By Sarah Jossel
Celine Dion: No Botox, no red lipstick, no fake tan — what has the singing legend learned from 38 years in front of the camera?
Céline Dion keeps breaking into song — pitch-perfect, with her hand quivering in the air and her face scrunching as she reaches the high notes. Some songs are her own, some are covers. The Quebec-born singer has already had two outfit changes: a regal emerald-green Emilia Wickstead dress paired with a single pearl necklace and a more casual, loosely fitted grey Alberta Ferretti suit.
Oh, hold on a second, you must think I’m at a Céline Dion concert? No, no. I’m side-by-side, mere millimetres apart, interviewing the living legend about her life in beauty, and how it feels to follow in the footsteps of Helen Mirren and Julianne Moore as L’Oréal Paris’s newest ambassador.
The interview, which takes place in a lavish Las Vegas hotel suite, is anything but normal: every time I ask Céline about her hair (she is fronting the brand’s Excellence Crème at-home hair colour range), the singing starts again, except she changes the words to make it about beauty. Let me give you an example:
Me “Céline, let’s talk about your hair.”
Céline “My hair? Hmm. Curl me up before you go-go.” (She sings to the tune of Wham!’s hit, swinging her arms from side to side.)
Another point of difference for this interview is that not much is off limits, even cosmetic surgery (which, she says, she hasn’t had). There’s no debate that Céline’s face moves. She is not one of those A-listers who says one thing but whose forehead tells another story. Her brows bounce around excitedly as she talks, and her face is full of excitable expressions. In the past she has said she wouldn’t do Botox because of her career as a singer: “If I sing and nothing moves, I don’t think it has the same impact, so I don’t want to lose my emotion.”
When we meet, though, a week before her 51st birthday, the superstar admits that she “would love to do some stuff”. For starters, “My lips are so thin, so I want lips that can carry red lipstick,” she says, pouting comically. “But once you start with ze lips, then ze cheeks need to follow, oui, oui,” she laughs, faking a trout-pout filler-face. “But in all seriousness, if it brings you confidence and if you feel more beautiful, then I’m not against it. But if you start something, you have to be careful, as it can lead you to do more and more.”
Her one reservation is that she doesn’t want to look too different from her kids. “I don’t like the idea of doing too much and then you look at a picture of your younger self or of your babies and they don’t look like you, their mother!”
Unbelievably, when it comes to make-up, the five-time Grammy award-winner, who is performing to 65,000 fans in London’s Hyde Park this summer, doesn’t actually have a make-up artist for her shows. “I’ve used a lot of make-up artists throughout my life and I’ve learned from them, but I know my own face so well and I can do my whole look in 30 minutes, sometimes even 15. In the beginning I couldn’t afford to have one, so I had to pick up other people’s tricks, and that’s when I realized I love doing it myself. My mum used to always do my hair and I would do my make-up, and since then I’ve just stuck with it.”
The mother of three is both shocked and honoured to bag a beauty contract at 50. “I had no confidence when I was young. I didn’t feel pretty, I had problems with my teeth, I was very skinny and I was bullied at school. I never thought that, at this stage, I would be asked to be a face of a beauty brand.” Does she wish she could rewind the clock? “I don’t want to go back in time, because I feel better than ever. My teenage years and 20s were wonderful, but I never felt that in charge. Now I have an inner voice that’s helping me to raise my children. I’ve never felt as beautiful or as strong as I do now,” she says. “You think I’m done? Honey, I’m just starting. I really think the best is yet to come.”
Quickfire with Céline
Fake tan: yes or no?
“I don’t like fake tan. I prefer the sun, but I need to be naked because I don’t want tan lines.’”
Your best angle for selfies?
“My back. Next question?”
How much sleep do you need?
“When my husband passed away [René Angélli, died of cancer three years ago], I rearranged my room and bought a big, big, big bed, so my eight-year-old twins and I all sleep together —we call each other the three amigos. I’m a light sleeper, but I sleep a lot, sometimes 12 hours.”
Your big make-up no-no
“Red lipstick. It’s an accident waiting to happen with the microphone. It touches my lips, then my cheeks, then my forehead — and before I know it, the press have printed that I have chickenpox!”
Would you revive your 1990s ringlets?
The shorter I cut my hair, the curlier it gets. I have no problems with the curls, but this style needs to be longer and bigger. Give me the curls, baby. Bring it on.”
You had a pixie crop in 2000. Was it easier to manage?
“No way. With long hair you can do a beautiful ponytail or a chignon. With short hair, you’re stuck.”
Your exercise of choice
“Dance is in my DNA. Also I train four times a week after shows — I go a couple of doors down from the venue and we stretch and do barre.”
Your top make-up rule
“Clean equipment. You have to clean brushes and sponges regularly to get rid of the bacteria.”
If you could pick one product…
“A black kohl liner — but it has to be a good one. So many make my eyes sensitive or are too dry and chalky. A creamy, long-lasting one gets my pick.”
Your secret to long-lasting make-up
“Choose oil-based formulas. If it’s water-based and I tear up, it will streak. If it’s oil-based, it doesn’t budge.”
Do you go bare-faced?
“Yes, but there’s one small rule: my hair has to be done. A chignon gives my face a nice lift.”
– The Interview People