What was your own first experience with make-up?
I remember the smell of kiwi lip balm from The Body Shop when my older sister got some in her Christmas stocking. And I also recall some fun dabbling with electric blue mascara. I loved it. Why can’t we go back to the blue? It was so fun. And glitter! Who doesn’t love a bit of face glitter. It was much more prevalent in the Eighties… let’s start a re-trend! I even remember spraying it my hair.
What do you do when you really need to look your best for a big event?
First off, I have to say right away that sleep and health play a big part in looking fresh. If I’m over-tired or stressed, no amount of make-up and hair can disguise the impact of that on one’s face. So if I know I have to look red-carpet-ready for something, I do try and look after myself in the few days running up to that moment. Nothing fancy or expensive but I’m 42 now, so I can’t get away with murder anymore! So my top tip would be water. Water, water, water. Keep the body hydrated and the skin will follow suit. And I try and stay away from salt and alcohol before an important occasion and throw a few green smoothies together in a Nutribullet. Whilst my life would be too dull without salt and the odd glass of wine, we all know that cutting them out makes for a healthier complexion. At least it does in my case.
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For the red carpet, you work a lot with make-up artist Lisa Eldridge. How do the two of you come up with your looks ahead of each event?
To be honest, we never plan anything ahead of time. If I remember to send her a photo of the outfit I will be wearing, she will often have a think about what kind of look to suggest on the day. And she is always coming up with fresh new ideas to try which is lovely for both of us to have fun with. I have learned a great deal from Lisa. Tricks and tips that I share with other make-up artists as well as with my friends. Lisa loves to share ideas with other women and this is one of the reasons I respect and admire her so much.
Lisa told me that once or twice you’ve actually done your own make-up for the red carpet.
I just copy Lisa! Actually, I love doing my own hair and make-up. Partly because I can do it fairly quickly on my own, but also there are some days when I just don’t like all the fuss and faff that can come with lots of people prodding and fiddling with your face and hair. It’s hard to explain, especially since sometimes it’s lovely to be glammed up like that. But I’m a pretty low-key, low-maintenance person, and I like to keep life as normal as I can around me. So doing my own make-up is reassuring in that regard. It sort of normalises a red-carpet moment, which – let’s face it – is FAR from normal!
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What are your tricks?
So I stick to a light base – Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation in 01 and a bit of Camouflage concealer from the same range. But nothing too heavy, especially round the eyes where make-up can gather and make a person look older. I am not very good at eyeshadow so I tend to stay away from being too creative in that area, and I just hit the lashes with a great mascara and an inside root line on the upper lashes, with mascara on a flat brush. Lancôme Grandiôse Mascara in Noir really helps to define the eye (something I learned from US make-up artist Jillian Dempsey). I’m a huge fan of eyeliner for a final hit of smudge on the lower lash root only – Le Khol Duo in Brun Glace 02. This is a double-ended eye pencil that Lisa designed last year. She gave one to me and I’m still obsessed! And for lips I would need something that will stay put but be creamy at the same time. For a red I’d favour Lancôme Isabella (true red matt, very classic), and for something subtler I’d opt for Lancôme Nuit et Jour (pale nude, pinkish undertone). The latter was my mum’s favourite colour and she passed away this year so there is something very emotional about using that colour for me now. And having decent make-up brushes makes a big difference, I even use paint brushes sometimes! I try to stay away from looking too matt, so not too much powder. And a smattering of really soft blusher. Blush Subtil in Rose Paradis, for long-lasting, gentle glow.
Have you ever had any beauty disasters?
Ha! Now that would be telling. I have definitely had some bad red-carpet hair moments which somehow are more noticeable than make-up disasters I think. And I’ve definitely had the occasional false eye lash fall onto my cheek, but luckily a well-meaning person has always saved me and flicked away the offending lash before a photographer spots the straggler on my cheek! Can you imagine? Hilarious. And I’ve had some clothing disasters too. Last-minute zips breaking, tripping on a hem, discovering that a black outfit is actually slightly see-through under a flash bulb. Or just choosing to wear a bad dress. It happens. And life is too short to worry about it!
You’ve undergone so many beauty transformations in your film roles, which has been your favourite?
That’s a big question! I have to be honest and say that I had the most fun playing Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. She was totally un-vain and yet she has such a mad and brazen way of expressing herself through her clothes and hair. Which was so hilarious and fun for me. It was wonderful to feel that wild and vibrant. It made my own style by comparison feel really dull and maudlin but in spite of trying to expand my clothing choices after that movie, I still wear mainly black.
What is your go-to look when you’re off-duty?
Oh this one’s easy! Usually I’m in workout gear and some kind of chunky scarf. My hair is likely to be wet, no time to ever dry it properly. I wear minimal five-minute make-up. A quick, all-over, thinnest-of-thin-layers of foundation. I always curl my eyelashes out of habit more than anything, (can’t go wrong with Shu Uemura curlers). But no mascara in the daytime. Got to preserve the dwindling lashes. And a bit of lip balm. I’ve been pretty addicted to By Terry’s Baume de Rose for as long as I can remember. But I have to hide it these days as I have a 17-year-old daughter who shares the same addiction.
How about your daily skincare regime?
