If you’ve seen Jen Welter, PhD on the sidelines of a football field, make no mistake: she wasn’t there to cheer on her favorite team. Instead, she was either waiting for her time on the field or calling the plays. In 2015, Welter, 42, became the first female to coach an NFL team. That season, she served as an assistant linebackers coach for the Arizona Cardinals®.
The Vero Beach, FL, native has worked her way up through the ranks. Previously, she was the Defensive Specialist for the Atlanta Legendssm, the first female to play running back in men’s pro football for the Texas Revolution®, and the Head Coach of the First Australian Women's National Team.
Beyond her impressive resume on the field, the author and two-time IFAF Women’s World Championship Gold medalist recently partnered with ORLY® to introduce Kick GlassTM, a shattered glass-effect top coat that empowers women on and off the field to break the glass ceiling and lead strong, fearless, and fulfilled lives.
In addition to her stance on painting her nails (and toenails), we chatted with Welter about her favorite beauty treatments and her gameday skincare routine. Given that her colleagues are mostly male, we wanted to know: had she taught them anything about grooming? Perhaps they had some beauty-pointers for her, too.
Read on for our touchdown interview, where Welter explains the challenges she faced as a woman in football, her stance on anti-aging, and what she loves to do when she isn’t thinking about the gridiron grind.
Spotlyte: How did you first become interested in football?
Dr. Jen Welter: I grew up in Vero Beach FL, where football is a way of life. The whole town would shut down to go watch football, and I just remember being enchanted by the game. I thought the stadium was larger than life. The lights were the brightest of bright, and it shined for the players who looked like real-life superheroes out there playing in the pads and helmets. I wanted to be one of them.
Spotlyte: What’s something that would shock people to know about your football career?
JW: Though we call it America’s game, football is the one sport that does not have parity at any level. Football is often referred to as the final frontier for women in sports, so I always believed, if we could win in football, if we could change football, we could change the world. The belief in changing football has always driven me — it had to.
We [women] were essentially paying to play. I still remember the first check I ever received, it was for the 2004 season. We went 12-0, won the championship, got a ring and a check for $12 dollars! Knowing you could play the same game, yet not be valued in the same way is a harsh reality.
Spotlyte: Who was your biggest cheerleader throughout your tough times?
JW: In the tough times, one of the most powerful things I had was my team. Since we were all in the trenches together defying the odds, we all pitched in and pulled for each other.
Spotlyte: What’s the best career advice you’ve received, and who gave it to you?
JW: Be 100 percent authentic. It was the advice given to me by Terry Glenn when we were coaching indoor football together, right before I went to the NFL. Terry said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about you going to the NFL, and the best advice I can give you is to be 100 percent authentic. If you are the same person in the NFL that you were with us here, those guys will absolutely love you. If you are fake in any way, they will eat you alive.”
I used that as my guide and strength to make decisions in the NFL, and still do today. In a world that is often not real, and one where everyone seems to want something — if you are transparent, and invested in true authentic relationships, you will stand out and above because you are authentic, and no one has to second-guess your reasoning or motives.
Spotlyte: You were the first female to play running back in men’s pro football. How did your very first game, in an all-male league, feel?
JW: Having spent 15 years as one of the best female players in the world, to then step into the men’s game, [I found that] the media chatter was extremely harsh. Yet, the guys on my team were so amped. They were proud to be a part of history. The other team had one mandate: it’s OK to lose the game, but the girl doesn’t score.
The energy in the building was electric. There were almost 100 women’s tackle football players from around the world in the building that night, amped to be a part of history, because they knew I was carrying the ball for all of them. They knew I was getting tackled by men to advance the game for women.
Spotlyte: What’s one challenge you’ve faced as a female in football?
JW: I was never considered the pretty girl — and yet, I was always told I didn’t look like a football player, because they said I was “too pretty.”
Spotlyte: How has that negative experience inspired you?
JW: I hope it shakes up the standards of beauty and helps redefine what a coach, a football player, an athlete, a doctor, and an inventor look like.
For the girls and the women out there, let’s trend toward new standards of beauty, and let’s put our purchasing power behind brands that are pushing the boundaries of the industry.
Spotlyte: Have you ever taught your male teammates anything about beauty?
JW: The power of pedicures. Feet are at the foundation of movement. It’s impossible to be your best as an athlete if your feet aren’t well taken care of. For years, my pregame ritual was to get a pedicure and study plays.
Spotlyte: Speaking of nails, you have a partnership with ORLY. Can you tell us about the collection of colors?
JW: To see the shattered glass in the display, with the Kick Glass polish that came out of my brain and into ORLY’s bottle, is real-world magic to me. Kick Glass stands for glass ceilings, glass sidelines. It’s the glass slipper mentality. Put a swift kick to them all and shatter that way of thinking! When I trademarked Kick Glass, I wanted to give everyone a piece of me, a little bit of my brand of crazy.
