There’s a lot to look forward to in 2018, and one of those things is the winter Olympics in PeyongChang, South Korea, which run from February 9 to February 25. Yup — it’s just the distraction we need during that awkward time where the New Year is well over, but you can’t get too juiced about Valentine’s Day.
Before you know it, the world will be glued to their television sets to take in two weeks of skiing, speed skating, figure skating — anything you can do in the snow and ice — while rooting for their respective countries. It’s definitely the kind of excitement that brightens up the gloomy dead of winter.
And Michelle Kwan knows all about the electricity this event can spark in all of us. After all, the retired figure skater is a two-time Olympic Medalist, competing at the Nagano games in 1998 and again in 2002 in Salt Lake City. As you can imagine, putting it all out there on such a huge, international stage is, well, a lot. You’ve gotta have a support system in there, and Kwan definitely did — her mom. “my mom has been such a rock,” she told Allure in a sit-down. “Who was there every day driving me to the rink at five a.m.? And my mom didn’t ever complain. Looking back at the limited financial resources, times when they could have easily said, ‘It’s too expensive, you’ve got to quit.’ It was my mom’s determination that was like, ‘My baby’s going to dream and she’s going to make her dreams happen.'”
Indeed, were it not for that perseverance, the world may have never known Kwan’s name. Thank God for mamas. It’s a sentiment echoed in P&G’s “Love Over Bias” ad, which the released back in November. The spot shines a light on the mothers who support their children through their athletic aspirations, rooting them on at meets, taking them to practice, and even teaching them how to deal with bullies or peers who might not “get” what they’re doing, something Michelle Kwan knows all too well.
“When I look at my own career, growing up I was doing really well at age 11, but it was kind of isolating because back then, people weren’t hanging out with me. My mom was always there. She had my back and was like, ‘You keep focused, you gotta keep focused.’ And I think those kinds of lessons were hard. There were days I forgot my school clothes and I would actually go to school with skating tights and a little skirt. It’s very embarrassing…I definitely had to be comfortable in my own skin and my mom taught me that.”
Another thing her mom taught her? A beauty trick that came in pretty handy while she was competing. We sat down with the legenday Olympian to talk all about the prettier side of her sport: purple eye shadow, French manicures, and secret sew-ins.
Allure: So, the winter Olympics aren’t exactly in the Bahamas. What are your cold-weather beauty must-haves?
Michelle Kwan: I have everything in terms of product.
Are you a product junkie?
I am, yes. I love product, and the problem is I have very oily skin. But being in cold weather, living in an ice rink for twenty years, it’s actually good for your skin but I try to stay very fresh and light.
Yes, exactly. So, I always stay away from lots of powders, but foundation I keep very light, as well as concealer. I love it all. So, what don’t I have in my bag? You’re talking to a figure skater!
Well, yes, you guys do know a thing or two about makeup!
Hair, makeup. Actually, [when I competed,] my hair, I always just tied [it] back. I just needed it out of my face. I always liked everything that was simple. I had everything on, but very simple. And, the years that I was skating to Salome, I would do the wing look and it was so fun, because I was portraying a character and I had to get into it. My costumes, my hair, my makeup had to be that part.
And look, a winged liner will bring you into character like that. Are there any makeup looks you used to wear back in the day that you’d want to break out again?
I [used to wear] purple eye shadow when I was 20 or whatever. I miss wearing purple shadow.
You could still do it! What other beauty moments do you remember from your figure skating days?
One year, I was wearing the French manicure and then another year I was doing red. When you’re using your hands a lot, they sometimes do a close-up. I think that what I was so drawn to the sport to begin with. It’s like, “Oh my god, I can bring this beautiful music, costumes, sequins.” It was such a perfect sport.
It’s athletic and then also pretty.
It was a dream sport.
So what was your worst beauty mishap?
There’s so many!
Did any of them happen while you were competing?
I had costumes rip and stuff, whatever, but that’s just part of [it]. But it was a hard lesson [to learn] when my bobby pins come flying off and it’s dangerous.
They just slip out?
Yes, so they pop — my hair is so straight and it’s just so dangerous. I actually sewed my bun in.
Like, with a needle and thread?
No one knows that I sewed it in. My mom sewed it in. I [could’t] do it, so she would just sew it in there. And then, of course, if I didn’t wear waterproof [mascara] and sometimes there were tears running down and that’s not pretty. That’s not the look I was going for!
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