Fran Drescher on Hairspray Hacks and Beauty Secrets from "The Nanny" Set

Plus, the one fashion trend she’s hoping will make a comeback.

Fran Drescher

BYRDIE / FRAN DRESCHER

Our series The One Thing is a Sparknotes version of the products, rituals, and moments your favorite celebrities and influencers swear by—their go-tos, must-haves, and can’t-live-withouts. So go ahead—take a brief, intimate peek into the lives of your favorites through the things (and people, and moments) they hold dear.

Less than 30 seconds into my Zoom call with Fran Drescher, there’s a clatter. “Oh! I dropped something,” she exclaims. We’re on an audio call, so I can’t see what fell, but I’m slightly panicked regardless, thinking the interview could be over before it even starts. Drescher, however, doesn’t miss a beat. “I’m sorry!” she says and lets out her signature laugh. “So, what can I do for you?”

This kind of unfiltered relatability first drew viewers to Drescher when she starred as Fran Fine on the hit ‘90s series The Nanny. The show ran for six seasons and solidified Drescher as a household name and a fashion icon. In the years since it wrapped, the actress has gone on to star on Broadway, battle uterine cancer, and start her own non-profit organization, Cancer Schmancer.

Now, a whole new generation of viewers are discovering The Nanny on HBO Max—but Drescher is more excited about the show’s original fans who get to revisit the sitcom in a new light. “A lot of the millennials today watched it when they were kids,” she shares. “Now they’re watching it in a whole other way—they’re absorbing the jokes differently, looking at the costumes in a new way, and trying to dress that way, too.”

Ahead, we caught up with Drescher, who is also the new ambassador of Laura Geller’s best-selling Spackle and Baked Collections, to learn more about her go-to beauty products, her iconic outfits, and the one thing she hopes new viewers will take away from watching The Nanny.

The One Beauty Lesson She Wishes She Learned Earlier

“Use products that are eco-friendly, aren’t tested on animals, and don’t have strong scents to them that are most likely carcinogenic. All of that stuff, which I learned the hard way over the years. As a cancer survivor and as a founder of the Cancer Schmancer movement, I’ve learned that what you put on your skin and what you put in your mouth, even your oral hygiene and everything, really counts in how you glow, how you age, and how you feel. I grew up in a time when my mom was buying Twinkies, and we were using cosmetics and personal care items without really thinking, ‘What is that scent? Why is that such a bright color orange?’ We didn’t think about it, and I think we have to raise our consciousness and force manufacturers to be more responsible.”

The One Beauty Product She Can’t Live Without

“I have to say I’ve become very attached to my Laura Geller. They make an eyebrow product with a very nice brush at the end; it’s almost like a Sharpie. It darkens but in a natural way. I love the Spackle Skin Perfecting Primer ($32). I put it on yesterday, and I just finished telling everyone that the hydrating one not only gives you an even look, but it also moisturizes. I also put on the Baked Balance-n-Brighten Color Correcting Foundation ($34) instead of a base when I want a little bit of a finished glow. There’s something about these products that allow me to have a very fresh yet natural finish.”

The One Thing That Keeps Her Skin Glowing

“I think hydrating is very important, and then also being very diligent about cleaning your face gently. I always use a washcloth, and I make tiny circles and keep moving the washcloth around as the makeup comes off so that I’m using a clean part of the cloth. And then, you know, you can't really bake in the sun; I spent most of my life sitting under umbrellas. Now, I allow myself to get a little bit of sun on my face throughout the day. But you can’t overdo it so much that you get skin damage because that will come back to haunt you.

I also walk barefoot on the earth as much as possible, on the beach. When I see people wearing their sneakers or shoes on the beach, I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? This is the best place to get the Earth's energy to balance your body.’ Once you start learning about things like that, it's hard to go back to sleep.”

The One Fashion Trend From The Nanny She’s Hoping Will Make a Comeback

“The thing is, there's so much about the nanny that's in vogue right now. Almost everything I loved about The Nanny, you can find now, whether it be a brightly colored faux fur or over-the-knee boots or a mini skirt. I’m not wearing mini-skirts anymore, but curvy, tight-fitting clothes I still love. I actually wore a lot of falls on the show, falls and wigs. It would be fun if we all started wearing more of that, if we all felt free to express ourselves as the nanny did with different hair lengths, colors, and everything to match the outfit. Like a real accessory.”

The One Product She Uses to Get Her Hair’s Iconic Volume

“Root lift and hairspray—but I spray under the hair, not on top of it. That gives it some texture. A good hairspray, if you know how to work it, you go underneath. Even if you’re curling your hair, and you put a little bit of backcombing at the root, then put a little bit of hairspray on that tease, and then curl it, when you brush it out, you have a lot more texture at the root to make it fuller-looking. And it lasts because it’s creating a porousness. Normally my hair can be very kind of silky, and unless I put the product into it, it doesn’t give me the fullness that I want.”

The One Lesson She Hopes Viewers Will Take Away From The Nanny 

“I think that the thing that is the most enduring about that show is the global message that it doesn't matter what you look like, or what you sound like, it's what's in your heart that counts. Fashion and beauty and confidence have everything to do with what makes your heart sing. Don't be influenced by other people, and trust yourself—start listening to yourself. What makes your heart sing is all you need to go by. 

And then also treat kids like they’re equals, don’t condescend them. I didn't want to convey a very typical antagonistic mother-daughter or mother-son relationship, where the mom was always obnoxious. I am close with my mom, she’s my best friend, and I’m always talking to her. And that’s what I wanted Sylvia to be like in the show. I’m very proud that we showed a loving relationship. It’s not like we never had a fight, or sometimes she irritated me, but for the most part, we were great friends. I listened to her, and we talked, and I went over my problems. That was completely taken from my own relationship with my mom.

Because I created the show with Peter and wrote on every episode, I really know the subliminal messaging behind the show. That was a choice that we made, and it was very specific, to spread a positive kind of messaging for the viewer. To see and enjoy positive relationships, to see a woman who didn’t speak the King’s English, who wasn’t highly educated, but had many goals. Her intentions were always in the right place, and she had confidence in her style. That’s the way I think we all have to kind of try and be.”

The One Outfit From The Nanny That Stands Out to Her the Most

“The one that I feel like we have to have in the musical is that suit with the leopard collar that she first goes to the Sheffield mansion is when she gets the job. She’s wearing that in the opening titles that became so iconic also, so I would say that. And then the over-the-knee boots were one of my favorite looks, with the hot pants.”

The One Beauty Tip From Set That She Still Swears By

“When you wear lashes, you have to put mascara on, put the lash on, and then squeeze them together. And then always check your teeth. We always had Fran Fine doing that in the show; she’d run past the mirror, rub the red lipstick off her teeth and keep going. And don't be embarrassed to tell your friends if they have lipstick on their teeth. Because friends tell other friends they have lipstick on their teeth.”

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