Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson Talk Their Best and Worst Beauty Moments Since the '90s
Looking back on 20+ years of friendship — and all the haircuts they've had along the way.
When you’ve known each other as long as Sarah Paulson and Amanda Peet have, a trip down memory lane sparks more than a few funny stories. The actresses and best friends, who lovingly call each other the nickname “Bird,” first met on the set of the ‘90s WB show, Jack & Jill, and instantly bonded over, among other things, their shared love of Abercrombie & Fitch cargo pants. Over the last 20 years, they’ve stayed by each other’s sides through every fashion fad and impulsive haircut, so for InStyle’s August issue, we caught up with the longtime pals to talk about their beauty evolution, celebrity doppelgängers, and more.
Read on for our full chat below.
You’ve been best friends since you met on the set of Jack & Jill in the ’90s. What do you remember most about each other’s looks back then?
SARAH PAULSON: Amanda loved the parachute pants from Abercrombie & Fitch. We thought they made our asses look particularly good, but our asses were actually just good back then. [laughs]
AMANDA PEET: You wore a lot of Juicy Couture sweatpants too. And didn’t you wear a shrug to the première of The Whole Nine Yards [below]?
SP: I wore shrugs on our TV program, not in real life, my friend. To that première I wore a sparkly dress from [the L.A. store] Polkadots & Moonbeams. I do remember my hair, though — someone took a small-barrel curling iron around my whole head. I was so obsessed with looking like Julia Roberts that my mouth was hanging open doing Julia Roberts smiles the whole time.
So how have your looks evolved since those days?
AP: Since the parachute pants? A lot, I hope!
SP: Here’s the truth: I didn’t know how to do almost anything from a fashion or beauty standpoint. Amanda was always more aware of what was cool. Bird, remember when you cut your hair short and dyed it blond?
AP: Yes, and it was not good. [laughs]
SP: Well, I quickly copied you. And that continues to happen.
What does your beauty regimen look like now in quarantine?
AP: We’re not doing much of anything because, you know, we’re not going anywhere.
SP: But we talk many times a day, and occasionally Amanda will FaceTime me and I’ll have a weird mask on or something that looks like baby diarrhea on my face.
AP: It’s comforting to think it’s going to matter at some point.
SP: I just don’t want to fall apart too much for when — God willing — we’re all back in a world where we can work again.
Do you miss doing the red-carpet thing yet?
AP: The red carpet can still be intimidating, but it’s just not as important to us as it used to be.
SP: Yeah, I like the fun of playing dress-up, but then there’s another component that really does feel like work. Everything is so dissected on social media now. We try to put that to the side and let it be a celebration. I can tell you right now, though, my feet are not missing those heels.
What has been your most memorable red-carpet moment?
AP: About a year ago I got out of the car in full hair and makeup, and as I took my fancy red-carpet stance, people yelled, “Lake Bell! Lake, over here!” Part of me was really excited because she’s so hot. But then I was like, “Wow, I feel bad for her that this is happening to me.” [laughs]
SP: And people are saying I look like Adele now. She’s beautiful, but I just don’t really see it. I’ll take it, though, you know?
AP: Same! Bird, my favorite look of yours was the sparkly Carolina Herrera dress with the puffed sleeves at the 2017 Emmys [above].
SP: I love the backless Rochas look you wore to the Met Ball in 2006 [below]. So pretty.
What beauty rituals do you bond over?
SP: We like to get manis and pedis together.
AP: We’ve been going to Tracey Cunningham to get our hair done together for over 20 years too. Tracey was working for Sally Hershberger when we met, and now I can’t even get in!
SP: I always make the appointment, and then Amanda will say, “I’m gonna come too.” But she just slaps on some highlights, whereas I’m in there for five hours.
AP: I do feel like we need to set the record straight on one thing, though: Sarah Paulson has not had any work done on her face at any point in time, OK, everybody? Can we put that in print? Those are her lips.
SP: Honestly, I have no judgment about someone having work done, but for me, it’s important to try to accept the inevitable reality of my face. I’d like to say that I’m never going to do it, but I also say, “Let’s see how I feel when things have radically headed south.” [laughs]
Have you introduced each other to any products lately?
AP: I can’t survive without Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. One time I was in L.A. shooting, and Bird drove all the way to the set just to bring me some because my lips were falling off.
SP: I’m a good friend! Lately, I’ve been loving the Hourglass Ambient Lighting palette. It’s a very soft powder that gives this great iridescent light.
AP: See, why don’t I know about this?
SP: Well, you don’t wear a lot of powder — you’re a mascara-and-lip girl. What about the eyebrow stuff that you turned me on to?
AP: Oh, right, the Ardell clear brow gel. I’m obsessed with it.
What’s the most badass beauty risk you’ve ever taken?
SP: For me, it’s more like,“I’m tired of this hair; I’m going to cut it.” There is no bravery involved. But some of my more badass moments happened when I was younger, like when I took a box of jet-black L’Oréal hair dye and covered my head with it. I was a sad faux-punk teenager.
AP: I want to see that picture. I put the Jolen lip bleach — that I should have been using on my mustache — on my hair. And then it turned green. But there was nothing badass about it.
If you were given free rein to do anything with each other’s hair, what would you do?
SP: I loved when Amanda had short hair in the early 2000s. [Hairstylist] Garren cut it into this incredibly chic, light-blond punk-rock bob [above]. I’d want you to revisit that, Bird.
AP: I really loved your hair at that Bottega Veneta event that we went to in 2016 [below]. It was short, blond, and wavy to the side. Very rock and roll, as we like to say.
If you could go back to the ’90s and give yourself one piece of beauty advice, what would it be?
AP: To eat fewer Tofutti Cuties. [laughs]
SP: Yes, there was a moment when Amanda thought eating a lot of Tofutti Cuties — which are essentially ice-cream sandwiches — was healthy because they’re tofu. Then one day she couldn’t zip up her Katayone Adeli pants.
AP: It’s a testament to how close we are that you were able to say, “You need to do just one a day.”
SP: I wish I’d had a better sense of humor about everything. The hair, makeup, clothes, all of it seems very precious. But jobs come and go, and yet here we are, 20 years later, and we’re still best friends. The rest of it just fades into the background.
Paulson stars in Mrs. America on FX. Peet stars in Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story on USA.
For more stories like this, pick up the August issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download July 17.