Elizabeth Banks on Skincare, Aging, and Bleaching Her Brows (Before It Was Cool)
Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh beauty series where you'll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favorite celebrities and content creators. They'll reveal their guilty-pleasure beauty practices, the five-minute-routine product lineup they can't live without, the one good-skin tip they'll be forever thankful for, and so much more. To bring every conversation full circle, we ask each celebrity to send us a selection of self-shot, filter-free photos of their choosing to capture the essence of their Unfiltered beauty philosophy.
Up next, we're getting to know actor and filmmaker Elizabeth Banks. Below, she's answering all of our rapid-fire questions and sharing her favorite products, best-kept beauty secrets, and more. Enjoy!
No7 is such a beloved brand. It’s been a go-to for so many people for so many years. Can you talk about when you were first introduced to it and how it fits in with your beauty routine?
I’m a recent convert, to be honest, but I’m newly in love. I’m getting older. I’m finally paying a lot more attention to everything, and I was really impressed with, frankly, how much retinol is in No7. That’s something your dermatologist is always like, “Maybe it’s time,” and I was like, “Wait a minute. There are these incredible products that already have a lot of retinol in them.” I got really excited for a nighttime ritual with retinol that doesn’t dry me out because that’s always been my fear about retinol. It’s kind of why I shied away from it. None of these products do that to me. My skin is just smoother, and I feel like I’m really working toward… I don’t really like to say anti-aging. I’m not anti-aging. I’m pro-aging, guys. It’s always better than the alternative. For me, it’s about managing my skin to feel like my best self as I get older—that’s what I feel the No7 Pure Retinol does.
If you could only use one No7 product for the rest of your life, which one would it be, and why?
Okay, I’m debating. One is the Night Repair Cream ($40) because that’s been a delight. But here’s the thing: You got to have SPF. They have so many great day creams that are fragrance-free and that have sunscreen in them, so I think I’d have to say their Day Cream with SPF 30 ($30). You have to protect. That’s number one—protection. Everything after that, the hydration and the lifting and the illuminating, none of that matters if you haven’t protected your skin first.
Yes, 100%! Sunscreen is so important, and it’s great that it’s a one-and-done thing.
Yes, everything’s in it. You’re lifting, you’re illuminating, you’re protecting, [and] you’re toning—all of it. I love it.
I love a simplistic routine. Speaking of, what’s your daily skincare routine like? Are you more of a minimalist or maximalist when it comes to skincare?
I’m pretty minimalist. I’ve even actually started not washing my face in the morning if I wash at night. I feel like it’s just a little extra moisture before I put on my makeup. I’m finding that I don’t want to overcleanse. You know what I mean? For me, I don’t feel the need to cleanse my face more than once every 24 hours unless I’m covered in makeup.
I’m also really into No7’s Exfoliating Cleanser ($10). I think you can use it every day. I just love the way it feels. That’s what I use when I feel like I have to get rid of build-up. So sometimes, I’ll do that. And just as a reminder, anything you do on your face you should do on your neck. I’ve known this for a while, but I love being reminded, and I love reminding people.
Then, I’ll use the Radiance Serum ($25), which is vitamin C. Throw that on, throw your day cream/SPF cream on, and you’re off to the races, and you can layer makeup on it with no problem.
That’s my biggest problem with skincare. You know when it pills or you feel that residue? I can’t stand that.
Yes, or if it’s too white when it goes on and you’re worried about how it will react with your foundation. I don’t have any problems with that with these products.
How has being an actor, being on set, and spending time in the makeup chair affected your skincare and makeup routines?
Beauty begins with your insides, like internally. Are you eating well? Are you hydrating enough? Are you getting enough sleep? All of that affects your skin, especially as you get older and especially when you’re working long days on set like I do. That’s become my number one. That’s why serums with vitamin C feel like healthcare but for your outer layer. I’ve come to understand my exterior is really a reflection of my interior. I have to take care of that first. So hydration and sleep are my number one.
