“Oh, don't mind me; I'm just concealing.” This is how Drew Barrymore, icon and beauty lover, greets me on Zoom. The actress turned entrepreneur turned TV host turned magazine EIC (wow) is a big multi-tasker. But that doesn’t make her any less engaged. On the contrary, she’s as relatable as ever. Never one to hold back—mid-way through our conversation, Barrymore ran to her vanity to show me the products she loves right now—she remains honest about life and how she's evolving.
Of course, we all know you can count on Drew Barrymore for her sunny disposition and a solid product recommendation—we have details on the under-eye product she's obsessed with—but she’s also not afraid to get real. 2021 signaled a return to “normal” (whatever that means) for many of us, but as Barrymore will be the first to tell you, that doesn’t mean things haven’t been hard. Our routines changed as the world opened up, and it's okay to acknowledge adjustment remains difficult. Right now, the actress admits to embracing a new, more grounded form of optimism.
We caught up with the Flower Beauty founder to talk about self-care, toxic positivity, and her latest projects.
First question: I wanted to ask how is your 2021 so far. Are you feeling optimistic?
"I had, in some ways, an incredible 2020. Professionally speaking, I got to launch this show. And we've been working on it for a year and a half, so that was a positive, hard, wonderful opportunity. But, I realized that optimism that isn't rooted in reality and grounded in awareness just no longer works. So that was a good evolution for me because I've always been optimistic. But I need to define my new form of optimism in this new world.
"Personally, this has been so difficult for parents. And even though I have means—I don't feel like I have any right ever to complain—and yet, I think the beginning of 2021 started to get to me as a parent. I don't think I was doing very well. At that year mark, I became a little down, and I didn't understand why I felt so bad. Professionally, things were going well. But I don't think as a parent; you can know how to be happy if your kids are struggling. And we all were hitting walls.
"But it's looking up again. And you know, the thing is: in life, you're always going to get thrown these curveballs, and it's really about how you don't stay stuck. Right now, my optimism feels rooted in reality, not just because I want to be happy. We're figuring out these difficult things that we're going through as a family and the irregularities of everything being so different. And I'm finding my rhythm at work. The world is trying to find its way with things being in a different state than last September to December. And so I'm just trying to ride that wave. But I had a surprising down at the beginning of 2021 to, honestly, about a week ago."
Well, welcome back.
"Thank you. I think I started getting really depressed. I was thinking, 'work is going well. The world is getting better. Why am I getting worse?' Is it always something, and do we do it to ourselves? Do we allow it to happen because we are always looking? And I was like, 'no, I am not a depressive. I am an optimist. I don't stay stuck. It's just another big push and surge.' You've got to do you, and I've been doing it now. I feel a lot better."
Optimism that isn't rooted in reality and grounded in awareness just no longer works.
That leads to my next question: you have a TV show, you're doing many partnerships, and you now have a magazine (which is amazing). What does balance look like to you? Does balance even exist?
"If you know what balance is, please show me! (laughs) I realized that balance is recognizing when I've left myself in the dust. Everything was about kids and work. And nothing has been about friendship or things that bring the outside world in or working out. And I've been eating really crappy and just burning the candles at both ends.
"I realized, 'Okay, I recognize that. If that bucket is empty and screaming, let’s start to fill it back up, and don't ignore it.' And that was not something I knew how to do in my 20s and 30s. I’m definitely getting better about it in my mid-40s. But Balance has been an elusive 'B' that has hidden from me most of my life.
"But my coordinates are getting better on her. And that in itself feels good. Recognizing when you are running on empty, or you're not taking care of yourself—those are big steps for me. And that's the best I'm going to do right now."
Where do you find your inspiration?
"Here's the good news: I love to research. And that's why I love having an hour of broadcast television (and the magazine, beauty, and design companies I have). I am obsessed with all of this stuff. It will stay on my tombstone death by inspo. If I get a day off, I will start doing something. I will start creating. I will start self-generating.
"So until that goes away or dies down naturally, I can't fight it. It's been there since I was 19. I don't think I know how to stop wanting to make something of ideas and things I'm seeing and interpreting. I always want to put them back in the world with our own spin. I don't fight it. I'm just lucky that I have the opportunity to get my ideas out there."
