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Fans of the Real Housewives franchise are a bonafide community—and a diehard one at that. Find a stranger who also religiously watches the series, and you've got an instant friend. It's not the type of camaraderie you'll find amongst sports fans—it runs deeper, if only back to 2006 when the first ever episode ran spotlighting the glitzy, affluent, and often vexing lives of a select group of women in Orange County, California. Through the years, viewers have become invested in the real-life plot lines of these women, of women in New Jersey, of women in Atlanta, of women in Dallas… we've witnessed their heartache, loss, new life, marriages, second marriages, third marriages—even arrests. When a family member dies, we cry with them; when their businesses take off, we cheer from the sidelines (or rather, our couches). We've become so attached, that when a housewife leaves the show and new women are ushered in, we get defensive and suspicious, like meeting your brother's new girlfriend for the first time. It's a trial period in which they need to win our hearts and an hour of our attention weekly.
Truth be told, sometimes a newcomer just doesn't click—their story arc isn't interesting enough or they don't gel with the group for one reason or another. But in some cases, the newbie becomes the fan-favorite. Take, for example, Erika Girardi, perhaps better known as her stage name, Erika Jayne. The quick-witted platinum blonde may be married to famed lawyer Tom Girardi, but after deciding she was in a "wealthy coma" after acquiring a sizable amount of money, she pursued her longstanding dream of having a bolstering singing career, and thus, her alter-ego was born. Since then, she's had several number one dance club hits, written a book, and, most recently, launched her own makeup line with Too Faced cosmetics. She's fearless in her delivery and proves that being risqué in your late 40s isn't actually risqué at all—it's just ingrained in her DNA.
We recently chatted with Girardi over the phone, who, despite not being in our physical presence, still radiated an immensely confident, no-bullshit attitude, just as we hoped she would. Ahead, our discussion, from her new, provocatively-named product launches to the life lessons she's learned on the show.
On Creating a Makeup Line With Too Faced
"Jerrod [Blandino] and I are good friends, so we met when I did the Better Than Sex campaign about a year and a half ago and we fell in love. He and his husband Jeremy are good friends of mine and we always talked about doing a line and it just fit. Erika Jayne and Too Faced were the perfect partners.
"I’ve worn these colors for about a year. We went down to Too Faced in Orange County and sat with Jerrod and talked about color, texture, how do these things feel, what do we want to do, down to the packaging. I mean, he’s a genius. The highlighter you can see from space because everybody’s really into a highlighter. The Polite Lip that was kind of made famous on Housewives is the perfect shade of pink. I used to use six colors, so I came down with the six makers in my hand and I said, 'This is what I use to achieve this,' and [Jerrod] said, 'I can get this into two things,' so it’s a liner with a gloss that gives just the perfect baby pink that goes with everything. Then, we really considered the Erika Jayne performance persona. When you talk about the DSL—the DSL is a dramatic lip. When you put the topper on, it becomes holographic. It looks gorgeous and it’s really special. I mean, for me, I wear it when I’m on stage, but you can wear it clubbing, on a date [laughs], but this is definitely the one that gets you noticed. We talk about the Pat the Puss Kissable Body Shimmer… it makes you look like you’re Photoshopped. The great thing about this is it smells great and tastes great, so it’s as much fun to put on as it is to take off. And the puff is in the shape of a little cat paw, and it’s really cute.
"I’ve worn this palette for over a year now testing it. I just wore Sextravangant [ed. note: a shade in the Pretty Mess eyeshadow palette] to Andy [Cohen]’s baby shower, I wear these on stage, I wear them on television—all of these products are battle tested. I’m very proud of it.
"This is a fun collaboration, it is a fearless collaboration, it is a sexy collaboration, and if you don’t get it, look the other way, because there are a lot of people who do get it and a lot of people who enjoy it and a lot of people love Too Faced and understand exactly what we’re doing here."
On Her Skincare
"I like oil to remove. I’m 47 years old, so I think that oils for me remove a lot easier than say, a foam cleanser or a wash. I like oils that break down the makeup, and then you can gently towel away. Today I used rose hip oil. Let’s say I’m working, then it’s MDNA by Madonna because those products work and they are a great foundation for makeup—they are. They put the skin in the right place for you to paint over it. Now, my dermatologist, that’s a whole medicated thing. But I use a lot of oil. I believe in oil to remove, I believe in oil to cleanse, and I believe in oil to hydrate. It’s magic, and so many people are, you know… I’d rather look like a French fry than a powdered donut, honey. People have this idea that you need to be dry, but it’s like, no, fat and oil is youth. Never forget that. Babies have full faces."
On Her Favorite In-Office Skin Treatments
"I like to do dermaplaning after I’ve done a good chemical peel—you know, one of those ones where your face comes off in your hands. I like that a lot because dermaplaning really gets that extra layer of crust off and this beautiful baby skin really emerges. Microneedling, I’ve done, and I believe in it and it works—I like microneedling. I like all of those things. Lasers are where it’s at too, and because I’m so fair, I can really take it—they work well for my tone."