My routine is pretty fast because it just has to be. And I take more time at night and actually very little in the morning. I always take my make-up off no matter how tired I am. Daily I use Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser. It’s very fresh, gently scented and really deep cleans the face and neck. And it’s fast, no fuss. And I like using a good flat facial sponge to make sure it’s truly clean. I get quite dry skin so occasionally I use an old favourite of mine, Lancôme Toner Comfort, and then I slather up with Advanced Genefique Sensitive. This is my two-for-the-price-of-one product! It combines two serum concentrates with a vitamin E boost, all in one bottle. Shake, slather, done. It’s really hydrating and fresh and fast to use. All of this takes me about three minutes. Four if you include brushing teeth.
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Yes I do. I lived in New York for almost a decade and I would try and have occasional facials with Tracie Martyn. There is nothing quite like her Red Carpet Facial for literally transforming the skin and enhancing bone structure naturally. And her products are wonderful. And in the UK I see Glenda Barton at The Skin Company. Her facial totally transforms the skin, working with the body’s own muscle memory. Her heat-generated sculpting techniques literally put freshness and vitality back into the face without using any chemicals or peel type things, the idea of which scares me. Sometimes I will go to Glenda feeling like my face has slid downwards, and somehow she sort of puts it back where it’s supposed to be.
Has your regime changed much as you’ve entered your forties?
So far, if I’m honest, it hasn’t changed that much. But the older I get, I am much more aware of the impact of internal health and the direct impact it has on my skin and hair. I am definitely starting to notice a difference in the density of my skin on my face and body. I probably moisturise my body much more these days than I used to. Mainly natural oils on the body though, because I don’t want to use too many chemical products on a larger area of skin. This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil is fab. I mix it with a couple of drops of lavender essential oil, which is really nice and not crazy expensive.
And what about your approach to beauty in general?
Honestly, I have learned that health comes before reaching for a mirror or a bottle of product. And if anything, I do look in the mirror less and less as I get older. In my twenties I probably thought about my appearance more than I do now, for the simple reason that as I get older I have more important things that concern me than how I look. Like family, happiness, and having fun! Priority kicks in when you are a parent and my approach to beauty these days comes from a place of wanting to feel happy and healthy. Plus I know that I feel my most beautiful when I feel like I am being a good mum, and when I am doing my best in my job and in loving my family. If I look after myself first and can look after everyone else even better. And that is something I have only been able to learn with age.
As a mother of daughters, how do you feel that the rise of social media has changed attitudes to beauty?
Just today a close friend, a younger actress who is well-known, was saying to me that social media is the single most damaging place for a young woman to spend her time. I am worrying more and more about the potentially negative impact that social media is having on the growing self-esteem of young people today. Everything they see these days is either something to be envious of, or an image of an experience that another person is having that is unattainable and exists in someone else’s so-called “perfect” or more exciting life. It is becoming harder and harder for young girls and boys to believe in their own selves and to enjoy life, without needing to social “share” and subsequently have something that may have had meaning to the individual be “liked” or “disliked”. It’s terrible. There is no space for freedom or personal growth through spontaneous life experience, and healthy discussion and real-life sharing amongst friends and family is being affected as a result. What happened to privacy? What happened to friendships that are based on real conversations and shared experiences, OFF line and IN the real world? It makes me really sad.
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What are your travel beauty tips? Are you a sheet-mask-on–the-plane kind of person?
When I travel on long-haul flights, these days I always take off my make-up and throw on a ton of moisturiser. And if I know that I have to look decent as soon as I step off the plane then yes, I do go for a sheet mask. Lancôme Advanced Genifique Mask is amazing. I always feel a bit daft sitting there looking like Hannibal Lecter with the cut-out eye slits. But if I know that I have to go directly from the airport to record a live talk show or to a photo shoot, I just have to do something to help out the face whilst I’m in the air! And water of course. At least two litres for a long-haul flight.
What are the three products you’d always have in your handbag?
To have three products in your handbag, you’ve got to be pretty organised. Also, I don’t believe in carrying beauty maintenance items with me when I’m out and about and going to Waitrose. So I can’t say I’m the best person to answer this question. But I always have hair ties, lip balm and wet wipes! Does that count?
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Do you work out?
Yes, I do work out. But not fanatically. I do power yoga and barre cardio. Both of which I love. And I walk a lot. We’ve got a lovely dog so… he needs lots of walking.
In the time you’ve worked with Lancôme, what has been the most fun project?
I think the most memorable and fun project for me was actually the first ever campaign that I shot for them with Peter Lindbergh, for Trésor. We were just a small crew of people, no drama or fuss, and we shot a black and white commercial on a bridge over the Seine. There was real sincerity and romance to the images and it was early days for me in my relationship with Peter, who has become a friend as well as being my favourite photographer to work with. He is calm and funny, and he absolutely adores women and always captures powerful images of women looking very natural and strong. I truly love and respect him a great deal. It’s been a great privilege to work with Lancôme and it continues to be collaborative and interesting. The brand has changed a great deal, as the market place changes year after year. But their core values remain strong and clear. And the other ambassadors are all women I admire and feel blessed to share this role with.
What is your favourite way to pamper yourself, when you have a spare hour?
To sit down with a cup of tea and a good crossword!