On a chilly January evening, Angelina Jolie nestles into a couch inside the highly fragrant Guerlain boutique on Paris’s Champs-Élysées. We’re meeting to toast the launch of Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum Florale, for which she is the face. Jolie’s face, apart from softly smoked eyes, looks natural. “We’re all pretty natural,” she says of her family. She takes her time as she discusses her makeup skills (they’re good, but daughter Zahara is more the enthusiast), her skin (cared for by a dermatologist since she was 11), and her views on what it’s like to age when you’re known as one of the world’s most beautiful women.
How beauty-aware were you growing up? Did you experiment with your hair and makeup?
I’m sure I had my moments when I was little where I would put makeup all over my face, but I was a bit of a tomboy. And then I was a bit of a punk. Nowadays it’s very popular to dye your hair blue, for example. In my day you bleached it and used a Sharpie [for color].
You did that?
Yeah! I suppose my early memories were more as a creative person—and then early on as an actor. It’s a mask; it’s a part of creating a character. I’ve never gone to a girlfriend’s house and played makeup. I’m not one of those women who say, “Hey, let’s have a night and do each other’s hair.” I’ve never been that, but I find that really sweet. I buy a lot, especially for Z [Zahara]. She went through a period of trying different things, but she’s pretty natural. I remember she had a girlfriend over one night, and they said they were going to do dress-up and did I have any makeup?
What did you say?
I gave them my makeup, but I wear one color red, and I have black eyeliner and mascara—I have the most boring makeup kit. And my daughter and I are different shades of brown. I now have a backup kit in case anybody wants to play.
Are you handy with a liquid liner? Can you get yourself event-ready in a pinch?
Oh, yeah, because I don’t want to have to depend on a makeup artist. I’m much more comfortable with just a little concealer for my dark circles. That’s my main thing.
Is there a feature of yours that you like to play up most?
It really depends. I do either dark eyes or red lips. I have very full, big features, so if I did everything, I’d look a bit like a clown. It’d be just… a lot.
How did you first discover Guerlain?
My mother [Marcheline Bertrand] wore very little makeup. But she had a few items for a special event or holiday, and they were always Guerlain. There were little scents and powders, and I would occasionally mess with them. I remember thinking, “That’s not the everyday stuff. That’s from Paris!”
Do you wear fragrance?
[When I’ve tried] on a perfume just for fun, my children have gotten upset. [They’d say,] “It doesn’t smell like you.”
VIDEO: Angelina Jolie's Style Evolution
Do you have a signature scent?
I wear Mon Guerlain. Before that I wore a different scent that was very random, but it had similar notes. As I was making this decision [to be the face of Mon Guerlain], I tested it with the kids. They recognized enough of it, and they liked it. I wear it, and Zahara wears it. I’m a terrible liar, so I couldn’t promote something I didn’t actually like.
Guerlain Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum Florale ($94/1.6 fl. oz.; sephora.com).
I know this question will amuse you given your schedule, but how do you like to indulge and pamper yourself when you find the time?
[That’s] pretty funny. I’m that person saying “Can you not all be talking to me while I’m in the shower? Can you just not open the door at least? Let me finish and then I’ll get out. Give me a second.” “Give me a second” is the thing. I think most mothers say that all the time. Which now I can’t because my kids kind of go, “One. I gave you a second.”
OK, you have one minute all your own: How do you take care of yourself?
I’ve had the same dermatologist since I was 11; her name is Rhonda Rand. It’s who my mother brought me to when I was little with my first scar. To have somebody who is very encouraging of being as natural as possible has really helped me, I think. When I got pregnant, I had darker areas [on my face] that got darker. So I do IPL [intense pulsed light] every once in a while.
How do you define beauty?
The people I see as beautiful are those who don’t bend to somebody else’s opinion of what is appropriate or beautiful. I’ve always been drawn to people who are unique, different, and just simply themselves. It makes me a bit sad when I see somebody unable to live in their own skin and not feeling comfortable in it. There are a lot of things in society that make people feel that way.
Social media can make things tougher too.
It’s really hard for young people today, [when] people are constantly judging and critiquing and having opinions. It’s funny—I feel like decades ago, to be different was actually the thing you wanted. Now I think it seems to be more desired to be with the masses, to blend, or be as good as or be similar to. My children don’t really do a lot of social media. I’m hoping they’ll have room to figure out what they like before they’re told by a bunch of other people what they should like or how they’re being perceived. My mom used to say when I was little, “Let me see your soul.” That was her thing. Whenever I’d get upset or something, she’d say, “Let me see your soul.” What it meant was, “Show me you. Are you mad? Let me see.” I’ve never really talked about that. I think, I hope anyway, that’s how I’m raising my children: Put what’s inside you forward and find you, figure out who you are. Beauty—everybody has a different opinion about what that is. Intellect is the most beautiful. When you see somebody who has a mind on fire, that’s sexy. A person who is empathetic and thoughtful and passionate—there’s nothing more attractive than that. There’s nothing you could wear or put on your face to cover up if your mind is blank and your heart is dark.
You’re known as such a beauty—one of the most beautiful women in the world. How do you manage that?
Thank you. I look in the mirror and I see that I look like my mother, and that warms me. I also see myself aging, and I love it because it means I’m alive—I’m living and getting older. Don’t love having a random dark spot from a pregnancy, sure. I see my flaws. But what I see that I like isn’t about a structure or an appearance. It’s more that I see my family in my face. I see my age.
For more stories like this, pick up the April issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Mar. 16.