Also, she discovered Billie Eilish before you did…so.
“Helen is fine,” Dame Helen Mirren assures me warmly as she sweeps into the room wearing a full black skirt and crisp white shirt. We’re on the second floor of a Beverly Hills mansion to celebrate the launch of the new L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect makeup line. It seems a fitting place to meet someone I’ve seen portray more queens than a deck of cards. In real life, she isn’t royal. But she does have a fancy title, bestowed upon her by Queen Elizabeth II. As Mirren’s title would suggest, she has been inducted into a special order of female knighthood for her acting talents. As her title would not suggest, her beauty routine is more hipster than high society.
For one, she never uses heat on her hair — she only air-dries it, unless she’s being styled for an event. She never had to deal with a gnarly transition to silver hair – because she never colored it in the first place. “I was always too lazy to color my hair. I just couldn’t be bothered, honestly,” Mirren tells me. She pauses for a minute. Well, there was that one time she dyed it pink, but “in normal, everyday life, I don’t, and I never really have.” Oh, and here’s where Mirren’s beauty obsessions get truly hipster: They’re vintage. Her favorite past beauty looks include the red lipstick and bouffant up-do she wore for her role as Victoria in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover, as well as the powdered horse-hair wigs and rouge she wore in The Madness of King George.
“I do love 18th-century wigs and costumes,” Mirren says. “It was very fashionable, and it’s come back in, to have gray or white hair like my hair is now.” She also prefers to find the next big thing on her own – in makeup and music. “God bless YouTube,” Mirren says. “I discovered Billie Eilish a few years ago in that way. She is so cool, but there are many others. I love Rosalia. Love her.” Mirren sees makeup as a creative outlet and a source of inspiration too. She experiments with different looks every single time she puts makeup on. “Yes, every time. A different color, a different line, no line, lots of line, gold line, highlight, no highlight,” Mirren says.
A few of her beauty staples: “This one [product] called L’Oréal Age Perfect Cell Renewal Rosy Tone Daily Moisturizer. If you don’t feel like wearing a lot of makeup, just put on a little bit of that, a mascara, and maybe some lip color,” she says. Mirren also uses the new Age Perfect Luminous Hydrating Lipstick (a traditional lipstick with a clear balm center that has a higher melting point than most lipsticks, so it won’t feather and bleed on more deeply lined lips), Radiant Serum Foundation, and Lash Magnifying Mascara (which was formulated to not weigh down or yank out thin, fine lashes). But what, you might ask, is the driving force that keeps her experimenting — whether it’s with her eyeliner or the artists she listens to? “When this new thing arrives and you realize that creativity is still alive and kicking and can never be repressed,” she says. “It drives me on.”