"In terms of beauty, I’m a real minimalist. I can only do really, really simple. It’s fun to change up my look for roles, but I don’t really do it for daily life. I actually prefer as little makeup as possible. And really, that’s just kind of for practical purposes because I do wear so much makeup when I’m working 14 hours a day. I feel like I need to give my skin a break when I can. Also, in real life, I really like my freckles—I think they give women a really youthful look, which is nice.
I got pretty into beauty even before I was acting. Credit goes to my mom. She always looked after my long, thick hair. We we didn’t have a lot of money, but she would get me those Redken hair treatments and put my hair in a hot towel and wash it in the sink—really take care of it. I remember her telling me, 'You should really brush out those curls. Brush out your bangs,' and I was like, ‘It’s fine!’ She told me my hair kind of looked like a donut when I didn’t take care of it, and I would be like, ‘Yeah, but I like donuts!’ [Laughs]
Before getting into acting, I was modeling, so I already had a pretty good sense of what worked on my face and what didn’t work on my face. After my senior year in college, I moved to New York and continued modeling and then started doing commercials and then kind of made the leap into television and film. That was sort of my transition, I guess.
Living in LA, you have to have SPF on all the time! I just went to the dermatologist, and he was like, ‘Yup, everybody’s got more sun damage on the left side of their face because that's the driving side.’ When I wake up in the morning, I first put on my sunscreen. I wear Supergoop's Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology Broad Spectrum SPF 50. It’s my daily moisturizer. I have a massive pump of it. I just sort of slather it on. It's oil-free and doesn’t clog your pores like a lot of them do, so that’s kind of what goes on first. I am also obsessed with Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence, which is nice to apply if your skin is a bit dehydrated or even after a flight.
For cleanser, I tend to stay away from products with oil, parabens, or anything with algae in it—that’s the biggest pore clogger there is. I use this MAC Mineralize Charged Water Cleanser to remove any makeup, and I wash my face only at night. I just do like a nice little rinse in the shower in the morning.
For my body, my lips, and pretty much everything else, I use Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream. I put it in a cool, little compact, and then I just take it with me. It’s great because there’s nothing damaging in it, and it's nice on the eyelids, too. It’s literally magic to me.
If it’s as simple as waking up and just walking out the door, or when I'm just going out to run errands, I’ll just put on Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer in Ivory or Beige, depending on how much sun I’ve seen. I also use the Dior Skinflash Radiance Booster Pen. I like it because it’s a little bit more iridescent than Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Éclat. It reflects light a little bit better.
I love Tata Harper’s Redefining Body Balm and the Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tints—the shade Very Vivacious has a very 1970s vibe, which I'm really into at the moment. There’s something rustic about it, and it has such a beautiful tone. These balms make me feel like putting on a pair of high-waisted jeans, and the fact that they work for both lips and cheeks is just a plus. I like to use those kinds of multipurpose products a lot.
I also love matte lips, especially stains. One of my favorites is Serge Lutens' Water Lip Color in Chardon. The color is so beautiful—it just truly enhances your natural lip color and makes it look like you have a little bit more depth, so that’s really the best. I’ve used it on the red carpet so many times, and it's my go-to when I'm doing more of an eye look. I don’t leave home without it in my little makeup bag.
One maintenance thing I keep up with is eyelash tinting. I don’t tend to wear mascara daily. I find that just tinting is really simple and easy and just gives some sort of definition there without having to put product on.
On True Detective, we did a '90s episode—everyone kept calling it ‘a period piece,’ which is so funny to me. It was like seeing what my makeup should have looked like in the ‘90s. The inspiration was Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford...you know, all that great '90s makeup and hair. Lots of MAC Lip Pencil in Spice. I just remember thinking, ‘90s makeup isn’t bad as I remembered—if it’s done properly.
The first time I ever colored my hair was for a movie called Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and I went blonde. My hair is naturally black, so it took about seven hours. I would always shock myself when I would turn on the lights in the bathroom and see my reflection—but I did love that look. My skin tone is kind of fair, so I can go kind of dark or a little bit lighter with my hair—or even get some red tones in there, I find. My husband’s personal favorite is red—like a deep auburn.
My shampoo varies constantly. I like anything from Kérastase, really. In terms of styling, I love Rahua's Elixir. The scent is truly intoxicating. I also like Bumble and bumble’s Brilliantine for split ends. It's especially good after you color your hair. And of course, I love Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray.
I got a bottle of Coqui Coqui's Tabaco in Tulum. It doesn’t last as long, but it smells so good. I also love Elizabeth and James' Nirvana Black Perfume Oil. The older I get, the more I’m liking the heavier scents and less of the other stuff. I love this stuff because it’s really nice for the whole body, so sometimes I'll just put this on straight out of the shower. Then I have Tata Harper's Love Potion, which I like because it’s small, and you can carry it in your purse or a small makeup bag.
When I’m not working, I like to exercise as much as I can. I do Soul Cycle quite a bit, and I just ran a half marathon. I haven’t always been a runner, but my friend put me up to it, and I thought, ‘Oh God. OK, I’ll do it.’ I must have been hungover or something when she asked me because I was feeling guilty, but I managed to do it! And I would do another one. Doing the TCS New York City Marathon is sort of on my bucket list, but I don’t know when I’d have the time to do it because training for it is really difficult. I also love to hike. I love to break a sweat. I try to meditate twice a day, 20 minutes at a time. That’s sort of probably good for energy. I’m not really into yoga, so I feel like meditating is a good way to balance it out.
In terms of what I eat, everything's pretty healthy. I drink so much water—at least 3 liters a day. I also always take a green juice with me that's made up of kale, celery, cucumber, sometimes some ginger, and lemon thrown in there, but I stay away from apple and the sugary stuff.
I actually am not a sweets person by nature. Give me a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and that’s it. I’m also a Kind bar girl—the Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt, in particular. I eat a really well-balanced diet, but I’m also the girl that likes to go to the beach all day and get a Number Three at McDonald's on the way home—everything in moderation. By default, you want to eat well when you have a family. I'm trying to introduce them to nice, healthy fish and things like that. I have two kids, a 1-year-old and a 6-year-old. I think that if you are healthy, you are beautiful on the outside and on the inside. The best thing to do is just lead by example."
—as told to ITG
Michelle Monaghan interviewed by Alyssa Reeder and photographed by Zoey Grossman on June 3, 2015 in Los Angeles.
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