Welcome to Take the Edge Off, a series that breaks down the beauty and self-care routines of influencers, CEOs, experts, and celebrities. Find out how they unwind and decompress, while taking a closer look at the holy-grail essentials they’re currently raving about.
You’ve likely seen beauty founder and celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey’s handiwork on red carpets, at photoshoots, and elsewhere, on stars like Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence, and her McDreamy husband, Patrick Dempsey. Her experience in the beauty industry is vast—she initially trained as a hair stylist and colorist, before officially transitioning to skincare and makeup expertise.
Dempsey tells Bazaar.com that real self-care ultimately means staying true to yourself. “I think part of self-care is not feeling that you have to really measure up to all of the beauty standards everywhere, and compare yourself to others,” she says. “In the beauty world, I like to promote health, feeling good, and feeling confident. I think products all play into that and your lifestyle. Don’t make it a stressful event: Make it feel luxurious and make sense for you. And if it doesn’t make sense or feels toxic, eliminate that.” In an effort to continue separating herself and consumers from toxicity, Dempsey’s eponymous beauty brand features a range of skin and makeup bestsellers, formulated with exclusively clean and authentic ingredients.
One item in particular, the Japanese-crafted Gold Bar, has become a viral hit, beloved of celebrities and TikTok beauty enthusiasts alike. “I’m very proud of it. I’m proud that I introduced it years ago to the United States,” Dempsey says of the buzzy tool. “That was a little bit scary for me, as it was a quite a large investment. I actually have put a lot of heart and soul and love into it. And we don’t get returns on the Gold Bar; it just doesn’t happen. I’ve never lost sleep at night over that—the only thing I lose sleep at night over is making sure the customer understands how to use it.”
Here, we catch up with Dempsey for a breakdown of some of her holy-grail wellness and beauty favorites, including the scented body scrub she’s obsessed with, and one of her most prized possessions: a cream-colored electric bike. The artist also gives us the inside scoop on the exact products from her brand Patrick swears by for his regular grooming routine.
What are you reading these days?
I just got hooked into this book Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy, which I guess you could say is what Succession is loosely based on. I’m not at the end, but it’s got me gripped. And I was also thinking, you know, for an interview like this, it might be kind of fun to throw in an inspirational book that I look at for just the visuals.
I don’t want him to hog the space of this conversation, but I’d say hands down, Craig McDean has always been the photographer who inspires me the most. His work has just defined fashion and beauty in a way I’m most inspired by. My favorite book of his features three different covers—it’s Amber, Guinevere, and Kate, as in Kate Moss; I have the one with Amber Valletta on the cover. She has kind of almost like a yellow, almost crepe-looking bent-up mask with a sky-blue—either smudges cream eyeliner or eye shadow. But it’s a beautiful book—one of those coffee-table books, but inspirational.
What are some of your go-to bath and/or shower products?
I use a lot of beauty products, but Molton Brown’s bath and shower gel is always in the showers here. We always stick to Molton Brown for some strange reason around my household. I love their Re-charge Black Pepper scent—we keep their hand soaps in stock as well. I’m also obsessed with celebrity manicurist Ashlie Johnson’s Dark Rose Body Scrub, which is mind-blowing. Your skin basically feels like baby-soft skin after using it—it’s got pink sea salt in it, and she mixes in little rosebuds and petals—it’s really, really nice. It’s on the sweet side, so you’re if you’re anti-sweet-smells it may not be your thing, but I love it. My daughter is obsessed with it.
What beauty or self-care products do you use on a regular basis to help combat Zoom fatigue?
Well, I definitely use my eye mask with my Gold Bar, that’s my number one go-to. And it’s so funny—my husband, who’s actually working on a film right now, sent me a picture yesterday of him in his eye mask. I was like, “Okay, I love you, you’re so cute. Now just switch those around, because smaller area goes on the inner eye and the larger area goes on the outer part of your eyes.”
But yes, I use my eye mask for Zoom fatigue, then I use the serum that comes in the tray, because there is a lot, and my Mixturizer, and I place that all over my neck and jawline at the same time and turn on my vibrating Gold Bar. I did this routine earlier this morning. It feels good, refreshes, sculpts, defines, and makes your face look like it’s had 12 hours of sleep. Also, for Zoom fatigue, I love TheraTears, the extra-strength version. They’re very lubricating, especially if you have dry eyes.
