As the host of “CNN Tonight,” Don Lemon, 51, is on the air about 260 days a year. Over time, he has developed a routine for looking his best that is part science, part ritual. Lemon, who lives in Harlem, and works from his office at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in New York City, shares his tips on how to be camera-ready:
I live by coconut oil and argan oil. In the shower, just as I’m done, I’ll put on regular old coco oil. I look for the ones that are 100 percent fractionated, because they stay liquid. Then I put argan oil on my face. It’s the youth secret. If I didn’t have to be on TV, I would never cut my hair. I would never comb it. I would just have a big Afro. But because I am, I keep it short, and I’ve had a similar haircut for the longest time. I have a guy I go to in Harlem, I have a guy on the East Side, I have a guy in Times Square and I have a guy who can come to the studio.
I’ve always been sort of preppy. I grew up in Baton Rouge, and through elementary school to high school, I had to wear uniforms. At first it was khaki pants and white shirts, and later it was navy blue pants and then white shirts or light blue shirts. It was poplin, button-downs and polos. I just sort of kept that same easy, classic American style. Maybe I’ll wear them with boat shoes or bucks. Lately, I’ve been wearing brown shoes — it’s a new thing. I also love a navy blue jacket or a dark jacket with a white shirt. Lately, for my on-air clothing, I’ve been a little more tailored. I won’t try to do too many pocket squares. I don’t want it to be about my clothes. Probably the fanciest thing I’ve worn is a Dries Van Noten jacket that somebody who works in fashion gave me. But I’m not a label person. I don’t care where it comes from as long as it looks good and fits well.
I try to run outside, even 20 minutes, as much as I can. I’m going to run to work tonight. That’s a good three miles. I’ll shower in the green room or at the nearby Equinox. I’m not a good runner. I’m more, “God, please help me get through this run.” I do set goals. Like, if I get to that next light pole or tree, I’ve made it. I run because it’s the only thing that really keeps the weight off. I like to eat, and I don’t like to restrict my diet. But also, all of the best ideas for the show have happened during runs. If I feel blocked about anything, I’ll go for a run. I think it’s the endorphins. It breaks through.
The best thing that I try to do is sleep. Because my day is segmented, I wake up in the morning, have my morning meeting and then go take a nap. I read and am up on news all day. When I get to work, I have a routine: I enter and leave the same door to my anchor desk. There are two doors and I always make sure I go out through the one I came in. Then it’s off to my amazing hair and makeup people. It takes about 10 minutes at most. After, I go to my office, check that my tie is straight, button my jacket and have a few minutes alone. I don’t read. It’s really just my time before I go on air.
Photographs: Don Lemon by Daniel Dorsa for The New York Times