Cate Blanchett Talks SK-II, Playing Bob Dylan And More

Cate Blanchett — who has been serving as SK-II‘s Global Brand Ambassador for four years now — had actually been a fan of the skincare line six years prior to becoming the company’s spokesperson. She calls the pairing a “happy accident,” since she’s been using the products ever since a friend suggested the Facial Treatment Essence for uneven skin tone. In honor of using SK-II for the past decade, the actress met with a few editors to discuss the line, as well as the products she uses everyday. When conversation turned towards their incredibly glowifying face masks, Blanchett (who’s currently in a production of Chekov’s Uncle Vanyain Washington D.C.) mentioned how she’d actually put one on in the theater right before heading to the interview in New York. As far as other secrets to her beyond-luminous skin (seriously, the woman radiates), she attributes consistency and of course SK-II’s miracle-working ingredient pitera (a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids). While Blanchett was forthcoming with the details of her skincare regimen, she also disclosed the contents of her makeup bag, what it was like to play Bob Dylan and the unexpected place that truly inspires her.

What’s your personal beauty ritual?

Well, it’s been pretty constant actually for the last ten years now. I’ve been using SK-II, I discovered it through a friend. I was pregnant with our first child, and a friend of mine who is a makeup artist recommended I use the SK-II whitening range because I had noticed an unevenness in my skin — you know how you often get a bit of discoloration and pigmentation. She gave me the Essence, and I didn’t know what to do with it at first. She told me it was actually a moisturizer. So I used it for a couple weeks, and it was incredible. There were no breakouts and I began to notice a shift in tone. Then I began to explore the rest of the range. I think it’s the consistency of using the one thing, for me, that’s been really great.

What would you consider to be SK-II’s hero product?

I think it has to be Essence. It’s the most mysterious product, but it’s also the key to the rest of the brand because there’s so much pitera in it. I use it for many different purposes. I use it under makeup, but I use to set makeup. I’ll often use it in conjunction with a cleanser, because particularly when you’re on a film set or doing a play, as I’m doing at the moment, you’re often doing two shows a day and you might have press in the middle of the day, so you’re taking your makeup off two to three times a day. They’ve got wonderfully gentle cleansers, but it’s sometimes good to give it a bit of a boost. Sometimes I’ll even wipe makeup off with that.

The beauty staple — either skincare or makeup — that you always have in your bag?

I’ll always have the Signs Nourishing Cream — it’s relatively small, so that’s something I’ll always pop into my handbag. And the eye cream is quite small, and there’s a travel-sized portion of the Essence. The Essence is a little bit like a cologne for your skin in a way, it’s really refreshing in the middle of the day. As far as makeup in my handbag, I’ve got a liquid eyeliner from MAC, and a mascara. Someone gave me some Tarte, and that’s great because it’s like a stain, so it’s not thick. And NARS has quite a great range of bronzers. But I’m not as loyal with my makeup, you know, because that changes.

Is there a person, place or memory that inspires you beauty-wise?

I worked with Liv Ullmann a couple years ago. And from a creative perspective, her career, and her as a person, but also her, as an incredibly beautiful woman, I find her really inspiring. But a place, I really do love the desert. Sort of central Australia. We went up to the Kimberley in Northern Australia at Easter time, and it was amazing. We were up there with organization called the Australian Wildlife Conservatory. The Australian bush inspires me. It’s usually not a city, as much as I need to get a good coffee, those inspirational places tend to be pretty devoid of people.

Any skincare advice that you learned from your mother?

She was quite obsessed quite early — before everyone was talking about it — with sun protection. She would always send us out in shirts or hats which I was always trying to rip off. So there was always a big awareness of that. She was big on moisturizing, before you even think you need to. It didn’t make me skin-obsessed, but it was certainly made me aware.

How does your skincare routine change when you’re in a film or in a play?

We’re doing a production of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya, so there’s a lot of mood swings — big releases of tears and rolling around on the floor. My eyes have been taking a bit of a beating, so I’ve been using the eye masks and the eye cream quite a bit. Also their oil-based cleanser is really good for removing eye makeup because it’s really gentle. That’s the wonderful thing about all the cleansing products, even the foundation, you’re not just removing something from your skin, or putting something on your skin, there’s pitera in everything. So even when you cleanse, you’re putting something good into your skin, and I think that’s really important when you have to take makeup on and off. And the times where I’ve had to wear a lot prosthetics, the masks were really fabulous.

Of all the characters that you’ve played, which beauty look did you get into the most?

I think probably two of the most challenging ones were Todd Haynes film “I’m Not There,” when I had to play a version of Bob Dylan, and “The Aviator,” because obviously I look nothing like Katharine Hepburn, but trying to find a way where you got the signature nature of her style, without trying to be a looky-likey, because I was never going to look like her. So that was a really interesting challenge. And working with Morag Ross who’s a wonderful makeup artist. You learn so much about how you can sculpt your face, hold your face, you experiment a lot with the makeup artist, it really informs the performance. So makeup is a real ally. All those tricks about shading has been really useful when you do your own makeup on stage.