How Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Has Perfected Zoom Lighting

The supermodel turned musician, and the former first lady of France, says that lighting is more important than makeup.


By Bee Shapiro

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the supermodel turned musician, spent Covid lockdown in the gorgeous south of France, where she holed up with her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, and their bevy of children. There, tucked away in a makeshift studio, she finished her self-titled sixth studio album, which will be released on Oct. 9. (You can hear the single “Un Grand Amour” from the album here.)

Ms. Bruni-Sarkozy, 52, recently returned to Paris, where, she said, “everyone is prudently going back to work” and she is busy figuring out a virtual tour. See how she’s handling it all, below.

Working Through Stress

In the beginning of the lockdown, we were in the south of France. There was a lot of anxiety. You couldn’t project yourself into the future, and we were not used to that. So there was quite a lot of stress. But we were stuck there, and both my husband and I started working.

I had about 40 percent of the album written before confinement. The rest of the album I did during then. Luckily, I had taken everything I needed with me: a microphone, a computer, a guitar. The confinement became a very productive working time for me. We had endless hours and no school.

I did have to change my routine. Creativity — I’m often inspired by just walking outside and looking at people, looking at life. But we couldn’t do any of that. So, instead, I did a lot of exercise in the morning, then I would spend time with the children. We spent time cooking. And then I had this dedicated music time when I was able to write. It was a strange prison, but we found a way to be free.

Creams, Please

I am very, very casual about makeup and hairstyling in my personal life. But I love skin care. I love scrubbing, cleaning and moisturizing. There is this dark soap with olive oil from Morocco that you can find in the pharmacies. It comes with a special glove, and you cleanse and scrub at the same time. It’s even better if you use it with steam.

I don’t go for gel or serums or stuff like that. I have dry skin. I use very rich but simple creams with oil. I like the ones from La Roche-Posay. It’s a French brand — it’s very good. I especially like the Lipikar ones. It moisturizes for hours and hours.

Since the pandemic, I wash my hands all the time, even in the house. This Covid, it’s also on surfaces, and I became really paranoid. But I’ve also realized it’s a good habit for life. I’ve been using the Avene Cold Cream on my hands. Sometimes I’ll use it on my face, even on my lips.

Otherwise, I maintain my hands with manicures. I have to have short nails on my left hand because I need the fingertips for the guitar. When I would tour, I’d give them a really nice red polish. That’s kind of nice — to see that red on the stage.

Easy on the Makeup

There is a CC cream by this brand Erborian. It’s absolutely fantastic, and it covers up the things you need covered but doesn’t cover your skin completely. It also has a sun block in it. I use it every day. It gives you a sort of glow but is not thick and is very moisturizing.

Otherwise, with all this time we spend on the phone and computer having video meetings, I’ve realized that the lighting is more important than the makeup. All this Zoom on the laptops, the camera is too low. It’s a very strange way of filming people. No one looks their best like this.

I would put the camera or laptop a little higher. Then put some light on your hair — backlighting — which can be nice. And in front of you, put a candle. Also, don’t be so close to the screen.

Amber Nights

I wear a fragrance from Dior called Ambre Nuit. I’ve been wearing it six or seven years. Someone from Dior sent it to me long ago. I love it so much. I wear it even to sleep.

Gentle Hair Care

My hair is quite fragile. I try to treat it with kindness. I use very, very mild products and also for dyeing my hair a little bit. I use these natural products from Aveda, and I also use some wonderful conditioner by Christophe Robin made from fig. It’s so rich, and you only leave it on for a few moments. Christophe used to dye my hair long ago. We met at the beginning — the beginning for him, but for me too.

I also use this bamboo shampoo from Leonor Greyl. It’s such a good shampoo and moisturizer. It’s like the shampoo respects your hair.

No-Diet Diet

I don’t have a particular diet. I still eat gluten, I still eat meat. I do try to eat in small portions. It’s the only solution that works for me. Occasionally I like fasting for maybe 20 to 22 hours on a Sunday. It’s no exercising that day, and I rest my metabolism.

If I’m performing or working on songs, I love to drink tea — with honey, with ginseng, with ginger and lemon. It’s so good for the throat.

Cardio Queen

I have to do one hour of cardiovascular exercise per day. I love running, but I don’t have a good back so I cannot really run now. I do some StairMaster or anything that gets my heart beating and to increase my metabolism. Sometimes I do some yoga or Pilates. Those take more patience, but they also do something else, something to my soul that I don’t get from regular exercise.

But for the most part I like sports that you can feel and where you can sweat. For me — I’m 52 now — I either have to do sports, or I have to diet. I don’t want to diet. I want to eat a little piece of bread or drink a beer. This is why I do sports.

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