“The point of beginning for me was when I moved from England to Australia. I was really upset about leaving my friends, so to make me feel better, my mom put me in acting classes to give me something to look forward to. I’d been wanting to do that for a while—until then I’d been in boarding school so I wasn’t able to try that sort of thing. It started off as a very rudimentary way of learning—you know, be your favorite tree, be your favorite animal… But it got more and more intense as I moved from one class to another. By the time I graduated high school, I was already doing bit parts and commercials and stuff like that.
Then I came to America in my early 20s. I wanted to travel—I think in Australia you feel so far away, and the industry at that time was very small. And I just wanted to get going, I had a lot of energy. I had a few thousand dollars, which was enough, and I had some contacts around the world. I stayed in Los Angeles with my mum’s friend, then passed through New York and stayed in a pretty nasty hotel because I didn’t have any friends there. After that, I went to Europe. Really, I started living in England first—I got an English agent and started working there, doing things, bits and pieces. I would come back and forth—I would stay in America as long as I could, until the money ran out, then come back.
For a while, I did lots of projects that weren’t widely seen or didn’t turn out as promising as I was hoping they would. I got to that point where I was like, ‘I haven’t got the strength to continue doing this, it’s too hard on my spirit, I’m gonna pack up and go home.’ Just as I’d get to that point, something would hook me back in and I’d end up staying. The massive change, really, was Mulholland Drive. I feel like now more than ever you need to really throw your hat in the ring. You can’t sit around waiting for phone calls to appear—you have to actually get out there and make things happen. That means finding the right material, putting the right group of people together. I’ve just come back from Sundance—we had a film there called Ophelia, so that will be coming out sometime this year. I just finished two tiny films before the end of the year, one called Luce and one called Wolf Hour. And now I’m not working, I’m taking a little break and trying to decide what’s next.
When I’m not on set, I’m on mum duty, so I wake up at 7AM every day. But right now, catching up on sleep is the biggest must. And then, you know, things like massages, facials, yoga, exercising… They’ve just opened a new yoga studio in my neighborhood called Yoga Vida, and that’s great—just being able to walk there. I even did it during that Bomb Cyclone storm—I went that morning. [Laughs] For facials, I go to Onda, which is the new store here in Tribeca where I’m a business partner. It’s all about clean beauty, which I’m really into right now. They have two great facialists, Angela Caglia and Viktoria Kroshyna. You go into that room for an hour and it’s just really, really nice. I also have a dermatologist, Dr. Colbert. He’s at New York Dermatology. Sometimes I do something a little more intense than clean beauty—he has a Triad Facial that is a three-step program with some lights and things like that.
Mostly my skin is very sensitive—I can get hive-y from the wrong product, or if I kissed a guy with a beard I can suddenly break out! But I also think that skincare is a bit like working out. You have to change it up every so often. So that’s what I quite like about exploring all these clean products right now—it’s good to use them, and then try other things. I like to shock my skin into things—I don’t want my skin to get FOMO.
When I clean my face, I use these fantastic things called Face Halo—they look like makeup sponges, but they’re actually to remove makeup. All you need is water, but sometimes I add a bit of cleanser, especially if I’ve got heavy eye makeup or something. My friend actually owns the company, and she does this orange peel test—if you put foundation all over an orange peel and wipe it off with a regular cloth, the foundation stays in the pores of the orange. But if you use these microfiber things that they’ve invented, it wipes off every last bit of it, even in the crevices. I love this cleanser by Angela Caglia called Power Cleansing Balm with it. I also love the Baobab Oxygenating Cleanser from African Botanics. I use that in the shower a lot, and it smells great.
Then I do my routine. I use a mist, a serum or two, and oils. I really like this mist by True Botanicals. Sometimes I’ll use this Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner as a toner instead. It kind of smells like vinegar. I either just splash it on, or you can use a cotton ball. My favorite all-time product right now is Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, and then I mix it with a strong moisturizer and just pat it on. It makes me feel glow-y, it’s my most constant product right now. I also like the True Botanicals Renew Oil, and I’ll mix it with their Vitamin C Booster. I love the Joanna Vargas Daily Serum—the smell! So good. For exfoliating, I use Joanna’s Exfoliating Mask or the Instant Facial from Goop. It’s strong! It really does work as a zing-pick-me-up sort of thing. The Honey Mud from May Lindstrom is so good, too—more soothing.
I don’t wear makeup on my own because I wear it so much for work and it drives me crazy. I really like to have clean skin, but when you get caught out and you look horrible, you’re always like, ‘Why didn’t I wear some makeup?’ [Laughs] I can get by doing it myself. But I’m terrible at doing my own hair. This I’m very into right now—Kjaer Weis. I don’t know how to pronounce it. Their creams are great colors that I just do with my finger. Products like that are easy—like RMS concealer and Olio e Osso lip balms. I’m a five-minute girl when I can be, but of course, time and place. When I’m going to an event, I take a bit more time. I usually rely on the professionals, though.
I love a red lip—I’ve always done a red lip. I love those Nars pencils, especially Dragon Girl. I never wear red in clothing, only on my lips. And I wear a lot of blush—I’m good in pinks. I’ve got pale-ish skin, blue eyes, I tend to go for cooler colors. I tend to only wear mascara when I have to for work because I’ve got sensitive eyes. But I do get my eyelashes and eyebrows tinted. That’s been going on since I was a kid because my eyes can disappear if they’re not framed. I do black eyelashes and brown eyebrows. I’ve definitely been on movies where they say, ‘We want to thin out your eyebrows,’ and I say, ‘No, I won’t. Not for anyone!’ Because I saw my mum’s in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and they never came back. I’m proud of my eyebrows. I did have to thin them out for one role, but we figured out we could cover them with wax, and then we would do the makeup over it. It gave the appearance of a thin eyebrow.
I’ve had a lot of long hair, but I feel like short hair suits me better. Chin length. I’m doing as much as I can for my hair because it’s thinning a lot. It breaks a lot and more easily, and I think it’s the abuse of hot irons, and hair dryers, and products. When you do a film, you’ve got that every day for eight weeks in a row. And color, as well. I am naturally blonde, but I’ve always brightened it. To fix that, I’m taking vitamins—I just started with Catalyst Gold ones and I am seeing some changes. I also use natural shampoos—again, changing them up. These Rahua ones smell great. I also am using Philip Kingsley stuff, which is a treatment for your scalp. When I went to their salon they said, ‘Back off the color,’ and I went about four months without it. It certainly did get better, but I had to deal with really ashy blonde and gray. Marie Robinson [does my color], but I recently went to Victoria at Whittemore House, and she was good! I don’t go that often because I can get away with it, so like every three, four months. I’m terrible with styling my hair—I literally just throw in some mousse, or throw it up in a ponytail. I don’t have dead straight hair, but it’s not consistent curls either, so you kind of have to do something. The Philip Kingsley Mousse is good for that.
Oh, and this is a new thing. It looks like soap—it’s called the Daily Stone. You know how dry you can get in winter, and coming in and out of the heating and stuff? You just wipe this all over—I use it on my kids, because they get itchy, dry skin, and they love it, too. It’s a lotion bar, and it melts on contact. It’s got Neroli, sandalwood, rose—all my favorites. I like a good, strong, rich moisturizer. I also like to scrub. Onda makes this coffee scrub at an organic sustainable farm, and it’s meant to be good for cellulite and circulation. I also like dry brushing! And this stuff, Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak, is really good for soaking. I try to take a bath every night—I’m a bath person. That’s the English in me.”
—as told to ITG
Naomi Watts photographed in her home by Tom Newton on February 6, 2018.