Jessica Alba grew up in a household full of glamour. As a young girl, she would watch her mom tend to her big curls and go through her extravagant makeup routine. And her grandmother would never leave the house without a hint of blush and a red lip. Alba describes her mom’s approach to beauty as avant-garde and her grandmother as elegant, while she’s somewhere in the middle. Alba landed on our television screens at age 13 after being featured in her first film, Camp Nowhere, in 1994. She starred in the TV series Dark Angel and the movies Honey and Fantastic Four. At 27, she decided to step away from her full-time acting career and focus on motherhood and her health. She spent a lot of time in the hospital as a child due to chronic allergies, so when she became a mom, she was ready to fully devote herself without her busy acting career being a factor.
In hindsight, this period was more of a transition than a retirement from the limelight. In 2011, Alba entered into entrepreneurship and launched the Honest Company with 17 clean baby products, inspired by her history of childhood illnesses and the birth of her first daughter, Honor Marie Warren, now 14. Alba was ahead of her time when she launched clean and nontoxic products. “Clean beauty” has become such a buzzword in the industry and often comes with varied definitions of what’s clean and what’s not. For Alba, creating sanitary products is personal. Becoming a mother inspired her to make more intentional choices.
She remembers having an allergic reaction to a detergent marketed to families for babies, and that’s the moment she learned how many toxic chemicals were in not only the detergent but many beauty products. Alba’s mom passed when the actress was 22, and all of the women who raised her mom fell ill from different types of cancer — none that were genetic — and this prompted her to do even more research on hormonal disruptors, environmental exposures, and toxic personal-care products. Making better, nontoxic choices became a lifestyle for Alba and ultimately led to her new career as a founder. The Honest Company isn’t just baby products anymore; it has expanded into beauty, home, and makeup.
While running her company, she prioritizes self-care by maintaining a clean lifestyle and healthy sleep habits. When Alba and I hopped on the phone to chat about her skin-care routine, she had just finished traveling for Paris Fashion Week, where she averaged four hours of sleep a night, a deviation from her preferred eight-hour schedule, which she rarely gets. But either way, she meditates as soon as she wakes up. “I usually prepare the night before. I’ll sit my headphones on my bedside so that all I have to do is put them on when I wake up before jumping into my nonstop day,” she says. Ahead, her nontoxic routine for sensitive skin.
Here, Alba’s routine:
She’s keen on taking care of her skin from the inside out, so she drinks an electrolyte mix in the morning to keep her body and her skin hydrated. The first thing she lathers on her face is her nourishing mask, formulated with vitamin E and shea butter. Alba usually pairs the mask with eye patches while multitasking, like cooking breakfast for her family. “This mask look totally scares my son,” she says, laughing. Next, she goes in with her green-juice serum. This product is made with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which aids in a smoother and softer complexion. She thinks of it as a green edible juice but for your skin, since this serum is packed with a healthy dose of antioxidants.
The final product she applies is her daily moisturizer, formulated specifically for sensitive skin. The liquid crystal technology seals moisture into her skin for long-lasting hydration. For extra TLC, she’ll sculpt her face with Shani Darden’s sculpting wand, a sound-wave technology tool that makes skin appear firmer and smoother. She also frequents Darden’s Beverly Hills studio for facial treatments.
She’ll go in with her hydrogel cream, “a drink of water,” for her face at night. The hydrating, lightweight formula replenishes Alba’s skin and immediately makes her feel years younger. “I’m a woman of a certain age. It’s fine to have smile lines and everything, but it’s also really important to keep your skin super-hydrated,” she says. Hydration is her secret to a gorgeous glow.
On her earliest beauty inspiration:
“My mom was 19 when I was born, so she was a very fashionable, trendy, young, and cool person. She was inspired by Madonna, Prince, and David Bowie, the era when there was a lot of exploration. Everyone was wearing makeup, high heels, and pantyhose. She had huge hair, and even though we lived on a military base and had no money, my mom was serving fashion and beauty looks.”
On the beauty lessons she’s learned from her daughters:
Alba thinks living in a world where beauty filters are the norm is weird. She’s learning a lot from her Gen-Z daughters on what beauty means to them. She often has to check herself to unlearn the many years of brainwashing regarding beauty. “Millennial ideas of beauty are so unattainable in a way, and that comes from generations of us being brainwashed and feeling like we’ll only be successful if we look perfect or desirable. Both of my daughters have a different outlook on what’s beautiful. To them, it’s almost off-putting if you try to look too good. It’s more natural if you have a shiny nose or dark circles under your eyes, which they view as more real and cool,” she says.
On being connected to her feminine energy:
“Before becoming a mom, my femininity was defined by society’s standards of what it means to be desirable to men. Now I understand what feeling powerful from a woman’s point of view means. It has nothing to do with whether someone desires you, it’s more about how connected you feel to yourself. You end up attracting people when you’re confident and you feel good in your skin. And that’s a by-product of being connected to your feminine energy.”
On her favorite and least favorite TikTok trends:
Trying TikTok beauty trends isn’t foreign to Alba. She scrolls the clock app just like us and picks up on what to try, while raising her eyebrows at what she’s not trying. She likes anything that feels efficient. Lately, she’s into all the blush trends like dotting blush different ways and underpainting by the legendary Kevyn Aucoin, recently trending because of Mary Phillips. What she absolutely won’t try? Ten pumps of foundation. “It’s messy and unnecessary,” she says, laughing. “Unless it’s all over your body, which I’ve done, then you don’t need all of that for your face; it’s a total waste of product.”