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At first glance, you might make some wrong assumptions about Betty Who.
Standing over six feet tall with cropped, white-blonde hair that's shaved down at the sides — and more often than not wearing minimal makeup and head-to-toe menswear — she understands why it's a shock to strangers when they hear the words "my husband" leave her mouth. "My relationship to my gender and my look is actually very outside of my sexuality in so many ways, mostly because I identify as queer, but I've been in a relationship with a man since I was 23," Betty, now 30, tells Allure over Zoom.
Her look is one that's remained consistent in the 10 years that have passed since she released her first single, the viral marriage-proposal bop "Somebody Loves You," in 2012. With the exception of the occasional long or brightly colored wig, Betty's expanding mass of fans have rarely seen her without a short, platinum-blonde coif of hair, a cut she took about five years to land on before entering the spotlight. "It was very long in high school and it just got shorter and shorter. I think it was shoulder length and then it was kind of ear, bob-ish length."
It was getting an undercut, though, that really solidified her signature look in her mind. "I just realized the more butch [my hair] got, the cooler I felt," she explains. "Now I just want my hair to look like I'm a member of BTS all the time. That's my energy these days," Betty jokes about her current haircut, a close-shaven undercut on either side and back of her head, punctuated by a jaw-length mop of straight, blonde hair on top.
Betty Who on the red carpet in 2017.
Despite the use of the word "butch," Betty's queerness and outward appearance aren't all that connected. "I definitely think I present really queer, and I love that about me, [but] it wasn't really a choice of 'I want to look a certain way,'"
Unsurprisingly, it was the isolation of the pandemic that made her realize how she truly wanted to present herself. "I am someone — for better and for worse — who has spent a lot of time perceiving myself through the eyes of others, through other people's validation, through other people's experience of me," she explains. "And the last couple of years have given me, all of us, time to be away from the world's perceptions of us. And then the perception of me became about myself and the closest six people to me, who I saw like once a week in my quarantine bubble for two years." That, she says, gave her "time away to figure out exactly what made me feel like me."
Betty Who on the red carpet in 2022.
That's why Betty's overall look has become more androgynous since 2020 and she's let her feminine pouf grow out into a '90s-heartthrob-style mop (think Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliette). It still requires "aggressive" cut and color maintenance, but as far as day-to-day styling goes, she can keep things pretty simple with two key products.
"I love Oribe; they have a fortifying serum that I put in my hair every day. And then there is Bed Head… I really love their texture paste. That's what's always giving me this [wet-looking texture]." And because her hair has been consistently bleached for a decade straight, Betty's always working with some kind of deep-conditioning treatment, namely Moroccanoil's Smoothing Mask.
Oribe Hair Alchemy Fortifying Hair Serum
Tigi Bed Head Hard To Get Texturizing Paste
Moroccanoil Smoothing Mask
Though she once frequently wore punchy eye makeup and a bold red or pink lip, these days Betty's mostly focused on "looking like myself" and "serving skin and brow" (and doing a damn good job at it). Though she loves being catered to by a glam squad and expressing herself through makeup artistry, she no longer cares for makeup that makes her look like a completely different person.
"I don't want to be under 75 minutes worth of hair and makeup that I did to myself. I think I'm readjusting the way that I like to be seen out in the world instead of feeling like I'm hiding behind it," she explains. "Now I'm using makeup to enhance the person I already am and be like, yeah, this is actually my face. Here it is."
As for skin prep, Betty is "obsessed" with a handful of Dr. Dennis Gross products, the first being its Alpha Beta Daily Universal Peel, which she only uses once or twice a week because the exfoliating alpha and beta hydroxy acids it contains can cause dryness and irritation when overused, according to dermatologists.
"If you're a very intense, excessive person, stay away from the peel pads," she laughs. The second skin-care product she can't live without is the brand's Hyaluronic Marine Moisture Cushion, which she uses as a night cream. "I break out if I put oil on my face, so I have to use oil-free everything," Betty explains. "[This] makes me feel like I'm doing the like sleeping-moisturizing thing without feeling like I'm clogging my pores."
Courtesy of brand
Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Universal Peel
Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Moisture Cushion
That's about as expensive as Betty's beauty routine gets. "I love a $12 product when it's right." She leans on affordable makeup staples like CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara, Glossier's Cloud Paint, and Glossier's Boy Brow ("the ultimate"). The only exception? Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk. "It is the color of my mouth — it is crazy. I know that everybody says it's the perfect nude, but I've never seen anything like it," she says. "I've gone through, like, four of those lip liners in the last six months."
Courtesy of brand
CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara
Glossier Cloud Paint
Courtesy of brand
Glossier Boy Brow
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner
This grandeur journey of self-acceptance couldn't have come at a better point in Betty's life, considering she's about to make the jump from stage performer to television host with Prime Video's reality dating series, The One That Got Away, streaming June 24. The series, which connects real-life individuals with old flames, definitely forced Betty out of her beauty comfort zone — that comfort zone being bright, bold, dramatic stage makeup.
"It is a very different world. I had a couple of conversations, specifically with the hair and makeup team, where I was talking about stuff that I'd done on stage before and what I like to do [on stage]. And they were like, 'right, but we're making TV' and I kept being like, 'I don't get it,'" she recalls. "And then I started to understand how different makeup needs to be for the camera as opposed to the back row of the room that you're performing to on stage."
The show was only filmed in 2021, but Betty's outlook on beauty and on herself has already changed significantly since then. "I've been through such an evolution. I look back at the things I'm wearing on the show and I wouldn't pick any of those things or half of those things now," she explains.
And as she enters a new "era," so to speak — alongside hosting The One, Betty has just released a new single, "Blow Out My Candle", which means a new album and subsequent tour must be around the corner — she'll only continue to change more. And that's kind of the goal. "I'm holding a lot of space and grace for her to shift and move and be different than who she was yesterday and not be insecure about that."