From balancing her career as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies with her business pursuits — including cofounding Once Upon a Farm organic cold-pressed baby food — to her role as an artist ambassador to Save the Children, Jennifer Garner is more than deserving to grace the cover of this year’s The Beautiful Issue.
But it’s nothing compared to the beauty she finds in being a mom to her three kids, Violet, 13, Seraphina, 10, and Samuel, 7, with ex-husband Ben Affleck.
“I’m starting to get to the point where I realize this job is not going to be forever,” the gorgeous star, 47, tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “Not in the all-encompassing every meal, every moment, every day way that I have loved for the last thirteen years. It’s going to shift. But there’s beauty in how it works in episodes.”
Growing up in West Virginia, Garner insists her own style could initially be described as “band geek-chic,” she says, laughing. “I was so not one of the pretty girls that I just bypassed insecurity and didn’t see myself as attractive at all. It was not part of my life.”
Yet the actress was grateful to her family for keeping her so grounded. “I felt good about myself back then! That is the lucky trick,” she adds. “Looks weren’t a big deal in my family. I don’t think my parents ever said ‘You’re pretty’ and so we just didn’t think about it.”
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When she doesn’t need to be red-carpet ready, Garner admits her “uniform” more often than not is workout clothes. “I try so hard to get out of [them],” she says. “But sometimes the day just doesn’t give you a break to shower and put on my other uniform, which is jeans, a sweater and sneakers.”
And don’t get her started about makeup. “Do I seem like someone who’s good at applying makeup?” she says, laughing. “I own the nicest brushes and I own contouring things. If I used it, I would just look bruised.”
Which is just fine with her three kiddos. Arriving home after a glam photo shoot, “I’ll feel like the best possible version of myself,” Garner adds. “They’ll look at me and say, ‘Can you wash your face? Can you put your hair in a ponytail and put your glasses and sweats on?’” she says, smiling. “And I see the compliment in that. They just want me to look like Mom.”
For more of our exclusive interview with Garner, pick up this week’s The Beautiful People issue on newsstands Friday and check out all of our coverage on PEOPLE.com