Helen Mirren On Getting Older And The 12-Minute Workout She Swears By - Women's Health

Helen Mirren On Getting Older And The 12-Minute Workout She Swears By

The Dame shares her secrets to a life well-lived.

by | Oct 11, 2021

If it’s true that Hollywood actresses have an expiration date compared to their male counterparts, then Dame Helen Mirren has defied the trend. For more than 30 years, Mirren has been commanding attention with captivating performances on screen, bringing characters to life with her trademark charismatic charm, raw vulnerability and ability to be both incredibly strong and yet remain soft, open, a floodgate of courage and emotion. To have sustained such a career in the spotlight though is no easy feat and if one thing is clear about Mirren, it’s that even at 76-years-old, she is showing no signs of slowing down. 

Just recently, Mirren turned heads in Paris when she starred in L’Oreal Paris’s runway show. As an ambassador for the brand, and something of an iconic beauty herself, Mirren knows a thing or two about style, beauty, and ageing gracefully. In a recent interview with British Vogue, the actor opened up about wellness, confidence and the workout routine she swears by. Speaking about her approach to makeup, Mirren expressed that she approaches it based on how she feels. “Usually I apply whatever is immediately to hand in my make-up drawer – I put my hand in and grab the first thing. If it’s a silver eyeliner or a black smudge one, I use it and make it up as I go alone,” she revealed. 

But central to Mirren’s application is a mentality which sees her break the rules. “I like to break my own rules as much as possible. If I’m working with a makeup artist, they will ask what I like and I always tell them that my face is their canvas and to do what they want. You always find new ideas and ways of looking at yourself that way,” she told the publication. “We all get stuck in our ruts in the way we make up our eyes, hair or lips – it’s good to shake it up.”

Where most actors are known for embracing a new hair colour every other month, Mirren has become known for embracing her natural grey locks. It’s something she says she found rather easy, having grown up a natural blonde where her hair would “basically go white” after spending time in the sun. “I never want to have my hair coloured; I couldn’t be bothered, it’s so boring and expensive,” said Mirren. “I think it can be more difficult [to go grey] if you have much darker hair, but the women of my age who have made the leap recently look so spectacular.” 

In terms of growing older, Mirren said it’s all about working from the inside out. She pays careful attention to her diet, ensuring she eats to feel good as she knows the influence it has over how you feel. As for exercise, you don’t need to join an expensive gym to feel good. As Mirren explains, “I’m a big believer in the Canadian Air Force women’s exercise regime, which is 12 minutes. It is an exercise regime that starts from very low and easy, then if you follow it through, it can become quite difficult. I’ve never gotten past the second level, but it’s a nice little exercise program. Nothing extreme, but you need to do it every day. That’s a great start, because it’s all to do with taking control of yourself. I’m incredibly lazy and if I can avoid doing it, I will, but every now and then I pull myself back and do what I know works.” 

As for confidence, it’s something Mirren believes you grow into. “It was a long time ago but I remember the moment I learned to smile. I always had fat cheeks (and I still do!), so I was always sucking my cheeks in. But you can’t suck your cheeks in and smile at the same time! It’s absolutely impossible. So I guess I never smiled. Then I discovered that, actually, it’s nice to smile openly and with freedom, not a tight little smile, a big one. It certainly has served me in good stead,” she said. 

At 76, it’s easy to look up to Mirren as having the answers to the secret of a live well-lived. She might be the first to protest such a thing, but in conversation it seems clear that Mirren has learned enough to pass onto her peers and fans alike that is advice worth heeding. As she told Vogue, “Don’t feel paralysed by your own insecurities and don’t be too polite or apologetic in life.” She added, “I hate rudeness, but I don’t mean that. More that you should be open to opportunity. Chat to people and be as open as possible. It’s a very good idea, occasionally, to look at the world as a child or foreigner and witness your own environment. Imagine you’re seeing it for the very first time and try and experience the magic in it – because there’s magic in every environment. All it needs is to be seen with fresh eyes.”

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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