Salma Hayek has claimed that she doesn’t even try to be beautiful. Yet seeing her in person at a press day for her CVS beauty line, Nuance Salma Hayek, she is beautiful — perhaps more so than she appears in photos. Even-skinned and tiny-pored, Hayek dabs facial oil onto my wrist while she tells me about how she talks to her skin, why she doesn’t wash her face in the morning, and her strong feelings about SPF.
What was your first beauty memory?
My mother was very diligent with her beauty routines. It was really a religion. My grandmother would make her own creams and my mom’s creams, and she would wash and moisturize. I remember being young and out on the streets playing. She was always trying to get me out of the sun and once I came in, she was like, “You have to scrub, scrub, scrub.” She would know when I hadn’t scrubbbed because she would say, “Look at your elbows” and they would be darker. Then she would go to the medicine cabinet, to the kitchen, and make some kind of potion, and when she’d take it off, it would be perfectly white, in one go.
What was in the potion?
I tried to make a cream out of it [for my line] but we’re not allowed to use peroxides in beauty because it becomes a different category. She used baking soda, salt, peroxide, and lemon. And then maybe one more thing that I don’t remember. She scrubbed and left it on, it was itching!
How did you see beauty when you first started your career?
When I started my career, I saw beauty more as a goal. Now I just see beauty as part of life — of everyday life. When I was younger I was always trying to figure out, Oh my god, what would look good on me? Is this my best or should I be like that? What hair color I should have? But it’s more about finding your identity. As you get older, if you’re lucky, you can pay attention to life. You sort of settle, you’re more comfortable, and you understand much better who you are.
Do you feel like your line of work has changed your perception of beauty?
I live in so many different countries that I get to see so many different kinds of people. My perception of beauty has become more simple. I have learned to find beauty in the simple things and the essence of the individual — like the way they look at something. I allow myself to find an image pleasant because I say so, not because somebody has told me that is the way it’s supposed to look.
But seeing Hollywood airbrushing hasn’t changed your view of beauty?
I mean, that’s beautiful too. I can also appreciate when it’s done well and when it’s so ugly because they airbrush it the wrong way without artistry. There’s an art in it too. When they do it flat with no artistry, it is really bothersome. But it’s a picture — it’s not supposed to capture everything.
What is your morning beauty routine like? What time do you usually get up?
Today I got up at 4. I don’t have a routine because of all the traveling, but it’s usually at 6:30 to 7. I have to prepare Valentina for school. But I don’t wash my face in the morning — never, never, never. I never wash my face in the morning, I think it’s bad for your skin — I just moisturize. I really wash my face at night.
My routine changes, it depends on how my skin wakes up. I don’t do it like a machine. I look at it, I pay attention. I talk to it. like, “What do we need today? And then I have all of my potions. I start mixing my favorite Nuance AM/PM cream. If I’m extra dry, I will do this [mixes moisturizer with a few drops of face oil]. When you moisturize, sometimes it just makes you feel good. It wakes you up; it makes you feel like you had a great breakfast like it was healthy or something.
I think that people tell you to wash your face in the morning because they want to sell more creams. The dream to make this particular moisturizer was to make the best cream that it could be in the market and making it affordable for every woman. I can buy a cream that’s $1,000 and I still use this one. We have secrets in these places that other people don’t know about.
Do you do a little face massage with the cream?
Oh, that’s very important, but one I’m lazy about. If I wear a lot of makeup, I’ll use the Marigold Oil Cleansing Oil. It doesn’t have SPF. I am completely against SPF, completely.
Really? Even though you have sunscreen in the line?
SPF on its own is good, but I’m sorry, SPF in creams and makeup is a big mistake.
It’s a lot of chemicals that can affect the formula of the cream. 90 percent of the time, you don’t need it because you are working in an office indoors. Or you are going out at night. We have one product with amazing SPF — it’s there for when you need it. But none of the other products have it because it’s not good for the product.
How do you keep your prices so competitive? [Editor’s note: Her most expensive product is $21.99]
Because I have a miracle ingredient nobody else has — tepezcohuite, that is used in the hospital for burn victims for skin regeneration. It’s not expensive, although I could have made it expensive. If you use caviar and gold, it is more expensive, but I don’t think it’s any better than the others. I can take them on any day. Gold is not regenerating the skin of burn victims, neither is the caviar.
When you go about your day, how do you feel beauty relates to your sense of self?
It depends on the priorities of the day. Sometimes it gets really busy and it’s all about my head. But then, beauty is there, too, because our brain is beautiful. I am really reminded of beauty when I look at my daughter — in the little things she does and looks. I think nothing makes anything more beautiful than love. If you love something, it just immediately becomes so beautiful to you.
This interview has been condensed and edited.