Zoe Saldana on Putting Rum in Her Hair and the Secret to Perfect Skin

by Amanda Montell

They say you should never meet your heroes. So when you're in the business of meeting famous people, it’s helpful not to have any. By the time I arrive at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to interview actress Zoe Saldana about her beauty routine, I’ve already conditioned myself to feel fairly lackadaisical about the whole thing. No matter how beautiful and fit the action star looks on-screen in movies like Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy, I tell myself there has to be some flaw that the camera just never picked up—a laugh line, maybe, or a tendency to slouch. Celebrities are only human, after all. 

But the real-life Saldana tells a different story—one that throws my cool composure. The 38-year-olds skin bears not the faintest whisper of a blemish; her svelte frame, currently swathed in a canary-yellow jumpsuit, reflects the years of ballet training she received growing up. I’m not proud to say that I spend the entire first minute of our conversation hunting for signs that she’s as normal and flawed as I’ve convinced myself she must be. I don’t find any, which would normally be infuriating. But with Saldana, it’s not. Because here’s the thing: The actress and mother of three is also kind—as in, kinder than you’d expect of someone so famous. In a suite full of publicists and stylists, she’s the only one to ask if I’d like some water before our interview. I decline, so distracted by her unforeseen elegance that the sensation of thirst doesn’t even register. We take a seat on a paisley couch, and she crosses her legs with the grace of a swan.

Soon I learn there’s more to Saldana than the ageless skin we see on-screen (and in real life, as it turns out). Having split her childhood between the Dominican Republic and New York City, the actress’s unique beauty identity was moulded by more than the American standards that shaped so many of her contemporaries. Even the reason I’m interviewing her today is unconventional—instead of pairing up with a makeup or skincare brand, Saldana is at the Four Seasons doing press for her partnership with Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways. Down to her brand deals, a thirst for the exotic is built into Saldana’s DNA.

By the end of our encounter, my air of nonchalance is ruined. But I think you’ll agree, it was worth it. Keep scrolling to hear Saldana tell her intriguing beauty story in her own words.

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