Discovered at the age of 14 by a photographer when she was horseback riding, Christy Turlington’s 30-year career in the fashion industry has solidified her name as a true beauty icon.
Having graced the covers of over 500 magazines and having been the face and muse for some of the biggest beauty brands and fashion houses around, at 45 the 80s Super is still as beautiful as ever having discovered the formula that works for her when it comes to looking and feeling her best.
Founder of Every Woman Counts , a non-profit organisation dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every woman the world over, an avid campaigner of awareness and funds for eliminating HIV/AIDS in Africa and an advocate of animal rights, (remember that iconic PETA ‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’ ad anyone?), the mother-of-two has put her fame to good use, leaving a legacy that stands as ample inspiration for today’s legion of new models. Oh, and she also achieved a Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University.
So how does she do it? We found out from the supermodel about how she balances career with motherhood, how she stays fit, her beauty essentials and her thoughts about ageing gracefully in the spotlight.
How has your attitude of beauty changed over the decades from the 80s, 90s and today?
“I have always believed that beauty comes from within. The way the magazines and the industry have portrayed beauty over the years has actually improved in some ways. In the 80s, we wore so much makeup, and I felt that I covered myself – or rather others were always covering me at work! Now I feel that makeup is more minimal and individualized, which to me has always been more appealing.
“I really like the philosophy of 'less is more.' I want to see my skin, and see my own features. I want to use products to enhance my features, but I don’t want to change or hide them. I prefer where the industry is now, and the way I am perceived in photographs and films because I feel more like ‘me.’”
How have you seen your skin change during your time as a model and a mother?
“When I was younger and modelling full time, I was working every day which meant my skin was subject to more makeup, more lights, more travel so it probably suffered a little from too much of everything. My skin was probably more volatile as a younger woman. As I got older and stopped doing as much modelling, I was able to spend more time on myself and my health. I did more yoga, I exercised more and so my skin came into its own. I’ve really kept up with that; the older I get, the more comfortable I am in my skin.
“I think what’s most different about my skin now from 20 years ago is that it’s a bit dryer. I still do a fair bit of travelling and I can see the effect of that when I do, but I really try to keep my skin hydrated inside and out and this is where IMEDEEN helps. Rest is really important, as is what I eat; I’m definitely more mindful about what I put into my body now.
“When I became a mother, there were some changes in my skin at first, but mostly positive ones. Pregnancy can go either way with women; it can make your skin more reactive or it can glow. I felt that motherhood gave me more of the benefits. My skin was pretty radiant when I was pregnant.”
What are your top beauty products today?
“I start my day by taking two IMEDEEN Time Perfection tablets . That’s part of my daily regimen. Other than that, I really like to just use a bit of concealer - Maybelline has a product called Instant Age-Rewind that’s very light. I use that and a little bit of Maybelline Volum’ Express mascara and some lip gloss and that’s about it. I don’t like to put a lot of extra stuff on my skin. Moisture is the most important thing for it so once it’s hydrated and I’ve put some concealer on, then I feel my best. I also really love this oil called Rodin that I use on my skin and hair.
“ Rahua Voluminous Shampoo is the only shampoo I use. It is organic and helps with my ends. I have dry skin, so I love face oils. I’ve used Sundari Nighttime Nourishing Oil for years.”
What does beauty from within mean to you and how do you maintain beauty from within on a day to day level?
“For me, the saying that beauty comes from within has always resonated and made sense. I think to feel beautiful is more important than looking beautiful – but usually if you feel beautiful you look beautiful too.
“I don’t think about beauty on its own. I aspire to feel good and healthy. To me, that’s beauty. Often, that just means feeling rested, energised, and passionate about what I’m doing at that moment. I also think that living an authentic life can make one feel beautiful from within.”
What are the best beauty/skincare/styling tips you’ve received during your modelling career?
“The best beauty tips are the most simple, practical tips.
“Hydration - drinking lots of water. People will laugh when I say that, but it’s really important.”
“Sleep - you can never get sleep back, and I feel my best after having had a good night’s sleep.”
