Courteney Cox is a rule breaker, at least when it comes to the outdated beauty guidelines commonly held among women of a certain age. At 53, she is often seen rockin’ a two-piece bathing suit, making it clear that to this iconic Friend, age is just a number. “I feel better than I’ve ever felt,” says the Alabama native, though she does admit that aging in the spotlight hasn’t always been easy. “Hollywood makes it hard; this business makes it harder. I grew up thinking appearance was the most important thing. That as long as I looked OK, I would be OK, which got me into trouble.” Courteney also reveals that chasing the fountain of youth has its consequences, and that the road to acceptance wasn’t easy. In a town where it’s taboo to admit you’ve done anything more to yourself than get a good night’s sleep or take an extended vacation, it’s refreshing to hear a truthful take on beauty treatments—the good, the bad and the reformed. “I was trying so hard to keep up, and that actually made things worse. Now, I’m as natural as I can be.”
Looking casually chic in a pair of boyfriend jeans, a sheer floral top and loafers, Courteney relaxes into a cozy couch at West Hollywood’s members-only Soho House, ready to chat about all things beauty. “I’ve always been such an open person,” she says. Aside from a light layer of mascara and a slight smudge of eyeliner that highlight her piercing blue eyes, her makeup is minimal. On Courteney, natural has never looked better. Here, she gets candid about the beauty treatments she’ll never get again, how she’s teaching her teenage daughter, Coco, not to focus so much on looks, and the diagnosis that changed her life. She even opens up about the positive effects of dating a younger man (40-year-old Johnny McDaid of Snow Patrol) and her openness to have another baby.
You May Also Like: 12 Famous Women on the Anti-Aging Procedures They Love
NewBeauty: Tell us about your morning beauty routine.
Courteney Cox: I start with the Clarisonic to wash my face and then I apply a hot towel. I don’t know if that’s good for my skin, but it’s what the professionals do. I see Mila Moursi once a week for a facial and I’ve been using her products for years. I love the way they smell. They’re rich and rejuvenating—they blend natural extracts, oils and peptides with the best scientific ingredients. I want natural, but not too natural. I want it to work. I don’t want to just use plants and water. I always put on a peptide of some sort—Mila’s Rejuvenating Serum or a lifting serum. Sometimes a vitamin C product. I also use her Firming Cream, Oxy Cellular and AntiWrinkle Cream. I alternate those, or sometimes use all of them, depending on how dry I am.
NB: That’s quite a process—how long does it take?
CC: Not nearly as long as it sounds! It’s all really easy and only takes about three minutes.
NB: How do you take care of your body?
CC: I just realized that I should have started on my body earlier than I did. I thought, “Oh, my body’s fine.” Well, it’s not. It does catch up. I recently started dry brushing, and I’ve got a body roller for my problem areas. But it’s good to start on your body when you’re 25 or 30, not 53. That’s the moral of the story.
NB: How do you stay in shape?
CC: I’ve been doing Pilates for years, and in the last year, I’ve started doing electrical stimulation workouts with my trainer, Foued Douma. It builds and strengthens my muscles. I also try to stretch and run once a week and play tennis on Sundays, which I love.
Shot on-location at her Malibu home.
NB: Is Coco into makeup?
CC: She’s obsessed with makeup tutorials and she’s really into taking care of her skin. She’s 13 and you know what comes with that. I wasn’t like that as a kid. I was much more into decorating my room and laying in the sun. I had no idea about sun damage. Coco’s more on it.
NB: Let’s talk about your brows and lashes.
CC: I love Latisse! I’ve been using it for a long time. Sometimes you get an [odd] eyelash in there, but most of the time it’s good. Filling in your brows is really important. I do some microblading to save time. Although it doesn’t last forever, it’s great and it saves me time filling in my eyebrows.
NB: Any beauty rules?
CC: Don’t pluck your eyebrows too thin because you’ll regret it! And don’t go to bed with makeup on your face. That’s probably the worst thing you can do.
NB: What does Coco teach you about makeup?
CC: That my less-is-more theory is true! Coco loves makeup and she expresses herself through it. One of her favorite shows is RuPaul’s Drag Race. She thinks it’s beautiful artistry and she’s really good at it. Luckily at school she can only wear mascara, but on the weekends you would think she’s going out to a rager at 2 a.m.—eyeliner, mascara, highlighter on her cheeks. I don’t like seeing highlighter during the day. Well, to be honest, I don’t even know how to use it. It makes sense if you’re going out, but she begs to differ. I know some people think I should rein her in with the makeup, but it’s a form of self-expression. As long as she’s not sexualizing herself, it’s really just what makes her feel good. Sometimes I do wish her shorts were longer—I’m not going to lie. But I want to keep an open relationship with her. I care more about what she’s watching than what she’s putting on her face.
NB: Is it difficult to grow older in Hollywood?
