Leslie Jordan Is the Beauty Influencer You Never Knew You Needed

With a new gospel album out this month, the actor, singer, and Instagram sensation shares his best-kept beauty secrets.

Leslie Jordan
Photo: Miller Mobley

I have always liked to look good. I think it's my mother's influence. Growing up, she was so beautifully turned out. But being raised in the Deep South, there are a lot of rules about everything — fashion, beauty, chicken salad, you name it. To this day, I can't wear white after Labor Day, even if it's 80 degrees and I really want to put on my seersucker suit. There are the rules that I was raised with, and then there are the rules that I've picked up in Hollywood. I'm 65 now, and people come up to me and say, "Leslie, you look good!" But it takes some work, let me tell you. Here's how I do my best with what God gave me.

Don't Fall for the $400 Beauty Cream

Most guys are like, "Whatever, Irish Spring," but I take care of my complexion. You can keep your $400 cream, though. My go-tos are Ivory Snow [soap] and a dab of Oil of Olay. I slather on a sunscreen from Murad too. You know how you always hear on TV that a product will give you "visible results?" When I tried Murad, it was the first time I actually saw them. I also love at-home masks. I don't use the [LED] masks because I can't sit still, but Lush has all of these wonderful fruity ones that I do twice a week. They don't taste half bad, either.

Workouts Should Be Fun

Those COVID-19 pounds creep up, so I've got a new exercise regimen called the Mirror. It's a big, beautiful mirror that hangs on my bedroom wall and puts me through my paces. I don't even have to get dressed up to go to the gym. I do 30 minutes of dance cardio, and it's actually fun because they play old disco tunes. Sometimes I can even sneak a glass of tea right in the middle of the class.

Switch It Up

We all go through phases. When I was young, I had long hippie hair, and I used to wear velvet hip-huggers. I looked like a rock-and-roll Troll doll because I was so short! Then when I got to Hollywood, I'd go to the gay bars looking really butch with a big Fu Manchu mustache. Of course, when I opened my mouth, 50 yards of purple chiffon came flying out. But the point is if you're stylish at all, you'll look back and say, "What came over me?" And that's OK. It's fun to cringe a little bit.

Find Your Light

Who would've thought I'd be an Instagram success? In lockdown, I was stuck at my mama's [in Tennessee], so I just started posting twice a day for 80 days in a row. I just posted and posted without really thinking. Sometimes I would be right out of bed with my hair sticking straight up. But now I have over 5 million followers, so I try to put my best face forward. I'm not even going to tell you what's happening from the waist down, but from the waist up, I am fabulous.

I don't use filters, but my secret is my desk sits at a window, and we have that beautiful California sunlight. I've tried those ring lights, but natural light is best. What's even more important is your background. I try to make sure and move my laptop around until I get that nice angle, where there's a picture in the back with a horse and you can see a little plant. If your background looks good, then you look good. Sometimes I look at people's Instagram like, "Honey, your bed isn't even made!"

Get a Signature Scent

I have one cologne that I've worn forever. It's called Pot-Pourri by Santa Maria Novella, and it goes back to the monks in Florence. They designed a perfume for Catherine de' Medici in the 16th century, and today, they still go out and pick the fresh lavender. When I wear it, people say, "My gosh, Leslie, what is that?" It's almost medicinal. It could clear a room, but I love it.

Follow the Icons

Dolly Parton inspires me so much. She is on my new gospel album, and she's the hardest-working person in show business. I love that Dolly's look is consistent. During the Studio 54 days, she was exactly as you see her today. She famously said, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap." That goes down as one of the best beauty quotes ever.

I've also been in countless hair and makeup trailers over the years, but one time I was with sitting next to Candice Bergen getting my hair done for Boston Legal and I learned a trick I'll never forget. She always did this thing where she would lean in and they would brush all her hair forward, and spray it a little bit, and then she'd dramatically throw it back. Her hair was so voluminous and beautiful afterwards. I really want to be able to toss my hair like that one day.

Go Easy on Your Face

The only thing I would ever do is fix my wobbly old neck. But whenever someone has work done, you can tell. It's rarely like, "Oh, she's had really good work done." Look at somebody like Brigitte Bardot — she has not touched that face. She may look her age, but she looks good! I think we've got to grow old gracefully, so my advice is to leave your face alone. There's nothing sadder than a face that's pulled tight like a trampoline. As an actor, I have to be able to move mine. Because, honey, I want to work till I'm 100.

As told to Jennifer Ferrise.

Jordan's new album, Company's Comin', was released via Platoon on April 2nd.

For more stories like this, pick up the May 2021 issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download today.

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