Exclusive: Olivia Wilde Shares the One Bad Beauty Habit She Can't Break

Getty/Paul Zimmerman

I've been fortunate enough to interview some incredible celebrities in my career as a beauty editor, but every time someone asks me, "Who was your favorite?" I always, always say Olivia Wilde. Not that she said anything particularly alarming or headline-grabbing during our quick chat on the red carpet, but the amiable aura that surrounded her made me want to be her best friend. She also addressed me by name and made eye contact the entire time—a biggie for us plebe journalists. But even if the reason for loving my interview with Olivia isn't tangible, our short time together left a lasting impression that I'll never forget.

Recently, I had another opportunity to interview the actress and Revlon Global Brand Ambassador, this time, over the phone. Since she seems game for just about anything (or so I imagine, at least), I thought we'd play a rapid-fire round of 20 questions. As expected, hilarity ensued. Keep scrolling to find out the beauty trend she hates, the type of exercise she loves, and the one food she could eat every day of the year.

BYRDIE: What is the last product that you bought?

OLIVIA WILDE: Oof, okay. Hmm… the last product that I bought was Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence ($68).

BYRDIE: What is the hardest makeup product—in your opinion—to apply?

OW: Eye shadow! I always have trouble with eye shadow because it really is all down to the blending with eye shadow, and I find that I never exactly know what the limits or the boundaries should be and I end up looking a little bit like Angelica Houston in 1973, which is not a terrible thing at all, but I'm not sure that I'm supposed to bring green eye shadow up to my eyebrows. I usually keep it pretty simple, but when I do experiment with eye shadow, I always have to give myself an extra 10 minutes to mess up and start over.

BYRDIE: What beauty treatments do you like to do when no one is around?

OW: I find that I'll do my nails when no one's around because I feel I need privacy to do it [laughs]. Because certainly if my son's around, he'll just pick up the nail polish and pour it all out. So it's something I do on my own and I'll listen to music and, you know, it's just a thinking activity. And then what else? I guess hair treatments. I'll just do a really intense coconut oil soak on my hair where I'll just get super greasy for about an hour. Oh! And masks. Because I look terrifying, like everyone does in a mask. 

BYRDIE: What product do you always misplace?

OW: Let's see. Well, you know, finding the exact shade of something—I always misplace them, I have to dig around looking for them. But in terms of a product, I mean—oh! Definitely in the bottom of my bag. Because for some reason, even though I own a ridiculous amount of purses, I still walk around with a canvas tote almost every day, and especially now that I'm stuffing in diapers and a bottle and things like that in there—but also, I'm just a ridiculous person, so I end up carrying around a huge bag, and just floating at the bottom of it are, you know, a concealer, a lipstick, and some mascara [Ed note: Wilde loves Revlon's Ultimate All-in-One Mascara ($9)], but they're impossible to find because of this bag situation. 

BYRDIE: Who would you swap beauty looks with for a day?

OW: Oh wow. Gosh, I mean, Bianca Jagger, like in the late '70s. 


BYRDIE: What's a beauty trend that you loathe? 

OW: Oh gosh, I mean, I'm not into plastic surgery, which I would categorize as a beauty trend. I think a lot of the fillers freak me out, and Botox makes everyone look like a wax candle, kind of like Madame Tussaud–esque weird—I can't get down with it. I mean, I don't want to be judgmental, but at the moment, that's a beauty trend I loathe.

BYRDIE: What other celebrity have you ever been confused for?

OW: Oh—huh. Well, when I was a kid, everyone thought [laughs], when I was a kid people called me Wednesday Addams, only she didn't intend to look like that. She was playing a character—a sort of vampire character, and I just happened to look like that naturally. I remember people saying, "Oh, it's Wednesday Addams!" And I didn't love that. I can't think of one recently that I've been confused for. No one's said it to my face. I'm sure people confuse famous people all the time, but by the time they speak to me, they usually have it down.

BYRDIE: What's the one treatment or service that you're willing to splurge on?

OW: You know, a massage. Especially, like, I'm a giant pregnant person right now, so massages are really helpful. Yeah, so like a really good deep deep-tissue massage. 


BYRDIE: When's the last time that you worked out?

OW: Oh god, don't ask me that! It's so sad! It's been a long time. I think the last time I tried was a Tracey Anderson workout DVD in my office on all fours. I think I got through 12 minutes before I passed out. 

BYRDIE: That was my next question: What did you do? So it was a Tracey Anderson video?

OW: Yeah, she has this pregnancy series, which is really great because she's pregnant in the video. So you don't feel enormous because she's also pregnant. It's a really great idea, and I do think it's probably very effective for people who can manage to last more than 12 minutes. 

BYRDIE: What's your favorite form of exercise?

OW: My favorite is dancing. I love a good dance class. I like contemporary, I like hip-hop, I like ballet—yeah, I think dancing is the most fun kind of workout. 

BYRDIE: And least favorite exercise?

OW: Oh. I mean, I guess running. I'm just terrible at running. 

BYRDIE: What's a bad beauty habit you can't shake?

OW: It's not common, but occasionally passing out before properly washing my face. That's more common now that I'm more exhausted, but I go to sleep with such shame. I'll know it's wrong and be like, This is terrible! I've learned about this; this is not good! [Laughs]. But it happens occasionally. 

BYRDIE: What's your favorite healthy meal? 

OW: My favorite healthy meal, especially in the summer, is a good cold soup. I love a cucumber soup, cucumber avocado soup, green pea soup—I could have cold soup every day, all year long. I love that. I love that they're healthy.

BYRDIE: And your favorite unhealthy meal?

OW: Oh—pasta. Like spaghetti Bolognese—super rich and oily and delicious. 


BYRDIE: What hair color that you've tried throughout your lifetime do you like the most?

OW: You know, I've settled on the one that's closest to my natural look, which I have now. It's just kind of a brown with natural lighter highlights and kind of lighter at the bottom. Sometimes I'll add some more highlights at the bottom. But for me, I think a lot of women realize—and men too—that their best look is usually the one that most closely resembles what you had as a kid. So, if you can find a good kid picture and bring it into the salon, typically that's the best way to find your best color.

BYRDIE: What's the most panicked beauty moment you've ever had?

OW: [Laughs.] Let me think. Well, I don't know if you've ever had this moment where you're done with your makeup and you're already late, and then you decide to try one more thing with your eyeliner and you just destroy the whole thing. You have to take off that side of your face. [Laughs.] Sometimes it'll happen with mascara where you put on a little bit more and it's clumped together and there's no way to fix it and you have to take it all off. I've gotten smart about that, and I leave myself a little margin of error—a little window of time. But that's a very common one. 

BYRDIE: It's so crucial. So what do you do the night before a big event?

OW: I don't drink, I try to sleep more, and I do some sort of hydrating mask.

BYRDIE: What television or movie character that you've played do you feel you most relate to in terms of beauty?

OW: I really love Devon on Vinyl, just because of the '70s look. I love all the lashes, and it's just super fun. It's pretty simple, but I'm into the mid-'70s beauty look. So probably her. 

BYRDIE: Last question: What's the last text you received relating to beauty or fitness?

OW: I have lots of invitations to go work out from various friends. [Laughs.] I have a really good friend who's an amazing dance instructor and SoulCycle instructor. And I have about 20 texts from her saying, "Saving you a bike!" And I write back, like, [makes vomiting noise]. Like that grimacing emoji, because I know I'm never going to make it. It's really the most common text on my phone at the moment. 

For more from Wilde, check out the 10 surprising beauty lessons we learned from her.

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