Beauty Around the Clock: Norma Kamali

The fashion designer on beauty from the inside out, working out every single day, and lots and lots of green juice.

Norma Kamali beauty routine
(Image credit: Future)

Welcome to Beauty Around the Clock, Marie Claire's weekly peek into the daily lives of some of the most game-changing women in their industries. Ever wonder how they get it all done in a day? Here's your answer.

When the pandemic broke out, Norma Kamali thought, "I’ve been in business for over 50 years. Is this how it’s going to end for me?" Instead, both her clothing line and her lifestyle brand grew exponentially, a result of clever restrategizing and hard work. The designer continues to push the limits of what she can do, and offers a modern spin on everything from bridalwear and bathing suits (worn by Jennifer Lopez) to green tea supplements and furniture.

"Luxury is being healthy and beautiful because you are healthy," Kamali says, which should tell you everything you need to know about her approach to self-care. Here, the fashion powerhouse talks us through her daily beauty routine, as well as the wellness practice that is non-negotiable for her (hint: It involves a lot of green juice).

Rise and Shine

I get up very early. Anywhere between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. I love the morning—a lot. It’s really important for me. I like the quiet of the morning. I brush my teeth, and I use a tooth soap (opens in new tab) that pulls bacteria out of your system, and I use a mouthwash (opens in new tab) that alkalizes your body. Those are two things I like a lot, and they’re really easy for me to use. It starts the day with how I’m looking after myself.

Morning Maintenance

My beauty routine is really simple. I have a cleanser that I use that’s part of my line, and I use Glow—I don’t use face makeup so Glow is a product I made that’s a combination of a moisturizer and also something similar to the way a tanner develops in your skin, except it’s made with sugar beet and caramel. If I use makeup, it’s maybe a brow brush or an eyebrow mascara and an eyelash mascara, but that’s about it. And I use a lip stain from [Pera] that’s made from cherries and berries, so it’s a stain that’s really pretty and it tastes good, and it’s healthy. That’s my “get ready for work” routine. Very fast, easy, not complicated. 

I’m the kind of person that makes the bed. I do a morning meditation that’s sort of an active meditation, it’s like doing an exaggerated cat-cow while breathing, like a meditative breath. I do that 100 times, so I’m really warmed up. This is before I take a shower and everything, then I put the shower on, I make my bed, I feed the dog. I do all of those things, so that when I’m finished, I’m out the door.

Power Start

I tend not to eat breakfast because I do a fast (he fast either ends around 10, or at noon, depending on when I finished eating the night before), but I have green tea. We have a great green tea that we sell that I found years ago from Japan that’s extraordinary. I’ll have green juices every day as well, maybe one in the morning, one in the afternoon. I have a local restaurant that makes fresh juice, but I also use Green Vibrance (opens in new tab), which is a very old-school green powder, but it’s amazing for boosting immunity.

Signature Look

I used to wear tons of makeup, but the more confident I felt about myself, the more secure I felt, the more I was confident to show my face. I created this line because I wanted it to be something people could use where they could show their skin, but be complemented by the product and what it was doing to enhance the natural face they have, the natural beauty that each of us has.

Daily Playlist

I am obsessed—obsessed—with "Tom's Diner" by German bands AnnenMayKantereit and Giant Rooks. As I was trolling something on social media, all of a sudden this music came on, and I was like, What is this? What the hell is this? and this music was fantastic for me. So now I’m entrenched and like to know everything about this band, and everything else around them. In Germany, there are probably—that I know of—maybe five bands that are as interesting, fresh, very young, exciting as the music from England was when I was there in the ‘60s. I was entrenched in the music then, and the excitement of hearing sounds that were unbelievable. I actually would like to make the whole interview about this… I play the song for Uber drivers, everything. I’m obsessed.

Norma Kamali portrait

(Image credit: Courtesy of Norma Kamali)

Fitness Fix

I’m 76. I don’t have the choice of not working out. I have to work out. And I like it because it makes me feel better. I feel strong. I sometimes hate it when I’m doing it, but then when I’m finished I’m really happy. I work out in the afternoons, usually towards the end of my day because I start so early, and I can do anything from yoga to Physique 57 which is sort of like Pilates on crack, or barre on crack, it’s really intense, but it’s really, really good. I do a thing called Gyrokinesis, and I like trying lots of different classes. I belong to Equinox, so I’ll take whatever class to just try different things. Sometimes I’ll do two classes on a weekend, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and as the weather gets better and better, I’m spending more time swimming and just getting outside.

