Considering Cate Blanchett’s incredibly accomplished career and many accolades, it almost feels silly to just zero in on her skin—but then again, the actress’s complexion definitely deserves its own conversation. It just glows, as if Blanchett has her own, built-in backlighting—even after a long flight across the globe and just three hours of sleep, which happened to be the case when we sat down with her last week.
But the actress will be the first to tell you that it’s all a testament to her longstanding partnership with SK-II. It was nearly 15 years ago when she was first introduced to the cult skincare line by her longtime makeup artist, Mary Greenwell. After experiencing some discoloration during her pregnancy, Blanchett found that the brand’s signature Facial Treatment Essence ($165) cleared and perfected her skin—and the rest is history.
Since Blanchett’s ambassadorship with SK-II was so organic, it probably makes sense that the brand’s newest product—a makeup-setting face mist called the Mid-Day Essence ($80)—has a similarly serendipitous backstory, inspired by the actress. Here, she tells us all about it and clues us into her other skincare secrets. Keep reading to find out Blanchett’s number one tip for women in their 20s, her secret to flawless-looking foundation, and more.
SK-II’s new Mid-Day Essence was inspired by you! Can you tell us the backstory?
Cate Blanchett: On set, you’re often sitting in makeup for a long time—especially for retouching—and your face gets re-powdered so often that it starts to feel a little cakey. So one day I patted some of the SK-II Essence onto my skin and saw Oh, that works. So I decanted some into a bottle—just one of those travel bottles, especially since I found that on long flights, I was putting it on four or five times a day. Remember that stage in the ’90s when people started spraying themselves with Evian? [The difference] is this actually penetrates the layers of your skin, and it’s obviously great with makeup.
What is your secret to getting that lit-from-within glow?
Blanchett: Sleep! Which I am a little bit deprived of right now. Also, you know when someone has a migraine or a headache and they haven’t done anything to their face, but their whole face constricts? I think that anything you can do to remove stress will give you a better glow. That’s the number one answer. And for me, there are certain products in the range that are luminizing and deal with the texture of the skin. There’s this new RNA Power (available soon), which deals with the elasticity but also the illumination and the texture. Also, the Cellumination Essence ($220)—it’s a luminizer in the way that you put it on with moisturizer, and it just works on the skin.
You already mentioned sleep and stress, but are there any other non-product ways that you care for your complexion?
Blanchett: I started exfoliating. Look at men in their 40s and then look at women in their 40s—for men, their skin looks really good because they shave every day. So I exfoliate, and I have a Clarisonic brush ($149), and it’s great. And I am big on massage, when I can.
A facial massage or in general?
Blanchett: Either! Mary [Greenwell] is a great makeup artist, and before she does anything, she will massage your face to wake your muscles up. So before the makeup goes on—we started at 6 a.m. this morning, after having slept for only three hours—you feel like a shriveled-up old lady, and it really does just waken the muscles up.
From your years of experience working with makeup artists, what is the number one tip that you’ve picked up?
Blanchett: It’s not very interesting, but it’s finding the right foundation for your skin. I think often people choose a color that they want to be as opposed to the tone that they actually are. It’s also that people use brushes to apply things where as the makeup artists I have worked with are like painters: They work makeup in with moisturizers and primers and really prime the canvas and massage it in so it’s living with skin and not just a layer on top.
Looking back on your 20s, what do you think is one of the biggest beauty mistakes people tend to make at that age?
Blanchett: I think it’s thinking that somehow they will take care of their skin later. My mom was really, really big on moisturizer. I think [20-somethings] spend a lot of money on makeup, and they won’t necessarily spend the same amount on skincare—unless they have a problem or a problem area. But I think if you can, find a really good moisturizer that works for you, and eye cream. And that’s what I have noticed with using the brand for over 15 years—my skin is in better condition than when I started, in terms of evenness and tone. And of course I am older!
Is that your number one tip for taking care of yourself as you age?
Blanchett: Yes, consistency! It just means that every time you go to have a facial, don’t talk to them about getting fillers or Botox. When I was 26, if someone had said to me, Why don’t you try this range?, it would have made a difference. So there are things you can do to actually sort of support yourself as you change.
To leave off, do you have any women, past or present, who you really think embody beauty in the industry or beyond?
Blanchett: I think Charlotte Rampling is incredibly beautiful. And Liv Ullmann is amazing. Also I have incredible admiration for Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Lily—she’s so, so incredible.