Days leading up to my Zoom interview with Gwen Stefani, I debated showing her the Gwen Stefani doll I've kept since 2004. The editor in me wanted to keep things exclusive to learning about the new launches from her beauty brand GXVE (pronounced give), currently at Sephora. Still, the girl who grew up loving Stefani's swagger and music (and still does) was internally freaking out.
Naturally, my inner child won that battle, and I whipped out my doll decked out in a replica of Stefani's Hollaback Girl majorette 'fit at the start of our call. "Do you remember this?" I asked the singer as we both laughed at her throwback toy. "Her hair! Did you cut it?" she asked me jokingly, noticing my doll's botched haircut. I was instantly relieved that Stefani, a star I've admired since childhood, had a chill, ordinary sense of humor as I imagined. I didn't expect anything less from the performer, whose equally edgy and quirky persona has gained her years of appeal and influence in the music and style space.
Stefani's had a unique way of experimenting with beauty over the years, with decades of iconic looks leading up to her creating GXVE. "This is a lifetime of me loving makeup and art," she tells me. "I've always been hunting for new formulas and shades." Since its launch in March 2022, GXVE has brought Stefani's love for practical, colorful makeup to store shelves with her I'm Still Here matte liquid lipstick, currently sitting as the #2 bestselling red lip product at Sephora.
Red lipstick has become somewhat synonymous with Stefani, who made it her signature in the 90s, and her love for color has heavily influenced the GXVE lip product category. "I need lipstick that's not gonna move around," she says. "I would be on an airplane with a toddler back in the day, and it would just be everywhere."
She set out to formulate a lip range that double-downs on pigment but won't make your lips feel like cement—and she succeeded. GXVE's first formula, Original Me, launched with a vivid red—Stefani's signature. The brand also added four new shades to the Original Me lineup, including Old School Me, a berry merlot; 80s Me, a punchy purple; Loveable Me, a taupe brown; and Tragic Me, a peachy neutral. Though Stefani says red reflects her bold personality the most, she saw the expansion as an opportunity to give fans different sides of herself.
With that, GXVE also released a new formula called Xtra Sauce, which feature's the singer's signature hue in a budge-proof formula that dries down with a glossy shine (I had to use cleansing oil to get it off). Additionally, GXVE added four new hues to its Anaheim Shine range, rounding out its latest launches.
Stefani's current success with GXVE is just the tip of the iceberg. The songstress is already planning launches down the line (including a lip mask to take off all of her potent colors), and she says that the creative process of working on GVXE has been rewarding. "It's so amazing to work with these incredible chemists and scientists who are up for the challenge of making products that perform and are clean," she tells me.
Stefani is committed to creating products that look good with good-for-you ingredients. Still, most importantly, she's invested in making people feel good, something she's committed to long before becoming a musician. "Makeup was an obsession for me as a young girl. My mom grew up in the sixties and had so much style, I'd always watch her get ready for church in awe," Stefani tells me. "Anytime I'd go to anyone's house, I would always want to dig their makeup bags."
Stefani's affinity for makeup grew deeper during her Anaheim high school years when she discovered her unique style. "I got interested in Old Hollywood, Turner classics, and all of the starlets from that era," Stefani says. During that time, the singer says she was also inspired and enamored by her Hispanic peers who rocked dark liner, skinny eyebrows, and had airbrushed skin. Both styles heavily influenced Stefani's taste in beauty and her fashion.
After graduating, Stefani went on to work at the Borghese and Ultima II counters in a local mall. There, she got to experience the transformative powers of helping people pick out makeup. "No one ever bought my products, but I got to do many amazing makeovers," she says. "It's where I learned that making people feel beautiful is a gift." Those feelings are what Stefani aims to evoke with GXVE.
Like most entertainers and entrepreneurs, Stefani is a natural giver, constantly pouring part of their mind or body into a project or endeavor to inspire others. Still, when it comes to taking time away from her roles as beauty entrepreneur, performer, and mom, Stefani says those days are few and far between. "When I'm alone I usually get into a rabbit hole on the internet," she tells me. "I am dyslexic, and my creative process involves lots of research. If I have a subject or question, I go into a rabbit hole for hours to learn. My son is always like: Mom, get off your phone we're supposed to be watching a movie. My songwriting process is very similar."
Those rabbit-hole moments are also where Stefani sometimes gets inspiration for her iconic music video looks, including an upcoming number for her new single in collaboration with Sean Paul and Shenseea. "I go into a spiral looking at inspiration for hairstyles and makeup, and I am constantly thinking of ways to do something new," she tells me. "I always want to find innovative inspiration that fit where I am now."
Those same principles apply to GXVE's newest launches: They're fun, practical, and full of color. But despite having a hot new beauty brand and a track record full of iconic moments, Stefani doesn't consider herself a beauty influencer. However, many of her fans—myself included—would argue otherwise.
Instead, she says her love for makeup over the years is just that—and GXVE is physical proof. "Back in the day, I didn't really have a team. Instead, I just did my thing," she says. Now, growing a beauty brand is the perfect page in Stefani's new chapter. "I'm at a place in my life where I need to be around new energy to continue evolving and being creative," she says. "Creating GXVE has been such a rewarding experience—I get to learn from others, cultivate a community of like-minded people and artists, and share my love for beauty."