“One of my earliest beauty memories is watching my mother put on her makeup every morning to go to work. She was a fashion woman, so it was always a lot of makeup, a lot of hair. And every Saturday, she went to the beauty parlor to get her hair done. Now, I’m the exact opposite. I very rarely wear makeup. I didn’t use a lot of products as a teenager, and I don’t now.
BODY & MIND
I meditate first thing every day. I’ve been doing it since I was 18. Then I do yoga or Pilates for about an hour. I barely get up. I just roll out of bed and onto the mat. After that, I take a bath, which I love. I’m very into steam rooms and baths. I don’t shower unless I have to. Baths are a way of life for me. I have a spa in every one of my homes, so I take a bath for as long as I can.
When I get out of the bath, I put oil or lotion on my skin. I actually love the Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Body Crème. I also love Kahina Giving Beauty. Their Fez Body Serum is just excellent. The line is from Morocco and their products are really unique and special. They don’t produce many, so it’s nice. Another brand I love but that's hard to find is Como Shambhala in Turks & Caicos—I have a house near there. I live by the Invigorate Shampoo, Shelter Conditioner, and Invigorate Shower Gel from their line. My store Urban Zen is the only place outside of the resort to carry the products, so you can tell how much I love them.
Then getting out of the house is easy—I wear a bodysuit every single day of my life, so getting dressed is simple. For yoga, it’s a bodysuit and leggings. For work, I’ll wear a bodysuit with a dress or a wrap—and always all black.
Every morning, I like to have my We Care 365 Plant Protein when I get to the office, or I’ll have a super green juice—not too sweet. I also take a lot of supplements from We Care. If I could live at We Care, I would. I love the cleanse that they do. It involves a lot of colonics and juicing. The minute that a show ends, that’s when I do a cleanse—usually for about a week to 10 days. I like to go away after the shows, do some yoga and meditation to reboot, and then back to the madness.
I am a big fan of acupuncture too. I go to Dr. Frank Lipman, and I think it really helps me to relax. Sometimes I go and just say, ‘OK, I’m stressed to the max,’ and he totally puts me back in the right place. It’s energizing.
My first mantra for meditation was given to me by Deepak Chopra when I was about 18 years old. Then, I worked with Bob Roth from the David Lynch Foundation. Now, I like to do a meditation series from a teacher called Sadhguru. He’s from India—I went to his ashram there for about three weeks. He actually comes to New York and teaches his meditation, as well. He has two centers called the Isha Foundation, one in Tennessee and one in Coimbatore, India. When I'm in the city, I work with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee, who started my Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program. I also work with James Murphy from the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York and Lindsey Clennell, who took care of my husband when he was sick. It really offered him a lot of relief, so I have always appreciated that. I also have a Pilates machine in my yoga room that my husband used. Honestly, he is the one who really inspired me to doing the Urban Zen therapy program. I realized that there is no care in healthcare, and I wanted to bring that back. I wanted to help care for patients on mind, body, and spiritual levels.
ON ESSENTIAL OILS
I have always been an oils person, but I became especially invested in them when my husband had cancer. I have a diffuser with the oils, and when you walk into my house or my stores, you can definitely smell them. I’ve been working with Young Living Essential Oils for almost 20 years now. We actually work in hospitals with the Urban Zen Therapy Program. Hospitals have the most chemical smell in the world, and when people smell the oils, they’re just so nice and therapeutic.
Young Living Thieves Essential Oil is one of my favorites, but I also like Lavender and Peppermint. Each one has a different effect on the body. They can help you deal with pain, insomnia, anxiety, or even nausea. I start my mornings with the oils in my bathtub, in my meditation room, in my massage mixes...Energy work and Reiki with essential oils is especially beautiful. They’re pretty much a constant scent that permeates my life.
I love Dr. Brandt’s products. I was so sad to hear about his passing. Some of my favorites are the Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant and the Xtend Your Youth Face Cream. I go to Tracie Martyn for my facials, though not frequently enough. I’m not as on top of taking care of my skin as I should be. I love the sun. I’m one of those bad people. I grew up in Long Island on the beach, and I love being in the sun. I’ve got olive skin, so I can get away with it a bit, but it’s not too smart.
MAKEUP & HAIR
I think when you’re young and your skin is beautiful you should play. But when you get old, then you have to create a look. For makeup, I like to keep it simple. I use the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion or the By Terry Crayon Khol Terrybly Eye Pencil in Black Print, some blush—I like Charlotte Tilbury's Cheek To Chic Swish & Pop Blush—and a little Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick as concealer. I don’t like makeup all over the place, but black eyeliner is my favorite thing. About two years ago, I lost all my eyelashes. I don’t know why it happened, but I’m really upset about it. So, the eye pencil is important to me. And nude lips! My favorite is Nars Lipstick in Honolulu Honey.
My hair is hard. I usually just wear ponytails. Wash it and then put it up. Marie Robinson created a color formula for me, and I’ve had the same one for 20 years. I don’t like change. I’m pretty boring. The one thing that I love for my hair is this Removal Brush from Sheila Stotts. It massages your scalp as it goes through your hair. Can you tell that I’m obsessed with body work? I love dry brushing, I love massage—basically anything that touches my body, I like.
My daughter looks a bit like me now, though I think she has more beauty tricks than I ever did. Gabby wears black eyes now, and she never did that before. Her hair is magnificent. I’m jealous that she has that hair, and I don’t. My granddaughter doesn’t have her hair yet, but maybe she will some day. It’s gorgeous.
At night I like to have dinner with friends or go out to a movie if I don’t have a work commitment. I don’t do anything to my hair or makeup during the day unless I have a shoot. But at night, for events, I often have to get it done. When I come home, I try to get a massage in. I have someone who lives with me who happens to be a massage therapist. So when I’m on my feet all day long, a deep tissue or Thai massage is really important. Then, it’s bed time. I don’t get enough sleep at night…ever. I can fall asleep pretty quickly, but I wake up in the middle of the night. It’s hard to find the calm in the chaos.”
—as told to ITG
Donna Karan photographed by Tom Newton and interviewed by Victoria Lewis on May 13, 2015.
For more designers, check out Anna Sui's Top Shelf.
Charlotte Tilbury never goes without makeup. Read about her relationship with beauty in her Top Shelf.
Read about Tory Burch's skincare routine right here.