There was a time (not too long ago) when baby oil was more of a beach staple than sunscreen. Jennifer Garner knows what I’m talking about: “My whole generation—I think we were all just tossed out into the sun to burn to a crisp,” she told me on the phone. “I was deep brown all summer, every summer. Now I realize I’m really fair, and I never had any business being that tan.” While the low-key actress may not insist on wearing makeup every day, SPF is non-negotiable—for her or her family. Read on to find out how she gets her kids to slather the stuff on, and why she thinks she’s a beauty disaster. (We’re going to go ahead and disagree with her on that one.)
How do you get your kids to wear sunscreen?
“It’s such a battle. But everyone has to do it every day. You have to make it part of the routine so that they stop fighting. I let them decide: Do they want a face and body stick on their face and arms before school, or do they want a lotion? I let them choose a song, and by the end of singing it, I have to be done putting it on them. You make a game out of how fast you can do it—but it has to happen. It can be a game or it can be a battle, but it’s going on one way or the other.”
What about your husband [Ben Affleck]? I read about a study recently that said men are more at risk for melanoma because they’re less likely to wear sunscreen.
“50 percent of men say they have not worn sunscreen in the past year. I cannot tell you how many battles with him I’ve had about sunscreen when we’re at the beach and I see him crisping up. He knows how I feel about it; he knows what I do for a living [Garner is a spokeswoman for Neutrogena]. If I can sneak it in, I spray it on him.”
What’s your go-to sunscreen?
“Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, because it doesn’t mess with your makeup if you have to wear any and it doesn’t aggravate your skin. SPF 30 in the winter, but now it’s almost always 45. If I’m going to be out in the sun, it’s probably up to 70.”
When you’re at the beach, do you wear makeup?
“No. I almost never wear makeup unless someone is putting it on me for work. I do usually use a little concealer around my nose or under my eyes, but that’s as far as I go. I used to wear mascara every day, and I don’t know why, but it feels fake or something. I’ve just grown out of it.”
So I guess it’s fair to say you aren’t exactly a beauty junkie?
“I’m not someone who should be in a beauty spotlight. I was one of those people who wore pajamas to class every day in college, and I would still be that way if I could! I’m in New Balance sneakers every day. I try not to be because I get made fun of by my husband and friends, but it’s not natural for me to think about how I look on a daily basis. So I’m kind of my own walking beauty disaster.
That’s pretty hard to believe when we see pictures of you on the red carpet.
“I have grown to love nice clothes and looking nice. I’ve been exposed to such a level of fashion and design that I have no right to wear, and I have to say, I’ve grown to reeeeaalllly like them. When it comes to red carpet, I’m all in.”