How Amber Glenn Keeps Her Cool

The figure skating champion shares the products she counts on to last through “sweat, blood, and tears.”

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If you follow figure skating, you know the name Amber Glenn. The 24-year-old won the 2024 U.S. National Champion title in January and has amassed over one million followers on TikTok, where she films the best of her skating moves, close-ups of her bejeweled makeup looks, and fun lip syncs with her friends on the ice. But beyond her ability to nail a triple Axel (shes only the sixth American woman to land one in an international competition), Glenn has also become an inspirational figure for her advocacy.

From notably taking a break from her sport in service of her mental health in 2015, to coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in 2019, Glenn has always existed in the competitive figure skating space on her own terms. Her decision to stay true to herself has led to the biggest accolades of her career so far — and something tells us she’s just getting started.

Ahead, NYLON talks with Glenn about the meditative aspect of doing your own hair and makeup, the best moisturizing routine for cold temps, and how her beauty routine plays a part in her winning mindset.

Figure skating is one of the sports that lends itself to a lot of pageantry and makeup — was that always something that you were attracted to?

To be honest, no. I was a tomboy. When I was younger and had my mom putting liquid glitter on my eyes, I would start crying. It just wasn't my thing. But as I got older, makeup became part of the process. It became part of the preparation — putting on my war paint and getting into the character just added a boost of confidence. Now it's a huge part.

Can you think of an event or competition that was really pivotal for you? Walk me through that day beauty-wise.

There are a few that are pretty pivotal. Of course, a more recent one would be this year, when I won my first National Championship. But going back a bit further, the first [pivotal moment was] when I won my first Senior National Medal in 2021. That was my first big breakthrough.

It's hard to remember exactly what happened that day, but we were all separated due to COVID at the time. So, I was all by myself and I really took the time to get into my routine and zone in — that’s part of preparing for competition. You do your off-ice warmup, you stretch, you put your skates on. Part of that is also making sure that my hair is pulled back right, that my makeup looks right, that my skin looks nice. It's all part of preparing to go out and perform. I wanted to look my best and feel really confident out there.

What kind of preparation goes into plotting out your look for a competition, from the costumes to the makeup?

Once I find the music with my choreographer, there’s a team at U.S. figure skating that will help with advising [on the look]. They’ll ask, “Are we going to go for a softer look or a more bold look?” Or say, “This color would look great,” or “This fabric flows in a certain way.” There's just a lot of thought and effort put into creating that full package.

I'll give my input, as well as my coaches. Of course, we'll run it by some judges just to make sure that there’s nothing that will be unapproved. We have to follow certain guidelines — it can't be to the point of being too costumey. A look that’s too outlandish can end up being a deduction. There are a lot of steps and efforts that go into the process, but a lot of the time, I hear a piece of music, there's a vision there, and I try my best to express what I'm feeling and thinking.

In 2021, what was the vision for those routines? Walk me through the looks that you decided on.

For the free skate, it was to a piece called “Rain In Your Black Eyes” [by Ezio Bosso], and we went with that rain aspect — a little bit of blue and something kind of simple just because it's such an expressive program. For the short program, the song was “Scars” by Madilyn Bailey — which was a cover of a punk rock song — so again, we went with something more simple. We had gone through multiple costumes that year and nothing was working out, so eventually we went with a crystal practice piece and it worked great.

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The morning of competitions, do you do your own makeup and hair?

It’s definitely a part of my routine; it’s almost like meditating. I have to allot a certain amount of time for each thing and it's usually a bit longer than usual because I'm nervous. It’s a huge part of getting into the competitive mindset.

Usually I'll start by taking a nice hot shower — just to get limber and ready for the day — and before I put on all the glam and everything, I'll make sure that I'm nice and moisturized. Then, I'll start with my hair doing the look I need that day — usually it’s a crown braid or a slick-back ponytail. Then, I'll go on to makeup. I usually keep it pretty simple in the morning and I might add on later since it's a pretty long day between when I first wake up and when I actually compete. I'll just make sure I have a good base and maybe my falsies on, and then later I'll add on more of the eyeshadow and eyeliner look part of it. I will usually have a fun TV show going to the background just to keep me lighthearted. I know this most recent nationals, I was watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

What are those key makeup items?

I am a huge eyeliner and mascara person. Since I'm on the ice and it's all white and I'm rather pale, I want to make sure that my eyes pop. Even though it’s freezing, I am sweating usually, so having a good waterproof eyeliner, mascara, and base is huge for me. For eyeliner, I use a Maybelline liquid eyeliner pen and my mascara is L’Oréal Telescopic— waterproof, of course, because there's a lot of sweat, blood, and tears and figure skating. Because I have blonde hair, I also have to tint my eyebrows a lot of the time because they will be so light and it'll look like I only have the outer half of my eyebrows if I don't.

I put AmLactin [Daily Nourish Body Lotion] on my arms and legs so I can feel confident out there and not looking dry in that cold atmosphere. You don't want to have skin flakes or any bumps or anything that can be zoomed in on national TV. And none of us figure skaters can live without our hairspray — it's very necessary. As a kid I always use göt2B Glued hairspray; now I use Keratin Complex hairspray.

We can't really wear gloss, especially if we have our hair in a pony tail or half-up-down, because then hair will get stuck on our faces, so a lot of the time I use matte lipsticks and lip liners.

Before I go out, I usually put a little bit of powder on, make sure my highlighter is popping — I love the Fenty Beauty Diamond Bomb — and then I'm out on the ice.

How do you take care of your skin after a full day of wearing all this waterproof makeup?

I use Neutrogena makeup wipes and then I scrub it off in the shower, using micellar water. I absolutely love the Dr. Bronner’s body wash. I've been experimenting with different face washes since I have very sensitive skin, but I have been using the Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Face Cleanser and the Soothing Treatment Lotion that goes with it that’s like a toner.

Is there anything else you love beauty-wise, off the ice?

I'm a basic girl. I have those competitions to where I almost feel like I’m going to prom when I’m getting ready. So when it comes to every day, I keep it pretty simple and pretty consistent.

It really is like going to the prom all the time!

Oh, for sure. It's like getting ready for that. But also like, I'm going to go run a marathon.