"I have one son. He was born two years ago on November 4, and he's the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. My siblings have kids, but when you have your own, it's different. You don't know what it's going to feel like, but then it hits you like a ton of bricks. Everything changes. It changes your life, it changes your skin, it changes your hair, everything. I wanted to write Whoa Baby because I had all of these questions for my doctor and for my friends about what was happening with my body. Nobody told me what to expect, and I was really disappointed that there weren't many books on the topic. Then I remembered this Toni Morrison quote—she said, 'If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.' So that's exactly what I did.
I became a beauty product hoarder when I saw that my mother was a beauty product hoarder. We were supposed to go into the drugstore to get one or two things, and we'd get all these different things. I'm like, 'Mom, what do you need this for?' She'd say, 'My eyes.' 'What do you need that for?' 'My eyes.' 'Well, why do you need both of them?' She'd say she was 'experimenting.' So I took after her. [Laughs]
After I had my son, though, I had to change my skincare routine. I went to see Shani Darden—she's awesome and she's actually in my book, too—and I was like, 'I just had this baby and I don't know what's wrong with my face!' She gave me Retinol Reform, which is magic in a bottle. I swear by it. You know, some stuff works for specific skin types, but this works on everybody. She also gave me these Alpha Beta Peel Pads by Dennis Gross and they work so well. Two weeks ago I had the worst breakout, and I used the pads so vigorously, and the next day I woke up with a new face. Thank God, because we were shooting The Voice Australia and they were doing close-ups.
There's a mask by Natura Bisse that you peel off, I love that. I get excited by any mask that dries and peels. I haven't tried any of those charcoal masks, but I want to try one here on my T-zone. I don't really use sheet masks, but a girlfriend of mine, Fajer, just gave me the SK-II ones to try. She told me to use them every time I travel, so I've got them all lined up, and I'm ready to use them.
My daily routine includes washing morning and night with the iS Clinical Cleansing Complex. It's from Shani and I love it. I wear makeup daily so I want to feel squeaky clean, and this makes me feel like I got everything off. I have another cleanser from Dr. Grimes, who I go to, and I'll use that if I'm breaking out really badly. I like Dr. Lancer's Nourish Cream for moisturizer, and I also like Control Corrective's Oil-Free Sunscreen. I believe in sunscreen. I have this serum called Hydro-Cool that works for eczema. My T-zone used to be pretty oily, but after I had my son, it dried up, and now I get eczema. I use the serum whenever it flares up, and it kind of cools everything down.
There's a company called Iwi Fresh out of Atlanta, and this woman handmade my body lotion for me. She picked the scents and everything is natural—carrot masks, aloe vera, that stuff. She made this rose and beets cream that's divine, and it helps with the eczema on my body. Between that and some stuff my dermatologist gave me, everything clears up. I have those body scrub gloves, I've used them for years. Massage is really how I relax—I got one before I got on the plane last night, but then my son came in and starting beating on my head going 'Mama, mama!' [Laughs] That wasn't very relaxing.
My hair is by this lovely lady, Nikki Nelms. She does Janelle Monáe and Zoë Kravitz—she's so talented. She's a vibe-type of hair stylist, so when we were figuring out my hair, she was like, let's listen to the music and decide where it wants to take us as far as hair. We did the bob, but longer, and I was like 'Let's just cut it shorter.' She was like, 'What?! OK, fine.' Everybody told me they loved it and don't change it. And I loved it too.
As for key hair products, the Ginger Cream Shampoo by Kim Kimble smells good and makes my scalp as clean as a whistle. I like a clean scalp. I like a good conditioner, too—what I use varies, but if I'm lounging around the house, I'll just do a coconut oil treatment with a plastic cap on. My favorite dry shampoo is Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray, but I also like the Ouai Wave Spray. If I'm going for a beachy look I'll put some of that in my hair and call it a day. But I'm too scared to do anything else. Anything more than [wave spray], and I'm screwed. Screwed! Makeup I can do—hair, I cannot.
When Destiny's Child did the Brit Awards, Eric Ferrell did the makeup. He did everybody's faces, like Vanessa Williams and Aaliyah, and he did this beautiful contour that made us look like we had no makeup on. I was like, 'Oh God, this looks so good,' but I eventually had to wash it off. So I learned how to contour, but I looked like a damn monster—white here, dark there, weird lines, I looked like Shrek. But I loved that subtle look. The very last Destiny's Child album had the best makeup, so timeless and beautiful. Oh, but Bootylicious was great, too. That was tons of makeup, the eyes were so dramatic, but it was so much fun.
Today I used 10 products—I was so proud! I really wanted to try it and see what happened. My foundation and concealer is Koh Gen Do. I love how light it is, and how you can still see my skin. This morning I used Artis brushes, but usually I apply with my fingers, and it's 301 on my face and 302 under my eyes. Then I needed a little bit more coverage because I had a night flight, and I was looking a little crazy, so I used Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. And a blush by Nars in Taj Mahal that's a little more peachy. I use that every day. I used the same shade on my eyes, too, just to warm everything up. It looks really natural.
I love Sephora's eyeliners. I have them in blue, green, black, and brown. They smudge out really nicely, but they stay. My mascara is Kevyn Aucoin, for length. I like when my lashes pop up. And I love a lip—right now I have on Walkyrie by Nars. It’s my go-to... If I get off a plane wherever, I'll put this on, and I feel like it looks really good on chocolate skin. I’m always really conscious about cause sometimes nudes look a little pale and make you look like you’re sick, you know what I mean? But Walkyrie is perfect. As far as bold colors, Sephora has a great Always Red that dries matte. My favorite lip liners are either Bittersweet or Cushie by MAC, or Chocolate by Bobbi Brown.
Neutrogena has a nude lipstick that I like, but I always have to put a chocolate lip liner around it, or else I look a little off. Oh my God, that recently happened on set... It was a color that was super off of my skin tone, and the makeup artist couldn't tell why it wasn't capturing well. It looked monstrous on camera. I felt so bad for her! I was like, 'oh, I'll do my own makeup' but they insisted, so I let them. The eyes were gorgeous, but I wiped everything else off and put on my Koh Gen Do, mascara, and a little blush. And a little bit of Black Up, which is my favorite highlighter. It's beautiful.
My scent? I never tell. It’s a secret. I like a little hint of rose—something sexy but effortless. I like for it to strike a memory, you know what I mean? It’s funny... the other day, Delta [Goodrem] goes, ‘I knew you were here because I smelled you!’ I adore that. It’s the one thing—everyone wants to be remembered by their scent."
—as told to ITG
Kelly Rowland photographed by Tom Newton in New York on April 10, 2017.