It looks like we’ve got the same headband! I’m so into them!” exclaims Helen Mirren as soon as we connect for our Zoom call and she sees me appear on her screen. She may be a Dame, one of the world’s greatest actors and the only person to have achieved the famous Triple Crown of Acting in both the U.S. (Academy, Emmy and Tony awards) and the U.K. (BAFTA Film, BAFTA Television and Laurence Olivier awards), but I can tell right away that Mirren is profoundly relatable and down-to-earth. She’s quick to recommend that I check out Headbands for Hope, a company that donates a headband to a child with an illness for every item sold. This desire to make a difference is evident throughout our conversation, along with her enthusiasm about having been an ambassador for L’Oréal Paris for the past seven years.
“When I was in my 20s, there was no way a woman of my age [now] would be a spokesperson for a beauty-product company,” she says. “When I came on board, I thought, ‘I don’t know if I’m good enough, if I’m beautiful enough—I’m certainly much too old.’ [But] in fact, the L’Oréal family was so welcoming and so unpressurized in that direction; [they] wanted me because of who I am, and that’s all.”
Mirren feels that this openness to a wider perspective on beauty mirrors the profound transformations that are taking place in our society. “Life doesn’t come in pivotal switches,” she says. “Mostly, it’s incremental. It happens in such tiny incremental changes that you are not aware of them at the time. You suddenly look back and go ‘Oh, my God! I’m a completely different person than I was 30 years ago.’ Also, society and culture change incrementally. We’ve got further to go, and other things will come, but it’s been a great journey for me. It’s why I want to live for a long time: I want to see what’s coming—I don’t want to miss out!”
She also underlines the importance of gender representation for the next generation of young women looking for role models. “Every time I watch the news and [an expert] comes on and it’s a woman or those [COVID] doctors and scientists are women—that would never have been the case 30 years ago,” she says. “The more that’s the case [now], the more 10-year-old girls are out there thinking ‘Oh, I can be that!’”
While Mirren is an undeniably beautiful person both inside and out, she isn’t the biggest fan of the word “beauty.” “I love getting dressed up and putting on makeup and high heels, but I think the beauty industry should be called the ‘swagger industry,’” she says. “I’m looking for a new word that doesn’t have to do with beauty. Because we are not all beautiful, but we can all swagger!” Mirren feels most beautiful when she’s at home. “I’m living in a place that has a lot of nature around it,” she says. “There’s something very settling about being just who you are and in nature—with no makeup on, actually—as a part of the beautiful planet that we’ve inherited. I just hope we are not going to destroy it.”
In Helen Mirren’s Beauty Kit
L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydrating Core Lipstick
“No bullshit—I always have one in my purse because you can just put it on without looking in the mirror. It’s like a very coloured balm. It’s fabulous.”
L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation
“It’s always so difficult to find a great foundation, as the foundation is what everything else sits on. This one is a new discovery of mine, and it’s amazing.”
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