On How Growing Up in Atlanta Influenced Her Aesthetic
"I’m 47, so I grew up in the late '70s and '80s when my beauty was shaped. My mom, fortunately for me, was really glamorous. She was a painter and she loved makeup, so I got to play with a lot of her products. So you’re talking about Estée Lauder, YSL, you know, those kinds of brands at that time that were really big… Dior. And I think that, you know, in the South, it was the '80s, so it was a time of excess. It was a lot of heavy liners and lots of shadows and heavy cheeks. I thought it was great. Now I don’t know what’s happening in Atlanta [laughs]. The one thing that’s happened is that everyone’s able to have their own unique vision or their own unique signature of beauty—you know, whatever works for you. You want to wear a full face 365 days a year? Hooray. You want to wear lip gloss and mascara? Cool for you. I just don’t like it when we start judging people on what they should be doing."
On Her Fitness Routine
"I have a trainer and I do high intensity training, so it’s weights, and, you know… it’s the same shit everybody's been doing for hundreds of years, and for lack of a better word, it’s Crossfit mentality. It’s weights, it’s pushups, it’s rowing, it’s biking—it’s all of those things… free weights. But that’s specific to what I need, so it builds strength, stamina, and speed. I used to box a lot. That will definitely make you lean. I used to strictly lift weights in my thirties—I was ripped. I used to run a lot because I lived close by the Rose Bowl, so I would run around the Rose Bowl 3.5 miles, and, you know, all of those things I’ve done. I’ve danced all my life, you know, you do something. Everyone does something. I guess when you're 18, you can shovel down two Whoppers and go to McDonalds after that and still show up and look great in a bikini—I'm not at that place in my life, so, yeah bitch, I’ve gotta do some work around here. We’re humans."
On the Lessons She's Learned Being on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
"I’ve gained a lot of wisdom from my fellow housewives. We were talking at the baby shower about how we’re all connected by a unique experience. You know, it’s one thing for the audience to watch the show, and it’s another thing to be on the show and make the show and go through the process of being friends and being in conflict, and this incredible experience that we call Housewives. So I think that that’s what I would take away is that I’ve gained some really good life tips. Actually, I would say advice instead of tips of handling things, because it’s a weird thing to do shows and be an actor or a singer, you know—you’re not putting your life on blast. You can hang it up and go away and say, 'That’s my character,' but when you’re putting your life out there, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes you look great, and sometimes you don’t. It’s hard not to take it personal on certain days, and that’s the truth. And that happens to everybody. Don’t let anybody tell you they don’t take it personally, because they do. I think you have to care less about what others think and more about how you feel. How do you feel when you lay your head down? Are you happy? Is this working for you? That’s more important than what strangers think of you who watch a television show.
"There's no beauty going on while filming. There isn’t. This isn’t like where you have makeup artists on set and they come out and touch you up. You arrive and you’re on your own. You bring your kit with you and it’s not like we stop to touch up. There’s no pausing, you know, so if you’ve got to powder your face, I guess you bring your compact and do it as discretely as possible and put your lips back on and keep it pushing. That's why sometimes you hair looks jacked up and your makeup's sliding because you’re in the heat. It’s hard. Your hair is windblown and nobody's going, 'Oh, you know, here, let me get your hair… ' No! Good luck. If you don’t have the wherewithal to run your hands through your hair, then too bad. You look crazy. I don’t know what to say. We try really hard and 'Beverly Hills' is in the title and we pull up and want to look good and we also want to give a good show.
On How She Cancels Out the Noise
"We all have bad days; we’re all insecure. There are days when I wake up and, you know, I don’t feel like doing all this shit. But guess what? I have to. So, pull it together, honey. I think it’s important to acknowledge that we’re all in the same boat. Everybody's doing the same thing, but you have to have… whether it’s church, whether it’s a spiritual leader, whether it books, a podcast—something that feeds your soul. Have it handy so you can refer back to those things and remember who you really are. And then, you have to pull up your boots, and get your fucking ass back out there. And that’s it. And just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if that doesn’t work, go to a therapist and work it out.
"I like to read quietly in the morning before everyone else gets up. I like to get up before the sun gets up and I like to watch the sun rise with my dog, and I try to read. I have several books. Some are spiritual, some are biographies, some are fiction, some are history… things that I enjoy and I try to refer to these things quietly. I meditate a little bit. It’s hard for me to really buckle down and be quiet, but that’s really important.
"I think sometimes [people] confuse my directness or the way I speak with aggression, or they confuse, you know, my right-to-it attitude as 'youre rude' or 'you think you’re better,' and the truth is, I'm quiet. I say what I have to say, and that’s it. I don’t sit around and sugar coat it, and if I have a problem, I direct it toward you. I’m somewhat impatient anyway, so if you speak to me, I'm just going to give it to you straight. And that doesn’t mean I don’t take your feelings into consideration, because I do. So if you’re friendly, I'll take my time and be like, 'Listen, I feel like this is happening,' but if you're a dick, I'm gonna be a dick back. It's just, also, I don't want to waste anyone's time, and there's a whole, We women should be strong, but the minute you say how you feel and you’re not going to accept someone's bullshit, then you're a bully. And it’s like, no, I'm not a bully, I'm just telling you this is how I feel, and I'm gonna call it how I see it. That’s all it is."
Shop our favorites from the Too Faced Erika Jayne Experience collection below.
Ed note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.