Christie Brinkley on Latte Art, Wellness, and Cheese

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Clearly, Christie Brinkley doesn't feel the polar vortex. Photo: ANNA GUNSELMAN/courtesy photo

It's undeniable, even at 10 a.m. on a recent freezing morning: Christie Brinkley is still smiley and friendly, and has really bouncy hair. The supermodel was in New York recently to promote her newest venture, Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare, which included exfoliating live on the TV show Dr. Oz and a special appearance at HSN. She also recently appeared in Barneys new campaign, Better Than Ever, which she calls a "signal" to our "ageist country." 

In a new feature called Wellness Diaries, the Cut sat down with Brinkley to learn more about her wellness practices, her fondness for DIY latte art, and her favorite nutrition Instagram account.

Every facet of your life contributes to your well-being. My whole day is based on a foundation of gratitude, and that is what sustains, supports, and propels me through my day. I'm always looking for a way to bloom where I’m planted, and to be grateful for wherever I am at any moment of the day. Most people will agree that when they feel good, they look good, and when they don’t feel well, they don’t look as well. The healthiest thing is to put the emphasis on health and wellness, and let beauty be the result of that.

Growing up, my mom was a health nut. We had one health-food store in Malibu and she was probably their best regular customer. She was actually allergic to chocolate, so she started originally going there to get carob. Then when I became a vegetarian, shortly thereafter my whole family became vegetarian. I call myself a flexible vegan because, you know, Italy exists. [Laughs.] Mozzarella and pasta exist. In France, I may have to have a piece of Camembert, you know. Un petit sandwich au fromage

I start every day with warm water and lemons. It’s something I picked up on my Instagram. [Laughs.] I follow a lot of healthy sites on Instagram. I like one called Visual Health. She does a lot of charts, so it’ll be like “The Benefits of Kale,” and will have them all listed so you really see it. Some days I alter it, and I get fancy and I put a little bit of mānuka honey on the rim of the glass, turn it upside down, and dump it in red cayenne pepper. Then I put the lemon juice in and then the hot water. That’s when I have a little time. I figure that the pepper gets my system all revved up, and the lemon water gets everything flowing through. I write about it in my upcoming book. I start my day with that, and then I go right into a cup of coffee. I use So Delicious Hazelnut coffee creamer, which is less bad than some of the things you can put in there. And I like to, when I put my foam in the cup, look at it and get inspired to do a drawing. [Laughs.]

The latte art just gently wakes me up. I can only do that on kind of quiet days, or less pressed days. But I do them very quickly anyway, because I want to get to the coffee while it’s still hot. And then I go exfoliate my skin, take my shower, put my moisturizer on, and get into my day. I think exfoliating in the morning prepares my skin for my day cream, and my day cream for my foundation.

In my early days as a model, I looked at the other models and was like — I’m not cut out for this, I don’t look like the other girls, and immediately started eating less. That wasn’t good, because what they liked about me was that I was different. They seemed to like the fact that you couldn’t see my bones. But I tried some pretty weird diets in the beginning. I did everything from juice fasting to eating one kind of food at a time, to eating a grapefruit first before everything. The only thing that really lasts is a well-balanced diet.

Back when I first starting modeling, people said that you would be over by the time you’re 30. I took that as Well yeah, but I’ll have moved on to other things, so that’s fine. Little did I know that I would actually love it so much and have such a good time and that opportunities would continue to present themselves. Like the recent Barneys campaign — I love that it is called Better Than Ever, and that they’re using experienced women. It says a lot about our constantly expanding ideas of beauty and relevancy. In our ageist country, we have made people feel like they are no longer relevant after a certain age. This campaign is saying loud and clear: You matter, we care about you, we want you as our customer. We understand that you are still stylish, movers and shakers, and you’re not going to just disappear. I applaud Barneys sending this signal, which will affect the way women think of themselves. Our country has trained people to feel a certain way about reaching certain ages. This ad is a way to break that down and be yourself and not feel constrained by any of these numbers. I love this industry. It’s been amazing for me and I see how so many models have been able to carve out really interesting careers.