"I feel that the word anti-age is not so positive, because it promotes a negative way of looking at yourself. To me that is a sad way to start the day. [Laughs] I’d rather something positive—for example, the cream I use helps my skin feel more elastic, nourished. And I put red on my lips because it gives me a sense of joy. To me, the definition of glamour and sophistication is that sense of joy, that sense of translating to a joyful act rather than an act of being ashamed of yourself and using cosmetics to hide yourself. I don’t really dream to stay young—I’m not young, I want to celebrate who I am. I’m not afraid of getting old. I think that is a stereotype about women. It has to change. When I came back to work with Lancôme after 30 years, I wouldn’t have come back to just say 'I’m old, but I look younger than my age thanks to this cream.' That is wrong. Those kinds of statements were based in traditional old values which said that a woman’s nature is to stay home, the biology of what a woman is determines your destiny. It’s a saying that lives in an old-fashioned approach to who women are.
This is what I have all the time—a perfume, a cream, and a lipstick. That is my base. If I would go away on the weekend, besides a deodorant, I travel with this. There wouldn’t be more than that in my bag. The cream I use is the Rénergie Multi-Glow from Lancôme. They reformulate now and then, but I have used it for 30 years.
Most of the time I have a makeup artist, and by myself I can’t really imitate most of the great artists. So, generally, when I do my own makeup I use a little bit of concealer around the nose, under the eyes. Generally a liquid-y one. Because especially on older skin, I think the base of the skin should be kept very light. Everything I use is Lancôme because I have loads of makeup they send to me and it’s good product, so I use it. After concealer, I draw my eyebrows in a little bit with a hard pencil, I design it a little bit. Then I take a black crayon and I just try to put it in between my eyelashes so the eyeliner is really, really close to the base of my eye. I put mascara—but not too much. It’s very difficult to take off. You can try to take it off but then you wake up in the morning and you look like a raccoon. I don’t really like that feeling, so I just use mascara on the top lashes. And sometimes I'll use a light brown eyeshadow to do a little banana tracing the socket of my eye.
I use red lipstick. The shade I like is Merlot 188 from Lancôme. I have several but you know, this is one of my favorites. In the summer I go to a lighter, more orange-y shade. I think that because it was so intimidating to work with so many good makeup artists, lipstick is easy to apply with a big result. If you want to feel made up, you put red lipstick and boom. Made up. I need a crayon to trace my lips first—like a lip liner. I use that to outline, and then I fill it in and blot the lipstick, then reapply. Sometimes I put a little bit of translucent powder over it because it stays.
I never get facials. I find them so endlessly boring. I can do massages, but I find myself restless in facials. Maybe they’re too long—if somebody give me a facial in half an hour I can stand it, but an hour and a half I go nuts. [Laughs]"
—as told to ITG
Isabella Rossellini photographed in New York by Tom Newton on April 11, 2018.