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Gwen Stefani shares how her beauty line started after 'the biggest tragedy' of her life

Plus we try her new launch (and can say her makeup line is b-a-n-a-n-a-s).

You definitely know Gwen Stefani. The musician, who came on the scene as the singer for alt-rock band No Doubt in the ‘90s, before eventually launching a solo pop career, has been a radio staple for decades. Beyond her hits, Stefani has also taken over the fashion industry with her trendy L.A.M.B. apparel and accessories line, as well as the small screen with her role mentoring upcoming singers on NBC’s “The Voice.” But it’s her most recent business launch, beauty brand GXVE, where Stefani seems to be most connected to herself.

"When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with makeup," Stefani told Shop TODAY in an interview. "I don't know why; it was just always there. I can remember seeing pictures of my aunt Judy [when] she was in the '60s, so it was like big hair and big makeup ... and, I don't know, it just brought something out of me. I love anything old Hollywood. I love anything vintage."

However, it wasn't until she got a job at a mall giving people makeovers that she understood just how much of an effect makeup could have on another person.

"I have this one story of this woman. It's crazy, but I did her makeup and she looked in the mirror and she started crying. It made me almost cry! And it was like this gift that I gave her that she didn't know she could feel like that. And so that's really the heart of what this brand is — [it's] that feeling."

That one moment stuck with Stefani and eventually became the inspiration for an entire line of products — from high-performance lipsticks to sweat-proof brow pencils to mini eyeshadow palettes and more — but also the community she is aiming to build through the brand's new Ambassador Program. The members-only platform is designed to give beauty gurus a place to feel supported to learn and grow. "It's the community; creative people that love makeup and love artistry and love to show what they can do with the makeup and make it their own. It's going to be a place to be creative, to learn."

"But there was something that was in me that said you're not going to be happy unless you're doing something creative with your life and something that you feel is meaningful, and for me, that was this line."

Gwen Stefani

While some die-hard fans — who have been obsessing over her iconic red lip and winged liner since her "Don't Speak" days — may argue that the singer's decision to create a makeup line is long overdue, for Stefani, this venture came at just the right time.

"Honestly, four years ago, when I was going through the biggest tragedy of my life, which was my family falling apart, I really had to reassess everything and decide: What am I going to do for the rest of my life? Do I want to start something new? I mean, at that time, I didn’t know I was going to be marrying Blake Shelton, so I could have just floated away in Oklahoma and done nothing and just raised my teenagers. But there was something that was in me that said you’re not going to be happy unless you’re doing something creative with your life and something that you feel is meaningful, and for me, that was this line.”

That kind of passion can only come from someone who is absolutely in their element, something Stefani has proven time and time again while doing her own makeup. For years, she's created her own looks seen in photoshoots, performances and, even the most lauded fashion event of the year: the Met Gala.

"Especially during quarantine, I started getting really used to doing my own makeup for like two years. I did it for 'The Voice,' I did it for everything," she said. "And [the Met Gala] actually turned out great because, honestly, people do not stop asking me about that day because the makeup did look really good, I agree."

But that's not to say Stefani hasn't worked with other makeup artists before; in fact, she credits many of the experts she's partnered with for giving her the beauty knowledge she has today.

"I [get] so intimidated because some of these artists — they see color in a different way, they have all these techniques. They're exposed to so many products, and they're trying so many things," she said. "I just learn so much. Every time I work with somebody new, I learn something new. And I learn things that I don't like, too."

After receiving a few GXVE products to try myself, it's evident that she kept these lessons in mind while creating her formulas, for which she says she spent a lot of time personally testing and perfecting with chemists. All of the products are clean, 100 percent vegan and cruelty free and are even packaged with sustainable materials, according to the brand. Most importantly, the brand promises "artistry-level" payoff and performance, which I can now say is no exaggeration.

Courtesy Danielle Murphy

Below, I round up some of the top products from the GXVE line — including the brand's most recent drop, the Pop Electric Lip Glosses.

Gwen Stefani's GXVE beauty line

GXVE Bubble Pop Electric High-Performance Clean Lip Gloss

During our chat, I told Stefani about how I had previously sworn off glosses (they typically disappear from my lips minutes after I apply them!), but with the Bubble Pop Electric formula, I didn't have to re-apply for hours. "For me, it was really about trying to get a gloss that goes on, that’s not going to really move," she said.

GXVE Line It Up Clean 24-Hr Gel Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner

Eyeliners are one of my favorite beauty products to use, so I had high expectations with this one. And I wasn't disappointed — the creamy formula applies to the lid easily and the pigment is intense. I also found it easy to blend, which worked out well when trying to create a smokey eye. I have yet to test its waterproof powers, but I recently noticed that after receiving a sit down massage (with my face planted into a chair), the liner didn't budge after 15 minutes of pushing my face into a headrest.

GXVE Eye See in Color Clean Multidimensional Eyeshadow Palette

I've been using this palette almost every day for the last couple of weeks — as much for the beautiful neutral tones of the shadows as for the convenience of its compactness. I love how this can fit in any purse, so I bring it with me to the office and events for quick touchups. They blend like a dream for me and come in shades that are easy to tone up or down as you see fit.

GXVE I’m Still Here Longwear Clean Matte Liquid Lipstick

If you've always wanted to mimic Stefani's famous red lip, this is the liquid lipstick to add to your cart ASAP. It's surprisingly lightweight, unsurprisingly pigmented and, trust me, once this formula dries down, it won't budge.

GXVE Anaheim Line Clean Waterproof Lip Liner

The GXVE lip liner is another staple if you want the look of a fuller lip. The pencil was designed for precise application.

GXVE All Time Prime Clean Hydrating Prep & Smooth Face Oil

As for Stefani's favorite product, it's the primer. "The primer is something that I use daily. You could wear it on its own, but the way I use it is I mix it into my makeup and to me that just gives it that finish," she said.

She was so serious about getting the formula right that she made sure to try it out when she said she looks her worst: on a plane. "The lighting up there is not flattering, and so I did half of my face without the primer, half of it with and tested it all day long. That's when I finally knew I did it. I made a product that I actually started reaching for."

GXVE Most Def Clean Instant Definition Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil

With a chisel-shaped end, this eyebrow pencil is designed to make brow sculpting much easier and way more precise. According to the brand, the formula is "long-wearing, transfer-proof, and sweat-proof." Plus, you can perfect your shaping with the spoolie conveniently attached on the other side.