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I’m always fascinated by how celebrities behave when the cameras are off. Being behind the scenes as a makeup artist, I often see the difference between private moments and public ones—and sometimes it’s pretty extreme. That’s not the case with actress Jennifer Garner at all. When I first met Jennifer, she was in the pool with her three adorable kids with Ben Affleck—Violet, 9, Seraphina, 6, and Samuel, 2. She was just like any other devoted mom—playing and laughing, no entourage in sight. And thanks to recent anti-paparazzi legislation that she helped pass to protect kids, no cameras either.
Jennifer is the real deal—kind, funny, really down-to-earth, and all about family. When it comes to her professional life, she has a good sense of humor and perspective about the Hollywood machine. After nonstop dieting for her role as a badass superspy in Alias, she’s over it. From her gorgeous skin to her caring for her body, Jennifer talks about her low-maintenance routine. Meet the authentic—and awesome—Jennifer Garner:
BB: It was really fun meeting you recently. You have the coolest kids.
JG: Oh man, I was thinking the same about you. Those boys—they’re so big!
BB: I know, I know. It happens. I remember being a mom your age and having three kids and being so overwhelmed. Now I think, if I was just more present, and had realized that it doesn’t last forever, I would have not been so nutty. I know you understand, you’re such a great mom.
JG: Oh, gosh. Thank you.
BB: I know it has to be challenging to have really busy careers, and still be hands on to the kids.
JG: It’s not hard to be hands-on to the kids. It’s harder to feel like, ‘Wait, you want me to go where? I’m supposed to do what?’ I have to remind myself to have a career.
BB: I know you were a big part of the bill that passed to protect kids from paparazzi. Could you tell me about that?
JG: Halle Berry passed the bill and she let me be a small part of it. And then, Kristen Bell went out and convinced all of the tabloid magazines to agree not to print photos of kids, and it’s changed my kids’ lives! It’s been over a year, and there isn’t a day, that we don’t talk about how different it is. If they’re right outside your house, then when your kids wants to learn to ride a bike, it’s very uncomfortable. They don’t want to go biking in the middle of a photoshoot. But now my kids can go out and just go for a walk or go to the mailbox—things that we just didn’t do. Sometimes I still have paparazzi, myself, and sometimes they will shoot my kids, and I keep track of it. I will definitely take them to court if I have enough to make a case.
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BB: It must feel good that you have some power protecting your family.
JG: I have to say, I really didn’t think that was possible. I tip my hat to Halle and Kristen. I thought they were both shooting at something that couldn’t be caught, and they did it.
BB: You are such a great mom, and you have such a wholesome image—rare for someone who is such a big star.
JG: The wholesome is definitely intentional and drilled into me. I mean, we weren’t allowed to pierce our ears growing up. We didn’t wear makeup. We couldn’t have layers in our hair, perms, or color, or manicures. My dad didn’t think it was ladylike. My dad just felt like his daughters should be wholesome. Luckily for my dad, none of us really bucked him on it. We were all fine with it.
BB: Are you going to try to do the same for your girls?
JG: I think it’s going to be harder. My eldest already wants her ears pierced. I don’t know how you do it. I think you try to lead by example. The funny thing about that is my kids see me wearing more makeup than I ever could have imagined. So, they kind of think that’s normal.
BB: I never see you with tons of makeup now. Even when you are on the red carpet, you always keep it pretty fresh.
JG: It drives my makeup people crazy! I mean, I have done that stuff before, but red lips on me is obnoxious. I have enough of a big ol’ face that the last thing anyone needs is to have anything exaggerated that much.
BB: Well, I always think that the most beautiful women look the most beautiful in nude makeup. So, it’s really just finding the colors that are right for your skin. I am a fan of your natural style.
JG: Thank you. That’s your specialty.
BB: It is my specialty. I also like the way women look without makeup. I know that’s a strange thing for a makeup artist but…
JG: I do, too. When I do use makeup, I love Healthy Skin Glow Sheers ($14) from Neutrogena. It’s hydrating, and really light and clean feeling. It comes in a billion different colors and looks great on any skin. It has just the right amount of coverage to smooth things over. Paired with their Hydro Boost Gel ($19), it leaves that dewy look.
BB: That’s my favorite. I think skin looks the best when it’s got a little bit of dew on it and not too dry. I think women make the mistake using makeup that is too drying for their skin.
JG: Yep, I agree. I never used powder unless I’m about to be in front of a camera. I don’t need that matte, crunchy feeling.
BB: It’s easy when you have beautiful skin, which you do. Have you ever had issues with your skin or is it one of those amazing, lucky things?
JG: No! I’ve had more acne as an adult than I had as a teenager. After weaning babies my skin’s gone totally bonkers. I didn’t even know about dermatologists until I had weaned my first baby, and my skin was so damaged. It was just beyond. And then I realized, there’s a whole doctor who can help you with this.
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BB: It’s those pesky hormones.
JG: It is! Yeah. And also, I get red patches and it’s sensitive to certain things like stress and lack of sleep.
BB: What products have you found work best for your skin?
JG: I use the Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair moisturizer ($18) with retinol a couple nights a week. The one thing I really lucked out on is that all through my teenage years, when my sister was a lifeguard and everyone I knew was out in the sun all day—I was in the theater. Everyone called me Casper because I never had a tan and everyone else was tan all the time. I think that was the luckiest thing of my life.
BB: Don’t you think healthy skin also has a lot with what you eat?
JG: Yes, I eat a lot, a lot of salads. That’s the way that I get my veggies. I eat lots of leafy greens, dark greens, with rice too because I want it to be a meal. I just have a big bag of greens that I get from the farmer’s market on Sunday. I keep it in a Ziploc bag and I just pull out handfuls of it for lunch everyday and add whatever I have to it.
BB: Does your husband eat the way you do? Are you both on the same page in terms of health and eating?
JG: He will eat the way I do unless he’s in the middle of really, really training for something. And then, it’s such a different thing. Every calorie and every gram of protein—everything’s counted in a way that… I don’t know how he does it.
BB: What happens when you come home from an awards ceremony and you’re like, OK, I haven’t eaten in two days to get into this dress. What is your go-to splurge? Pizza?
JG: Oh, I never do that. I don’t wear crazy dresses. With food I’m probably good 80% of the time. I’ve found out that I cannot pass up pizza without having some. I just can’t! My kids have a lot of pizza. I can’t go to a kids birthday party without having a slice.
BB: So, while most people will diet themselves to get into a dress, you actually look for a dress that looks good on you.
JG: Yeah, exactly!
BB: That makes so much sense.
JG: I mean, believe me, there’s always a point in the fitting where I feel like, ‘Why I didn’t I just try to lose four pounds and then I could wear any dress?’ I just can’t though. I dieted for so long in the middle of doing Alias and being a superhero, that there’s something in me that can’t do anything that extreme.
BB: I like that so much.
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JG: [Laughs] Last night, I had some blue corn chips and cheddar cheese. And I have a photoshoot today! You know, whatever.
BB: That’s a healthy attitude. It’s been so fun talking to you today.
JG: Definitely Bobbi. Thank you. Hope to run into you soon.