American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. (Photo: Getty Images).
Jordin Sparks became a household name practically overnight when she was crowned the youngest winner of American Idol at age 17. Since that night in 2007, the athletic Arizona-native has racked up a number of hits, awards and TV spots. The 25-year-old has also navigated the Hollywood battlefield dealing with body image, skin problems, and boyfriends in the public eye.
With her third album Right Here, Right Now coming out this year, the songstress stands tall (figurative and literally since she’s 6-feet-tall), attributing her self-assured attitude to family, a clear face and a supportive boyfriend. But for Sparks, confidence wasn’t an immediate thing. Here, Sparks explains how she stays in shape, deals with stress and keeps herself looking (and feeling) great.
Yahoo Beauty: What makes you feel confident and sexy?
Jordin Sparks: Any day that I wake up and my skin is clear is a good day! My smile makes me feel confident. My figure makes me feel confident. It fluctuates here and there. Sometimes it’s a little bigger. Sometimes it’s a little smaller. Also, the encouragement of my family and the encouragement of a significant other makes me feel beautiful and sexy.
Are you seeing someone these days? How does he make you feel great?
It’s not necessarily the relationship, because there are lots of people who can be in a relationship and not feel confident at all. You have to have a significant other who really encourages you and when he says something it just makes you smile, and you feel it’s genuine and true. For me, right now, in this moment, I have that person in my life.
What nice things does he say to you?
Dominic [aka Sage the Gemini of HBK Gang] is very sweet. He’s very special, and he reminds me every day of what he thinks about me, and tells me how beautiful I am. It’s something all women would love to hear. I’m very lucky.
Do you ever feel pressured to look a certain way as a performer?
Not anymore, and I think that comes with growing up and getting more and more confident in who I am, and ok with who I am. I hope that everybody gets to that point. It’s definitely a learning process.
How has it changed since your debut?
In the beginning, when I did [American] Idol, I didn’t know what this industry was like. I didn’t know what was going on. You kind of get thrown to the wolves. It was like, how do I maneuver this? There were a lot of artists that I looked up to. I was like, ok – I can’t look like that. You kind of get lost trying to look like someone else instead of being yourself.
And now it’s completely different.
Now, at this point in my life, I’m really coming into my own. I want to be comfortable. I just want to wear what I feel comfortable in – what makes me feel sexy, what makes me feel good, what makes me feel beautiful – not necessarily what other people think is sexy.
What products help you feel beautiful?
For my hair, I use Pureology shampoo, conditioner, and their curly gel products. I’ve been using that for probably the past five years. It’s a little pricey, but it works. It really takes care of my hair. For my face, I use Murad – their foam cleansing gel and one of their light moisturizers, as well as their acne spot treatment. I don’t have [blemishes] all over, but I get little ones. That stuff really works. For makeup, since I have sensitive skin, I use NARS foundation. Their Sheer Glow Foundation is the only one that really works for me. That, I know I can wear all day, and I’m not going to have crazy pizza-face at the end of the day. I love all sorts of different lipglosses!
Have you learned any makeup hacks from your glam squad?
There is an Urban Decay setting spray for your makeup. It will last for like 8 hours. Sometimes when you spray it on your face, it will only cover the surface, so spraying it on a beauty blender and putting it on while you’re blending the makeup together sets it a little bit.
What is your makeup look on stage vs. off stage?
My look on stage is definitely a lot more makeup, because the light can wash you out. It’s more blush, I use a lot more sparkles. I love anything shimmery or sparkly on my eyes. The colors are about the same – it depends on what I wear. Usually my day-to-day when I’m meeting people or putting on some makeup, it’s very minimal. For the most part, I actually don’t wear makeup – no foundation. I’ll just put on some mascara and lipgloss and I’m good to go.
You’re close with your mom. What has she taught you about beauty?
My mom and my Nana both taught me about beauty. I remember knowing to accentuate the positives. Make things pop that you love. I have a huge smile, so I don’t really need to add more color, but I’m getting more interested in wearing brighter color lipsticks. To draw attention to my smile, I will put on a bright color. I also really like my cheek bones, so my Nana taught me to put a little contour, make a kissy face and put it right there.
How do you deal with the stress that comes with being in the spotlight?
Winning American Idol, you can imagine how stressful things got after that. I went from a high school kid to one of the most recognizable faces on the planet overnight. That was a lot. I had my first migraine a couple months after that. I remember watching my mom growing up – she had really debilitating migraines where she couldn’t do anything. I remember she would grab Excedrin, and that was the only thing that worked for her. That was the first thing I grabbed and the only thing that works for me. It’s gets my migraines in check.
You said earlier that your figure makes you feel confident. What do you do to stay strong?
When I’m staying on it. I like to try a whole bunch of different classes. I love to do Cardio Barre. It’s a ballet, cardio, dance type thing. I also do CorePower, which is hot yoga, and I love to hike. If I’m on the road, I go to the gym in the hotel. I’ll do three sets of bicep curls and I’ll do some pushups. Then, I’ll do tricep dips, squats, lunges and leg lifts. You want to go to the gym and get the most effective workout. That doesn’t mean you have to be at the gym for two hours! I don’t have time to be at the gym for that long, so I try to do high intensity circuit training.
You’re also a big baker, but what does your diet consist of these days?
I really try to make good choices. For me, I love food so much that if someone’s going to offer me dessert, of course I’m going to be like, “Yes! I want to see the dessert menu. I would love to see the dessert menu.” I just know that I have to workout a little bit harder the next day and make better choices the next day. I’ve cut back on meats – I started that last year. I eat mostly fish. Occasionally I’ll have a steak. I’ve definitely added more greens.
What about at-home snacks?
I do a lot of smoothies. I’ll do those at home. I love to put avocado and spinach in my smoothies. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.
Is there anything that is completely out of your diet?
I try to stay away from bread as much as possible. It’s very hard. Growing up, my Nana had these amazing French bread rolls from a bakery. Bread and butter: it’s so simple, but it’s just so good.