Any woman, from a young age, is encouraged to play up her “best feature.” Whether it’s her smile, skin, hair or body, whether she takes two hours getting ready or two minutes, whether she views herself as a knockout or not, there’s always that one trait that she’s been complimented on throughout her life—sitting in her beauty arsenal, just waiting to unleash more power than any makeup she can apply or any outfit she can wear.
For celebrities, even those blessed with beauty so stunning that it is hard to pinpoint which trait wins for “the best,” that feature is almost always, by default, voted on (and, likewise, negatively critiqued) by popular public opinion, a ruthlessly opinionated jury that judges from afar. For Julianne Moore, that predicated feature is her hair. Those bold, fiery-red locks are striking and beautiful, an always-present descriptor that accompanies her name whenever it is mentioned, and has done so since she hit Hollywood more than 30 years ago.
But on a cool New York summer morning, as the 53-year-old actress walks into the studio for our cover shoot, you have to wonder if the jury’s verdict has been unabashedly wrong all along. Of course her hair is beautiful, tied back in a low ponytail and possessing that jewel-toned, dark red shade that is almost impossible to duplicate or describe in person. The style is about as low-maintenance as it comes—and so is she, arriving with no personal-assistant entourage, no demands and bearing her own packed lunch, a feat that even the most organized of professionals can find difficult to pull off on a Monday morning. But it’s her skin, a radiantly glowing, dewy complexion that the words “looks younger than she is” don’t even begin to give justice to, that gives her one of the most envious features and begs the question: How does she do it?
“I feel my best when I’m not thinking about what I look like.”
But the answer should come as no surprise. Julianne has touted the power of sunscreen time and time again, and she never presents it as just a favorite product or a quick tip that she encourages everyone to follow. It’s an intrinsic part of her life, one she has followed from a very young age, and continues to do so today, crediting it as that secret that keeps her looking better than her same-age counterparts. “I was lucky enough to have a very fair-skinned mother who instilled in me the importance of sunscreen. We wouldn’t go to the beach until after 3 p.m. and we would do things like walk on the shady side of the street to avoid the sun,” she says. “People are so much more careful now, but back then it was rather unusual. That has made the biggest difference in my skin; the condition of it is very different than other people my age and I credit it all to that.”
And then, as if on cue, she also admits that she knows it isn’t her skin you necessarily think of first in regard to her name. “But my grandmother always said my red hair was my calling card! And I never realized how much I identified with it until I had to dye it blond years ago for a role. It felt so weird and I couldn’t wait to go back to my regular shade,” she says, laughing. “In playing Alma [referring to her upcoming role as president Alma Coin in the November-released Hunger Games trilogy], it’s not as drastic because my hair is a wig. Wigs aren’t hard; they are actually pretty fun. But the character does sport a very specific look and has very specific features, which makes it interesting.”
“It sounds old-fashioned, but I believe anything that you can do that helps you stand up straighter, makes you look much better. For me, that is acupuncture.”
The Natural Progression
It’s clear that Julianne has both a work and personal life, and that she has mastered the one thing most busy professionals strive for: balancing the two and keeping them separate. When we speak, the release of Hunger Games: Mockingjay is very much anticipated, but it’s not her only big project for the year or the following, nor is that back-to-back lineup atypical for one of Hollywood’s hardest-working actresses. Her second career, that of anti-aging role model (she’s a current face of L’Oréal Paris’s Age Perfect skin-care line), is one that has gained serious traction, and garners as many questions as her acting career does, but, perhaps, not a subject she takes as seriously. Because, after all, it’s just a natural progression of life—mixed in with a little bit of a laid-back attitude.
“I can remember being 12 and everyone was talking about the year 2000 and it seemed so far away. I remember thinking, ‘I will be 40 then,’ and it just seemed so old—I couldn’t even think about it; it was utterly shocking,” she says. “But when you get there, it’s so much less serious than you anticipated. The changes aren’t as vast and it all happens very gradually. Getting older is not as bad as you think.”
“But I honestly don’t think about beauty when I’m not working—and I think everyone in my family would agree that when I’m at home, I’m not thinking about what I look like,” she says. “I actually feel my best when I’m not thinking about what I look like.”
“That is why I enjoy yoga, because it’s that chance to ‘let go.’ I have a great teacher. She recently told us a story about moving out of her childhood home and all the things that come along with that and how, while it is hard, it teaches you a lesson on letting go—that house is just a structure and the same goes for our bodies. Our bodies are just structures. I thought it was a beautiful lesson. We talk so much about what we look like, but it’s really just a small part of the bigger package.”
Part of that “bigger package” is clearly her family. She’s been married to director Bart Freundlich for 11 years and together, they have two teenage children—she absolutely lights up when they are mentioned, whether it’s about her recent photo spread with her daughter or her son’s basketball aspirations.
“My big thing for my kids is that I’m always making sure they are eating healthy, but eating enough. They are both athletic, and I’m all about a big breakfast,” she says. “And for my daughter, we talk about different things as they relate to beauty. I tell her not to overpluck her eyebrows—I remember overplucking mine in sixth grade, and I guess everyone does! She is allowed to play with makeup but I also remind her how beautiful she looks without it. I also try to remind her she can dress modestly and still look lovely.”
After a long day of shooting, it’s also her family calling her home—back to her “other” life, that of a non-movie star and non-anti-aging role model. As she washes away the makeup from the day, she looks twice in the mirror to make sure it is all gone. “Thanks for making me look pretty today,” she says as she heads back down the elevator, looking just as striking and naturally beautiful as when she arrived.
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