'I sort of fell into my job by happenstance. I was a journalism major in college, went to law school, and became a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. I loved it and was with the Department of Justice for years. Then I got pregnant and moved back to New York, which is my hometown, so I was taking care of my son and also working as an attorney at a law firm. It was during that time that I started giving these work-life balance speeches. It was hilarious because I don’t actually have work-life balance—I didn’t then, and I don’t now. Something generally is sacrificed because I am either traveling, at the studio, or on the computer prepping for a story—so something suffers. I have managed somehow to have kids that are healthy and happy, but you know, I was at the studio this morning and brought my little girl with me. She was sitting in the studio, which is probably not the most fun thing for her, but we were able to have time together. I think work-life balance is a little bit illusive, but I was trying my best and giving those speeches at the same time.
So when I was speaking at a conference one time, a producer came up to me and told me I should do television. I didn’t know she was a producer, so I was like, 'Yeah, from your lips to God’s ears!' No one is going to pluck me from obscurity to be on TV, and she was like, 'No, I think you’ve been plucked!' She was a producer for Nancy Grace. I was literally on television two weeks later. I can say that it felt just as natural as anything I’ve ever done. I wasn’t nervous. I just felt at home. A couple of appearances later, I got a call from Fox News. I was with Fox for a year, and then I signed with CNN the next year, and I’ve been there for seven years. I have been on Steve Harvey, The Meredith Vieira Show, I've worked with Wendy Williams…I can’t complain.
I have a glam squad, as most on-air people do. I think CNN has some of the best makeup artists, quite frankly. I have three folks I go to all the time. Mitch Ely is an incredible makeup artist who comes from theater, so his makeup is very dramatic. Then there is Claudia Pedala who is also an incredible artist—her makeup is less dramatic. Yoko Fumoto did my makeup this morning. She has a very light touch, so depending on what I am doing, I can go to each person for something different. When I want the drama and I am going to be on The View, I’ll go to Mitch. If I’m going to be doing prime time TV in the evening, then I generally go to Claudia. And if I am going to do something a little lighter, I go to Yoko. Today I was doing a lifestyle piece about being a mom and women’s issues. The whole club-drama look doesn’t work for that...although it is probably my favorite look.
I’ve learned to really love the process of doing my makeup. The most important thing is concealer. As a reporter, my hours are really fluid, so if there is a big story—like at Ferguson, I was up for 16 hours a day for a week or so—I’m not really sleeping. For me, it shows right around my eyes immediately. I have a Ben Nye Neutralizer and Concealer that I use. It’s for people who are trying to cover tattoos. You’d think you can’t use it under your eyes, but it’s incredible. It’s like using White-Out on mistakes. It’s my go-to thing if I have had a really long day, and I have to go out to an event or host a gala or something. My eyebrows are very thin, so I use the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. Without it, my eyebrows suck. I don’t know why. They’re just not right. I go to the best eyebrow person in the city—her name is Angela Enu, and she is at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa now, right off of Fifth Avenue. People travel from all over the place to see Angela.
I also love this MAC Prep + Prime Skin Refined Zone for my skin just because when you’re under the lights at the studio, you get shiny. I don’t like a lot of powder, so I like a good mattifying primer. L'Oréal has a good one, too, called Studio Secrets Professional Magic Perfecting Base. When you’re on the air all day for 16 hours, then you need something like that. If I’m in a pinch, then I use Shiseido Pureness Matifying Stick. Once you put your makeup on and you know you’re going to have a long day, you use this Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. I used to anchor ABC News from 10pm to 6am. I didn’t sleep, so that's what I used.
When I'm on air, I like my foundation to have a lot of coverage, so I use MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation in NC45. It’s fantastic. But if I am going out at night with my hubby, I use MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Dark. Even if you’re brown like I am, bronzer only makes you look better—I use Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer from Estée Lauder in Medium. It is the best bronzer. I do wear blush—not everyone does. I have Nars Blush in Orgasm. I think everybody looks good with that. For darker skin like mine, I like the shade Mata Hari, believe it or not. It looks neon, but it’s not.
Another thing I do on the air is wear eyeshadow. If not, I just use NYX Super Fat Eye Marker in Carbon Black—it’s a good, cheap liner! It’s basically a Sharpie. So that goes between my lashes. I actually have eyelash extensions that I need to get redone. I started getting them two years ago. If you’re going to be on the air every single day, falsies are too much. I hate the heavy look of it, so they were doing the individuals, but that takes a long time. If I have to be in Ferguson, Missouri, in 4 hours, I can't chance it. You can’t wear mascara with eyelash extensions, but I do take a mascara spoolie through water to take off eyeshadow powder that falls on them. At night my ritual is Careprost, and it’s basically generic Latisse. I have tons of it. It’s only about $13, and you apply it with the brush.
