When Adriana Lima was first approached to host Lifetime’s new beauty competition series, American Beauty Star, the Brazilian supermodel wasn’t so sure that she was right for the part. “I was really surprised when I got the call, because English is not my first language,” Lima told InStyle earlier this week. “I have a very strong accent, so that was my concern: me being the host of this TV show, and people not understanding my accent.” While the 36-year-old Victoria’s Secret Angel was nervous that the audience might have trouble following along, ultimately, the language barrier didn’t come into play. “I guess it wasn't an issue!” she said.
Lima also executive produces the show, which follows 12 contestants—hair stylists and makeup artists—who are paired up with members of the opposite craft to compete in beauty challenges. Celebrity makeup artist Sir John serves as the group’s mentor, but ultimately, success or failure falls on the shoulders of the contestants themselves. “They are responsible for creating all these looks on the models, from red carpet looks to makeovers,” said Lima. “It was interesting to find out their backgrounds and where they come from, and also who they want to become. I loved watching them grow on many different levels—not only in talent, but also as a person. We learned a lot together in this show, and that was really life-changing for me. Because it wasn’t only a challenge for them—it was a challenge for me, as well. It's my first TV show as a host, and I was learning on-the-go with them. It's going to be emotional, and there will be a lot of surprises. In many different forms!”
Before the series premiere, we chatted all things beauty with Lima and Sir John. Scroll down for our full interview, and tune in to American Beauty Star on Sept. 21 at 10:30 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
The show is all about beauty challenges. Adriana, what's your biggest beauty challenge?
AL: In real life? Days when I’m traveling. For example, in a few days I'm going to go to China. It's like an 18-hour flight and 12 hours difference. I'm sure I'm going to struggle with jet lag, and a for a few days I'm not going to be sleeping at night because of that. How am I going to wake up and not look puffy? Because that's gonna happen. So how do I deal with that? How do I take care of my skin? How do I take care of my body? You try to make the jet lag as easy and as less visible as you possibly could. So I try to work out, drink a lot of water, and put lots of moisturizer on my face. I use gel on my eyes to take the puffiness out. And then it’s concealer, mascara, and probably a red lipstick at some point to take attention away from my eyes.
Sir John, what would you suggest is the best tip for avoiding jet lag?
SJ: Don't drink! No margaritas with salt—sodium is not your friend. It makes your face retain water, I would say. You can do the Tequila, just not the salt.
AL: Can I give necessary information? On the flights when you're flying at a high altitude, you lose the sense of your palette. So if you eat on the plane, they use salt like five more times in the food you eat up there just so you can sense it. So that diet raided your whole body. It's crazy.
SJ: I learn so many things from Adriana. On set one day, she told me that as soon as you consume alcohol, your body stops digesting food. And I’m like, are you serious? That's a game changer. Everyone does wine with dinner. Everyone does a cocktail after dinner.
AL: It's true—I learned that from my trainer. It’s tough for you're body to digest whatever you eat if you take alcohol. Your body kind of freezes.
VIDEO: Adriana Lima's Best Beauty Moments
What beauty trick have you picked up from other Victoria’s Secret Angels over the years?
AL: Let’s see…a beauty trick that I picked up. You know, honestly, none yet. They're asking me my tricks, because I'm the oldest of all! I’m the mama.
SJ: She's a vampire.
You're the longest-running Angel.
AL: Yeah, I'm like wine, you know? [laughs] So yeah, they always ask me all these tips about the VS show, how to walk the runway, makeup tips. I found out things on my own, like trying and playing. I love makeup. So when I have time, I just go to the mirror and I’m just like, “Oh, let me try this! Let's see what's happening—let me try to make a smokey eye.” And I just try. So from that you learn things. My favorite thing is applying mascara. I love mascara on the eyes. I like it to be very black, and I like when you just apply lots of layers. So on my days off, I just apply over and over and over. When I shower, the mascara runs over my skin, I wipe it off, and I apply it on top again. I absolutely love it.
What mascara do you swear by?
AL: There are a few different ones that I use. If you have difficulties with applying on the bottom, I use Maybelline Falsies [which you can purchase here for $6]. The brush is very easy. But I also like Lash Sensational now. I apply on the top, and I like the color to be very black.
There are hairstylists and makeup artists on the show. Which are you better at, personally?
AL: I can pull off both. Not professionally, but I can do both. In Brazil, you hear that, in whatever job you’re doing in fashion, usually the makeup artists or the hair dressers, they know how to do both. They do both in Brazil. It's really interesting to see that. So I believe, I think that's important for either a hair stylist or makeup artist to have the knowledge of something. You don't need to know how to do it, but some knowledge if you're going out there. Because anyway, it's a team. You're not always 100 percent, creative-wise. So if you have a wider view of things and knowledge, I believe that your work is going to be even more successful.
Growing up in Brazil, did you learn any beauty tricks from the women in your family?
AL: Oh, yes. You guys are going to think this is disgusting. People don't understand. I tend to really take care of my hair, but it’s very dry, so I do hair masks. You choose whatever is your favorite conditioner or hair mask, whatever, and then you take one avocado—I am not joking. You mash the avocado, you mix with whatever conditioner you have, you put it on your hair, and you put on a shower cap for like 15 minutes. When you wash it off, your hair is gonna be shiny, shiny, shiny!
Christie Brinkley is one of the guest judges. What was that like to have her on the show?
AL: I have always been a fan of her work as a model, and it was the first time that I met her. To see her there, and how wonderful she looks. By the way, I saw her in the Sports Illustrated picture with her daughter, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. So to see her, and her legs—she doesn't work out!—and I'm like, how do you get those legs? It's amazing. She's like blessed in everything. And she's so charismatic and so nice. It was a pleasure to meet one of my idols through work.
SJ: I had a birthday on set the same day, and I got the pleasure of having these girls—Christie Brinkley and Adriana Lima—singing me “Happy birthday.” I'm like, what is happening right now? My life is complete. I got it on video for Instagram.
Sir John, had you met Christie before?
SJ: Never, no. She looks amazing. Her face looks great, her legs look great, she looks like an angel. She had this white dress on. And then we even went back in to hear her opinions about the contestants and their work, and she's so fair. She was also so involved. She didn't take sides, she wasn't steered toward where the people and the producers, wanted. She was really just into the competition. It was really nice.
Adriana, you’re another one of our ageless inspirations. What's your secret?
AL: I think it's a combination of things. Your mind and state of being. You have to be happy where you are in your life, in every way—in your job, in your age, everything. You have to be careful with what you eat. I want longevity in my life—I want to live until 150. I want to be in this business for a long time. You have to be careful. And workouts are important to keep your body moving. I want to be walking and running when I'm like 70, 80 years old. At the gym, I don't want to be using a walker. No way!
SJ: Adriana has amazing discipline. Some serious, serious f—g discipline. I work out, but it's a different type of discipline. Like I work out and then I'll order a pork chop. But Adriana knows when she wants it, if she wants it, and she's not gonna drink and she's not gonna eat. She's like a boxer. She's literally like Floyd Mayweather.
How did you bond with the new group of VS Angels? Did you take them under your wing, so to speak?
AL: Everyone is so nice. Last year, we were in Paris during the VS Fashion Show and it was such an amazing connection that we had. I think you can see through the pictures. We really had a great time. And it wasn't that thing about competing—you did not see that. We were a team. We work together and we make this show happen together. The girls are extremely sweet and kind, and I could not be luckier to be working next to such nice, humble girls.