5 Completely Serious Beauty Tips From Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka

Getty / Monica Schipper

In a refreshing display of self-awareness, Atsuko Okatsuka describes her signature style as “art-gallery owner.” The comedian, whose HBO stand-up special “The Intruder” was named best debut special of 2022 by The New York Times, joins a Zoom call with POPSUGAR wearing a pair of earrings with dangling faux shrimp. Her signature bowl cut is also front and center.

“I think it’s very artsy and maybe avant-garde, not to give myself such huge compliments,” she says of the cropped hairstyle.

When it comes to her beauty routine before shows, Okatsuka knows the value of always being prepared – especially given how unpredictable live comedy can be. In a viral clip from 2019, the comedian takes the stage only to be met with a sudden earthquake.

“My childhood [and] chaotic upbringing will prepare you for that, you know, having to improvise,” she says. Okatsuka was raised by her grandmother and speaks about her mother’s mental health diagnosis in her act. “I became a stand-up comedian because whenever things got tense in the household, I would always want to bring levity to it and break the tension with jokes. So in a way, it’s like, ‘What’s an earthquake? My mom has schizophrenia.’ I can deal with anything.”

Of course, there are aspects that Okatsuka can control, and that’s where her preshow rituals come in. “Getting ahead of physical issues will really help you calm yourself, too,” she says. “[Like using a] humidifier at home before I go to bed so that my throat doesn’t get dry while I’m performing or wearing Secret antiperspirant so that I know that I’m not at least sweating, or smelling when I’m doing meet and greets.”

From sweat-fighting antiperspirant to her grandmother’s unconventional advice, here are five completely serious beauty tips from Okatsuka.

Tip 1: Engage in Aerobic (and Potentially Dangerous) Vocal Warmups

Due to performing multiple hourlong sets and hosting meet and greets on her current “Full Grown” comedy tour, Okatsuka sometimes talks for up to four hours a day, so vocal warmups are a must. “I do a light version of what I think other people do,” she says. “I’ve started doing vocal warmups like I’m on Broadway or something. It does help me.”

In addition to following vocal warmup videos on YouTube, the comedian likes to get her body moving in preparation for shows. “I do this thing where I run really, really fast in place and then suddenly let my arms go into space,” she says. “It kind of feels like you just did poppers or something. Your brain just goes, ‘Ah!,’ and then you see black for a second. I don’t know if it’s healthy, but it feels good.”

Tip 2: Reclaim Your Childhood Haircut

Okatsuka’s trademark hairstyle not only aligns with her gallery-owner aesthetic but is also a way to reclaim her childhood self. Like many millennials, the comedian was given the cut as a toddler.

“It’s about embracing your true inner child and the ways you really wanted to dress and your authentic self that maybe you were denying yourself of when you were younger,” she says. “Once I was a teenager, I wanted to be cool, so I wanted to dress and look like what was more popular and ‘in’ instead of dressing like how I would have really liked to, which is how I dress now, with food earrings and rocking this haircut that, like, historically people make fun of and they go, ‘Ew, bowl cut. How embarrassing!,’ and it’s like, ‘Have you seen art? You don’t know art?'”

Tip 3: If You Have Armpit Odor, Simply Don’t Raise Your Arms

Though the women in her family never wore much makeup, Okatsuka does recall one particularly unique beauty tip from her grandmother. “When I started growing hair under my arms, my grandma was like, ‘Oh, just don’t lift your arms. Just keep it down and that’s that,'” she says. “And I was like, ‘But what about the smells and stuff?’ And she was like, ‘Just keep it down.'”

Tip 4: Just Kidding; There’s a Product For That

“There’s product now. You don’t have to hide,” Okatsuka says about the potential stress of sweat stains. “I’m all about being your true authentic self . . . you’re not alone. I mean, I didn’t know there was an antiperspirant that lasts for three whole days.”

The comedian has recently partnered with Secret Clinical – an antiperspirant that boasts 72 hours of protection – to prepare for potentially sweat-inducing moments on stage.

Tip 5: Sometimes It’s OK to Ignore Your Mother’s Beauty Advice

Moms can be great sources of beauty inspiration, but sometimes you just don’t see eye to eye. And that’s fine. “They are of their own world,” Okatsuka says of her mom and grandmother. “My mom doesn’t really go out, and my grandma’s just old school. You know, she’s telling me to keep my arms down. So I was like, ‘I think I’ll find my own path with beauty if that’s OK.'”

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