To switch gears for a second. You're working with Garnier’s Whole Blends Collection, which is sustainably sourced, recyclable. Is it important to you to choose eco-friendly brands to partner with?
"When people say, 'do you regret things?' I always say, 'no, because what can you do about it now?' However, I do wish that I had known—that we all as a society—had heard the call to focus on the environment 20 years ago. Because it was out there, but that's not where the priorities were for a lot of people—myself included. I feel like the only way I can attack the guilt of not being a more aware person sooner is to get on top of it now. And it seems like this is a crucial moment.
"I'm looking at everything I do in business, thinking, 'How can I do this better? How can we do this better? How can we do it differently?' I want to work with companies that get it. I'm excited about how the new generation is demanding change—the way we all should have been 20 years ago."
I'm excited about how the new generation is demanding change—the way we all should have been 20 years ago.
Do you have any haircare must-haves or essentials? Do you have a routine?
[Editor’s Note: Drew runs to her bathroom to grab her favorites.]
I love that you just went to grab those products.
"I have all this heat on my hair every day. My hair texture also changed with kids. So, I bought this product for my daughter in a grocery store. And one day I ran out of my shampoo—and by the way, I'm really mad about the prices of shampoos, it just shouldn't cost that much.
"So anyway, I ran out of my stuff, I ran to her bathroom, used it, and I came out, and my hair was so amazing. It brought me back to a texture I really love that I have naturally. I thought: okay, this is the best shampoo and conditioner I've ever used. That's what started me on this journey. And then I fell in love with the whole Garnier Whole Blends line. And now I get to work with them.
"I put so much stuff out there, and I don't get paid for it. I just want to be a curator. I'm not thinking of it in terms of, 'Oh, can I work with someone from this?' I'm just thinking, 'I found this thing. I have to share it.'"
Speaking of curation, you've pulled off quite a few successful career pivots, and you make it look easy. Do you have any advice for someone who would be looking to do the same thing?
"There are definitely failures 100%. And you just have to ask yourself, 'will this be a building block, a training ground, or a learning experience for something else?' And you can't look at it as a failure.
"Everything has a point and worthiness, and you will not have all successes—there will be plenty of failures. Life isn't perfect, copacetic, and happy. You will have trauma; you will have loss; you will have tragedy in business and life. There are serious learning curves that can lead to a tremendous amount of confusion inside yourself, but one thing I definitely would say is: please don't give up."
You just have to ask yourself, 'will this be a building block, a training ground, or a learning experience for something else?' And you can't look at it as a failure.
So you're getting glammed up every day for your show. Are there any beauty tips you've taken away from being on set and working with makeup and hair pros?
"I've worked with Robin Fredriksz for 20-something years. She's one of my dearest friends. And this CBD product—Flower Beauty’s Chill Out Smoothing Color Corrector ($10)—is our obsession right now. It neutralized my dark circles. Regular concealer just wasn't enough.
"I'm doing 135 shows, and it's not enough to bring in lights everywhere. Robin was sticking concealer under my eyes all day, and I started to get a little distracted by it. So, I'm like, let me just fix it—I need to break out something different than the regular concealer I've been using. I know that we [Flower Beauty] created it. But it’s something I’m using all the time.
"I also love the universal colors—they work. There are three shades, and I have tutorials of different women using them. And, it's just such an amazing result. If women can feel like they don't have to think about dark circles, that is making room in their brain for bigger and better things."
Love that. Do you have a morning routine or ritual? And what does it look like?
"Right now, it's terrible. I wake up at the last second, run to wash my face, brush my teeth, and put some moisturizer on—that is it. I've been doing the home school thing with the kids. So it always comes down to the last second.
"When I started the show, I felt like I had more infrastructure. I was getting workouts in the morning and eating breakfast and I was like, 'I have so got this. I have got it together.' But it just doesn't look like that at all right now. It's completely flipped on its head; I don't have a second to myself.
"This weekend—with all of my heart—I'm going to walk. I want to find nature, and that will be a huge gift to myself. To pull myself away, be selfish for a minute, and go on a long, healthy hike is the one thing I want to do this weekend. So if I can meet that goal, I'll be so happy."