Helen Mirren Reveals Her Under $5 Beauty Hack

The cover star of PEOPLE's Beautiful Issue shares how she's changed her beauty routine — and the one trick she'll use forever

Dame Helen Mirren, the cover star of PEOPLE's 2022 Beautiful Issue, admits she's changed her beauty routine — or as she calls it, her "swagger routine" over the years. "I used to go to bed with all my makeup on when I was young, just because I couldn't be bothered to take it off. Now I do take off my make up off at night," the Oscar winner, 76, says. "Certainly as you get older, you are more careful of what you do both inside of your body and outside of your body."

"If there is a mantra I would pass onto a younger generation it would be to take more care of what goes into your body — please don't smoke, please — because those are the things that last," adds the star, who is known to experiment with fashion and beauty. "A beautiful mascara or lipstick is going to make you look great for the evening. But the things that really last are to have a great skin, to be fairly fit — nothing extreme — and to eat healthily."

The star, known for her iconic roles in film, TV, and on the stage, has four films out this year — The Duke, White Bird: A Wonder Story, Golda and Shazam! Fury of the Gods — so fitting exercise in isn't always easy. "Having said all that about being very righteous, I'm not very righteous at all!" she says. "I try to do a little exercise almost every day, but I go in and out. I'm so hopeless at self-discipline. But when I hunker down, I can do it."

Helen Mirren Beauties Cover
Helen Mirren

She avoids anything monotonous. "I try to do at least 20 minutes, a bit of stretching and stuff like that. I don't do anything exhausting; I can't stand the treadmill," she says. "I always think: Do everything, but don't do too much of anything. That's my idea."

"I love to have a drink, and I love to eat a donut, but I don't eat six donuts. And I don't have a bottle of wine. My husband would argue with that," she laughs, "but I try not to drink a bottle of wine."

And one thing she'll always keep in her "swagger" routine is castor oil.

"I love castor oil. I use a little bit in my hair—very, very little. I use it on my fingernails. I use it on my skin," she says. "Castor oil's amazing. A tiny bit on your hair gives it a little shine, a little separation. [I use it on my] eyebrows, eyelashes, fingernails—just rub it in."

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