Beauty in the 1950s was dramatic. As Hollywood darlings Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe became the poster children for pointy, thick brows, colored lids, wispy babydoll eyes, and rich red lipsticks, women’s makeup routines became more and more extensive. Sleeping in a full face of makeup was common, as portrayed in a pivotal scene at the beginning of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Midge Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, performs an extensive nighttime beauty routine that includes applying a fresh makeup look (lipstick, too) to look beautiful as she sleeps next to her husband. But as soon as he drifts off, she heads to the bathroom to wipe it all off and applies her face cream…until it’s time to wake up and smear a fresh layer of makeup before her husband gets up.
Sound intense? Well, rest assured, Brosnahan’s actual beauty routine is nothing like her character’s and it’s all built around Cetaphil’s cult-favorite Gentle Skin Cleanser. The Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe-winner just became Cetaphil’s new brand ambassador, a brand she’s loved since her “sweaty” high school athlete days and one that has helped her tailor her beauty routine to address her specific skin concerns.
“I didn’t take skincare seriously until I was about 16. I had always just put whatever on my face. I would go to a drug store and look at what products claimed they would do and just try anything that I felt might help at the moment,” she tells ELLE.com in between bites of sugared donuts in her Manhattan hotel suite. “My whole routine was just a mess until my mom introduced me to Cetaphil Gentle Skin cleanser when I was 16. Once I started using it and a moisturizer, it completely changed my skin. From that point forward, the way my skin looks and feels have been top priorities to me.”
So, how does she take care of her skin after hours of playing the always dolled-up Midge Maisel? Ahead, Rachel Brosnahan lets us in on her skincare secrets and tips.
1.Let your breakout run its course instead of picking at them.
Don’t ever pick at your breakouts—it’s a common rule of thumb. But sometimes, we succumb to temptation and we’re left to deal with the aftermath. Brosnahan’s tip? Reach for Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. “It’s the actor’s secret potion. Nobody knows what its called so everyone refers to it as the ‘pink stuff,'” she says. “If I have a singular spot somewhere that I need to get to go away quickly, which I often do for work, I use the Mario Badescu drying lotion. Dab with a Q tip, and it usually clears up really quickly.”
2. Do whatever the hell you want when it comes to makeup.
On The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge strives to be the “perfect” woman, even if that means sleeping in makeup, bleaching the bush, and everything else Midge does to look beautiful. However, in real life, Brosnahan’s main beauty goal is to not irritate her skin.
“Even though Midge and I are so different, I think we’re both doing what we find to be empowering when it comes to our skincare and beauty routines. For me, I feel more like myself when I’m using less, when I keep it simple, when I keep it natural. But for Midge, she feels the most powerful and the most like herself when transforms herself into the ideal woman of the 1950s,” the actress adds. “And it feels good to her because I think it’s important when it comes to beauty and skincare to not judge each other. We’re all doing what’s best for us and what makes us feel the most beautiful. And I think it’s important to embrace that about each other, less judgment.”
3. Add a brightening serum to your line-up to get rid of redness.
“I wear so much makeup on my face every day that I’m trying to use as little as possible to take care of my skin in the morning and at night,” Brosnahan adds. But, she admits to losing the battle with temptation sometimes, resulting in a few stubborn red marks.
“I use about six drops of Vintner’s Daughter Botanical Serum, pat it into my skin, and it keeps it hydrated. I find that it brightens my skin, especially because it’s got all kinds of different oils in it. It helps to even out my skin really quickly, make red marks go away and soothe dry patches.”
4. Try eliminating water when cleansing to keep the skin moisturized.
Cleansing without water isn’t exactly how most people get down, but Rachel find that eliminating water sometimes keeps her skin supple and hydrated. “If my skin is feeling irritated from wiping off makeup all day, I’ll use the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser without water and wipe it off really gently with a cotton round,” she explains. This method “keeps all that moisture there, keeps me super hydrated and it’s just an even gentler way to use the product. Then a couple times a week, I’ll use either Joanna Vargas’ Euphoria mask—it’s super, super hydrating and calming—or I’ll use an SK-II sheet mask.”
5. Listen to your body.
If you want a burger and fries, eat that burger and fries—but in moderation, of course. “If I go for the burger and fries and I really make sure I don’t skip the spin class that week,” Rachel quips. “I go to Soul Cycle, but if I wake up in the morning and I feel like I can’t get out of bed because I’m so exhausted, I try to listen to that. And, I’ll take the extra hour of sleep because I will feel better emotionally and physically when I’ve taken better care of myself. I notice if I’m traveling or eating foods that I don’t normally eat, it shows up on my skin. Either my skin looks duller or I break out. I just don’t feel great. So, I try to eat to make myself feel the best. It’s less about focusing on the way that I look and more about how I feel.”
6. A red lip can transform any look.
Midge Maisel almost always completes her look with a red while Rachel typically reaches for soft corals or pinks. But, whenever Brosnahan is feeling or looking a bit tired, she says a red lip is exactly what she needs to wake her up.
“I feel more awake and I look more awake the minute we put that red lip on. I’ve never been a lipstick girl in my real-life beauty routine,” she says. “But recently, when I’m feeling tired or run down and I need to go somewhere and look presentable, I have played with adding a bold lip and I instantly look more awake and feel more awake as a result.” Her drawer of bold lippies include pink, orange, and red shades from Ilia, Dior, and YSL.