Entertainer Jackie Clarke's Beauty Routine
The popular Kiwi with a penchant for colour is happy to sing and wear it loud
“As an entertainer one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal is how you look,” says Jackie Clarke. “Honey, I am never a shrinking violet; make an entrance and then own your space.”
Her entrances have been many over the years, on stage and screen and touring the country. First we got to know her voice. She was a member of the female feel-good group When the Cat’s Been Spayed and also toured and recorded with Dave Dobbyn, Annie Crummer and the Netherworld Dancing Toys from the 1980s onward. Then her face became a fixture on television, hosting and judging on shows, including NZ Idol. There’s also been Christmas in the Park performances, musicals and theatre shows aplenty, and time to perform in groups ranging from a capella gospel to alt-country. In 2016, Jackie’s tireless work was recognised when she was named Female Artist by the Variety Club charity.
When asked if her image is a bit zany as a performance thing or her personified, Jackie says: "If by zany you mean amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic then yeah I’ll grab that moniker and run with it! There are other dictionary definitions of the ‘z’ word I’m not so down with.”
She is down with embracing her own liking for self-expression. "In my day-to-day life I am a magpie who gravitates towards colour, texture, the eclectic and the quirky, but I also like to be comfortable and natural. It doesn’t matter how you dress, people will naturally be looking at you, so you may as well be authentic to yourself, and if they take a second look, so be it.”
For stage performances, she likes to channel some old school Hollywood glamour with a powerful va-voom silhouette. “But I like to be playful about it and take the piss a bit.”
Auckland audiences will get the chance to see Jackie next in ONCE: The Musical from June 27 until July 14. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, the musical, first performed on Broadway to award-winning acclaim, is set in modern-day Dublin. Among its songs is 'Falling Slowly'. See it at the ASB Waterfront theatre.
I think with age comes wisdom and I know now that beauty is being comfortable in your own skin; that’s something I didn’t know or feel when I was younger. I just saw all my faults. I guess I try and look after my skin a little better now that I’m in my 50s….my skin is definitely getting a little more ‘lived in’ looking, so I need to take better care of it. When I was younger, my naturally oily complexion kept me looking fresh, but now I have a ‘resting bitch face’ from years of furrowing my brows because of short sightedness and a tendency to think a lot (and apparently, I frown when I’m thinking). The collateral damage of a life spent deep in thought and trying to see things more clearly, is a few frown lines, but at the age of 53 I think I look better than I’ve ever looked because I’m at peace with myself.
I have always dressed to please myself and express my individuality. Why be vanilla when you can be mango-pineapple with a twist of mint? I naturally love to frock up and make a statement — I’ve been like that since I was a teenager scouring op-shops for winkle-picker shoes and vintage frocks and teasing my hair to within an inch of its life. In the right outfit with the right hair and makeup I feel fierce, free, powerful and sexy and that’s a great platform to perform from.
Real life v stage life
Day-to-day I don’t wear any makeup at all and my feet are always flat on the floor in Chuck Taylors or maybe a boot with a wedge heel — you will never find me in high heels if I’m not working, I don’t want to work that hard! But I do love bright, funky, interesting clothes and I try to look good whenever I have the time to.
When I’m on stage I love to go full drag queen fabulous and be larger than life so I can command a room. I have a wonderful makeup and hair artist called Darren Meredith who knows exactly how to get me from Grey Lynn mother of two to Diva ready. It’s the most fun working together as a team to get the look perfect.
Playing Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes at the Civic a few years back. It was the most opulent experience I’ve had in New Zealand theatre. I wore a beautiful custom-made auburn wig that gave me a halo of glamour waves ( it was worth more than my car at the time ) and I had multiple costume changes into glamourous suits, dresses, and a red sequinned ball gown that was simply magnificent. I felt like the Samoan Rita Hayworth; it was wonderful.
Shiseido beauty cake and lots and lots of 80s liquid eyeliner.
Look gone wrong
I shaved my head in the late 1980s a la Sinead O’Connor thinking I’d look androgynous and intoxicating, not realising I have a completely wonky shaped noggin — quite flat on one side — it was not good. It led me to a life-long love of hats… they can hide a multitude of sins.
I cleanse my face in the shower, then tone and moisturise and give the skin around my eyes a little extra love and I’m never more than a metre away from a pair of tweezers! If I’ve been working I’m extra rigorous with makeup removal. I use Simple skin wipes, a gentle eye makeup remover, a hot steamy towel for a final cleanse, then rejuvenate my skin with moisturiser and serums. I exfoliate regularly too, especially if I’m wearing a lot of slap.
On the road
My beauty routines stay the same when I’m travelling. I do try extra hard to look after the basics of looking and feeling good: get as much sleep as possible, drink lots of water, beware of hotel air conditioning units because they dry you out, and eat healthily. I can’t eat before I perform so it’s a challenge not eating the Pringles in the mini bar at the end of the night.
Hair and its care
My hair is naturally super fine and super dark brown, oily at the roots. It's currently dyed with what I would call waka blonde highlights. I went Rihanna Raspberry Red for a role I did a while back and the base for that was a significant lightening of hue. Then I played Donna in Mamma Mia and I needed to match the dark blonde of the wonderful performer Sammie Campbell who played my daughter. I really like being a dirty blonde so I’ve kept it going. I have a wonderful hair stylist, Carl Skinner, who is a genius with colour and really looks after me when I need or want to go somewhere different. Now that my hair is coloured, I take better care of it using a mixture of Redken and Davines products.
A good pair of false eyelashes works wonders but make sure you trim them so they fit your eye properly and use a good glue like Duo so there’s no spiders falling on your face mid-sentence.
Five favourite products
1. Evolu Aloe Vera/Rosa Gallica Facial Toner Rebalancing Mist. I just love this morning spritz of ‘wake up and face the day’
2. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex 11 & Eye Concentrate Matrix. Two products with the longest names in the universe, so I’ll call them Arthur and Martha because I’m a twin and I think of these as my twin skin routine — can’t have one without the other. I’m a recent convert to both these products before I moisturise, they really sum up where my skin is at now. The eye serum has a silky lightness and I love the way it softens the lifelines that have accumulated around the windows to my soul. The Advanced Night Repair gives me that little something more I need for my skin now and I’m a sucker for its cute little squeezy applicator.
3. Estee Lauder Resilience Multi Effect Tri-Peptide Face and Neck Crème. This completes my all-important moisturising regime. It sits on my skin beautifully and has an SPF 15 which is essential when you live in Aotearoa.
4. Davines This Is An Invisible No Gas Spray. My favourite hair product of all time. I have very fine hair, but a lot of it, so it can be hard to work with. This spray gives me maximum volume and maximum hold without getting crunchy, and it smells so good!
5. Ardell Natural Demi Wispies false eyelashes are the bomb and I never sing without them. When on stage, natural-schmatural!
Treatment to try
As a performer, I’m a little bit superstitious about my getting ready rituals. Before opening night of a theatre season I will take some time for myself by giving my skin the best home spa treatment known to man, woman and everyone between on the gender spectrum, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask. It’s a super lux, super hydrating treatment that gets my skin ready for the rigours of working every night wearing makeup and getting super sweaty working under hot lights. It’s a real treat.
Sparkling smiling eyes, a warm empathetic smile and being at ease with yourself and the people around you.
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