"I used to sit in the sun until I looked like a piece of bacon," Moreno recalls. "It's a wonder now that I don't look like an old wallet"

By Kara Warner
April 26, 2017 01:27 PM
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Eight decades look great on Rita Moreno.

Looking at her flawless complexion, it’s hard to believe that a) she’s 85, and b) that she ever had a problem with her skin.

“When I was in my teens and into my early 20s I had acne,” the legendary actress reveals to PEOPLE in the World’s Most Beautiful issue. “I used to get those big purple jobs but not a lot of them, thank goodness, because you really couldn’t see them in the films that I did.”

Moreno, who stars as scene-stealing abuela Lydia in the Netflix reboot of One Day at a Time, says she had to undergo treatment that included ultraviolet light and acetone.

“In those days they were giving you ultraviolet light, I guess to dry your skin out a little bit. I remember you had to scrub your skin really hard with a piece of gauze, because gauze is rough and a form of acetone. I know it’s shocking but that’s how oily I was.

“You could almost see the pores sprouting!” she laughs. “I had my own special glow. I am so lucky. I have no craters.”

Credit: Jack Albin/Getty

Moreno’s youthful energy is as infectious as her beauty is age-defying. How does she do it?

“People don’t like to hear what I have to say, [but] it’s bare minimum,” she reveals. “I don’t do anything except keep my skin clean [with Cetaphil skin cleanser] and moisturized [with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30] and they want to smack me. They say ‘It’s not fair!’ I really sympathize with them, but I don’t have any problems with my skin.”

Credit: Paul Costello

The actress credits the problem-free skin she enjoys now to her mother’s good genes. “I was born in Puerto Rico — I used to sit in the sun until I looked like a piece of bacon. It’s a wonder now that I don’t look like an old wallet. I’m a very fortunate person.”

She also shares the secret to her youthful spirit: mind tricks.

“I write with my left hand even though I’m right-handed, I walk backwards in a very safe place — anything that engages your brain,” she says.

Moreno adds: “I’m so damn lucky to still be here at 85. If I get a hangnail, I don’t dare complain! Life is good. I wake up humming.”