“Eating really well – what you put in your body is so essential. I am never looking for any kind of solution outside of myself, I’d rather look within.”
“Yoga - exercise which allows your skin to breathe and to perspire! You get that glowing effect and it stays with you for longer if you have an active lifestyle. I try to stay active by doing my yoga and running and really enjoy being outdoors.”
How do you feel about getting older and what are the positives?
“There aren’t any negatives to getting older, honestly. I think with age comes wisdom, and so how could you argue with that. I think that women are under too much pressure to try to look younger. I wouldn’t want to go back in time for anything. I am happy with who I am now.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“I smoked cigarettes as a teenager – and my mother did tell me not to do that - so she was right and I should have listened and avoided that!
“When I was still in school, all of my friends wore more makeup than they should. Those are the years your skin is supposed to look its best and we were masking ourselves all the time. I would tell my teenage self to just be myself and be comfortable in my skin.”
How do you successfully balance life as a working mum?
“Balance is an interesting word. I think it’s very difficult to really sustain balance. I like the word ‘integration’ a bit more. Since I became a mother, I know my priorities and my family comes first. But I am also very passionate about a lot of issues, particularly the work I do with Every Mother Counts and the advocacy for maternal health. That kind of work feeds me in such a way that I am a better mother for it. When all of the aspects of my life are complementary, then I am able to feel like I am in balance. It is a daily aspiration and it is certainly not without effort. Each day is slightly different.”
MORE GLOSS: 10 inspirational women on how they organise their lives
What’s a typical day-in-the-life-of Christy Turlington-Burns?
“The beautiful thing is there is no typical day in my life which I really like. I may do a photoshoot which is more and more rare for me these days. Mostly I start my day by dropping off my children at school and then doing yoga or going for a run, or doing something for myself before starting my work day.
“My work day consists of being in the office, or speaking at a conference, or travelling to another country where we have programs that Every Mother Counts supports. It changes all the time which is nice! Boredom isn’t something I have experienced since becoming a mother and I am really enjoying the surprises that brings and that every day is different.”
Tell us about the yoga you are currently practising...
“I have been practicing yoga since I was 18. I was very lucky to discover it so early, and it has been a part of my life since. It’s a philosophy that I put into everything. I started with Kundalini yoga, but I’ve tried pretty much every type of yoga there is by now. I like all of it as it all stems from the same postures.
“These days I practice a few times a week, mostly in the mornings, and I still really enjoy it. I like that it’s a little bit different every day depending on the teacher or class. I like doing inversions in particular - upside-down postures that are really good for the skin and for your internal organs. They get things circulating and wake-up your brain.
“Yoga is something I can’t imagine ever not having in my life. As I have got older, my practice has changed from every day, and being very rigid about it, to being much more relaxed. I used to get up at 5:00 to practice at 6.00 every day, but I just couldn’t do that anymore. It’s nice because as I evolve, my practice evolves. I like being a student and I know that yoga will be something that I will practice for the rest of my life. Having the opportunity to learn, and get better while at the same time learning about myself and the practice makes me feel great and helps me maintain balance and health from within.”
MORE GLOSS: Yoga vs Pilates
You’ve been dedicated to philanthropy positively and the Every Mother Counts project is founded by you, so what’s the biggest difficulty you’ve ever faced in the project?
“I founded Every Mother Counts in 2010 after directing my first documentary film No Woman, No Cry about the global state of maternal health and the barriers that pregnant women face around the world trying to access quality maternity care which leads to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year.
“The organisation was established to build public awareness about a global tragedy that touches every woman and family. When women do not have access to information and services that could help save their lives, it is a violence against women. Our goal is to engage new audiences and inspire them to become part of the solution. We currently support programs addressing these three gaps; transportation, education and supplies in Haiti, Uganda, India, Malawi, Indonesia and the United States. We monitor the progress of many other countries which have a high maternal mortality ratio very closely and hope that over time we are able to help to institute even more sustainable solutions that reduce the number of lives lost at birth everywhere.”