Sarah Jessica Parker gets honest about not messing around with her face, being hopeless with a blow-dry and wearing the same thing every day when she’s not working
Breakfast with SJP, you say? We’re free, funnily enough. The 58-year-old Sex and The City actor touched down in London this week for the launch from skincare brand Roc, of which she is an ambassador of their Derm Correxion Dual Eye Cream (we love how one half of the pot contains product for under the eye, the other for above). Sarah Jessica Parker will be spending more time in the capital in the coming months – from 17 January next year, she’s starring in the West End play Plaza Suite, alongside her husband of 26 years, fellow actor Matthew Broderick (forever Ferris Bueller, if you’re an ‘80s kid like me), with whom she shares three children.
Although SJP describes herself as “lazy” and “basic” when it comes to looking after her “sensitive” skin, it turns out she’s been a fan for some time of heritage brand Roc Skincare, which started life in a 1950s French pharmacy and was one of the first to bring retinol to the market and create hypoallergenic skincare.
“Roc is a science and fact-based brand so I don't have to do a huge amount of the work, I know what I'm buying, at an affordable price,” she says. “They've done the work and I can just simply benefit from it.”
Less time poring over skincare labels means more time for her various projects: alongside her play prep, there’s a third series of And Just Like That, the Sex & The City reboot, in the offing. She has a range of fragrances and her shoe line, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker, is approaching its 10 year anniversary. Not forgetting her book imprint, SJP Lit, which published its first novel earlier this year.
Here’s what SJP had to say about beauty (she’s very much pro ageing), style, family and her eminently sensible approach to life’s challenges. (One thing she couldn’t talk about was her acting work, due to the industry strikes - so no juicy SATC anecdotes I’m afraid.)
On accepting the ageing process
“I don't know what else you're supposed to do! I don't think of myself as inspirational [for taking this stance], I think of myself as lazy. You can take measures to make yourself feel better and I’m all for it - I love the idea that people can do what they want to do to make themselves feel better about walking out the door.
“But I'm so confounded by the fact that the majority of men my age are simply never asked this question. I don't ponder it - except when I'm asked about it. Because you wake up and you've got a million things going on, you get on with your day.
“I don't understand the emphasis placed on the pondering of ageing. You can go to a dermatologist, have procedures, have injections, you can take all sorts of things, vitamins, etc, you can use skincare because it makes you feel better. But, for me, it's, like, What am I going to do? I'm going to do something radical and everyone's going to be, like, ‘Well, that's weird. She looks weird now’? I'm an actor so I am meant to be emoting with my face, which I think has to move in order for me to communicate. This is not a condemnation of anybody doing whatever they want. People should honestly do what they want to do but, for me, it's just not a focus of my life. It is what it is.”
On her skincare regime
“Simplicity and efficacy are everything for me. I have great admiration for women who want to do nine steps in the morning and at night but that is something that I don't have the patience or concentration for. But I also don't understand why we are asking that of women? All of our time is valuable.
“If you’re working on a set, you’re wearing a lot of makeup so that’s taking up a lot of your time. So I am simple [when not working] - I will do two things at most, and every now and then I'll add a third element. It’s pretty basic!”
Roc Derm Correxion Dual Eye Cream, currently on sale at Boots for £19.99, usually £39.99.
“This eye cream is new and really exciting. It's convenient, the packaging is great, it's simple, you understand what it is that you are putting on your face. And it also takes away all the questions that I have: when do I use this? How do they pair? How does it work?”
Roc Hydrate + Plump Daily Moisturiser SPF 30, currently on sale at Boots for £18.66, usually £27.99
“They use this on me for touch-ups when I’m working [on set]– typically after lunch is the big touch-up of the day. This is so helpful to a makeup artist because it moves beautifully, it cleans up but doesn’t take everything away. It fits in my purse and it also has sunscreen.”
