Olivia Wilde on Her Beauty Obsessions, Social Media, and Joining True Botanicals

by Kristen Heinzinger

One glance at Olivia Wilde’s Instagram, and it’s clear the actress doesn’t hold back when it comes to causes she supports. She recently teamed up with organic and eco-friendly line True Botanicals as its first chief brand activist, and unlike other partnerships, Wilde isn’t simply the face of the brand, but is getting her hands dirty, helping to launch new products and spread awareness about living a more safe and healthy lifestyle. We sat down with the actress (who is currently the star in George Orwell’s 1984 on Broadway) at Clover Grocery in NYC to get the scoop on her new adventure, beauty habits, and more.

Olivia, what appealed to you about True Botanicals?
I’m so fascinated by how the products are developed and I’m endlessly curious about how all these products are working. I love how deeply they understand why everything is so effective. It’s all very logical in the end. I’m fascinated by the development of these products in the future. At this point, I’m still learning about what they’ve already created and I’m truly blown away by how well it works without all these toxic ingredients that we have come to feel are just necessary. We take for granted that it’s just a part of anti-aging, that it’s just a part of acne, but it doesn’t have to be.

What were you most surprised to learn from joining an all-natural beauty company?
I was most shocked by the fact that an all natural face oil can clear acne. When I learned why—because of the antibacterial oil and ingredients that work on a cellular level—it makes total sense. We have been brought to feel that you need some sort of harsh chemical to treat acne and that it’s all about stripping your skin, but it just isn’t true. That’s what we have all been taught to believe for many years, even from dermatologists, who instantly offer a quick fix of something that is really toxic. That was one of the major surprises. The other was the clinical trial that outperformed La Mer for anti-aging results. Do I have to accept really toxic chemicals as my only solutions to aging, or can I preserve my skin in a healthier way? Turns out you can, and I didn’t think it was really possible. So that was a nice surprise. The other thing that I found really impressive was the Made Safe certification—third-party scientists vouching for the natural, nontoxic nature of the products. It’s not just internal studies within the companies that say, we’re the best! Other things that really stuck out to me is the founders themselves. Hillary [Peterson] and Christina [Mace-Turner] seem different from everybody else I’ve met in the beauty industry and they were approaching this from such an authentic place with a real desire to change the world, change what’s available to women, and to really revolutionize the industry. I wanted to be a part of that movement. It’s really inspiring.

How do you plan to use your influence to teach women about the beauty industry?
My attitude toward social media is that I’ve always been completely myself. I don’t consider when posting something, am I going to offend anyone? Because I routinely offend lots and lots of people. [Laughs] I see that as conversation starters. Hopefully, from people following me, they have seen that I’m authentic, that I don’t pull my punches, and that if I say something, I really mean it. No one else is doing it for me. I’m hopeful that by establishing that level of trust with people who do follow me, that when I talk about products I really believe in, they’ll know I’m not bulls****ing them. They’ll know that it’s coming from an authentic place. Social media is this thing that’s on the surface superficial and sort of silly, but it is a huge way many of us get our information these days.

When did you start paying more attention to health?
It was an evolution over the past 10 years, but it definitely intensified when I got pregnant the first time. Oftentimes that’s the first time we think about what we’re eating and what we’re putting on our skin. That’s when I really started researching and I was very, very careful. It takes that maternal instinct or that instinct to protect someone else to take care of yourself sometimes. But if you can encourage people that you are worth taking care of yourself just for you, that’s really awesome. Never is there a mention that it’s possibly carcinogenic or that you definitely shouldn’t let it near your kids. That’s never on the packaging! So it’s up to us. Just in terms of numbers, there are over 1,300 ingredients banned in the EU, and under 20 in the US. I can’t get over that! It woke me up to understanding that it’s up to us to regulate what we’re using. People assume that if it’s on a shelf, that it’s not going to hurt them. That’s obviously not the case. I’m convinced that in 50 years, people will look back on this time and be so shocked by what we were putting on our skin.