Definitely. What’s your post–set day routine like to get the makeup off and reset your skin?
No7 has a really great everyday cleanser. I keep one in my shower and one on my sink. Again, it’s keeping it simple. It’s a wash, a serum, and a cream. They also have an eye cream that I put under and over my eyes. I use the cream I use on my face on my neck. They even have an incredible moisturizing body serum that I’ll use as well. I’ll be honest. I take too-long showers, which is bad on every level, but I’ll admit it to you. Don’t judge me too much, but I love a long, hot shower. It’s not good for your skin.
It's not, but I think everyone does it. I do it.
Same. I guess you just have to have the products to deal with it.
Totally. Could you walk me through your daily makeup routine, if you have one? What’s your makeup aesthetic? Has it changed over time like your skincare routine?
I call it the “morning drop-off” look, so it’s just getting me out the door. It’s super simple. It’s just foundation, some pink lipstick on my lips and cheeks to just pop my cheeks, and a little mascara. It’s like, how do I make my routine as simple as possible while feeling like I’ve brightened myself up? The pink tends to bring out my blue eyes, so again, I’m just trying to highlight some natural features without going overboard. I don’t love to wear a lot of makeup when I’m not at work because I have to wear so much makeup when I’m at work.
Understandable. Do you know the name of the pink lipstick and the foundation?
Oh gosh, I couldn’t tell you. I can tell you my mascara is the really old-school bright-pink tube.
With the green top?
Yeah, Maybelline Great Lash ($6)! I’ve been using it for 30 years. It never lets me down. And it’s affordable; that’s the other thing. I’m a high-low person. I don’t mind the drugstore bits. It’s all good for me.
Absolutely. That one’s a classic. You’ve played so many iconic characters over the years. Which one was the most fun for you in regard to beauty and fashion?
Of course, Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games. That was everything. I had to dye my eyebrows. It was four hours in the makeup chair, and then there were the nails. Everything we did for that was incredible. We used a lot of products that you couldn’t even get in America, like these incredible eyelashes that were just beyond. We could do anything we wanted—there were no restrictions. I loved playing Effie Trinket. I loved her outfits, and she definitely influenced my fashion a bit after the fact. I was like, “I can be a little more outrageous and wear different shapes and colors.”
The other is Seabiscuit. Playing in that movie, in that time period, I absolutely loved it. Judianna Makovsky, who’s an incredible costume designer, custom-made these incredible suits for me. It was the 1930s and an incredible look. I absolutely loved the beauty in Seabiscuit.
Wait, how long did you have dyed eyebrows?
Girl, I had that on and off for two years. The worst part was the grow-in. It looked like I had blonde tips in my eyebrows.
That’s so funny because the bleached brow is a trend now, so really, you were just ahead of the game.
Yeah, but you can’t really get away with that unless you have, like, Kate Moss’s face. You gotta really lean into it if you’re going to do it. I looked like I was ill. I didn’t look good.
Oh yeah, I would too. That’s a trend I’m never going to touch, but I love it on other people.
Agree. It wasn’t great for real life—I can tell you that.
Did you ever use a brow pencil or anything, or did you just roll with it?
Oh no, I covered those babies every day. But even that felt weird because I’m not a big fill-in-my-eyebrows person. I’m very fair, you know? I don’t have a big eyebrow anyway, but suddenly, I did have a big eyebrow because I was covering up these bleached brows. It was a lot.
Did you have a go-to product to fill in your brows?
I don’t know if it’s discontinued, but … please have them send me some if they’re not—it’s called Vanity Mark. It was my favorite brow collection. They had pencils and a powder with a custom brush that I loved. I have a little bit still, but it’s hard to get, and it might be discontinued.
That’s always so scary when you have to hoard your product because you don’t know if it’s still around. Finally, what’s your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or less?
Here we go. Age gracefully, whatever that means to you. Everyone has their own relationship with their skin, their face, their routine. There’s too much judgment about how everybody ages, and I would just love it if we were moving toward encouraging people to age gracefully, whatever that means to them.
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