Three things that have stood the test of time: The pyramids, Golden Girls, and Avril Lavigne‘s aesthetic. Two decades after Let Go made her a pop-punk princess, the singer releases her seventh album, Love Sux, on February 25. “This record is a reflection of what I’ve loved about music,” Lavigne tells me over the phone in the weeks before its release. “I’ve been diverse throughout the years, but I was always drawn towards having guitar-driven songs. That’s how my sound was on my first album.”
Lavigne’s Love Sux era is poised to be one of her best. The album delivers on what fans crave most from the Canadian-born artist: crowd-pleasing melodies, a guitar-heavy sound, and energetic rhythms. Lyrically, there’s just the right amount of angst: enough to get you in your feelings without putting you in a mood. Lavigne’s latest effort will check off all the right boxes for Millennials in particular — it’s nostalgic without feeling dated or stale.
And that’s just so Avril, right? The 37-year-old is one of a handful of mainstream women artists who were at the forefront of the pop-punk/emo/alternative scene of the early aughts. She helped define the sound and look of the era, both of which she’s gracefully maintained over the years. Lavigne’s is a masterclass in knowing your lane and staying in it — on a very well-cared for road, mind you. Her style has grown up with her, but its DNA remains the same. Case in point? Her signature smoky, kohl-rimmed eyes.
“I wanted those black eyes when I was younger,” she says. “I’d use whatever I could get my hands on.” In 2002, that meant going on a serious hunt for shadows and liners black enough to create the intensity she wanted. “Back then, makeup wasn’t really that good. It was so hard to find a black eye shadow that had pigment. Everything we put on was gray,” she recalls. “It was a lot of smudging with eyeliner, sometimes more than the eye shadow.” At the time, she relied on MAC’s Smolder liner, a pencil she still reaches for today.
But don’t get it twisted — Lavigne may be using at least one of the same products, but her approach to executing her signature makeup look has indeed evolved. When you’ve been doing it yourself for 20 years, it has to. “I just can’t stand people doing my makeup, because I know how I like it. If anything, I do half of it or let them touch me up,” she shares. “No one can do it right. Plus, I can’t sit in a chair for an hour while someone’s doing my makeup. It drives me nuts, especially when I can do my smoky eye in two minutes.”
The process is less of a routine and more of a ritual. On early shoot days, it starts before she even leaves the house. “I literally wake up, I go to my bathroom, and start my makeup,” she says. Once her face is cleansed, moisturized, and primed, she applies her brows, base, and gets to her eyes last. “You don’t want it to be just black,” she explains. “I’ve learned over the years that you want to do some browns in there and some gray in with it, too. Then you use the black. If you just do solid black, it’s really hard to get it a good shape.” She starts by applying her beloved Smolder liner to her lower lash area. “Line the inside, a little bit at the bottom, and then smudge it,” she instructs. Then she gets to work blending and shaping the lids.
That last part is a modern feature of Lavigne’s signature smoky eye. In her teens, she favored an unfussy-but-impactful flat black blended out relatively close to the lash line, carefully hugging the natural shape of her eyes. The 2022 version of the look has far more bells and way shinier whistles. “It’s a little more glamorous, I’ll wing it out with a liquid liner,” Lavigne explains, noting that she’s recently leveled up in mastering her technique. “It took me literally up until a year ago to figure out how to use liquid eyeliner. It was always so hard for me. And now I can just — ha, ha, no pun intended — wing it and do it really fast.” If she’s feeling a little extra, she’ll bring in an element of bling. “If I’m going on on TV, I’ll say, ‘okay, let’s add some sparkles,'” though she’ll try to steer clear of anything too chunky. “I actually hate wearing sparkles because they end up in my eye. I used to wear real sparkles a lot. Now, I’ll reach for a glittery, silvery metallic-y eye shadow to use instead. It gives the same effect but it’s more of a shimmer.”
Hair has also been a key element of Lavigne’s overall look from the start. Those bone-straight, dirty-blonde strands that swung just past her chest in 2002’s Complicated were the result of painstaking flat ironing. “I have curly hair,” she casually mentions, to which I am audibly shocked. “Google it,” she tells me, calling out a specific image from 2019. She’s wearing a fur-lined black jacket and a vintage band T-shirt. Her hair blooms around her in loose ringlets. “Yeah, dude, that’s my hair. I let it air-dry.”
Of course, I love it, but that only makes one of us. “No, I fucking hate it,” Lavigne says in a way I’m sure she has a thousand times before. “My friends and everybody else love it. They’re like, ‘Why don’t you wear your hair like that?'” She admits that at times her natural texture can look “cool and beachy,” but it doesn’t seem as if the singer will be abandoning her hot tools anytime soon.
Length and color are of course another major element. Lavigne favors a super long silhouette, one that stops just above her belly button, always in a shade of blonde light enough to highlight the bright hues she’ll often add to the mix. Sometimes, her crown is striped with neon green. Other times, she’s sporting orange soda-colored tips. But whether or not those bright bits are extensions, Lavigne has to be as gentle with her hair as she can possibly be given what it goes through. That means keeping the passes of her flatiron to a minimum, setting her blow-dryer to a cooler temperature, and very gentle brushing.
She also tries not to wash her hair too often, something she can get away with thanks to its thicker, drier texture. Before her blowouts, she applies a universal fave, the Moroccanoil Treatment, and a leave-in conditioner or heat protectant. Like her makeup, her hair is at its best when she does it herself. She runs into trouble, though, once work starts to pick up and she’s getting it styled for appearances and shoots. “When I’m not working and getting my hair done all the time, it will grow really, really long,” Lavigne explains. “The second I start with the heat, the curling irons, and the flatirons, I lose length. It’s wild.”
The thing that’s perhaps remained most consistent about Lavigne’s look over the years is her face. It. Is. Exactly. The. Same. The woman is aging at a vampire’s pace. She’s only 37, but still looks so much like she did in the 2000s, it’s caused a few of her fans to theorize that Lavigne was actually cloned in 2005 and has since been replaced by her double.
It’s ridiculous, sure, but the streets still need to know what the heck she’s been doing to her face. Lavigne is short on the details, but counts her electric face brush, Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant cleanser, and the brand’s Active Moist moisturizer among her go-tos. She tries to steer clear of products with harsh chemicals or fragrances. On heavy makeup days, she starts the process of removing all that shadow with the Young Living Savvy Minerals Makeup Wipes.
That is, of course, if she even wants to remove it in the first place. The best kind of smoky eye, according to Lavigne, is one that’s been slept on — literally. “You can sleep in it and looks even cooler the next day,” she says. “It stays on, you wake up, and it’s still there. There’s nothing like going to bed with a full black eye on and waking up the next day. It looks so rock and roll.” I don’t ask if it’s worth the dirty laundry, I already know the answer: “A hundred percent, dude.”
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