Self-Care Ritual

Acupuncture facelifts are something I’ve done for a really long time. If you do acupuncture weekly, the accumulation really is notable. I also use some snail mucus creams (opens in new tab) and I do facial cupping (opens in new tab), and sometimes I’m super successful, and it’s like the crevices sort of smooth out. Every once in a while, I keep that little cupping thing on too long and I have hickeys on my face, which is not good. 

Hair Help

If I’m washing my hair, it’s usually in the morning. I try not to wash it every day, but I work out every day, so I either have to rinse it or wash it, and I use an incredible shampoo and conditioner and hair mask that I love so much that I started to carry it in the Wellness Café. I especially love the mask because I just rinse my hair or wash my hair, and I put the mask in it, and I let my hair dry. I never use a blowdryer if I don’t have to. I have a hair growth spray that’s amazing, and I’ve seen the consistency of my hair change tremendously by using it. They also have an eyelash and eyebrow growth wand that are very good. I’m very loyal.

Signature Scent

I created it myself, and it’s called The Scent. It's not so much for other people to smell you, but to make you feel calm and relaxed and restored, like you’re floating on a cloud. It has top notes, it has eucalyptus, camphor, lavender, geranium, then it goes down to patchouli and a lot of warm, kind of sexier notes down there. I spray it on my pillow at night. I spray it when I’m wanting to calm down in a crazy day. I think scents that have an effect on how you feel are really the most modern scents versus scents that are just projecting some image of you.

Beauty Icon

When I was younger—I guess like everyone—whoever the actresses or the models of the time were, that’s how you would put makeup on. And I was very experimental; I was shaving my eyebrows before anybody, and I was doing all of those really beautiful things to my face. But when I started to think about what was beautiful in the more natural way for me, I just had to look at myself in the mirror, which is hard, because we tend to see everything we don’t like first. For years, I had all these images of things I had to do to correct my face, but eventually I looked and myself and thought, This is me, and nobody else looks like me, so I’m gonna just look at myself from a health perspective and try to make sure my skin is glowing, and my eyes are sparkly and that my aura is one of strength and health.

Backup Career

Probably something in technology. When I graduated from FIT, I wanted to travel, and I had no idea where or why, and I got a job at an airline in the office in the ‘60s. I was working on a UNIVAC computer and I was able to know what was happening on the plane, what was happening to the plane, how many people were on the plane, who they were, where they were going. 

And then in the ‘90s when I realized I could have my own website, I did—of course there was nobody looking, because nobody else was on the internet, but I was there. And I love VR a lot. A couple of years ago, I did a parallel universe, Metaverse-type experience with a friend of mine to this thing called High Society. It just changed everything for me with regards to the way I was going to look at the future. I’m not afraid of it—a lot of people are afraid of it, but I’m very excited about that.

P.M. Routine

It’s very simple: cleaning, moisturizing, and thinking about sleep. Sleep, diet, exercise are the key anchors of a healthy lifestyle, so sleep is critical for beauty. I’m very aware of my bedroom, which is why making my bed in the morning. The bedroom has to be really cold, it has to smell great, the sheets have to be good sheets—some are expensive, but mostly my sheets aren’t, they just feel good, and they smell good. The bed is super comfortable, and sometimes I think, Oh boy, I’d love to be in my bed, because it’s a great place to be. Even having a silk pillowcase—those little things that you do for yourself that are a sign of self-love are really important, because people pick up on how you feel about yourself, and it helps to solidify that self-love. When you don’t look after yourself, people pick up on it, too. I think the sleep ritual is one of those things everybody can do, and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. You get your phone and devices out of your bedroom, and really look at the sleep part of your life seriously.

Evening Wind-Down

I definitely meditate at night, and it’s not a long meditation. I find a place in my house that I like for it, and I just stop there. Even just sitting in that spot all of a sudden puts me in another place. I feel like the day just washes away. Then I might read something. I try not to go to my phone too much, because then I get all revved up before I go to bed.

Bedtime

Really early. I’m embarrassed to tell you—I can’t say it out loud.

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Iris Goldsztajn
Iris Goldsztajn

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.