When I am out on the field, I have to do my own makeup out of a small kit that Mitch put together for me. I keep it in my car because I have had times where I’ve had to pull over to get on Skype from my iPad for breaking news. Recently, I had to be on at noon and have makeup and hair ready. I was like, 'Um, I’m in my car…it’s 11am.' I pulled over and did my makeup a little bit. My car routine to get camera ready starts with a mattifier, my crazy Ben Nye concealer under my eyes and on my lids, and Urban Decay Naked Basics Eyeshadow Palette to do what I call my 3D eye—I do Venu s in the corner and go pretty far out, then I take Faint and go from the outer edge of my eyelid to my eyebrow. I use Crave on the outside corners because that looks really good on camera.
Then there's blush, and I do my lips. I start with the nude pencil and try to fill it in all over. I have every nude. My lips are so pink! My mom is Puerto Rican and Jewish, and I think that’s part of it. My dad is African American and Native American. I’ve tried these Inglot Lipliner FM...one came close to a good nude. If I don’t do nude, then I do red. I love Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge in 8 Iconic Red. When you put that red lip on, you’re done for the day. I use Bite Beauty's Matte Crème Lip Crayon in Fraise, too.
My hair is really easy. I used to wear it very curly on air, but they prefer a smoother look on television. I just flat iron it and do big barrel curls. I have Ellin Lavar Natural Control Hair Spray, which not many people know about, but it is absolutely amazing. She was Whitney Houston’s hairstylist. She won an Emmy for all the wigs she did for Cinderella. She has an amazing line that a lot of TV people use. You can literally put it on and curl it out at the end of the day. I also use her Textures Satin Soft Conditioning Rinse and the Optimoist Shampoo. Really, it's great.
I also like Alcone—they have the best makeup removers called Make-Off that are also really gentle. I don’t know what they use, but it will take TV makeup off. I also have a Clarisonic that I can’t live without—that’s my first step in the morning just with water to wake up a bit. At night, I use it with Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser because it’s gentle. Sometimes I use Clean & Clear Night Relaxing Deep Cleaning Face Wash but no other soap. I learned about Clean & Clear from a dermatologist maybe 10 years ago. She told me that salicylic acid is what you get in all these fancy treatment. She was like, 'Just go right to CVS, get this, and use it every day.' The blue one is good for sensitive skin, and it’s amazing.
I do a lot of other scrubs, too. I love the Microdermabrasion White Aluminum Oxide Crystals from NeedCrystals.com for my face, and then I use the Sara Happ The Lip Scrub in Crème Brûlée. Then, I use La Mer's Moisturizing Gel Cream around my eyes and alternate with the Bobbi Brown Extra Eye Repair Cream at night. I love Skinceuticals' C E Ferulic—it's a serum, but I use it as my moisturizer. My face gets so oily, so I don’t like to use a lot of stuff.
I love this Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or. It gives you a little bit of shimmer. I’m not one who wears a lot of sleeveless tops or dresses. If I’m doing Meredith or The View then I can, but if I am doing CNN and talking about death and destruction, I can’t. I have worn this oil on CNN though. It’s expensive but so worth it. When you look pasty you have to throw it on.
My husband is a sports doctor—an orthopedic surgeon. Whenever he sees my shoes, he is like, 'How are you wearing these heels? You’re going to have all of these problems!' So I do Arnicare Gel on my feet. It’s a magic thing. It's from Boiron, which has a lot of homeopathic remedies that I use. I made a little kit of their stuff that I keep around.
I’m often up late at night because I’m an insomniac, so I'll buy things like Heel Tastic Intensive Heel Therapy from infomercials. Or the PedEgg! Who doesn't have a PedEgg these days? I don't let nail salons do anything on me but a polish change. I also have the Aromatherapy Insomnia Relief Scent Inhaler by Earth Solutions. You put it under your nose and breathe it in. I swear that it puts me to sleep. My husband thinks it’s ridiculous, but I think it is true.
My other big thing I am obsessed with is my teeth. I use Crest 3D White Whitestrips and Opalescence Go. It’s fantastic. It's 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, but it doesn’t make your teeth that sensitive. I love Rembrandt toothpastes and my Philips Sonicare. Then I also keep these Choward's Violet Mints around. They're for smokers, but they’re fantastic when you’re on-air and all up on people. I use the EO Hand Sanitizers, too. It smells so nice, but it’s just hand sanitizer. When you’re shaking hands you don’t want to give them anything—and I’m shaking hands all day.”
—as told to ITG
Sunny Hostin photographed by Tom Newton on April 3, 2015. For more women in news, check out Rachel Crane's The Face, The Professional with Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, and a joint Top Shelf with Arianna Huffington and her daughter, Christina.