Kyra Sedgwick: "I Don't Want to Be the Airbrushed Version of Myself"

The actress on skincare, aging, and $9 beauty secrets.

Kyra Sedgwick


A free piece of advice from me: if you for whatever reason find yourself in a face-to-face conversation with Kyra Sedgwick, I highly suggest you take notes. After just a few minutes, you'll walk away with a new product to buy, some incredible jokes, a glamorous Hollywood story or two, and some expertly-dispensed life advice.

Sedgwick's career has taken her through every facet of the entertainment industry, from a long, diverse film career to directing and starring in long-running series, like her Golden Globe-winning tenure on drama The Closer, or appearing on fan-favorites like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Now, Sedgwick is back in comedy—for which she's grateful, she told me—on ABC's newest family-centric hit, Call Your Mother. If Kyra Sedgwick was your mother, though, you probably wouldn't even need the urging.

Here, Byrdie talks to Sedgwick about her all-time favorite products, tips and tricks she learned from her decades in the biz, and why she thinks beauty needs to get a little more real.

What are five things bringing you joy right now?

I gotta say, my show. And it's not just because I wanna plug it. Under any circumstance, going to work all day and laughing is such a gift, I can't think of anything better. It's really good for your nervous system to laugh, I honestly think I underestimated it before the pandemic. I've done comedy before but it wasn't until I directed Grace & Frankie that I was like, Oh my god, all day they're just having fun. All day they're just laughing and laughing and laughing. And I thought, I wanna do that. I love my castmates, I love the writer, I love my female director who directed most of them, Pam Fryman. So that's bringing me a lot of joy.

I have to say my Always Pan from Our Place ($145), I bought at the beginning of the pandemic and I really, really like it. It's not good for everything; it's not good for searing. P.S., just as an aside, I cook. Kevin [Bacon, husband] and I cook, we cook for each other, he's like a chef, a really good chef. I'm like a follow the recipe and hope for the best and get very anxious person. But I think we've all been forced to, if I want to eat healthy or whatever—or even if I just wan to eat!—I've been cooking a lot more and having to clean up and all the things. So I really like the Always Pan because it is easy to clean and it's bringing me a lot of joy. It's good for a couple of people but it's also really good for one person because I've been really very isolated for quite a few months doing the show. And it's also pretty, which is amazing. I'm a big fan of Biologique products which are like, offensively expensive, so I don't want to go into them too much but I think this one is a little less offensively expensive than most and that is the Creme Contour Yeux et Lèvres Biofixine ($120); it's an eye cream. What's good about is it's kind's not Botox but it does do some kind of a thing where there things look better afterward for a little while! [LAUGHS] Yeah, that's not a bad thing. I do swear but their products, Biologique. And by the way, they don't give anything free to anyone, I don't care who you are. Maybe some gorgeous French stars are getting it, but this American? No.

Kyra Sedgwick


I'm one of those people whose mascara runs like, mad crazy. Part of it is I think because my eyes are so deep-set. There are very, very, very few mascaras I can use that don't run on me—even waterproof runs on me! I don't know what it is about my chemical makeup, I'm just special that way. And it's actually a drag because I have to walk around with my mascara. Even when I do shows and stuff, I have to make sure they get it or I bring it. It's the Estée Lauder Double Wear Zero-Smudge Lengthening Mascara ($29) in black. And I really am a fan, and it's the only thing that doesn't run on me. It kind of clumps, but in a really good way. In my video [for Byrdie], I used a Julie Hewett Cheekie Cream Blush ($28). For makeup, the only thing I do ever is like a tinted moisturizer and some concealer, some mascara and blush. Even after 40, 45 years of people doing my makeup, I haven't a clue. I just stick with what I know and don't try to move too far away from my comfort zone.

How does your skincare and makeup routine change in the winter? Any winter must-haves?

Another offensively expensive product is this cream I just got. MBR makes this cream called Cream Extraordinary ($372)—cream extra-odinarily expensive! [LAUGHS] I also think that putting on—and I really do think I spend 10 to 15 minutes in the morning and 10 to15 minutes at night doing skincare and I have since my twenties and it's not even a hassle for me anymore, I just do it—putting a little oil on after is key. Future—which a very not offensively expensive line, it's made in Israel, actually—they have a really nice oil, Future Golden Touch Oil ($132). I just take that after I do my moisturizer, like I put on everything, serums and the moisturizer, then take a little bit and just pat it in. I'm so dry; I've always been pretty dry.

Any beauty items you can't leave the house without?

I really like this Hemp Organics Love Lip Tint ($8.50) that I'm actually wearing right now. It's not expensive, and it's really good. It's natural pigment, it's organic. You know, whatever! [LAUGHS] But you know, I don't wear lipstick or lip tint or anything much anymore. I used to like to do it but now we're all wearing masks so it just gets all over my mask. But I like tints.

Stick of lip tint
Colorganics Hemp Organics Love Lip Tint $8.50

If you could give 30-year-old Kyra anything from your makeup bag or medicine cabinet, what would it be?

I think Biologique makes that Lotion P50 ($103) and that's pretty amazing. It's a toner that's definitely the key to their magic, I think. Warning: don't be in the sun. I stopped going in the sun when I was pretty young but I remember being a younger person in my late teens and very early twenties and being like, "[The sun] is good for me!" For years, I've been wearing hats and visors. I'll never forget when my son, I came out one time in a visor and I was young in my thirties, and he looks at me and goes, "Since when did you become Visor Mom?!" Decidedly not a compliment (LAUGHS). You know what I wish? I wish I put sunblock on my hands.

