Jennifer Garner Uses This Drugstore Retinol Serum Every Night for Younger-Looking Skin

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Jennifer Garner Uses This Drugstore Retinol Serum Every Night for Younger-Looking Skin featured image
Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images

It’s been 16 years since the premier of 13 Going on 30 and, as a surprise to approximately no one, Jennifer Garner still looks as youthful and radiant as Jenna Rink in her prime.

During a quick Zoom call with the 48-year-old mother, actress, entrepreneur and Neutrogena Ambassador, we asked Garner all of our burning beauty questions—and she did not disappoint.

On her early relationship with beauty…
“When I was young, I didn’t care for my skin on purpose or in a way where I was thinking of caring for my skin. But I did stay out of the sun when I was younger because I was always working in a summer theater, and I always had a job. I worked at a men’s store, I worked in restaurants—I wasn’t a lifeguard out there sunning myself like my friends were. I didn’t lay out because I was just so busy as a kid. And that is kind of the nicest thing that I did for myself—and I still have sun damage. Because I’m sure when I wasn’t busy I did plenty of damage.

The other thing is that I really grew up being a Neutrogena girl. I really did grow up using the Beauty Bar, I really did grow up using their shampoo. They had a thing where for two weeks you would only use that shampoo to wash everything out of your hair, as if I had anything in my hair [laughs].

But my relationship to beauty is that I wasn’t a ‘pretty’ girl in junior high or high school. I was never on the homecoming court or chosen as any of the superlatives in high school, I was never chosen for anything. So it was a big shock to me when I grew up and suddenly people saw me as someone who was, you know, pretty.”

On her daily skin-care routine…
“The great thing about quarantine is that I really have complied to taking the time to just do the simple things. So in the morning I always start with SPF—it’s like brushing your teeth. I use the Ultra Sheer Spray ($15). You just do it before you do anything else and it’s the most important part of your day.

And then at night, everyone knows that you should use retinol when you get older. Dermatologists totally agree that it’s one of the things that changes your skin for sure. But you think of it as super expensive, as super hard on your skin, something you can only wear certain days per week—I’ve had a lot of questions for my dermatologist about it—and the products that I’m using and loving is the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil ($36). It’s a new product and is gentle enough to use every night. Even still, I start off any product like that, using every other night, just to make sure, but I use it every night now. It makes a fast difference, it’s hydrating, the feel of it on your skin is nice, it feels nice as you go to bed—clean and just really hydrated and lovely. So that’s my favorite.”

On how she’s relaxing during quarantine…
“It is really hard, isn’t it? I feel like my nights are getting later and later. My eldest daughter and I have played this game, Ticket to Ride, every night of quarantine until she went back to school, and so we had an epic, never-ending Ticket to Ride game going and that really did help us both breathe and unwind at the end of the day. Now I’m really just trying to remind myself how much I love to read and get better at reading at night.”

On the importance of her Neutrogena Ambassadorship…
“It’s so important to me because it’s part of who I am. I’ve grown up with the brand. I always say I started selling their sunscreen and now I sell their wrinkle products [laughs]. And so it feels really right. And because I grew up with them as a kid: I’m one of three girls, we could have never had any fancy products or anything, but we did read Seventeen magazine and we did all have acne at different times, and we did want to take care of our skin somewhat, and Neutrogena was our answer. So it just feels good to me. And I also believe so much that it’s not about makeup, it’s about taking care of your skin so you look and feel pretty.”

On the best piece of beauty advice she’s been given…
“SPF every day. My dermatologist once told me that nothing looks better in your fifties than sunscreen in your twenties!”

On her biggest beauty regret…
“I went through a really unfortunate phase in college because I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup as a kid and I just didn’t learn, I’m not that visual as a person. But I had a whole thing of theater makeup that I would wear for whatever theater production I was in at the time. So if I wanted to wear makeup, I would put on pancake makeup. And in every picture of me from college I look absolutely insane. Just a different color face, just horrible. Horrible! No wonder I didn’t think I was pretty [laughs].”

On what makes her feel the most beautiful…
“Being on the couch with all three kids on top of me. We just celebrated our annual Yes Day the other day and they got to dress me and do my makeup, which was crazy, but part of their requests were that I wore clothes that they saw me as mom in, they wanted me in glasses because that’s how they see me. Their idea of me is what makes me feel the prettiest.”

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