Christina Huffington: Mom’s bathroom has always been like a communal gathering space.
Arianna Huffington: The most important features I had to have when I designed my bathroom were a great bathtub—that’s key—and two sinks, so that if one of the girls is taking their makeup off, they can do that here. That’s part of the daily ritual for us, taking off our makeup and talking. I also have a bench in my shower because it’s a steam shower. This way, you can sit down and have a steam; it’s just so detoxifying.
Christina: We’re a really tight-knit family. I think it’s the Greek female thing, where everyone sticks together and hangs out. A lot of my friends aren’t close to their parents, which I never really got. But we definitely went through a rough patch when I was a preteen.
Arianna: And a teen…
Christina: [Laughs] …and a teen.
Arianna: She went away to boarding school for a year! In Greece, the idea of your kid not going to school near you is completely crazy, so it was great when she came back. I was very close with my family—my mother lived with me while I was married and helped me raise my kids; she was like a second mom.
Christina: She was very different from my mom—she always wore a muumuu and no makeup. And she would be barefoot and feeding everyone all the time.
Arianna: I am different from my mother, but over the weekend, I love wearing no makeup and sweatpants. I get to have a complete break from the week, which for me is intense… I run the Huffington Post, which has grown a lot since 2005—we’re going to be eight years old on May 9th.
Christina: It’s a Taurus. [Laughs]
Arianna: All of my children, Christina, Isabella, and the Huffington Post are May babies: Christina is May 1st, Huffington Post is May 9th, and Isabella is May 15th. So, now I employ hundreds of people and we are in six countries and we’re going to be in another three in the next few months—we’re launching in Japan in May, then Brazil, then Germany.
Christina: Right now, I work at Huffington Post in the Women’s section, and I really like it. I get to write about a lot of things I care about: body-image issues, mental health, and relationship stuff. It’s funny, because I’d always seen [Huffington Post] from the outside; I never really knew how it worked. But now I see behind-the-scenes, and everyone is very cool.
Arianna: The thing that’s exciting for me is that our Lifestyle sections are really growing. We put them all together under this theme of “Less Stress, More Living.” It’s a challenge, trying to practice that at work and at home, and trying to create peaceful, orderly environments in both spheres.
Christina: I think one thing that my mom’s been thinking, especially with all the Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In stuff coming out, is now that more women are coming into power, does it have to be in the same way that men came into power? Do we have to lead the same way that men lead? You think of a man who owns a Fortune 500 company and then dies of a heart attack at fifty-five. Is that really what we want? At HuffPo, I think she’s trying to do it differently. So, we have meditation that we can take twice a week, and nap rooms. I mean, it can be tough when you’re working in a twenty-four-hour news organization—there is always something else to be done.
I’m starting to get into it, trying to meditate. Quitting drinking and drugs and everything was a big thing for me. I moved [home] before my last semester of college—my graduation year was technically 2012. I ended up getting sober and I just needed some time off, which ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done. At first, I was very, very private about my problem, obviously. But since I started talking about my experience, a lot of friends have come to me and said they’ve been through really similar things and felt like they couldn’t talk about it because, you know, our idea of an alcoholic is a stumbling old man, not a 23 year-old old girl who’s in school and working in New York.
Arianna: I’m very happy that she decided to talk about it, and proud of the fact that she’s at this stage and willing to help women who are going through it. It’s just such an important conversation to have, and being able to have it openly—instead of being like my generation, which had a hard time being open—is good. The shame is gone and there’s more of a desire to help people who are going through experiences that you’ve already had. That’s a big thing for me. When I fainted from exhaustion several years ago, I used that moment both to correct my own life and then, of course, to evangelize about sleep. I actually gave a TED Talk called “How To Sleep Your Way to the Top—Literally.” It’s really about redefining success, which, for me, started with rediscovering sleep. I was getting three to four hours of sleep before and now I’m getting seven to eight. I look different, I feel different. I’m much more effective.
It started with sleep, and that’s still a big part of it, but now I’m also interested in how you can reduce stress throughout the day. When we are more centered, we notice that a lot of the decisions we make affect the business: who you hire, who you let go, what you prioritize… All of these decisions are often made out of stress and exhaustion, and they’re wrong. We’re surrounded by very, very smart leaders making bad decisions, whether it’s in Washington, Wall Street, or the media. At the Huffington Post, we now have weekly breathing exercises, yoga classes, meditation, two nap rooms.
I exercise a lot, too. I do Pilates and weights and my bike. I don’t charge my phones in my bedroom. And I often go into Christina’s room and take her phone away from her at night because, you know, we wake up at night and we are all so tempted to check our phones.
Christina: It’s like, why do I need to check Instagram the minute after I wake up?
Arianna: You have to allow yourself to just wake up naturally into your day. At night, I have a special phone for Christina and Isabella, which I will keep on in case there is a crisis, but my regular phone has to be off.
Christina: She uses all Blackberrys. She’s personally invested in the survival of the Blackberry. I have an iPhone 4—a cracked one at that.