Do you have a favorite hand sanitizer, soap, or cream right now?
In addition to Molton Brown, I also use Evolvetogether’s refillable hand sanitizer in the Malibu scent. I just pop them out, refill them, and they’re the perfect size. I use my hands all the time, so I don’t want anything that leaves behind a residue. So, I like to use Retrouvé’s Dermal Defense hand cream religiously on the back of my hands. It’s the perfect combination of not being too sticky or too thin, and it doesn’t have an overpowering scent. I love Nécessaire too—I’m constantly running out of their products, especially their lotion.
What’s a favorite beauty tip you’ve given to your husband?
I actually have him pretty well-trained. Believe it or not, men are very interested in the educational aspect of what they should be doing, and how to groom themselves. He loves the Mixturizer—he’s sent me so many little videos of him using it, which is great, because it serves as his moisturizer. Patrick also loves the eye mask and Gold Bar, and doesn’t go a day without using the hair waxes I created, whether he’s home or traveling. I know every pore on Patrick’s face.
Do you ever light a candle or stick of incense to decompress? If so, what are some of your favorites?
Because we have animals in our house, we go for the grande, large-size candles. My husband wears a lot of Brunello Cucinelli, so we have the very large, beautiful, gorgeous candle from the brand—I love that scent, it’s amazing. We also have a couple of Diptyque’s black matte Baies candles around the house. And for dinner, I light unscented candles—I don’t want the fragrance to play into whatever food we’ve decided to have for the evening.
What was the last beauty product you put on today?
The funny thing is, I’m addicted to my Sunny Cheek Tint, and that would probably be my finishing touch before stepping out the door. It’s just a warm blush that I tap onto my cheeks and over the bridge of my nose. But today for whatever reason, Tiffany, I cheated on Sunny and actually used Bloom, which is more blue-based and a spring type of shade. It’s easy to put on: You just warm it up with your fingers, smile, and find wherever placement you’d like. I like to go close to my eyes and just tap in a little circular motion.
Are you into bold makeup, no makeup, or no-makeup makeup right now?
I like minimal, but I always like to find the sculptural shape and tone, and the right palette. Whatever I’m in the mood for—I think I think change is always good; I get really bored. I think I lean into more natural than anything else, but natural is boring, so I like to shake it up. Like, I love a fucked-up eye—I like to put it on perfectly, and then mess it up. I use eye shadows, but I always mix them with my Lid Tints. Lid Tints allow you to have that custom eye look that I’m always after. I like it to look like you’ve maybe worn it a few hours, and then it looks really cool.
What’s the last fitness class you streamed or attended in person?
I do a local Pilates class, and every now and then I’ll use Cynthia Webb’s workouts, which are a combination of cardio, bar, and body sculpting. I also have an e-bike that I don’t let anyone in our family ride, because they beat them up without respect. So, I have my e-bike and I love it: I’m able to take it and ride up hills. Mine is from Specialized, and I love it so much. You still get a little bit of like, “Oh, I’m riding a bike,” but you’re going a lot faster on it. Mine is a beautiful cream color, and I try to keep it really pristine—Armor All on the tires and everything. I’m fully into my bike, and really selfish with it, I’m not gonna lie.
What’s one piece of self-care advice you’d recommend to our readers?
If you’re having a crap day, take a break for 15 or 20 minutes with a mask and a facial massage tool. Relax, breathe, reset, and re-center. I like to take sage and do a little circular motion, and sometimes that helps me to personally reset and re-center. I do think it actually works, believe it or not—I really, really am a strong believer in sage.
I guess another piece of advice that I think is great is: If you don’t change it, then you’re choosing it. Keep leaning into your truth, because that’s really what it’s about. Lean into what makes you feel your best. If you make mistakes, it’s great, because sometimes mistakes turn into perfect little messes, in my opinion. And if you never explore outside of the lines, you’re not going to find newness.
Tiffany Dodson is currently the associate beauty commerce editor at Harper’s Bazaar, where she specializes in trend forecasting, building relationships with major and emerging brands, and crafting shopping stories—from holiday gift guides to product road tests. Tiffany's work has previously been featured in outlets like SELF, Bustle, and Teen Vogue, and she's been quoted as a commerce and beauty expert in publications and platforms like The Business of Fashion and NPR’s Life Kit podcast.