Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker has never even stepped foot in a plastic surgeon’s office (though Bradshaw only did it as a favor to Anthony). “No, never. Nope nope nope,” she says without missing a beat. I’m sitting across from the actor in a luxurious hotel suite in Midtown, Manhattan — the kind you’d see in an episode of And Just Like That... and it’s a surreal experience. Before me sits a woman who I, and millions of others, have watched on screen for decades; her voice is innately embedded in my brain (largely by way of Sex & the City quotes). Despite holding such star power as an A-list celebrity, producer, and founder of a successful shoe line, Parker remains incredibly grounded — and not at all interested in reversing the aging process, for the record.
“I’m not willing to devote a lot of real or psychic time to it,” Parker tells me. Though, that’s not to say she doesn’t take care of her skin. She’s more about keeping her face healthy, versus combatting fine lines or wrinkles. “I’m also not delusional about the passage of time and the reality of it,” she says. “It’s not as if it doesn’t penetrate that other people have opinions about aging and my aging and the way I look and the way other women look — I’m aware of that.”
At the same time, she isn’t saying that those who do spend time fighting the aging process are wrong. “It’s because I think the point of this larger conversation is what makes you feel OK when you walk out the door,” Parker continues. “How best to feel like yourself is the thing I’ve probably spent more time thinking about than I have beauty or aging, because there’s just simply not a lot I can do about it. I could do more, but I guess I don’t want to.”
It’s no wonder, then, that drugstore skin care brand RoC tapped Parker to be the face of its #LookForwardProject — a campaign that aims to shift women’s largely anxious views on aging to a more optimistic one. Parker, along with Dr. Daisy Robinson, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and women’s health advocate, dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry, M.D., and “optimism doctor” Dr. Deepika Chopra, PsyD, are working with the brand to provide resources and education on the link between optimism and both mental and physical wellbeing.
“How best to feel like yourself is the thing I’ve probably spent more time thinking about than I have beauty or aging, because there’s just simply not a lot I can do about it.”
For the project, RoC and Parker collaborated on a limited-edition three-piece set of her favorite products from the brand. One hundred percent of profits from the first month of sales will be donated to the SeekHer Foundation, which supports mental health awareness for women. Included in the set are the Hydrate + Plump Eye Cream, Hydrate + Plump Serum Capsules, and Hydrate + Plump Moisturizer with SPF 30 — products Parker now swears by.
“I use the moisturizer after I’m clean and showered and everything, and then I actually use it also at the theater when I get to work and I mix it with my base,” says Parker. “I also use it at night as an eye cream with this other RoC product, the retinol. But I’ll use that once or twice a week at most because it’s got retinol in it so you have to be tender.” And that’s pretty much it — Parker admits she likes to keep her skin care routine super simple.
The star’s approach to makeup is even simpler: As in, she doesn’t really wear it. “The only thing I’ll really wear is a smoky eye, which I do all the time — myself too. It’s the one thing I think I can do,” says Parker, noting that she doesn’t even wear foundation unless it’s for work.
What’s her secret to achieving her signature sultry look? She’s been using Laura Mercier’s Caviar eye sticks “forever,” since they don’t transfer or bleed. “I start with that and do a line and I’ll go inside [the water line] sometimes — not always, though,” says Parker. “Then I just blend and blend and blend, until it’s where I want it — and I go pretty big. A lot also has to do with the brush you’re using — you have to find one you can manipulate the way you want to.”
“The person you want sitting next to you at a dinner party is really about a bunch of other things unrelated to their face or wrinkles or what they’re wearing.”
Still, the cultural emphasis on looking beautiful is something Parker doesn’t understand. “I’m slightly surprised that we are not more evolved and not yet at a place where we’re saying, ‘It doesn’t matter,’” she tells me. “I just don’t want a young woman who has a lot to offer being consumed with looks or the idea of aging. We don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m going to come in and be the youngest and least experienced person in the office’ — or on the stage, behind the camera, in the restaurant. You want to be the person with the most experience who is a leader or relied upon as a professional, as a friend, as a wife, as a partner. That only comes with time spent living. So why are we not valuing that, instead of being focused on the fact that time spent living also produces wrinkles?”
Parker’s sagacious philosophy is one that women can only hope to adopt — especially in a culture that’s so centered on youthful appearance. Hearing it from her mouth, however, instills a sense of hope in me. After all, her viewpoint is as practical as it is rational. When I ask what makes her feel beautiful, Parker gently corrects me, pivoting the conversation back towards one’s essence versus physical appearance.
“I’d rather say how I feel most like myself, instead of beautiful,” Parker says, because she doesn’t think society has yet evolved far enough to understand that the pretty person “is really about a bunch of other things unrelated to their face or wrinkles or what they’re wearing.” In that regard, Parker shares that she feels her best when she’s joyfully in control of the life she leads — heading out to an exciting job, for instance, or picking her child up from school. “Or [when] I’m out walking and have nothing to do or I’m going to a bookstore or I have some kind of freedom that’s based on choices that I’m getting to make — that’s when I feel most like myself.”
This viewpoint isn’t necessarily something Parker wants to force on others, though, even when it comes to aging. “I don’t want to tell you guys how to view anything,” she says. What she would say, though: “You’re wrong. And you’re going to look back at that picture of yourself at 27, 34, 41, and be like, ‘Oh my God, I was young.’” And just like that, Parker changed the way I think about aging.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.