Cate Blanchett And SK-II Celebrate Their 10th Anniversary
Cate Blanchett is known for her unbelievable acting range. A born stage performer, the Aussie star made the transition to the big screen with complete and total ease, nabbing an Oscar for The Aviator and nominations for Elizabeth, Notes on a Scandal, and I’m Not There. But around these parts, she’s mostly recognized for her acute fashion sense (her lavender Givenchy couture gown blew away the competition at this year’s Oscars) and an insane porcelain complexion that belies her 42 years. The latter feat is thanks in large part to SK-II, for which she serves as global brand ambassador. This year marks the actress and the Japanese brand’s 10th anniversary of making clear, perfect skin together, and to mark the occasion, Blanchett took a few moments out of her busy touring schedule (she’s currently starring in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya) to talk theater vs. film makeup, heading back into the Shire, and how a certain Facial Treatment Essence gives her face that extra bit of je ne sais quoi.
So how did you and SK-II meet in the first place?
It was when I was pregnant with our first son; he’s nine now. I noticed changes in my skin—textural changes from a surge of hormones—and [my makeup artist] Mary Greenwell said, “Why don’t you try this?” It was the whitening line. The thing I found most remarkable was the Essence. It was just so hydrating. I never thought about skin being luminous, but this gave it that little je ne sais quoi. And because it worked so rapidly I started exploring the range.
What kind of regimen are you on now?
I’m on stage at the moment so I’ve changed the cleanser I’m using. The Cleansing Oil is really good for removing eye makeup; it’s a little more heavy-duty. During the show—it’s a quite physical show—I’ve also been using the lotion and the Essence, which I put over makeup as well. It kind of just sets it, which is good for when you’re moving around, and it also keeps you hydrated. I don’t usually cleanse in the morning, though. I just use the Essence and the LXP Moist Softening Serum. Then I’ll use the Signs Moisturizer, and if I’m going out in the sun, I’ll use an SPF. And the eye cream is pretty great, too—particularly if you’ve been up late!
Before you and SK-II became acquainted, what was your skincare regimen like? Is there anything you wish you’d known then that you know now?
I wish I had started using the line when I was 20! Until I discovered SK-II, I chopped and changed—there was no consistency. There was also a brief period when I abused the sun for about two summers when I was 14. I would cover myself in baby oil and climb up onto the tin roof and try desperately to get a tan. One day my mother walked up on the ladder and said, “What are you doing? Get down!”—which was a really good thing because the sun is so strong in Australia. My mother was always big on sunscreen, so my relationship to the sun after that has always been healthy. She was also big on moisturizing the back of her hands—so even now, if I ever put on a face mask, I rub it on the backs of my hands as well.
What about makeup? Is there anything you swear by for accentuating your perfect canvas?
Armani does a really beautiful eye shadow palette at the moment, but if I’m just doing my own makeup, I’ll put on a mascara and MAC’s black liquid liner. I wore it for the play and I thought, this is so easy! And I usually wear a bronzer as well. NARS does a really nice one.
So you do your own makeup when you’re on stage?
I’ve always done my own makeup for the stage. I’ve learned that it’s mostly about contouring and the fact that you don’t actually need as much makeup as you think you do if you’re well lit. But it depends on the house and the character and the production.
You typically have a hair and makeup team with you when you’re working on a film, though, right?
Yes. But whenever I’m doing a film, the relationship with the makeup artist is a really collaborative one. Because it’s part of the creation of the character and you don’t want to hand that over to someone else.
How does the experience of acting on stage vs. acting on camera compare or differ, in your experience?
With a show, it’s about the ensemble and the tangible growth of the work, so by the time it’s gotten to the end of the run, if it’s been well rehearsed and the text is really great, it takes off. That’s the pleasure of touring. You’re very responsible for the whole and it’s a fantastic thing to surf. You’ve also got an incredibly direct link to the audience and they will tell you if it’s not working. Film is a different skill and I do miss it a bit—that rapid-fire response.
You’ve been working on the production of The Hobbit, though, no?
Between the theater and the children, I mean, that’s my time. So I only did eight days on The Hobbit—and it was fabulous.
What was it like revisiting your Lord of the Rings character ten years on?
Well, [Galadriel] is eternal—she’s an elf. But I, the actress, was ten years older. What’s interesting in those moments when you return to a character you haven’t played in a while, there are reference pictures, so I was actually able to see the parallel of using SK-II for the past ten years. Obviously, you lose a little bit of your puppy fat, but in terms of the tone of my skin, they didn’t have to use as much makeup this time around as they did last time—which feels pretty good.
No doubt. And what about fashion? Are there any shows you’re looking forward to this season?
I think what Phoebe Philo is doing at Celine is fabulous and I think the transition from what [Alexander] Lee [McQueen] was doing to what Sarah Burton is doing has been seamless, because she was so enmeshed in that world. I think she’s extraordinary.
Photo: Paul Morigi / WireImage / Getty Iamges