My knowledge of, and admiration for, Hilary Duff runs deep. I think anyone who grew up in the late '90s and early aughts has a place in their hearts for her. I watched Lizzie McGuire every single day after school. Images of hair crimps and butterfly clips and makeup glitter and eye shadow run through my memory like a highlight reel of my childhood. I've watched her go from teen Disney sensation to singer on MTV to mother and back to actress with her roles on Gossip Girl and now Younger.
I didn't want to bring that up, necessarily, when we sat down to talk over the phone—you never know what topics celebrities will want to leave in the past. I wanted to be respectful of someone who has been in the business for as long as she has. But Duff doesn't have qualms about where she came from. She brought up Lizzie McGuire within the first few minutes of our conversation. She was so startlingly similar to the person I perceived her to be all these years, thanks in part to the fact that she's been able to bring so much of herself to her cult-favorite characters, she told me.
Below, find her thoughts on using fitness for happiness, pregnancy, motherhood, and beauty products. I think you'll find she's everything you thought she was all these years too.
On skincare and body care during her last pregnancy and what she's doing this time around…
“Oh my gosh, my last pregnancy was so long ago. I’m such a product junkie. I change what I’m using all the time. But I used sweet almond oil and coconut oil a lot during that pregnancy, and I’m kind of doing the same thing with this one. There is this brand I love called Substance. Have you heard of it? It’s called Belly Jelly. It has shea butter and lavender. I feel like if you get stretch marks, it’s genetically prone to happen, but it’s nice to stay responsible. My skincare stuff hasn’t changed, though I haven't been using anything with harsh acids in it.
“I’ve worked a lot more this time around. And honestly, I’m busy with Luca. He’s my full-time, all the time. There’s a lot less time to think about what’s going on, to be honest with you. I’m so excited, and it’s great, but I feel like I lived on Google the first time around. Every day I was on a new mission to figure out something—why this or that was happening. With this pregnancy, if I have an ache or a pain, I just think, Well, I’m pregnant. Not like, What is the cause of that? At what stage does this start to happen?
You know? At the end of the day, I’m tired and I don't have time for all that. I'm a lot more relaxed—minus my work schedule. I kind of know what’s going on, and I’m not as worried."
On how she relates to her Younger character, Kelsey…
“I feel like I relate to her a lot. This happened to me when I was playing Lizzie McGuire. I was just bringing so much of who I was to the character. And so that’s really fun for me. I love playing characters who women relate to and who have lives people can see themselves in.
“Kelsey has a little less responsibility. I’m a parent already, so that’s a big difference between us. She gets to be a little more carefree. But she likes to have a good time and she works hard. And I think that’s me. I like to have maybe one too many glasses of wine every once in a while, but I’m still up at six in the morning with my kid raging on the trampoline or going to work. So I think we’re very much like that. We’re fiery but have a good work ethic.”
On growing up in front of the world and how that’s changed her wellness practices…
“Image is something we’re all very aware of because it’s constantly being talked about, which is a little bit disappointing, and then also helps you be very in tune with yourself—your behavior, your body, and your happiness. All of those things that fold into the same package. I really feel like I have a healthy relationship with myself, where I know when I’m being ‘bad’ or I know when I’m being really ‘good’ health-wise, and both are necessary for me as part of my lifestyle and happiness, to have balance.
I really try to treat my body well. And my mind. And try to have a healthy outlook on [the public scrutiny]. I’m the only one that can control my relationship with myself, and I want to constantly be in control of it, you know? Whatever ‘it’ is.
“I work out a lot. Obviously, I want to be fit, but I’m 5’2’’ and I’m definitely not a ‘skinny girl.’ I’m a healthy girl. I always feel really empowered by what my body can do—having babies, getting pregnant, or swinging Luca around. He’s like 45 pounds, and I’m dangling him by his ankles and chasing him all around. So I’m so grateful that I’m strong and my body’s there for me. And obviously I want to be in shape, but I think working out is more of a mental health thing for me. Just to be outside—I hike a lot; I swim a lot.
And then training, doing weights and feeling strong, getting those endorphins pumping through your body is really important for your happiness.
“I struggled a little bit when I was 18 or 19 with food. And wanting to fit into this ‘image’ of a girl who is not me. But that was such a long time ago. Honestly, I feel like I’m in the same five- to 10-pound struggle as most other women out there. Sometimes I’m crushing it and feeling great, and other times I’m like, ugh. I love to cook and, honestly, being a mom and being consistently busy helps keep my priorities straight.”
On her favorite skincare and makeup products…
“My dermatologist forever has been Dr. Lancer. I love his face wash and polish. They’re my absolute favorites. This year kicked my ass—I was pregnant and no one knew—and I would work a 17-hour day and then come home and go into the bathroom and look in the mirror and realize I had to still wash my face and take out a hundred hairpins. I would just cry. Lancer’s face wash is the best. It takes off everything, but it’s still gentle. And then I do the polish a lot because I feel like it helps my skin look fresh.
And I do it dry so it’s pretty intense. I also love oils. I love these Odacité serums. They’re so fun. I get to feel like a witch creating my own little potions. I’m also a cocoa butter fan. And you know what else? That Neutrogena sesame oil. It smells so good to me. I love, love, love smelling like that. And usually it’s not as moisturizing as I need, so I layer it with a body cream. And I do love myself a L’Oréal Voluminous mascara.”
On her professional bucket list…
“I would love to produce and maybe direct. It’s just a timing thing. It’s hard to make it all happen. The second I’m done with four months of shooting [my show], I feel like I really just need to be a mom for Luca. I have so many other aspirations and dreams. Reese Witherspoon is such an inspiration, to see what she’s done with [her production company] and Big Little Lies. I actually just read a book that she’s turning into a series adaptation. It's called Little Fires Everywhere. I’m so impressed by her.
I think that’s something I’d love to see myself doing in the future, but you never know. There needs to be a few more days in the week and a few more days off on the weekend for everyone.”
Season 5 of Younger airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c on TV Land.