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Paula Patton Reveals Her Biggest Beauty Secret

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Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Growing up, Paula Patton loved playing dress-up. “My mom would go to vintage stores, hand-me-down stores, and bring back these inexpensive adult clothes,” she recalls to PEOPLE. “And it was fun to use makeup — but the makeup I’d do [my mom] would never let me leave the house with. It was way too garish for 10 years old!”

These days, Patton leaves the house in elegant makeup — even if it’s minimal. “I put a little on every day, regardless of if I’m going to be on camera or not,” the CoverGirl spokeswoman shares. “It makes me feel like I’m ready to face the day. Having a little one in the house [son Julian, 20 months] you’re always tired, so making yourself look less tired is a good thing.”

For Patton, that means covering a dark circle or two — and brightening up where she can. “I always love a lip,” she says. “A berry color, or even a soft nude. Plus a little color on my cheeks. It makes such a big difference on your face, and lets your eyes come through. Colors that are bright affect my mood, and put me in a happier place.”

That happiness is an integral part of the actress’s beauty routine; she says her biggest beauty secret is frequent laughing. “I think it affects the way you look overall,” she explains. “I don’t know how many people are getting 10 hours of sleep a night, but you find someplace within and let that [beauty] emanate outward.”

However, there are still the basics: washing makeup off before bed, an occasional mask or oxygen facial and a balanced diet. “I like junk food like everybody else,” she admits. “But you also have to drink a lot of water, have your greens.”

In general, though, it’s that inner beauty that Patton really admires in others. “As you walk through life, you meet a lot of women, and many have a confidence, a lust for life, that just makes them gorgeous,” she shares. “I think that’s what’s most important in life, that you’re good with your inner self. Then if you want, you can use makeup to make yourself look good on the outside, too.”

–Kate Hogan