Jennifer Garner is Embracing The Unknown

Scrolling through the internet can feel like looking at a reflection of our worst instincts, particularly in the amusement park ride gone sideways that is 2020. But then again, there’s Jennifer Garner’s Instagram—a holy grail of her kids’ science experiments, inspiring musical performances, a photo with vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and a video of her crying about Hamilton that should be preserved in a museum.

While the rest of the world struggles to remain productive and positive, Garner is injecting our lives with a daily dose of serotonin. Just last week, she participated in Reese Witherspoon’s viral months of the year meme challenge. (April is represented by a snap of Garner drinking red wine in her laundry room, May a paps photo of herself crying.) Another day, she’s announcing her investment in Los Angeles’ women’s soccer team (more on that later) or teaching her mom how to operate Zoom via her #PretendCookingShow series.

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Behind-the-scenes, the actress and Neutrogena ambassador is remaining just as real. Whether learning to master a blowout (“Who am I? I’ve never done anything like this!”) or bingeing Schitt’s Creek (“It made me so happy”), Garner tells she’s embracing the unknown. “I think we have to just not let perfect get in the way of good right now,” she says serenely about surviving 2020.

On a brief break from her busy cooking/memeing/parenting/joy-spreading schedule, Garner spoke with about her quarantine beauty routine, Instagram philosophy, and why she’s bidding farewell to manicures (for now).

You’ve been so positive and active on social media during 2020. How are you keeping yourself inspired and sane during quarantine?

I would say that the first month or so I was, well, it was the first couple of months, I was so focused on Save with Stories and raising money for Save the Children’s rural initiatives and making sure that kids had food and educational supplies in rural America, that I probably posted once a week. I didn’t even.

And then after that, I went through a period where I just couldn’t come up with anything creative. I felt like all the fun was a little bit zapped out of me. If you just give into that feeling totally, then you really fall away from it. So I started forcing myself to just play a little, because there has to be a version of Instagram for me at least, or whatever we do, that feels like play. Once I started, it helped me feel better, and then it helped once I feel better, it makes me feel more playful.

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One of the projects I was so excited to see you’re a part of is the new women’s soccer team in Los Angeles. Why was that something important for you to get involved in?

Well, I’ve never played soccer. I’ve watched nieces and nephews and daughters play the game, but I don’t know anything about it. But I do know that women in the United States are the best in the world at soccer. And that it is crazy for us not to have had our own team here in L.A. When I found out that women were supporting women in this way, I’m not someone who goes around and invests in this and that, I just don’t. I don’t have that kind of flexibility, and also that just makes me so nervous to take a gamble. But in this case I just felt like, well, I want to be part of that group. I want my daughters to see me putting my money where my mouth is and really supporting other women.

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How have your attitudes towards wellness and beauty changed during your time at home?

There are two things: there’s staying well and following the rules, which we all know are so important. And then there’s also the mental component of wellness, which is also so, so important. The rules are the rules. That means you have to wear a mask, but then also you don’t want your skin to feel gross if you wear a mask. We all feel better if our skin feels good, so how are we taking care of our skin? We do have time (now) to put on a mask like a hydro boost mask, a skin mask that we wouldn’t have otherwise, and that can feel great.

I have found you can get these great Neutrogena masks at the drugstore for $4. They’re not even $4, and they are a game changer. It’s so easy just to throw one on for a little while, and as soon as a Zoom call starts, you rip it off. But I found that after being out and wearing a mask, not a face mask, but a mask, mask for COVID, that the lower half of my face can really feel all of that just stuff caught in there. So I’ve been more careful to exfoliate and just be using the hydro boost exfoliant, the cleanser, just to make sure that I’m getting it really clean.

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What are you missing most wellness-wise and what beauty routines are you determined to ditch after quarantine?

Well, I’m missing being in a big class of women doing a workout together. I have not missed, honestly, getting my nails done. I would think that I would, but I just cut them and file them and buff them, and I feel like, “Oh, well that didn’t take the time it would have taken.” I have definitely been more careful because I’m not getting a facial every now and then, which I just do to clean all the makeup out of my skin when I’m working a lot. I’ve been more careful to just go the extra mile and use toner and use this exfoliating wash, and make sure that my skin is clean.

Anything surprising you’ve learned about your self-care skills?

Well, just how often I have found myself doing my own hair and makeup for an appearance has been, I am so not the person that should be in charge of any hair or makeup. Now, I can blow my hair out, and I know what products to use. And just even as I buff my nails, I think, “Who am I? I’ve never done anything like this.”

The most interesting, surprising thing to me is how much I do not miss things like facials. How much of that can happen at home with a few simple products, all of them Neutrogena, obviously, you just can take really good care of your skin without all the fancy Hollywood things that I have always had lined up for me because of my work.

23rd annual hollywood film awards   arrivals

Garner at the Hollywood Film Awards in November 2019.

Jon KopaloffGetty Images

We’re all finding ways to cope right now—I watched 13 Going on 30 at the start of quarantine because it’s an instant mood-booster. What are you watching to survive?

Aww! I was so sad when I finished Schitt’s Creek because it made me so happy. My kids and I, we watch an episode a day, sometimes two, of The Office. We have six episodes left of the last season, and it’s all I can do to make them stop and not just stay up and watch all six of them right in a row. But that has been for all of us, something that we’ve done together. Then I’ve also watched Normal People on my own, which was just beautiful.

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Is there anyone on social media or off who’s inspiring you right now?

Beth Nicely. She just started her own thing called The Limit. She does these cardio dance classes that just are the hugest mood-boosts. When she does them, all of the money that she makes goes straight to donations, and she has donated $14,000 to Feed the Children, which is the organization I care so much about. So, that has been thrilling to watch her working people out and making them happy, making them sweat like crazy, and giving back to this organization that’s feeding kids and taking care of their educational needs when they’re totally just isolated in rural America during the pandemic.

What’s your advice for people who are struggling right now, either with being positive mentally or taking care of their bodies?

I think that we all ask so much of ourselves even when we’re trying to feel better, and we think, “Well, in order to feel better, I’m going to work out. So I have to work out 30 minutes every day. And I’m going to meditate, and I’ve got to meditate 20 minutes twice a day,” and instead, do those things, yes, but try to meditate for one minute, and try to get three good breaths where you really let go and just see if you can do that for as long as you can do that. And one day you’ll realize that you’re ready to do two minutes.

With working out, just commit to one thing, commit to walking around the block. Commit to one thing, and then slowly build up. Find a class that makes you happy and just do 15 minutes of it, but you will have done something. I think we have to just not let perfect get in the way of good right now.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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