine for beauty. All rules are made to be broken and whatever works this year might not work next year. And the good thing about now is that technology keeps on changing, so you have lots of great products that come into the marketplace... When it comes to plastic surgery, I’m against it. I can say that because I don’t need it yet. But I’ve also seen friends of mine who’ve had it, and it didn’t come off well. All these new procedures—plumpers, whatever they call them—they’re over doing it, starting it too young. If you start picking on yourself when you’re young, when does it stop? Because it only gets worse. I think that the good thing and the bad thing about what we have now for women is that we have choices for how to take care of your skin. Because skin, unlike cosmetics, is an investment in oneself because it is a long road. My mom used to tell me that the skin you take care of in your twenties is the one you’re going to inherit in your sixties. It’s a consistent, consistent, consistent thing. It’s something that you’re doing for yourself, not so people can comment on it.
I turned 57 this summer. The old days where you could lie about your age, it’s all gone. People Google it and they know exactly how old you are. So I thought I’d just get on with it! Say it! [Laughs] But people still always ask me in the street, like young girls in their twenties, ‘Oh, what do you use for foundation?’ ‘What do you use for skincare?’ So I started a blog called Ageless Chic where I talk about that type of thing, my life, and age.
To me, there is no difference between looking 44 and 57. If I am going to lie, I’m going to be in my thirties. [Laughs] It’s not going to be forties, even though people keep on saying, ‘Fifty is the new forty.’ It’s like ‘Thursday is the new Saturday,’ or whatever. [Laughs] It’s very difficult to embrace aging. It just knocks on the door and it’s an unwelcome guest that stinks. You know? I don’t feel the way I look, and I don’t mean inside. People always say, ‘Oh, I still feel 25 inside.’ I don’t mean that; I mean my body feels my age. The outside, my face, has held up—that’s pure genetics. My father is in his 80s and he looks 50, so that’s pure genes. It’s a bitch. I mean, I fractured my foot this summer walking down the street. I didn’t fall or anything. Literally, I went like this and it was fractured. It wasn’t even a high shoe—it was a wedge. The next thing I knew I was at the doctor’s office in the evening. And that only happens when you get old! [Laughs] I said to my doctor, ‘What should I take, vitamins?’ And he said, ‘Don’t fall!’ That’s his advice. It is scary, I think. I have a 12-year-old and she cries when I say I’m old. But I also have a 34-year-old [Zulekha Haywood], who actually works here with me. I think what’s upsetting is the idea that I have a young girl who I might not be around for, god forbid. But that’s the only time I think about it, because I’ve had my time, you know? It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Oh, I wasted my life’ or anything.
The times have changed. The issues my 12-year-old is faced with are totally different than the 34-year-old. The 12-year-old is faced with body issues that the other one didn’t have at the age of twelve. The word ‘fame,’ too. The question is, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ And your kids now say, ‘I want to be famous,’ which is weird. It’s like, famous for what?
My husband and I are very up-front, because we know it’s going to haunt us if we lie. My 12-year-old saw a picture of me that somebody re-tweeted—it was maybe taken in my twenties. And I was holding a cigarette and she goes, ‘You smoked?’ I was like, ‘These things, you’ll find out later…’ [Laughs] I mean, thank god at my time there was no TMZ or anything like that—thank god. There are no pictures of me coming out and staggering or anything like that…. I wouldn’t want to be young nowadays.
In terms of skincare, I wear SPF, which is key because people think that black people don’t need SPF, but SPF is key, key, key, in everything, everyday. I use Patricia Wexler—she has it in her moisturizers. When I hit 40, Patricia said I needed SPF 45 and I said, ‘I’m not white!’ And she said, ‘No, you do.’ So, that’s basically it. I use SPF and then, like we tell our kids, brush you teeth twice a day. The SKII Skin Signature 3-D Refining Mask is good, too. I can have the flu and jet lag, and I put one of these on and people think I just came from the spa. It’s magic, absolutely magic.