Arianna: First of all, I’m 62 and I don’t believe in plastic surgery, at least for me—every woman should make their own decisions about that. I just believe in aging and maintenance. I believe in great facials. I have a fantastic facialist in Los Angeles, who's now selling her products at Barneys, named Mila Moursi; I use all her products. She specializes in women over 40 who don’t want to have plastic surgery or Botox but who just want to take care of their skin. I get regular facials, once a month, and she’s made a big difference to me. I’m also very good about using my products and taking care of my skin myself. I’m also religious about taking makeup off at night; I use the Mila Moursi Cleansing Milk and my Janet Sartin Cleansing Oil for eye makeup. Sherry Lansing, who used to run Paramount, gave me Mila Moursi products as a Christmas present about twelve years ago. Now, I give them to friends as a Christmas present. It has become like a ‘pay it forward.’ Practically all of my friends use Mila.
Christina: She’s been using the Mila stuff forever. I remember when I was around twelve, I thought you could put it all over your skin…I’d had acne forever and my face just exploded. It’s definitely not for children with bad acne.
Arianna: In the morning, I just use the Toner and then put one of her different serums—the Rejuvenating Serum, Lifting Serum, or the Dual Action Serum. I think alternating is important. Once you pick a product line that works for your skin, it’s good to vary the products. They’re made of the same kind of ingredients, but they’re made in different ways.
And at night, after I take off my makeup, I use the Mila Moursi Cleansing Foam, the Toner, and if it’s dry outside, I put on the Moisturizing Oil, and if it’s not, I use the Refining Lotion. It helps revitalize your skin at night. My skin is ‘combination skin.’ It’s still oily, but if I don’t use the products, it dries up. I had very bad skin when I was younger, with acne and all of that, which my kids inherited.
Christina: Thanks, Mom! I think her skin looks amazing now, though.
Arianna: I think getting older helped a lot, and just taking care of it. I also try to eat well—I don’t eat sugar and I don’t drink. My one major weakness is cafe lattes. I have to be stopped, but I can have two or three a day.
At the presidential conventions in Chicago and Tampa, we had an oasis for people where they could come and do yoga, meditation, and get facials. Bliss made us these little creams called “‘Mint’ Romney” and “‘O’ Bama,” which was orange-scented. I prefer Obama the candidate, but I prefer Romney the body cream. It’s really nice. I love the Fresh bar soaps, too, and I like having a lot of hand soaps to choose from. I love the feeling of a good soap, and the wrapping. The Hesperides Grapefruit is my favorite, but I use a bunch of them as decoration. I also love the Fresh Milk Milk Body Lotion and the Seaberry Cream is fabulous. See, this is the type of change I’m talking about. Before I changed my sleep patterns, I would have never had the time to put body cream on. I thought, Come on, who has the time to use body cream? All the while, my skin was becoming like alligator skin. [Laughs] There are a lot of things that I wish I had done differently earlier. I wish I had accepted my hair earlier—I have very, very, very frizzy, curly hair. It’s straight [now], but when it goes curly, I don’t think it looks horrible anymore.
Christina: I have ringlets. I’m basically in the process of trying to accept my curls. I relaxed them for forever and did the Brazilian Blowout and everything, and then the formaldehyde thing came out, and my mom was like, “No more.” So, I wear it curly about half the time. I use the Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious line and DevaCurl. And every day, I use Ouidad Heat and Humidity Gel. I put a lot in, comb my hair, and then scrunch. You have to scrunch it; you can’t brush it, ever. Other than that, I have a blow-dry addiction, which I justify because there’s that Nora Ephron quote that’s something like, “A blowout is less expensive than psychoanalysis and much more uplifting.” [Laughs] I like DryBar and Dop Dop. I got really into my hair in college because I really wanted that French, just-woke-up-and-my-hair-is-perfect kind of hair, which I obviously didn’t have. I would blow-dry my hair, straighten it, and then curl it. I tortured my hair and it still looked horrible, but that’s what I was going for—that model-off-duty hair. But I have a few friends from school who have curly hair and they’ve been slowly coaching me. It honestly makes everything easier, to wear it curly. I like it better straight, though. When I get a blowout, I feel like a new woman.
Arianna: I get my hair blow-dried. I have someone who comes here and will do it, so I can keep working; I find it saves time. I have a phenomenal hair colorist, Louis Licari. I like how it looks now with a lot of highlights; it’s a bit more honey-ish. And we changed the part—it was going from left to right, and now it’s going from right to left. It’s funny, the day after my hair stylist did it, I walked into the office and everyone thought I had done something dramatic, and all we’d done was change the part; it completely changes your look. But now this is it. I’ve reached the end of my hair reincarnations.
