Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Actress


“There are not a lot of things that I can say I stick to for a long time. I really like to try new things. I mean there are certain things, especially with skincare, where if it works, you stick with it. But when it comes to makeup, it’s like toys or something. I love peeking at makeup artists’ bags and seeing what they’re using on me, and I always ask a billion questions about what their new favorite products are. There’s this never-ending curiosity about what’s out there and I find it really fun.

I definitely have been doing this job long enough that I’ve seen things change in terms of the red carpet and how much pressure there is there to look perfect. I just think it’s so much more fun to try new things and be creative because perfection is boring. It's fun to do my own hair and makeup for the red carpet—if there's time, I like to just stand in the bathroom and turn music on and light candles and go through all the steps of my routine. It’s sort of therapeutic. And I also feel accomplished if I look at the photo the next day and I like it. It's nice to be in control of how I look. A lot of actresses I know struggle with looking at photos of themselves where they look good, but not like themselves. You want to look like the best version of yourself, but you end up looking like a really beautiful other woman who's not you.

I’ve been mixing it up lately and I try not to always wash my face in the morning. I have these Bioderma Crealine and Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water that I use in the morning because my skin gets more dry in the winter. All my stuff is from my facialist, Renée Rouleau, so she has a system that’s specific to my skin. Most of my stuff is from her and I’ve been working with her for years. She has these great Toning Cloths that she makes, that work really well to get makeup off. And I have really bad allergies and so in the morning, it’s really nice to use to wipe my eyes because they can be really red and itchy when I wake up.

Then I follow with the Renée Rouleau Elderberry Toner. After that, I try to immediately put on her Vitamin C&E Treatment. Basically I try not to let the toner sit on my skin because the whole purpose is to keep the moisture in, so you want to put the moisturizer or the serum on right after. And then I like to take a hot shower after that and kind of like let it steam and sink into my skin, unless I’m washing my face and then I usually wash my face in the shower. The last step of her morning routine for me is SPF 30 Lightweight UVA/UVB Protection with 7% Zinc Oxide, which is the one thing that she always tells me I should be using a lot of, that I should be out of it regularly. It doesn’t clog your pores at all, which is the problem I’ve had in the past with SPFs. It’s really light and you can really slather it on. I put a lot of it on my neck, I put it under my eyes and on my eyelids.

I just discovered Avène, which has been around for a long time but I had never heard of it, when I stumbled on it on vacation in France with my husband. My skin had broken out, and I didn’t remember to bring anything with me for breakouts, so I went to one of the pharmacies there. The woman who was working didn’t speak any English, so I just started searching the whole place for anything that had the word 'acne' in it. And I found TriAcneal, which I usually wear at night and I’ve become obsessed with. It’s for acne-prone skin but also has retinol, so it’s anti-acne and anti-aging in one. I feel like it really makes my pores feel a lot smaller, and I’ll just put it on any spots that I’m having trouble with.

At night, I usually start with either the Eve Lom Cleansing Oil or the Bioderma, just to kind of get the makeup off, and then my nighttime cleanser, AHA/BHA Deep Cleansing Gel from Renée Rouleau. And then I’ll use her toner again and her Skin Correcting Serum, which I’ll use after the toner. Then I have two different moisturizers depending on the weather. I have Sheer Moisture, which is really light that I’ll use when it’s hot during the summer months, and I have another one called Hawaiian Nourishing Cream, which I’ll use when it’s dry and wintry. And she has this neck cream that I’ve been using a lot, too, at night, because I’m just getting to that point where I’m really preparing for the future, more so than ever before.

Renée also has some really great masks that I use. The Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is almost like having a lighter, at-home chemical peel because it really feels like you’re getting off a layer of dead skin. After that, she has the Energizing Cleansing Masque, which is more of a clay mask. I’ll use the Bio Calm Repair Masque, which is for any time you’re feeling red or sensitive, which really calms things down.

I'm in this phase in my life right now where I’m enjoying actually wearing makeup even when I’m not working, which is kind of a new thing for me. Over the years I’ve had phases where I’m into it and do '40s makeup and hot rollers in my hair and red lips...and then I can go totally opposite. For the past couple years I was just into moisturizer and go. But recently I've felt empowered and a bit womanly when I sit and down my own makeup. Discovering Avène led me to try their Haute Protection compact with a tinted SPF. That’s pretty much all I wear for foundation. It’s kind of like a cream but it’s very light, and it covers really well but you don’t feel like you’re wearing anything, and I love that. I’ve been doing my own makeup a lot recently for red carpet events and stuff, and I just wear that and it covers super nicely.

In the past month or two, I bought the Anastasia Contour Kit and actually watched a YouTube video of this girl, who was showing how to do contouring. Even though I’ve worked with amazing makeup artists, I never actually see what they’re doing, so it’s still kind of fun to look at those kind of videos sometimes and learn. I’ve got my contouring brush, and I start with a blend of two colors on my cheeks, and then I blend that out, and on the cheekbone where you push your lips up and find that line. And I’ll do a little bit under my chin. And I’ll use the brown color a little bit on my neck, and then I’ll do just a thin line of the darker brown just on the chin bone, and a little bit on the sides of the nose. And I really, really blend it out. The Laura Geller Real Deal Concealer that I have right now is just for under the eyes, and I usually kind of tap it out with a sponge.

