Witherspoon has been a trailblazer for women since she burst onto our big screen in 2001 as the bubbly (and smart) lawyer in Legally Blonde. Her undeniable prettiness and upbeat personality made her an instant star, but her longevity in cutthroat Hollywood suggests her success is more than skindeep. And it’s a sentiment that she reflects on when marie claire met with the A-lister in LA.
“I love women who express themselves with their personalities and just have a strong presence,” Witherspoon says. “Awesome women like Diane Keaton and Jane Fonda; I always [admire] women like that.” Then there is the star-studded line-up of stellar female talent in the Foxtel mega-hit, Big Little Lies. Co-produced by Witherspoon, the show’s cast boasts Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz , Laura Dern and was recently boosted further by the arrival of industry doyen Meryl Streep.“I love Nicole, she is the best,” says Witherspoon. “And it was amazing to have Meryl join us.”
It is perhaps Witherspoon’s belief in equality for women that has led to her role as ambassador for cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. She’s been in the position as the brand’s storyteller-in-chief for two years now, and when marie claire sat down with the Golden Globe winner in a stunning home located in Beverly Hills (whispered to belong to one of Witherspoon’s friends) the title feels apt. Especially when you consider that this beauty brand was founded by a woman intent on changing the world.
Elizabeth Arden was undeniably a girl-boss. And like Witherspoon, she aimed high when it came to life goals. In 1910, a young Arden revolutionised the beauty industry by opening her own salon on Fifth Avenue, New York, famously painting the salon’s front door red; a symbol now synonymous with the brand. Arden’s list of accomplishments is long, but to cherrypick, there was the royal warrant, which announced Elizabeth Arden as an official beauty supplier to the Queen (a title still held by the brand to this day); Arden was also the second woman to grace the cover of Time Magazine (the first being the Queen); in 1933 the beauty entrepreneur would become the first woman to have her own radio program; and, in 1977, she was posthumously inducted into the US Business Hall of Fame.
Arden’s vision was to create skincare that benefited rather than masked, and there are no surprises when you meet Witherspoon in real life either. The actress has the poised presence of a true movie star, yet the warmth you feel emanating from the big screen seems just as genuine face to face. “My mother was always saying, ‘Find something to be happy about every single day,’” says Witherspoon when asked what real beauty means to her. “Beauty is an attitude, it’s a positivity, a joy from within.”
If you did want to get Witherspoon’s luminous skin, you would do well to invest in Arden’s highly anticipated Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules. They are the next instalment in the brand’s hugely popular Advanced Ceramide Capsules (or “caps” to its devotees), which launched with a bang in 1990, not just for their groundbreaking single-dose format, but because the bio-engineered, skin-identical ceramides added instant hydration and helped restore the skin’s barrier.
Witherspoon is a regular user of both the Advanced Ceramide Capsules and Retinol Ceramide Capsules ($150 for 60 capsules), which launched last year. “I’ve been using the retinol capsules [at night] for a year and they really even out my skin tone,” she says.
The new Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules are proving the perfect adjunct to a night-time retinol ritual. Because, while retinol is scientifically proven to make skin essentially behave like younger skin, vitamin C deals with brightness and environmental protection. “Vitamin C is great for hyperpigmentation and the prevention of underlying sun damage,” explains Dr Dendy Engelman, a New York-based consulting dermatologist for Elizabeth Arden, who marie claire also spoke to in LA. It’s also a great wingman to your SPF. “Vitamin C acts like a safety net to catch any additional sun damage that can occur,” says Engelman.
The ingredient can be irritating to some skin types, but Elizabeth Arden has solved the issue by including vitamin E and avocado oil. “The oils help the vitamin C absorb more readily and penetrate more deeply,” says Engelman.
The benefit of being in capsule form is not only knowing how much to apply, but also being able to keep this highly unstable ingredient stable and active. This streamlining of the daily routine is something that resonates for Witherspoon. “You have to get it down to the bare minimum,” she says. “I’ve got it down to a 10-step routine.” That includes diligent skin washing (“I wash my face in the morning and I wash my face at night,” she says), moisturiser (“living in California it gets so dry, so I have to keep reapplying moisturiser”), the ceramide capsules and sunscreen.
“I can’t stress enough how important sunscreen is,” she says. “After having kids, I started getting little brown spots, so I have to pile on the sunscreen.” She says she has been diligently using the brand’s newly released Eight Hour Great 8 Daily Defense Moisturizer. “I’m really excited about it because it doesn’t go white on your skin,” Witherspoon says.
That’s not to say she doesn’t have her vices. “I drag myself out of bed [and] drink coffee,” she says. Witherspoon is so fresh-faced it’s comforting to know that even she needs to get her game face on. “There’s something beautiful about putting yourself together for the day,” she says. “Getting your hair done, putting your make-up [and] outfit on; it makes you feel prepared for the day, but it’s also caring for yourself and presenting your best self.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of marie claire.