White bottle of lotion
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 $103.00

Are there any products you've sworn by now for 10-plus years?

An eyelash curler! Shiseido used to make a really good one but they don't really make them anymore? Or else I haven't found them. I also really like Yves Saint Laurent has a good concealer, I use that. I used to use the Touche Eclait, that Yves Saint Laurent one but that one, when I got older, didn't do the trick. My eyes are really deep-set as I said but I also get darkness here and around my eyes so I need something bold to make me look not too dark around that area. The other thing I think is important also when you get older is Stim-U-Dent, having stuff for your teeth. It's like a toothpick but not, it's a wooden toothpick but bigger and it stimulates the gums. You want to keep those teeth, sister! Teeth are something you want to keep for the rest of your life.

How has your beauty philosophy changed over the years?

I think it's really interesting because when I was coming up in the business, I was very young when I started and fresh faces...actually, that's not true, the '80s was like lots and lots of makeup. But I feel like for a lot of my time in the business, wearing a lot of makeup was, false eyelashes just were not a thing when I was coming up. Even for events and stuff! And now it's like you wouldn't be caught dead at an event without false eyelashes unless you're the sainted Frances McDormand or someone who's super comfortable in their own skin. So I think it's a really interesting thing the way eyelashes for days have become such a thing. Even in life, like not on the red carpet, people get used to it. Your eyes get used to seeing a certain amount of makeup. We're desensitized to seeing as much a we're seeing, with the contour and the this and the that. It's a lot, and it's a lot more than I'm used to seeing. I miss the natural look. That draws me in. When I see a picture of someone with a natural look and their skin looks like it's breathing, and their eyes don't have cow eyelashes.... Don't get me wrong, it's great and has a time and a place but in life, people who draw me in are people who are comfortable in their skin, comfortable with whatever's happening with their neck, whatever's happening with their face.

These are things I try to embrace a day at a time. It's hard, I'm not gonna lie, it's hard. And it's confusing as an actor because you're used to seeing yourself in the mirror all the time and then you look at pictures that have been touched up for you and you're like, "God, I look amazing!" And then you look in the mirror like, "Oh my God, I look like a monster, like a gargoyle." Recently, I've looked at some pictures before they were touched up and I was like, wow I really look like a 55-year-old woman. I had this idea that I was looking like the airbrushed version of my face. Now I want to tell you that I don't want to be the airbrushed version of myself because that's an inaccessible version. I want to be the age I am, I want to be the person I am. I want to be, as I get older, an example and not a warning of these kinds of things. And it's challenging. At the end of the day, I'd rather see something's face. The real thing, without too much facade on.

What's something people might be surprised to find in your medicine cabinet?

Witch hazel, maybe? I use witch hazel for—this is weird—but sometimes I bite my mouth. And if I bite my mouth, I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but sometimes it can get ouch-y and infected and if I pour witch hazel on it, it helps. It helps it go away. Oh, and I have pin curl things that I use so I don't use a hot iron. My hair is naturally curly but like this top layer from all the years or whatever, I usually have to curl it a little bit. So if I have time, I have these silver clips. I get in the car, wait a little while, and undo it.

Witch Hazel
T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel $3.69

How do you like to pamper yourselves these days?

Nature really grounds me and I feel really lucky to be here in L.A. right now where I can go hiking anytime. I live really close to Griffith Park so that's such a blessing. I go hiking a lot, a couple times a week, sometimes by myself or sometimes with somebody—socially distanced, of course. I like to listen to a podcast, or actually just listen to myself think. I really love baths but unfortunately I don't have a bathtub here in Los Angeles. I have a great one in New York but I really miss baths. They really just completely calm me down. I really settle in. It's been hard on my nervous system, man. I don't know anybody that hasn't been in a certain amount of trauma with everything that's going on. The bar keeps lowering in terms of that—or raising in terms of that. Today was a great day. I try to not look at the news too much, although sometimes that's practically impossible. I also love this woman named Jessica Yellin, she's an Instagram news caster and she does something called News Not Noise. She doesn't give you the craziness, the crazy-making. She used to be a reporter at the White House for CNN, and she is a badass and she's so smart and she's very calm. I look at her feed once a day, if there's a big thing going on once or twice and then I know I don't have to look at anything else. She's going to wrap it up, and she's not getting paid by any places that are going to make things shifty. She's completely Patreon-supported. And I love her. So that has been very calming for me.

Kyra Sedgwick


Do you have any favorite tips, products or techniques picked up on-set over the years?

I feel like it's been a lifelong process learning where to put blush. I used to put it all the way down to here [at the apples of my cheeks] and then I came to understand you have to start here [at cheekbones] and only bring it down a tiny bit. My thinking is a little distorted around blush: to me, there cannot be too much blush but there actually can be too much blush—and it can go too low. Nobody taught me this necessarily but they have taught me where to put it and where not to put it. And if it goes down a little low, I take some of my tinted moisturizer and go over it so I don't have to aim it perfectly. The only other thing is, any eye cream I use, I also put on the top of my lips. I don't have a lot of lip lines yet—or any, really—and I think it's attributed to the fact that I've done my skin routine for so long and I always do the eye cream and put it right here [around my lip] before I go to bed.

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