It wasn’t too long ago that we were giving Olivia Munn props for her perfect skin. And it wasn’t too long before that the actress was struggling with “weird, cystic [and] painful adult acne” she hadn’t experienced since her teens. But after trying every fix under the sun, the star returned to Proactiv, which had worked for her in her teens — and was so pleasantly surprised by the results that now she’s the skincare line’s new face.
“When I was 16, I moved from Japan to Oklahoma … and I had this horrible outbreak and I never had acne before. On my skin, on my forehead, it was covered in acne and I didn’t know what to do. I’m a new kid in school and so I felt really self-conscious and didn’t really lift my head up until my cousin mentioned it,” Munn told PEOPLE of her first encounter with the treatment. “I hadn’t even heard of Proactiv, and she said, ‘You should just try this.’ I used it and within like a week all of it was gone.”
But she was dismayed to have it come back out of nowhere recently while filming Deliver Us From Evil. “I’m doing a movie with Eric Bana where I play his wife, and I’ve got this massive cystic acne on my neck, my cheek and on my forehead,” she said. “And he’s so charming and good-looking, and thankfully the first time I met him was at night. But I thought, ‘No!’ That’s when I really went full force and tried and everything. Nothing was working.”
That included acupuncture, pills and steroid injections in her face from a dermatologist, which she hated. “The [pimples] go down temporarily, but if they give you too much or they get into a wrong spot it collapses your skin. So it can give you acne craters. And I actually got one, but thankfully my collagen reproduced. That really sucked and it didn’t work.”
This time, her agent sent her the new formulation, Proactiv+, to try. “I guess he had also noticed my pimples. I thought, ‘Will it work? I’m an adult now!'” she said. “Within two weeks it was completely cleared up and I haven’t had a breakout again. So when I got the call … It’s so crazy because I have this whole story with it. It was nice. It’s something that’s very easy to get behind because I know what it did for me in my life.”
Munn has always been very candid about her style and beauty routine, from explaining how she deals with an eyelash-pulling disorder to going without a stylist for years (though she’s now a client of Micaela Erlanger, the stylist behind Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscars chic streak).
But despite her higher style profile these days, her beauty regimen is still pretty relaxed. “My go-to now is just a top-knot — thankfully it’s on-trend right now. You can pull it up and let a couple of pieces stick out, and then do a red lip. Then I feel like I have an outfit when I didn’t do anything,” she says. And if she has to cover up a blemish? “Wash it, and moisturize it. [Then try] stippling, when you just dab the very tip of a very thin brush — you’re putting little dots over [the zit] and that helps. Because if you just smear it over you can see the lump and the bump of it.”
Because she’s been killing it on the style front lately, we had to ask: What’s your favorite splurge, save and recent red carpet look? For a splurge, she said, “A vintage Chanel purse … You buy something new now, and then so quickly it’s at Loehmann’s for so inexpensive and it just feels very wasteful. So I loved is that it was vintage.” For save: “A Topshop pencil plaid high-waisted skirt, and it was probably like $14 or something. It was super cheap and I paired it with some higher-end shoes. I think it’s great to buy things that are more trendy that aren’t going to last you forever in inexpensive places like that.”
And favorite red carpet look? “I actually think that I might have had it the other day at the premiere of Robocop. I wore this orange Carolina Herrera. It’s tied for either that one or this Michael Kors yellow dress; Michael Kors invited me to come as his date for the Time 100 when he was honored. It was a yellow dress and my hair super straight, and it just felt easy and fresh and still had a lot of energy.” And since you need to be bold to wear such bright colors, we’re glad Munn is confident in her skin these days.
What’s the craziest skincare trick you’ve tried? What’s your pimple-clearing secret? Tell us below!
–Alex Apatoff, reporting by Gabrielle Olya