Gwen Stefani on why she always wears makeup: ‘I like to make my husband like me more’

Kathleen Perricone
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Gwen Stefani's name is pretty much synonymous with bleached blond hair and bright red lipstick. Not only does she never leave the house without a full face of makeup, but she won't even be seen inside her house without being perfectly done up. "I like to make my husband [Bush singer Gavin Rossdale] like me more," the No Doubt singer, 42, tells Harper's Bazaar in its September issue. "And he likes it when I'm wearing makeup." But her look is not just for Rossdale, who she has been with since she was 25. "I've always been a girl who loves to dress up. I already put my makeup on twice today!" she shares during the interview.

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But Stefani wasn't born with such style. It took her years before she evolved from the only girl in a band of guys into the fashion and beauty icon she has become today. At 25, the then-brunette spent eight hours in a salon in Long Beach, California, transforming herself into a white-blonde, and the result was like, "I'd unlocked a key," she explains. "I remember feeling like, 'I have arrived. This is me. Finally.'" As for her red lips, that was a tip Stefani got from her grandmother in high school. "I remember sitting in my ghetto, beat-up Honda Prelude and putting on that lipstick in the rearview mirror and being like, 'Uh-huh, I like that. That's the s--t right there.' I never stopped after that."

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Her wild fashion sense came about as a result of her hair and makeup awakenings, not long before No Doubt became an overnight mega-success with their 1995 album, Tragic Kingdom, which sold 10 million copies in the U.S. alone (they will release their sixth, Push and Shove, on September 25). Stefani also became an overnight success herself, with girls everywhere trying to emulate her cropped tops, plaid pants adorned with zippers, and bindis.

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Back then, "I did my own makeup, my own costumes," she says. "I did everything myself. I didn't even know there were stylists. I remember there was a point when all the guys were sitting around eating pizza, and I finally said I needed some help. So I got an assistant, but guess who he was? A roadie. He took my first Prada dress, which Gavin had bought me, the first designer piece I ever owned, and he washed it, and it came back this big," Stefani adds, her fingers indicating it was the size of Barbie doll clothing.

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Her love of dressing up has clearly rubbed off on her two children with Rossdale — Kingston, 6, and Zuma, almost 4. On the day of the Harper's Bazaar interview, Stefani had also brought her oldest son to a costume store to stock up on Spider-Man gear. "He just discovered superheroes, and he's obsessed," explains the proud mom. "It's like when I discovered Marilyn Monroe." As for motherhood, "It's, like, the real deal, dude," says Stefani. "It's superfun being a mom, but it's hard, too. Finding the balance between work and family is the hardest thing I've ever done — by far."

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