Before Gigi, Bella, Kaia, Naomi, Cindy, and Christy, there was Lauren Hutton. From promoting beauty products to starring in the latest Chanel campaigns, the [state age] model and actor made quite a splash in the early '60s and '70s thanks to her approachable, yet effortless look and signature front tooth gap. In fact, it was the latter "imperfection" that gave the South Carolina native a "down-home sensibility that other more ethereal models lacked," said film research database All Movie Guide, now known as AllMovie. (It also landed her the most lucrative modeling contract in history at the time, a 1973 deal with Revlon worth $250,000.)
Hutton's success, which includes a record 26 American Vogue covers (and a collective 40 worldwide) has spanned more than 50 years, a timeline that's rare for even the most well-known models. In the past 30 years, she's starred in countless campaigns for brands the likes of Barney's New York, Calvin Klein, and The Row and posed nude at the age of 61. "I've been blessed with great genes in the looks department, and I am grateful for that," says Hutton in an email to TZR. "I feel a responsibility to that blessing, too. I’m proudest of returning to modeling at age 47, trying — in my way — to break down certain misconceptions of what beauty is."
The model explains that for her, beauty generates from the inside out, harkening back to an old philosophy she learned as a child. "Everyone in my home town of Charleston, South Carolina always said, 'Beauty is as beauty does,'" she says. "I think that's a great beauty tip to this day. Early on, I heard the French say that, after 40, you have the face you deserve. I've taken this as advice to guard your insides as well as your outsides, meaning [to aim for] not just good nutrition and exercise, but also purity of thought … because it will all come home to roost."
Fair enough. But, that said, one can't have a conversation with a timeless beauty like Hutton and not grill her about all things skin care. Ahead, the icon discusses her current routine and the crucial beauty lesson she wishes she'd learned earlier in life. (Spoiler: It involves sunscreen.)
What does your skin care routine look like now?
My routine is StriVectin's S.T.A.R. Light Retinol Night Oil every night, a dropper-full for my face and forehead. After application, I layer it with StriVectin moisturizing products. I have several that I alternate between: SD Advanced and the new Wrinkle Recode Moisture Rich Barrier Cream. In the morning, I wash my face and then I apply a matte moisturizer. I aim for two liters of water every day. I try and stay out of the sun, after having spent half of my life on the equator with no sun screen.
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I see that "Strength Is The New Anti-Aging" is the title for the new StriVectin campaign. Do you feel like there is too much emphasis on the idea of anti-aging?
We are all to a greater or lesser extent afraid of dying, and there is an endemic fear of aging particular to the American culture. But, the point of living is to grow up, to gain that wisdom that comes with the living of life, and that leaves evidence on your skin, on your psyche, and on your body. So, from my perspective, there is nothing 'wrong' with aging, therefore I don't consider the words 'anti-aging' as anything more than a marketing catch phrase for self-care that is warranted.
Strength, on the other hand, is absolutely essential, at every age. Strength endures and empowers and helps you get through life. Strength inspires. Throughout life we must make ourselves strong and stay strong. Our minds and attitudes, our bodies, and our skin barriers. The sentiment that 'strength is the new anti-aging' means staying strong is the key to resilience, and it’s more important to focus on stronger skin barriers than fighting aging.
Is there a beauty product you've used your entire life?
First off, I have used plain soap and warm water as a basis for any beauty routine all my life. For a real wake up (especially when I’m working ), I will plunge my face in ice water. I have never slept with makeup on my face and I rarely wear any makeup [during the day] except for professional engagements.
I have used Queen Helene Oil Eye Makeup remover pads since I was 14 — my mother's advice to avoid crows feet! During my first trip to Mexico in 1965, I was introduced to raw unfiltered virgin coconut oil. It was golden brown and made you smell like a peanut cookie! Since then, I've used organic virgin cold-pressed coconut oil or cold-pressed avocado oil religiously, slathering it all over my body after showering each day. Sometimes I use coconut oil or olive oil in my hair as a treatment, [although I apply it] sparingly.
Were you ever guilty of any beauty mistakes over the years?
I didn't use sunscreen.
What has always been your priority when it comes to your skin?
My goal is clean, clear, well-moisturized skin ... all over. Ears, too! I aim for the same 'clear and clean' [philosophy] when using makeup. If I can see it laying on my face, I use a dampened sponge to pat it in and make it part of my natural look. I’m learning that, with age, all that sun exposure has resulted in dark spots all over my body. I find those little polka-dots everywhere! If I had it to do over again, I would have used sunscreen all along.
When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful in the company of people I love and who know me for who I am.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Read, read, read! Read four times as many books [as you normally would] — the classics, the greats, and history, starting with Mesopotamia. And please read newspapers. Life is politics. Educate yourself about finances and how to make money grow. Also, don't waste any time dating anyone you wouldn't consider as a lifetime mate. Oh, and find a good therapist.
What is the best life advice you've ever received ?
The best life advice was from an interpreter on a French film I did in Morocco. She was a princess who had left her son and husband behind to have her freedom, and had wisdom for me. In the film I was required to ride a horse, and I was given a purebred genetic miracle as my steed. I didn't really know how to ride, but I thought I could just 'act' like it. My interpreter saw this and gave me advice that I continue to apply [to this day]. She said, 'Don't look down — keep your gaze far and high.' I strive to look towards the horizon and take it all in to this day.