Roc Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Max Hydration Cream, currently on sale at Boots for £23.32, usually £34.99
“This was my first introduction to Roc and it’s one of the elder statesmen products of the brand. The cream is a true traditional night experience. It’s the perfect weight, the perfect amount of moisture. It can be used on a flight, it can be used on your hands. It’s a nice little fella to come to work with me in the morning – I put it on when I’m sitting in the hair chair, before makeup.”
On her biggest beauty mistake – and regret
“Not wearing enough sunscreen when I was young. It was, like, Factor 2, 4, 6 or 8 – but [anxious] ‘I won’t get any sun if I put on 8!’ I think it's generational. But you really do have to wear sunscreen.”
On sharing skincare with her family
“Matthew doesn't use anything. It's unbelievable. But he doesn't go on the sun at all and he's very anxious about sunscreen, he always has been. And one of my daughters is very, very fair and one has an olive complexion. So one is Factor 50 all the way, with every part covered including the tips of the ears. And the other one uses sunscreen in the way I do. So they have different needs. My daughters are 14 now so they're in and out of my bathroom. But I'm happy to share everything.”
On not being able to style her own hair
“It's just a bun every day. That's all I know how to do. I don't know how to blow my hair out. I really have no idea. And I don't need [style it] if I'm not working, I don't do anything to it because it's an opportunity for my hair to try to recover. I try to give it a break.”
On staying fit
“I used to do ballet, but now it’s just walking around mostly. And walking up stairs – I live in a house with a lot of stairs.”
“I've discovered that your children don't need you less as they get older, they need you more. So that is a dominant part of my life. It's a really challenging, joyful, panicked part of my life. But it's the thing that is obviously most important to me.”
On navigating tough times
“To stay too long [dwelling on] things that are upsetting hasn't been helpful or productive for me. I say this to my kids too. You should feel upset if you're upset. But what are the ways in which you can resurface? Where do you find your resilience, so you can gather yourself? It’s not helpful, especially for young people, to stay too long in the place that's upsetting or frustrating because it makes you angry, resentful or depressed. I don't think this is compartmentalizing so much as, ‘Okay, that happened. Now what can I do to feel differently, or carry on or put it away?’ I’ve just always kind of moved on.”
On social media
“I'm not entirely sure how to use it and actually I think some things shouldn't be discussed on social media. I think there should still be some grace and elegance around things. I'd like to talk more about the things that I'm doing but I'm not accustomed to it so I haven't really exploited it. I'm going to try to be more present and share more of those things. It’s just it sometimes creates a conversation that you didn't intend to create, and all of a sudden there's a controversy and that doesn't feel good. It’s like there are landmines around it that sometimes feel scary to me.”
On where she finds style inspiration
“My mom always dressed so beautifully. She did a lot with very little - she either made all her own clothes or bought them at the church sale.
“Then there were images in the movies, but I didn't spend a lot of time going to the movies when I was really young. That was a big treat to go to the movies. I think the ‘70s are very influential to me.
“And it’s very interesting to see people on the street. Walking down the street in London, you'll see someone and you'll say, Oh, she's so smart. How did she think of that? And public transportation is huge. If you want to be inspired and see people being themselves, that's a great way.”
On her disappointing closet (yes, really)
“It's not very big although it’s bigger than it used to because we moved and there was more space. But I have a big archive that's not in my home and that's really where everything is.
A lot of the archive is costumes and things I've worn for red carpet [appearances].
In my closet there are a lot of grey sweatshirts. That’s what I wear every day usually.
I've seen people's closets, and I'm, like, Oh my gosh, there’s crazy stacks of purses and shoes and shoes and shoes. My closet is not like that. And the floors are plywood, there are no doors, it's just curtains. It's probably quite disappointing. I've had friends over who’ve been, like, ‘My closet is bigger and better than yours’. That's probably true!”
Sarah Jessica Parker is the global brand ambassador for Roc Skincare, which is now available in Boots