CC: I think getting older is just hard in general. I feel like I’m 34, so the thought that I’m not just doesn’t seem natural. I don’t get it. I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I take much better care of myself now. But Hollywood—this business—makes it harder. I grew up thinking that appearance was the most important thing. That’s kind of sad because it got me in trouble. I was trying so hard to keep up, and I actually made things worse.
NB: Where did your emphasis on appearance come from?
CC: My family. My mother’s a gorgeous woman. She’s sweet, kind and giving, but she didn’t have a lot of other passions. My father, who’s no longer with us, was the most fun and charismatic person, but he talked about looks a lot. He felt that was an important topic in our family—what people looked like and who didn’t look so good. That’s not a great thing to reveal about your childhood. What are we going to eat and what do people look like, but that’s what we talked about.
NB: How did trying to “keep up” with your appearance get you in trouble?
CC: Well, what would end up happening is that you go to a doctor who would say, “You look great, but what would help is a little injection here or filler there.” So you walk out and you don’t look so bad and you think, no one noticed—it’s good. Then somebody tells you about another doctor: “This person’s amazing. They do this person who looks so natural.” You meet them and they say, “You should just do this.” The next thing you know, you’re layered and layered and layered. You have no idea because it’s gradual until you go, “Oh sh*t, this doesn’t look right.” And it’s worse in pictures than in real life. I have one friend who was like, “Whoa, no more!” I thought, I haven’t done anything in six months. I didn’t realize.
NB: So your friend told you she thought you were doing too much?
CC: Yeah. But I’d see pictures and think, “Oh, is that what I look like?” And I’d ask a friend and they’d say, “Oh God, no.” And I never thought of myself as being delusional. I think photographs do show up worse, so when people in the world see you and write comments that are usually mean, I think, “It can be worse than what it really is.”
NB: Well, you look amazing. What are you doing now?
CC: I’ve had all my fillers dissolved. I’m as natural as I can be. I feel better because I look like myself. I think that I now look more like the person that I was. I hope I do. Things are going to change. Everything’s going to drop. I was trying to make it not drop, but that made me look fake. You need movement in your face, especially if you have thin skin like I do. Those aren’t wrinkles—they’re smile lines. I’ve had to learn to embrace movement and realize that fillers are not my friend.
NB: So are you done with treatments?
CC: I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I want to stay natural. But, they come up with new stuff all the time—it’s crazy how many new machines are out there. I believe in getting laser treatments like Clear + Brilliant. I believe in microneedling. I think microcurrent technology makes sense to strengthen your muscles.
You May Also Like: The Secret Procedures and Treatments Celebs Got Before This Year’s Oscars
NB: What about diet—do you have to watch what you eat?
CC: I’m a really good eater. About four years ago I found out I have something called a MTHFR gene mutation, which dictates how my body methylates. I suffered miscarriages, my dad died of a really rare cancer, and depression runs in my family, which made my doctor think I should get this gene checked out. I discovered that I have the worst version of this mutation and my body doesn’t methylate the way it’s supposed to. Once I found out how I could absorb nutrients and protect myself from toxins, my whole life shifted.
NB: What kind of changes did you see?
CC: I felt so much better and had more energy. I used to get so tired and would literally crumble after I ate something. Now I give myself a shot of methylated B-12 daily. When I was pregnant, I took folic acid like you’re supposed to, but I learned later that it wasn’t good for me. I have to take a methylfolate and methylated B, and then I can absorb it. I would love to have a baby now. I mean, I could carry someone else’s egg. I may be one of the older people doing it, but I would love to, with Johnny that is.
NB: Would you consider having a baby now?
CC: I would. I know it’s crazy, but I would.
NB: What does beauty mean to you?
CC: Confidence. It’s beautiful to see somebody own who they are and not hide; someone who is open and comfortable in their skin.
NB: At what point in your life did that happen for you?
CC: It comes and goes. I don’t always feel con dent. I feel best about myself when I’m at peace—relaxed and happy. The great part about getting older is that you learn so much about yourself. Whether it’s through heartache or a good experience, you learn about the tricks you played on yourself or fell back on because you were comfortable with them. I just wish I had this information a little sooner. I would have saved myself a lot of problems.
NB: How does your boyfriend, Johnny McDaid, make you feel beautiful?
CC: Well, he’s younger than me, and with any other guy that would be the hardest thing in the world, but looks are not that important to him or his family. External beauty isn’t even on his radar. I used to worry about the age difference, but I don’t think it matters. He appreciates beauty, but it’s deeper than that. It’s deeper for me too, but luckily I find him gorgeous and extremely sexy.
NB: What advice would you give to your younger self?
CC: Be happy where you are. Don’t always think there’s something better or say, “If only I…” Chances are you’ll look back and say, “Wow, I had it pretty good.” Also, have self-respect. I spent a lot of time people-pleasing in order to be liked. In order to be comfortable, I normalized things that were ultimately disrespectful to me because not rocking the boat was an easier choice. I think I normalized a lot of things I wish I hadn’t.
NB: So now you’re willing to rock the boat?
CC: I just live more honestly. I’m much more authentic to who I am.