Then I've been using this L’Oréal Color Riche La Palette in Nude 2 palette a lot lately. I really like the browns and the plums on the lids, because I’ve been liking doing a light, smoky daytime eye. And I’ll curl my lashes with the Tweezerman eyelash curler, but I also really like Shiseido as well. For mascara, my go-to is L’Oréal Voluminous. I also love Diorshow, which is kind of for anytime because I like that you can kind of control it—it’s a really nice layering mascara. For red carpet, I don’t use lashes anymore. I like just doing a thick coat of mascara and letting that be it.

It’s kind of random, but lately I’ve been using this Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil as a lipliner. I tend to use blushes as lipstick or lipstick as blush and mix things up like that. It’s like an auburn colored eyebrow pencil that I think works really well as a brown-y nude lipliner. And then I usually just will put on some Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. For my brows, I am obsessed with this Benefit Gimme Brow and then I’ll layer on a lighter color. My hair is an in-between reddish auburn-y color, so I feel like when I do my eyebrows too dark sometimes it looks like a little jarring. I’ll put that on pretty liberally, especially at night or for an event I really like going for a strong brow.

When I’m going out, I just take everything up a notch—I’ll take my regular day look and I’ll just intensify it. I don’t usually wear an eyeliner during the day, but for night, I’ll wear a really thick liner and I’ll layer it like three or four times to really get it dark. I really like Stila All Day Waterproof Liquid Liners and lately, this Eyeko London Liquid Liner. I still tend to go for the same kind of color scheme even for nighttime, but I just add more layers and go much stronger with it.

I really like a dark berry lip, but I find that sometimes it doesn’t photograph that well on me. What I find photographs best on me for red carpet is a really nude lip. So I’ll use that same liner but then I’ll go over it with a really nude lipstick like MAC Slimshine Lipstick and then lip balm or gloss on top of it. I find that’s the most photogenic. Pretty much every year or so, I change what I’m interested in, in terms of aesthetics, like pretty drastically. So I have a lot of different colors in here because probably years ago I was really into bright orange lips and really clean eyes with a thin bit of liner, and that was what I was doing every day. And now I’ve totally gone in the other direction and I’m adopting more of almost like a '90s kind of aesthetic with more brown lips and smokier eyes. I was really against it for a little while because I thought, I lived the '90s, I’m not going to like go back to that, but it’s grown on me.

Every time I start a new job, they want something different from my hair. But even if it’s a subtle difference I’m getting my hair colored pretty regularly and now I’m just starting to get enough grey where I have to get it colored, which is a very new thing for me. The last few times I’ve been going to Salon Benjamin, been getting my hair cut by Dylan Chavles or Anna Dunn, and Mischie Palumbo does my color there. And they stock Davines there, and so I usually buy that because that's what they use there and my hair always looks so good!

If I have enough time, I’ll do my own hair in the morning. But I really like to let it air dry to let the natural wave come out—it’s nice if I’m able to do it at night and just sleep on it wet to get the right texture. Every time I start a new job, the hairstylist gives me something that they recommend that I should use, and so I always use that and I always think it’s great and then the next job somebody gives me something else I should use. Right now I’ve been using the Marula Oil Shampoo, which I really like and I love how it smells. Lately I’ve been trying not to use conditioner because I found that I was breaking out right where the ends of my hair fall. So that was a little clue that maybe I didn’t really need to use conditioner. And since my hair’s pretty oily naturally on its own, I’ve found that it’s been fine without any.

I really love surf sprays and salt sprays, so I have several of those. Like everybody, I love the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, which is probably my favorite hair product of all time. I have some different creams that I’ll use when it’s wet if I’m going out just to make sure there are no frizzies or flyaways. And then if I have to dry it, I’ll use a diffuser so that I can keep the wave in there. That’s pretty much it, I don’t go too crazy with the products in my hair.

My everyday fragrance is Chloé Eau de Parfum, which I’ve been wearing every day for about five or six years. It’s become one of those things where if my friends smell it on someone else they get weirded out because they’re like, no it smells like Mary! So I like having a signature scent that people can sort of know you by. But I also really love Le Labo, which I tend to do more at home, in the Santal 26 candle and home fragrance.

I’m a big scent person, so if I use anything, it’s usually more for scent than for any sort of skin benefits. When I take a bath, I love to use the Lavender Bath Essence by Dr. Hauschka. It really helps my day go a lot better if I feel like my environment smells really pretty and natural and uplifting."

—as told to ITG

Mary Elizabeth Winstead photographed by Nikko La Mere in Los Angeles on December 14, 2015. Interview by Alexis Brunswick.