Actress, mother, entrepreneur and now official creative inspiration behind Max Factor, Gwyneth Paltrow, 42, knows a thing or two about beauty. She tells Stylist what she really sees when she looks in the mirror.
"I know it’s a cliché, but I really do subscribe to the ‘age gracefully’ thing. You can fight it to a degree, but I accept the beauty of being a grown woman and the wisdom that comes with it. There’s nothing fun about being at that young age where you don’t know yourself and you’re struggling so much to accept yourself. There are cases where younger women really are integrated in themselves, but personally it took me a long time I wouldn’t go back for anything!
I’m not the type to look in the mirror and study my looks. God no! I’d rather die than be studying my face like that! I just brush my teeth and try to get dressed and get everyone up. The morning is definitely not the time when I look in the mirror. I don’t tend to wear much make-up either. If I’m working, I’ll wear a lot, obviously, but in my own life I’m very much a mascara and lip gloss kind of person. I do try – especially in the last five years – to be good about washing my face properly then exfoliating and moisturising before bed. Taking an inside-out approach to beauty has always been my philosophy – that and sleep, good nutrition and a bit of exercise – especially when it comes to skin.
I do think there’s a standard that women are supposed to hold themselves to, and I think it’s always been like that. As women, we always put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be at a certain standard and I’m not sure if that changes much from generation to generation. Those of my female friends that are my age are all happy about where they are and that’s really nice to see – whether it’s Stella [McCartney] or Mary who’s been my best friend since I was four, or Cameron [Diaz], or my other best friend from since I was 11. All these women are beautiful, happy to be women and are contributing something. That’s empowering to see.
I’ve worked on true self-acceptance and I think that’s only something that you can get to when you’re a bit older and you’ve lived through a lot and you have things to forgive yourself for. It’s a very interesting process – when you’re gentle to yourself and you really love and accept yourself. That level of being self-critical is indicative of a lack of happiness on a soul-level. It’s kind of amazing when it starts to happen and it enables you to better relate to yourself physically. It’s about challenging the way we were raised to view ourselves and other women.
It’s a lot to reconcile, but there are certain books, such as The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels [£7.99, Vermillion] and Within by Dr. Habib Sadeghi [£14.99, Open Road] that I’ve read that really helped me with these concepts and with understanding the importance of accepting your whole self – the internal parts that we don’t like of ourselves and even the parts that we don’t like physically. I was never crazily critical of my physical appearance, there were always things I didn’t like, but I was more self-critical of myself internally. I wish I had learned this stuff when I was little, but I’m grateful for it now and I totally accept my face and I totally accept myself.
It’s empowering to see criticism for what it is: if a stranger is being critical of you, it’s to do with them. When you’re able to make that distinction, it’s a very powerful thing. If I ever see a picture of myself on the red carpet, I always think of it as the public version of me that’s out there. I guess I think of it as a character, a two-dimensional character. That character acts as a screen that people project their own stuff onto. I really don’t think of it as me. I think of it as an image that’s been created by other people. So, when in my own life, somebody has an issue with me, it’s a completely different thing than people who don’t know me, because those are the people that I love.
The other thing that I’ve learnt is that if somebody says something about you and it hurts you, then it means that you’re holding a similar judgment against yourself. It’s like flicking the scab of how you already see yourself. Sometimes you hear something and you’re like ‘Oh, that’s stupid’, but if it resonates with you, it means you believe it too on some level. If you can release that, then you can’t really be hurt by external things. If you’ve totally forgiven and accepted yourself, then you can’t be stopped.
I believe in taking care of yourself and looking great, but I also really appreciate where I am in my life. I’m pretty content with my looks at this point. I like my wrinkles and you know, I like what I see. Of course I can get into the frame of mind where I get critical about this and that, but I really try to not do that and try to appreciate the incredible life I’ve lived and all I’ve learned. I like that all of that is written on my face.”
The actress reveals her top four beauty tips
“I moisturise the whole time when I’m travelling. I love organic face oil – right now I love Sonya Dakar’s Flash Facial and Organic Omega Booster oil. I always keep my skin really hydrated on a flight.”
“Mascara really helps a girl out. It makes you look like you’ve had a nice nap. Max Factor has the best formula. I’ve tried so many and Max Factor is better than the most expensive ones.”
“I use a little tinted body moisturiser called Prtty Peaushun [£30]. It’s like a miracle body cream – it’s so good! That’s a great beauty secret.”
“I like to try lots of smaller lesser-known haircare brands. I’ve just discovered a new line called Hair by David Babaii, which comes out in January. I’ve been using a product called Oil – it’s amazing.”