Giada De Laurentiis is a true entrepreneur. Not only has the Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef recently opened a namesake restaurant in The Cromwell, a renowned boutique hotel along the Las Vegas strip, but she has won accolades for work in various other arenas. Among them, a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lifestyle Host, seven cookbooks on The New York Times best-seller list, and an affordable line of kitchen supplies for Target.
De Laurentiis, who has also acted as spokeswoman for Clairol’s Natural Instinct line for the past two years, is a true health and beauty fiend, brimming with tips and tricks that she both lives and swears by. Between her ventures, the in-demand chef took a moment to chat with us about the secret behind those camera-ready manicures, her (and daughter Jade’s) hair trick to beat the heat, and genius tips to make your next summer get-together a hit!
You have incredibly shiny, healthy-looking hair! Are there any foods you've noticed that are best in terms of achieving that shine?
Well, I do eat a lot of olive oil, I’ll be honest, which in my opinion helps keep my body shiny and glowy. I use a little coconut oil, and sometimes a little olive oil on the tips of my hair, and because I wash my hands a lot, and I’m in the kitchen a lot, it’s hard to have cream laying around. So I just take a little bit of olive oil and put it on my fingertips (on my cuticles) to keep my hands from drying out, so there’s a lot of kitchen ingredients that you can use in your daily life. I wouldn’t stick them in a vat of olive oil, but use a little bit!
I moisturize like a crazy person, whether it’s my hands, my face, my feet, my body or my hair—I moisturize constantly.
You seem to favor light pink nail polish on camera. Do you have any go-to polishes for all those close-up hand shots?
I use Essie's Ballet Slippers, which I really like. Recently I’ve been using mostly Patricia Yankee, and she has a lot of great little light pink colors that I really love. One of them is called "Halo." Today I have sort of a modern version of a French manicure, which is pretty cool, I must say.
The French manicure is coming back!
Yeah it's really coming back and I honestly am not a French manicure kind of girl, but she did it on me and it’s pretty phenomenal. In fact, I forgot to Instagram it—I’ve got to Instagram it. It’s a pretty great-looking little manicure.
Do you have any at-home beauty recipes or remedies?
I exfoliate a lot, especially my face because wearing makeup on camera all the time dries out my skin. I feel like sometimes it piles up, and even though I wash my face at night, it can feel grimy, so I like to exfoliate regularly.
What I do is a little mixture of baking soda and I sometimes use a little almond oil or coconut oil or even olive oil. I use that as a very mild scrub on my face, and I do that at night before I go to bed, and then I put lots of cream on top of it to allow my skin to regenerate overnight while I’m sleeping. That’s probably one of my favorite ways to exfoliate—you can exfoliate your whole body with that. I use it on my neck as well and my chest.
Be delicate as if you were cleaning a pair of sunglasses. You wouldn’t do that with an S.O.S. pad. Treat your face and your body the same way you would a diamond or a beautiful pair of sunglasses. You want to use something soft and delicate just to polish it off and give a little glow.
What are your summer beauty staples?
For summer a lot of the time I will go with a little bit of a lighter color for my hair. Right now I have Amber Shimmer ($8; ulta.com), which is getting there. I do it slowly so it doesn’t seem like a huge leap or jump. So, I like to color my hair and get it a little bit lighter, so in about a month or so I’ll go a tiny bit lighter.
I always put protection my hair, like sun protection, because the sun and the beach in the summertime, and the chlorine from the pool will completely dry out your hair, so I use that and I moisturize a ton. I usually put in a little bit of leave-in conditioner and pull it back in a bun to keep my hair moisturized throughout the summer. Other than that I like to use this coral shade of lipstick from Jouer ($22; jouercosmetics.com) and it keeps my skin looking clean with little makeup.
Is there a particular sunscreen that you’re loyal to?
I use a lot of SkinCeuticals ($34; skinceuticals.com). My brother died about 10 years ago from melanoma, so I’m very, very diligent about wearing sunscreen 24/7, and my daughter does as well.
Are there any seasonal changes you make to your hair other than switching up the color?
In the summertime if I’m not shooting, I let my hair be curly, and a lot of times I do little pigtails or I do little braids. Jade’s six and we both do little braids so we match and it keeps my hair moisturized and cute. When you have curly hair it’s a nice way to keep looking fresh and young.
Is there a beauty philosophy you’d like to impress upon Jade?
I try to let her do her thing 'cause she’s seen me from a very young age in the makeup chair getting my makeup and my hair done.
There are days when she wants to wear a little lip gloss or play with makeup, and then there are days where she doesn’t want any part of it, so I kind of just let her do her thing. ... I’m letting her explore the beauty thing on her own and find her comfort zone on her own rather than imposing my own feelings and my own thoughts about beauty and hair, that I grew up with, on her.
You’ve mentioned before that she’s a big nail polish girl. What are her favorites?
She’s a big nail polish girl, and this is what she likes to do. She likes to have about 10 different colors and then she does a different color on every finger and she will choose which finger gets which color. She decides how they all work. She lines them up and she decides which ones look good next to each other and she has me put them on the appropriate finger—it’s hilarious!
In your most recent book, Giada’s Feel Good Food, you mentioned that you don’t believe in food deprivation and still indulge in chocolate. What are your guilty pleasures in terms of food?
I don’t believe in deprivation. I do believe in eating a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. I believe if you overindulge one day, to take the next day to start over, but be nice to yourself instead of feeling guilty.
Honestly, late at night if there’s some pasta left over in the fridge I will eat cold spaghetti. Sometimes if I need something sweet I’ll top it off with some chocolate chips which I know sounds really disgusting, but it’s actually really good. That I like a lot, but that’s like a midnight snack. Some people like cold pizza, I like spaghetti with some chocolate chips on top.
What chocolate do you have on-hand?
I have chocolate chips in my freezer and the ones I turn to the most are the 55-percent cacao Ghirardelli chocolate chips. I’m not that gourmet that I have to do something special. If it’s frozen they last longer in your mouth and it takes longer for them to defrost, so the flavor lasts longer. It’s an easier way to eat it and you don’t need quite so much.
What one recipe you think people should have on-hand for summer get-togethers?
My favorite summer recipe is my lemon spaghetti. It’s my favorite. It’s lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, Parmesan cheese. I sometimes add some red pepper flakes just to give it some kick, and one garlic clove that I smash—not chop, smash. You can use any pasta. I toss the hot pasta in that sort of lemon vinaigrette and I add a little bit of pasta water to thin it out and that’s it! I serve it with either chicken, steak, shrimp, veggies, or just on its own. It’s great hot or at room temperature.
You have a version of that dish at your new restaurant!
I do! An elevated version, yes. It happens to be the No. 1–selling pasta dish.
What's your fail-proof key to summer entertaining?
I think that, to me, the most important thing is that nobody try to do everything on their own. Meaning, in the summertime you don’t really want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so assemble as much as you can. Cook outside as much as you can to avoid being in a hot kitchen and making your entire house really warm and having to crank up the air. Spend as much time outside as you can.