Who knew that Cynthia Nixon, the actress best known for her role as Miranda on Sex and the City, was dealing with a skin condition all these years? Well, Nixon herself didn’t realize her flare ups were a result of rosacea, chalking it up to bouts of acne.
“I struggled with acne as a teenager and I was very diligent about using all sorts of anti bacterial face washes and scrubs,” the 47-year-old actress told me in a phone interview. “I found myself in my 40s at my dermatologist’s to check if a mole I discovered was cancerous, and that’s when she told me, ‘And by the way, you see this redness all over? This is rosacea. You have rosacea.”
Rosacea is an incurable facial disorder that affects over 16 million Americans. The condition is characterized by redness on the cheeks, bumps or pimples, and watery, irritated eyes. Understandably, Nixon said she was ‘taken aback’ at the revelation. “I noticed my skin was red but thought, surely it’s not that bad.” Nixon proceeded to give a run-down of her skincare routine with her doctor – the scrubs, the face washes – and was told “that’s the absolute worst thing you can do for rosacea.” The discovery didn’t slow the Emmy Award-winning actress down, nor did it keep her from completely avoiding her favorite things (spicy foods and warm baths, in moderation). Nixon, who just wrapped up filming Life Itself with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, is on the forefront of speaking on issues related to rosacea with the National Rosacea Society.
Somewhere in the middle of her busy schedule, Nixon made time to talk to me about her journey with rosacea:
Beauty and the Feast: How did your skincare routine change once you found out you had rosacea?
Cynthia Nixon: I started getting products that my derm help me find that specifically addressed anti redness. I learned to be gentle–no harsh scrubbing and anything that would make my skin sting, that was an immediate sign that it wasn’t good for my skin. And have consistency. I wash my face every evening and not in the morning. I have all sorts of creams if my skin flare up I have an anti redness moisturizer I’ll pull out. I have one perscription drug that I use on a daily basis that helps.
BATF: Do you have to adjust your makeup when you’re filming?
Nixon: My makeup artist was very relieved once my rosacea got in control. She agrees with me that light hand is best. The older I get, the less foundation I want to wear particularly when I’m shooting for hours and hours. There’s nothing that can make you look older than you are faster than a lot of heavy foundation that’s been sitting on your face for 12 hours.
BATF: For someone who is constantly in the spotlight, did it affect your confidence?
Nixon: Absolutely. It’s hard to understand why it makes you lose your confidence but it does for whatever reason, particularly when you’re a teenager. But whatever age you are, when your skin looks all broken out and red, it’s embarrassing and makes you feel ashamed.
BATF: Have you changed your diet at all??
Nixon: My dad is from Texas, so I love spicy food. I really love it. And not mildly spicy food, like really spicy food. I didn’t give it up completely, although I knew in terms of spicy food and hot baths, if I’m playing with those I’m playing with fire. When I’m on vacation it’s fine, but if I have a photoshoot or filming the next day, or and important family event, I keep in mind if I have a glass of wine, it may bring on an attack.
BATF: Are there any tips or tricks makeup artist taught you on set?
Nixon: I feel like Sex and the City taught me a lot about beauty and fashion. One thing I learned on set was that it’s not about all your clothes and coordinating — its about how your clothes suit your body. Instead of looking like a hanger. It’s true of makeup too. It’s about what you want to bring out in your face, use the makeup sparingly. For me, when I was younger, I would take foundation and put it all over my face. Now what I do is I use a very light hand a tiny bit of cover up. Unless I’m on a talk show with harsh lighting, I really just cover bits where slightly red like around my nose or under my eyes. By in large I want most of my skin to show. In the same way, I want my body showing rather than showing just being a hanger. You’re the main event, not your makeup.
For more infomation on rosacea and Cynthia’s work with the National Rosacea Society, visit rosacea.org and www.rosaceafacts.com. Thank you Cynthia for taking the time out for the interview!
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