The One Thing: Carolyn Murphy on the Serum She Calls "Magic in a Bottle"

Plus the power of daily baths, and why nothing beats a crisp white shirt.

carolyn murphy

@carolynmurphy / Design by Cristina Cianci

Our series The One Thing is a Sparknotes version of the products, rituals, and moments your favorite celebrities and influencers swear by—their go-tos, must-haves, and can’t-live-withouts. So go ahead—take a brief, intimate peek into the lives of your favorites through the things (and people, and moments) they hold dear.

You can marvel at the realization that Carolyn Murphy has reigned as one of the world's most in-demand models for three full decades now, but it becomes immediately apparent why when you speak with her. Yes, she exemplifies the clear-eyed, particularly-beautiful-girl-next-door type of supermodel who can seamlessly flick between worldwide beauty campaign and avant-garde couture runway shows. Yes, she has countless covers and staggeringly massive brand deals under her (designer) belt. But it's her easy-going charm, her dual nature as both the high-profile glamour girl and the laidback beach-lover, that propelled Murphy to the top of the modeling world—and kept her there for 30 years.

Now, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her work as one of Estée Lauder's most famous faces, we caught up with Carolyn Murphy for a rundown of her must-have things, best advice, and favorite memories:

The One Product That Never Leaves Her Handbag 

"Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($75)—magic in a bottle! For sure, it's part of my morning and nighttime routine but I keep it on-hand. I was even saying earlier, it actually looks nice when you do your makeup and put a little as a highlighter. It does work and you get benefits from that."

The One Lip Product She Thinks Everyone Should Own

"I'm a red lip girl so I think everybody should have a classic red lip. I think all women look great [in it]. And you know, there are different shades of red. I like a more warm red as opposed to cool."

The One On-Set Experience She'll Always Remember

"The first ad I did [for Estee Lauder] was Advanced Night Repair. I grew up with the brand so I remember my Nana had White Linen perfume, she had her gold tubes of lipstick, so those really stand out for me. I've been using Advanced Night Repair since before I signed with Estée which is pretty crazy. And Re-Nutriv Body Cream . I know it sounds insane, but I was buying tubs of it in duty-free in the airport when I was pregnant because I had heard, somebody was like, 'It's worth every penny, you should spend the money.' And it's true because I didn't get any stretch marks."

The One Piece Of Advice She Holds Close

"I've said it so many times but it's from my Nana: beauty is as beauty does. My Nana would always say that when we were little and tried to complain about things and she would just say, 'Remember, beauty is as beauty does so the words you speak and the things you do....' And she's so right, so I tried to impart that wisdom on my daughter and I have to say, she's a pretty good kid. She's really kind, and kindness is key. If you're in a funk, being of service is really helpful even though that's hard to do in times of COVID."

The One Thing You Wish You Had An Infinite Amount Of 

I can't get enough of flowers, I really love flowers. I love pink peonies, I love lilies, I love jasmine. I was on a hike the other day and walked by jasmine and was just like [DEEP INHALE]. The smell! Ugh, it's intoxicating.

Jasmine candle black glass
L'Artisan Parfumeur Souffle de Jasmin Candle $90.00

The One Fragrance That Feels Like Your Signature 

If you ask somebody else that, they would say my signature scent is Beautiful ($62) because I've worn it since I was young and with the recent collaboration that they did with the Andy Warhol Foundation, I've been wearing it again. It's so fun because it's brought up so much nostalgia for me from being a teenager and it's really great. And I love the fact that it was his favorite scent because I'm a fan. Although lately, I've been wearing a lot of Aerin Amber Musk ($135). I get so many compliments on that perfume from men and women. It's super sexy, so sexy.

Glass perfume bottle
AERIN Amber Musk $135.00

The One Thing She Wishes She Could Give Her 20-Year-Old Self

"I for sure would have used a lot more sunscreen. My daughter won't leave the house without it which is great, and she has gorgeous skin."

Sunscreen in white and orange bottle
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Face Sunscreen $30.00

The One Thing That Always Helps Her Relax 

"Baths. A bath with a couple drops of Youth-Dew Bath Oil ($45). That was the other fragrance I was kind of thinking about because I really love it. We did Amber Nude with Tom Ford maybe 15 years ago and it's so sexy. But I love Youth-Dew in the bath, just a couple drops of that. I think I have a bath every night. It's important, I have to remind myself. Sometimes I feel super lazy doing it but I'll feel better."

The One Look That Makes Her Feel Most Confident

"I would venture to say that my most confident is that I love...I don't know if I can say this, but I love being naked! [LAUGHS] I feel more like myself when I'm on the beach for sure, in a great Eres bikini. I feel like that's where I'm in my element. But if I were to go into beauty, I feel most confident when I have on some Bronze Goddess ($45). Like I love just having a little bronzer swept across my nose and cheeks, and really great layers of mascara. And then a great white button-down shirt and vintage Levi's and a little heel. I think that is my all-time favorite outfit. Simple!"

Powder compact of bronzer
Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Powder Bronzer $45.00

The One Beauty Tip She Says Makes The Biggest Difference

"Drinking almost a gallon of water a day. Especially living in California because it's so dry here. Drinking a gallon of water and also tons of hydration—like slathering it on."

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