'I was 18 in 1982 when I started modeling. I was going to school in Australia, and had just gotten into law school, which is really what I wanted to do. I took the year off to earn money for school—at a pharmacy, in a restaurant, things like that. And then someone said ‘You should try modeling because you’re so tall. I bet you $20 they’ll take you.' I was thinking I had nothing to lose! So I started doing a bit of modeling in Australia. Then I came to America for what was supposed to be six months. But I just never really left.
The first time that I decided to do something more than be hired by somebody else was when I was working for Sports Illustrated. They’re wonderful, and I had been in a couple of their calendars, but I just kept thinking to myself, well wait a second, why don’t I do a calendar? I had cash in the bank, so I produced it myself. It’s so cool. I got a photographer, styled it myself, found a company in Los Angeles that would print and distribute it for me. But I wasn’t going to break even with it, so then I went to a television station and said, ‘Would you be interested in making a documentary on the making of the calendar?’ They were into it, and that was like the first time I invested my own money into my own business, my own self, to do things that I wanted to do.
It’s not so much about control as it is about working with partners who you really like working with. That's the way I felt about partnering with Net-a-Porter...it’s exciting to to be the co-founder and creative director at WelleCo as we launch The Super Elixir with Net-A-Porter because it’s about wellness and luxury. The woman who shops Net-A-Porter is very discerning and knows what she wants. When people think about health, they think about brown rice and Birkenstocks. Super Elixir isn’t really about that. The products were originally made for me, they worked, and I wanted to share that message with everyone.
I have a holistic approach to my body. All Australians do. We more readily accept alternative medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, and clean ingredients. It’s also about making sure I put time aside for mediation, time to laugh a lot, to read inspiring material...Once you get to my age, we’re more concerned about the way we feel than the way we look. And that doesn’t mean we don’t look good! It’s just more about feeling confident, beautiful, at peace, and inspired.
A lot of that comes from meditation. It’s not formal—anybody can take some quiet time to reflect and to just slow down the brain and focus on the breath, however you do that. I’ll schedule it in my calendar because I need to make time for it. I like to hike, road bike, waterski…so I don’t really workout otherwise. It’s way more fun, and when we combine the physical body and the heart, that’s when you get the maximum effect.
Other than Super Elixir and introducing alkalizing greens into my diet, what really turned everything around for me was sleep. At first I went to my doctor, and she didn’t tell me to cut wine or coffee or anything. What she did say was to change my lifestyle. The easiest thing I could do at the time was to become really disciplined about getting seven hours of sleep a night. So now I have to put myself to bed at 10pm because I get up at 5am. That’s terrible! But I love it. My stress levels have gone down, my cortisol levels have come down, and it’s the beginning of seeing changes.
I use Oribe shampoo and conditioner—it smells great. He’s a great hair technician, and the quality of that product works for me. His Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray is also great because you need that texture for styling. Unite Beach Day Texturizing Spray is also good for that. Unite's Session-Max Spray Extra Strong is good for volume in my roots for when I do big hair with a center part. And I do treatments. A lot of treatments. When I swim, I’ll put a treatment in my swimming cap.
When I take a shower, I exfoliate and moisturize everything on my body. I like the Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant scrub and the NeoStrata Resurface Foaming Glycolic Wash. It’s the best. I use that and the Dr. Brandt Do Not Age products. Biafine and all things French are good for moisture. But then I have to wait for the moisturizer to dry, which is a real pain before you get dressed, so I put on a robe and then take a few vitamins that I have and my Super Elixir.
My greatest regret from when I was younger was that I didn’t protect my skin from the sun—even though I think I look better with a tan. I have plenty of freckles all over my body, and I haven’t done anything about it. There’s no point in doing lasers because I’m in the sun all the time anyway, but I think sunblock is really important now. Always 50+ SPF. When I’m not in a bikini, I’ll wear surf leggings to protect my skin. Roxy makes a good pair. They are just a thin spandex but that and shirt with sleeves helps protect myself a bit. I always wear a cowboy hat for my hair and drink lots of water.
These days, it’s all about stripping back the skin and remoisturizing it because I have really dry skin. Natura Bissē Diamond Cream is so good, and so is their Diamond Life Infusion Retinol Eye Serum. I put Dr. Brandt's Do Not Age Transforming Pearl Serum first and then the diamond cream over the top. If I don't exfoliate in the morning, I'll clean my face at night and exfoliate everything gently so that my skin is really soft.
I love a massage, and I can’t lay still enough for mask. I really love massages, but I’m not a big facial person. I like any dermabrasion cleansing thing, but I’m not a spa girl. I’m more of a wellness girl. It’s not about beautifying, but it’s more about wellness and being tonic, toned, and moisturized with soft skin. It’s really important to have soft skin.
I have two stepdaughters, 14 and 16, and I usually tell them to take their makeup off. They come downstairs and I tell them, 'Go back up.' They look so much prettier without it. I was never into makeup growing up, and I'm still not into makeup. Though, I can’t live without the Jouer Highlighter in Champagne. It’s become a really important part of my routine. RMS is also amazing. I can put her [Rose-Marie Swift's] RMS Beauty 'Un' Coverup concealer on without powder…it’s unbelievable! And her products don’t have any messy ingredients, which is important to me.
Just because I’ve got dark eyes—or maybe because of the proportion of my face—I’m really not good with a red lip. I’ve tried, but now I stick with black eye liner, black mascara, a pale lip, and some lip gloss. I remember seeing a picture of Christy Turlington and Kate Moss, both of them, and they had completely bare eyes and red lips, like an orangey lip, and I thought, 'Why can’t I do that?' With the proportions of my face, it doesn’t work. So dark eyes, pale lips for me.
My manicure is usually white or a really dark nail. But whatever it is, I’m matchy-matchy—like with bras and knickers. Bras and knickers, nails and toes. I get pedicures regularly—every 10 days. It’s important. Right now, it's a dark, dark navy.
HOW TO LOOK GOOD IN PHOTOS
I had a woman come to me the other day and she said, ‘I feel terrible in pictures, show me what I can do.’ So I took a picture and noticed that she keeps all this tension in her mouth, and she was wearing too much makeup. I said, 'Listen, it’s all tricks.' Looking good is a whole bunch of tricks anyone can learn. I showed her a couple, took another picture, and she was like, ‘Oh my God! I never looked so good,’ and it was true. If I’ve got worries about one thing about my face, then I focus on another, and it’s not so bad. She made her undereye bags go away and that was all she needed. You work with what you’ve got, and we can all look beautiful if we understand that it’s the attitude from within and how we use certain products that highlight our best features.”
—as told to ITG
Elle Macpherson photographed by Tom Newton. Read more of the Top Shelf here.