What are some of the products you are drawn to now?
Pure Oil Renew is the first one that I fell in love with. There’s also a Clear line and a Calm line for rosacea. I use a combination of the Renew and the Clear because I break out. I’m doing a play right now, so the makeup and the stress is crazy. And I love Nutrient Mist; I use it in the morning, night, and throughout he day. The smell is gorgeous and it sets makeup, it hydrates your skin, and it wakes you up. To go with the cleanser is the Pre-cleanse Oil that takes off makeup really effectively. I use it in conjunction with the Hydrating Cleanser. I sometimes feel like I have a lot of makeup on from work and I don’t believe that it’s going to take it all off. Before, I was using makeup remover, but then that leaves residue on your skin, and what cleans that off? Then suddenly you’re using 13 products before you go to sleep and it’s ridiculous. Simplification in all ways is kind of my goal all the time.

What makes the mist so effective?
This actually absorbs into your skin very quickly and it works on a cellular level under the skin. That’s because the ingredients are really high-quality. Because the company invests in the ingredients, what you’re getting is higher quality products. They have top scientists as advisors, so it’s really all coming from a scientific perspective. I have much more faith in that than someone who’s mixing oils that smell nice. The results-oriented research that makes these products better—that’s what sets it apart from other nontoxic natural products. We can all feel pious about using natural things, but in the end, we want results.

You tend to use beauty to reflect larger statements you’re making, like going dark for “dark times.” What’s the next one?
I do feel that there is an intensity to the environment we’re living in right now, and I definitely feel like it reflects every part of my life. I don’t know the next step of that. I want to remain optimistic. Now I’m saying, OK, alright, no one is protecting us, no one is taking charge of our lives but us. I demand control, I demand to take the power back as a citizen and also a consumer. I think it’s a really empowering feeling, and hopefully that will affect this young generation of activists. Drawing attention to the issue of toxic chemicals in our beauty is still important. Most people have no idea. And it really makes me upset thinking about people going into a Walgreen’s and buying something and putting it on and thinking, this is great for me because the packaging tells me it’s going to make me beautiful and happy. And not knowing what they’ve just put on their skin. It makes me angry. I feel like it’s part of the larger problem of taking advantage of people and not arming them with information they deserve.

Which sources do you trust for beauty and health advice?
Everything from articles about science in The New York Times to blogs. I listen to a lot of people that I trust. Being in this business for so long, I have a lot of people in my life who are experts in beauty, whether it’s makeup artists or other actresses or mentors. Luckily, I have a lot of mentors that are women that are older than I am who can say, ‘Watch out for this,’ in all parts of life. ‘Embrace this, take care of this now.’ So I remain open and curious all the time. That’s why True Botanicals came into my life, because people knew I was always searching. I really enjoy the feeling of guaranteeing them results. It’s not like, Oh, fingers crossed! It’s changing peoples’ skin and making them realize that they don’t have to sacrifice their health for beauty and they don’t have to sacrifice the environment for beauty. That should be an obvious thing, but we’re getting there.

You’ve partnered with a beauty company before—what makes this partnership different?
It wasn’t really a shift form one to the other. My partnership with Revlon came to a close in a really organic way. It was very different from my partnership with True Botanicals because I was a hired face for the brand. It was fascinating to learn from a giant global brand, the way that marketing works and the way that consumers react. I learned so much. That came to a close, and I didn’t know if I’d ever do anything like it again. I wasn’t actively searching for some other gig like it. What I really was thinking about was, am I going to start my own skincare brand that checks all the boxes that I’m looking for? That’s nontoxic, that has full transparency, that is cruelty free, that uses sustainable materials, and works. But that seemed really daunting. Then when we [True Botanicals and I] met, I thought, we’re likeminded, and maybe we can do this together. I was relieved because I didn’t have to start my own company! It’s not easy to do, and that’s why it’s taken a long time to get to this place that True Botanicals is in. There’s no question they can’t answer and their standards are incredibly high. They just discontinued one of their top-selling products because it wasn’t up to their standards of non-toxicity. That’s something that I’m very inspired by.

Which product do you dream of making next?
We were talking today about how there’s still room in the world for a really natural, nontoxic, effective deodorant. There are some, but there’s room for more. Fragrance is something I’m super interested in, and aroma therapy in general. Really truly one of the reasons that this whole line jumped out at me is because it smelled so good immediately, which is something that I love and require. I’m interested in all the different research being put into anti-aging because I see so many of my friends diving into plastic surgery, into harsh, harsh lasers. I don’t judge them for it but I’m curious about the alternatives. At this point, I just want to learn as much as I can about what has already been figured out by this company and be a part of what they do next.

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