Spotlyte: What other treatments do you get?
JW: In order to repair any damaged skin, and to appear youthful naturally, I have monthly treatments that consist of microneedling, radiofrequency microneedling, microcurrent facials, and oxygen facials.
My Dallas aesthetician is Rosa Alonzo at Skin Slayersm. In Vero Beach, Florida, I go to Missy Mattek and Meghan Tenbus Roth. In Tucson, there is none better than Danielle Moser, a physician's assistant at Maloney Plastic Surgerysm.
My skin wouldn’t respond to my monthly treatments so well if I wasn’t maintaining them with a good at-home care system. I’m a big believer that you can’t have one without the other.
Spotlyte: What’s your stance on anti-aging?
JW: I guess you can say I’m anti-aging. I am a believer in taking care of my body and my skin. It’s important to realize to be good to others, we must be good to ourselves. I tell every busy person: make sure to put yourself on your list of things to do: healthy eating, supplements, working out, massages, acupuncture, chiropractic, sunscreen, skincare, microneedling, and laser treatments.
Spotlyte: How has your upbringing impacted the way you view wellness and self-care?
JW: My dad is a chiropractor, my mom is an artist, and my sister is an acupuncturist. It’s a family philosophy to believe in the connection between a healthy body, mind, and a healthy attitude towards life.
Spotlyte: When you have limited time, what's your go-to for self-care?
JW: I have a few go-tos. A quick workout, even for 20 minutes, is priceless to shake off jet lag or kick myself into gear. If I’m running out the door, IT Cosmetics® CC+® Cream, sunglasses, bright lipstick, and sunglasses, which are a weakness of mine. I have quite a collection.
Spotlyte: What does your morning skincare routine entail?
JW: My skincare products are by Rhonda Allison®: no dyes, artificial coloring, or artificial fragrances — essential oils and the scent of the plant extracts are the aroma of the product. All preservatives are essential oils, plant-derived, or safe, FDA-approved ingredients.
My morning routine starts with me cleansing with my Pumpkin Cleanser. We all know how important our Vitamin C is, so I follow up with my Stem Cell-C before I apply my plant-based Growth Factor Gel. I never leave my house without applying my mineral-based sunscreen.
Spotlyte: What does your evening skincare routine entail?
JW: In the evening, my routine is just as simple. I cleanse with my Pumpkin Cleanser. Once my face is thoroughly cleansed, I apply my retinol cream SynErgy ATM before applying my plant-based Growth Factor Gel.
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
Spotlyte: How is your game-day skincare routine different?
JW: In a perfect scenario, I love a little extra pampering when I know all eyes are on me, but I rarely have such a luxury. REN® has two products that are literal game-changers: Flash RinseTM 1 Minute Facial and Flash Hydro-BoostTM. Magic. Also, I like to use a more makeup-adhering and texture-evening primer. Right now, I use a combo of MilkTM HydrogripTM Primer and Tatcha® Silk CanvasTM just where I have texture.
Spotlyte: What else is in your makeup bag?
JW: Always my IT Cosmetics CC cream and concealer. Tarte’s® Shape Tape® concealer is bae. NARS® Radiant Long Wear Foundation is also bae. Too Faced® Ethereal Setting Powder, I love. If you're balling on a budget, try RCMA® No Color Setting Powder — my favorite. I love that Make Up For Ever® will let you customize a contour/highlight/blush trio and it blends like a dream! For brows: Colourpop®, an amazing indie brand out of LA. Their dip brow and ultra-blotted lips are so good and so affordable! Milk KushTM Mascara is my go-to mascara. I'm so excited to try Tati Westbrook's new palette. I live what her brand stands for. And I can't forget my O.G.: All Nighter® Setting Spray from Urban Decay® to seal the deal.
Spotlyte: When do you feel most beautiful?
JW: I feel my most beautiful using my strength, and in motion — on the football field playing, coaching, running a camp, in the gym, or on stage speaking. I’m in my zone, and I think the real me shines through. I feel strong, powerful, happy and beautiful.
Spotlyte: What do you like to do in your spare time, off the field?
JW: In my spare time, I definitely get my workouts in. Having been a group fitness instructor and personal trainer for more than 20 years, working out makes me happy.
I am very much a person who loves people, yet I recover with my quiet time. My dog Tyson — a chihuahua — is a mini version of me. He is feisty, yet loving. I love walking him, though I end up walking with him on my shoulder a lot of times.
I love being creative. My mom was an art teacher, so I grew up with a mixture of color and texture. I have drawn and created most of my own logos and branding from Grrridiron GirlsTM, the camp I founded and coach, to Kick Glass.
Spotlyte: What’s next for you in terms of goals and/or bucket list items?
JW: I want to make a movie about my story, and I want to develop an animated series — bucket list!
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