This Is Jennifer Garner's $18 Trick for Getting Velvety, Plump Skin "Instantly"

Ahead of her 50th birthday, the actress spills how she “fundamentally changed” her skin.

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Jennifer Garner’s $15 Trick for “Instantly” Velvety, Plump Skin
Photo: Getty Images

If you asked me to choose who was more lovable, my cat or Jennifer Garner, I'd be stressed — but my cat recently threw up on my favorite shirt, and Jennifer Garner would never do that. It's tough to say, but she currently comes out on top, especially after I met the actress and long-time Neutrogena ambassador to discuss her anti-aging routine and favorite Hydro Boost products.

Front and center is the Hydro Boost Gel Cream, which Garner credits with "instantly" filling in her micro-wrinkles with a combination of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and vitamin B5. The line's Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel is another favorite for its "velvety" effect, as is the Hyaluronic Acid Serum — and excitingly, all three are now fragrance-, phthalate- and paraben-free (while you won't spot phthalates on ingredient lists, they can be included in products' proprietary fragrance).

Considering the latter two categories' effect on long-term health, it's a laudable move from the science-focused brand, and one that makes the Hydro Boost collection even more of a force to be reckoned with. The Gel Cream alone has over 27,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, and Garner's vibrant, glowing skin demonstrates the full collection's potency. "I'm turning 50 in a few days, and I'm happy to be turning 50. This is what 50 looks like. It's a fan favorite for a reason."

Keep reading for more on her red carpet prep regimen, the Neutrogena products she used to fight over, and the factors that have "fundamentally changed" her skin.

I'd love to start by hearing about your beauty routine and how it's changed over the pandemic.

I think it is so important to think about the fact that spring is coming and we've all been through so much, but so has our skin. Our skin has been through stress. If we drink more wine during the winter or just go from hot to cold, our skin needs spring time. It needs to be brightened back up, and that's why I love this product line.

I was one of the first to do a commercial on it. I know I couldn't say "hyaluronic," but this is what I love: I keep this Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel everywhere. I have it in my shower, I have it next to my sink because it's perfect for taking your makeup off, and dirt, oil, pollution. But it protects that natural moisture barrier your skin has, so it doesn't strip your skin.

It's fragrance-free, it's just super simple. I have it in my kids' bathrooms as well because you can't go wrong with it. Hyaluronic acid is naturally in your skin, so when you add more to it with the Hydro Boost serum and the Gel Cream, it locks the water into your epidermis. It's just so satisfying, you instantly see the difference. I did it on my hands before starting to talk to you, and I couldn't even believe — I was like, well, damn. We all want the instant fix, right? Nothing is faster than plumping your skin as it's sitting on your body.

jen garner neutrogena cream
Courtesy

Shop now: $8 (Originally $9); amazon.com

Why do you think the brand decided to go fragrance-free for the collection?

Fragrance can have things in it that annoys skin, and they're going, "who cares about fragrance?" Let's really be skin first. And to that end, they are oil-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, non-comedogenic, phthalate-free, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and mineral oil-free.

You've been with Neutrogena for 15 years. What do you think are the products that have made the most difference over the years?

I've used the Beauty Bar since I was 12. I'm one of three girls and we fought over the Beauty Bar. We all used it and we used the shampoo and conditioner — we would literally get it in our stocking at Christmas because it was such a big deal. So my heart belongs right where I am.

What I've learned is if you want to protect your skin, you've got to use sunscreen. Do you want to change your skin? There are two things: There's retinol and there is hyaluronic acid — and those two things will actually fundamentally change your skin, so you can see a difference and feel great. I use Hydro Boost during the day and retinol at night. It's a combination of these two things that keeps my skin looking the absolute best.

I think it's interesting that the Hydro Boost Gel Cream doesn't have retinol in it but has a huge fan base. Do you think that's reflective of changing attitudes towards signs of aging?

I think we all should be okay with our skin, but I don't think that means we don't want to make it look the best and brightest that it possibly can. I love Hydro Boost, but not without using some healthy retinol as well. You really do need both to keep your skin looking as great as it can. You just want to feel good, but gosh, no, aging is a beautiful thing. We're so lucky to have the privilege of aging.

I completely agree, especially these days. I've even seen people describe the Hydro Boost Gel Cream as "nothing short of miraculous" — I'm wondering, what's the biggest skincare miracle you've witnessed?

It really is. I can instantly tell the difference — it just looks fresh and plump and better. There are all these little micro-lines that once I put this on, they go away. This is 48 hours of moisture that you're locking in with one thing, and then I don't have to worry about it. I can see why reviewers love it, I think it's my favorite product we've ever put out.

jen garner neutrogena cream
Courtesy

Shop now: $18; amazon.com

Wow, even against the retinol and peptide lines?

You need that stuff, but this is my baby.

You just had The Adam Project come out and the Oscars are this weekend. How do you prep your skin before red carpets?

I use the retinol exclusively for a week or two leading up to the red carpet and then I make a hard switch to all Hydro Boost for the few days before. So I would just do all of this retinol to make sure my skin was really just fresh and that I had initiated collagen growth as much as possible. And then I would switch to plumping up what's there. Thanks for asking, because I do think about that.

With long press tours and junkets, how do you keep your skin looking and feeling fresh throughout?

You always want your skin to feel dewy, not greasy, but a little bit dewy. When you go to bed, you want it almost slightly tacky, so you're really building up the moisture in your skin. There are so many skin products out there, but one that does make a difference is the Hydro Boost serum because it's a hydration complex, which is the hyaluronic acid, the glycerin, and the B5; you really can't go wrong. And you cannot sleep with makeup on. You want a gentle cleanser, and gel cleansers are great because they give you this super velvety, silky lather.

jen garner neutrogena cream
Courtesy

Shop now: $16 (Originally $19); amazon.com

Drugstore skincare has come in leaps and bounds over the past few years. How do you think Neutrogena still sets itself apart?

It's our scientists. Neutrogena has always been from the very beginning at the forefront of science and at the forefront of just giving you your best skin possible. It's not about tricks — they have not stuck around for this long because of a gimmick. It's a constant, evolving practice: Making sure that products are safe, taking customer feedback into account, and continuing to elevate the game. And because of their scale, making it super affordable.

You have such a phenomenal presence on social media. What are your favorite TikTok and Instagram accounts?

I don't really pay that much attention to TikTok, I'm sorry to say. I think I'm too old, but on Instagram, I really love and pay attention to my dancers and watch a lot of the ABT ballerinas. Isabella Boylston, James B. Whiteside — just watching all of them through their career. For me, what's fun is watching them prepare for a role, watching them learn the choreography.

Even if I didn't know anything about dance, going to see it live is just such a fun thing. You know when kids collect baseball cards and then they'd go to see their favorite players play? That's how I feel about ballet, whether it's the American Ballet Theater, which is one of my absolute favorite companies, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the kids at Juilliard, or the New York City Ballet. I'm kind of a geek.

Is there anything else that you would like to mention that's made a big difference for your skin?

I think it is about consistency. Working out, taking care of yourself, and this is a big, easy part of it. You don't have to stress here. This is just going to do its job.

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