Unless I’m doing TV, I do my own makeup. It takes me about ten minutes every day. I use all of Eve Pearl’s products—I met her when she was doing the makeup for the ladies of The View and I was on the show. Now she has her own line. I love supporting women who are branching out to be entrepreneurs, but I also love her products. She created this eye shadow palette called the Au Natural Eyes Palette. When I travel, that palette is all I need for day. At night, if you wanted to go darker, you can use a green or a black in the Ultimate Eyes Palette. I like to keep my makeup very simple. I don’t change or experiment; this is it. That’s my eye shadow; my blush is Eve Pearl, too. But my favorite foundation is actually Clé de Peau Cream Foundation in 030. I like my foundation to be very natural, not very heavy, and to have no red in it. It’s also great if you get oily, as I do. Then, I use the Eve Pearl Pressed Powder or, if I’m going out at night, the Guerlain Pressed Powder because it fits in my evening bag. I go purely for the size [with powder]. By the time you put your two Blackberrys, a pen, and business cards, there’s not much room for powder. And I always have my favorite perfume, 24 Faubourg by Hermès. I have one in every size.
Christina: If I borrow one of her scarves it will just envelope me with that scent. I don’t really buy my own perfumes—or handbags—I just kind of steal them from my mom.
Arianna: Actually, the other day I brought in a new handbag and both of my daughters confiscated it. Then, I brought home another new handbag a few days later and they were both uninterested. So, I returned it.
In terms of lipstick, I look for something that I don’t have to reapply—long-wear is really most important to me. At the moment, my favorite color is Eve Pearl’s Park Avenue Rose, or Tom Ford’s Casablanca; it’s beautiful. Christina borrowed it for a couple of weeks; I confiscated it back. I also like the MAC Longwear Lipglass in Infinitely Likeable. For mascara, I use Lancôme Hypnôse Drama and Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in Light Brown 19L for eyeliner. It’s amazing; it does not budge. I hate when my eyeliner smudges on the bottom—I never wear mascara on the bottom lid just for that reason. And for my nails, I only do neutral. I use Essie Sugar Daddy and Petal Pink.
Christina: We have nail fights. One of my ground rules growing up was no chipped nail polish. To the point where I come home with chipped nail polish and she has a visceral reaction.
Arianna: Well, that’s why I prefer neutral, because if it chips, nobody will notice… But if her red chips, everyone will see it.
Christina: I used to have a horrible struggle with skin. It’s getting better, but I still have a lot of little bumps. I go to Tracie Martyn sometimes for facials, and I use her Amla Purifying Cleanser or the Eve Lom Cleanser with my Clarisonic. There’s something that makes me feel very grown up or older about taking care of my skin and putting on oils. I guess it’s only been within the last year that I’ve started to use really nice products—that’s probably actually because, when I got sober, I finally started taking off my makeup.
I’m also obsessed with masks. I don’t even know if they do anything, but I’m obsessed with the ritual of putting them on. I like the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask from Fresh and then my favorite thing in the entire world is the Tracie Martyn Enzyme Exfoliant. It’s just the best. You wear it; you don’t scrub it. I don’t know what it does for me exactly except that it makes my skin a lot softer and less bumpy. And I got really into oils when I moved from LA to New Haven [for college], because it’s so dry in the winter. I started with the Aesop Fabulous Face Oil, which I still have, and love, and I use Rodin Olio Lusso. But for everyday, the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel is my favorite; I’ve used it forever. The gel is better than the lotion for my oily skin.
I don’t know if I believe in eye cream, to be honest, so I very rarely wear it, but I like Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel because it’s cold. I feel like the cold gets rid of the puffiness under my eyes—not drinking definitely helps with that, too. I used to put bags of frozen peas on my face to take the puffiness away. [Laughs] I have dark circles under my eyes and they will never go away so I’ve accepted that.
My face doesn’t take a lot of makeup; I end up looking like a drag queen if I ever I get my makeup done. I don’t wear it every day, but when I do, it’s always Clé de Peau Concealer, Diorshow mascara, and foundation. Clé de Peau is the best concealer on earth—I use it on pimples, under my eyes, and around my nose. And I’ve used Nars Sheer Matte Foundation for forever, and then I just got into the Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 023. For lips, I’ve always been a Chapstick girl, but I like the Sugar Lip Treatments and Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey because they’re super light. Other than that, I love the Guerlain Terracotta Light Bronzing Powder in Brunette. I didn’t think I’d be the Brunette color, since I’m a redhead, but I think it’s gotten less red over the years.
Arianna: I think she doesn’t really look like a redhead because she doesn’t have the freckles and all of that.
Christina: I was always the ginger when I was little, but as I’ve gotten older, my hair’s become darker. I was never allowed to dye it, though, which I’m really grateful for now.
Arianna: She wanted to dye it dark brown when she was a teenager because that's the time when you want everything except what you have.
Christina: I wish my mom hadn’t let me wear makeup at a young age because when I first started wearing it, it was horrible and I over-tweezed my eyebrows.
Arianna: I believe that there’s no point in having unnecessary restrictions that make your kids rebel.
Christina: Cause I didn’t rebel at all…[Laughs]
Arianna: When you’re young, all of these things—your beauty routine, your products—are all very important in your life, but when you get older, it’s important to simplify so that you can make room for other important things. Your life generally becomes more edited and curated.
—as told to ITG
Arianna and Christina Huffington photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on April 3, 2013.