I don’t wear makeup unless I have a photo shoot. But of course I know how to do my own makeup—I’m actually better than a lot of makeup artist because makeup artists do lots of people’s faces, I only do mine all the time. In my time, makeup artists didn’t always do it for you. The thing that one cannot learn, but only by practice, is blending. Makeup artists always say, ‘Blend, blend, blend.’ Who the hell knows what that means? But it’s the key to making yourself look like you’re not wearing any makeup. Even in photo shoots, when they want to do something that looks like ‘less makeup,’ that takes longer than full-on drag! [Laughs] Full-on drag takes less than an hour, but flawless, ‘nothing’ makeup? Two-and-a-half hours! They have to blend and make it look like you have nothing on.
I don’t let my 12-year-old wear any makeup. She negotiates lip gloss. I say, ‘Only on the weekend.’ She’ll say, ‘Not even to school?’ And I ask her, ‘Who’s going to look?’ But skincare is important, especially at her age, when you’re getting pimples—it comes with the territory. She’d put makeup on all day if I let her, but if I tell her to wash her face, it’s an argument.
In my brand, Iman Cosmetics, I love our Cover Cream, which I created specifically for people like me. You just put it where you actually think you need it. And it doesn’t have oil, so it’s matte and you don’t have to put powder on it. It’s the one thing that I would wear if I were going out. It’s good for under your eyes if you have some pigmentation, dark circles—you don’t put it all over your face. And of course, mascara. Also, Scott Barnes Body Bling: it’s a cream, but I’ll give you a hint of what this is. Jennifer Lopez before this was just 'Jennifer Lopez.' When she started using this, she became 'J.Lo.' [Laughs] You know that glowy skin? That’s what this does. It makes you sparkly, so it’s good for red carpet, not for real life. On a regular basis, Kiehl's Creme de Corps is the best cream ever. And for fragrance, I like Tom Ford Neroli Portofino—anything from the body oil to the soap to the moisturizer to the eau de parfum. It’s amazing; it feels summery and wintery at the same time.
Being black, there is no 'signature hairstyle.' That’s one thing we play with more than white girls: hair. Curly, straight, it doesn’t matter. It’s changing, everyday. My hair can be different this evening! Actually the only thing I don’t know how to do is my hair; I have a hairdresser. My hair right now is flat-ironed. And if I want it curled, I just wash it and then put in a few pin curls. The color, I’ve been staying with for a couple months, but I’m getting bored already. That’s from my old days of modeling, because you keep on changing, you know? I go darker for fall, when we are wearing leathers and stuff like that—it looks a bit edger when it’s darker. My natural texture is curly—lots of curls. I go there a lot; I love curly. And I swear by Moroccan Oil and the Restorative Hair Mask, which I do weekly. I love Moroccan Oil for me and my daughter—it has enough moisture without being oily.
I don’t trust anyone but my hairdresser. His name is Oscar James, and he works with a lot of women’s hair, from Vanessa Williams to Halle Berry. He’s very well known with African American celebrities, especially. He lives in New York, he comes to my apartment, and I cook dinner for him and that’s my ‘in.’ I feed him! [Laughs] But he does my daughter’s hair also, because she’s the same as me. Actually, he came in and gave her a few fuchsia streaks in her hair. I’m cool with the fuchsia streaks. And my husband [David Bowie] can’t say anything! Once, my daughter saw the pictures of Ziggy Stardust and she said, ‘Why are you wearing makeup?’ And he was like, ‘Why didn’t she say anything about my hair?’ [Laughs] He just said, ‘It was the ‘70s.’ We all tell her, ‘Oh, it was the ‘70s!’—we tell her that for anything! She’ll say, ‘Oh, you smoked,’ and we say, ‘It was the ‘70s.’ [Laughs]
—as told to ITG
Iman photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on October 10th, 2012.