Leslie Bibb on Her ‘Beloved’ Sam Rockwell, Beauty Obsessions and Her Battle With Cystic Acne
Leslie Bibb loves Sam Rockwell. Leslie Bibb also just spent the greater half of last year restraining herself from throwing him out the window of their one-bedroom New York apartment.
“That was just the next step. I’m pretty sure he saw himself throwing me out of the other window,” the 46-year-old—now starring in Netflix’s superheroes-with-a-twist series, Jupiter’s Legacy, streaming today—confesses over an early-morning call from Australia, where she is currently filming God’s Favorite Idiot with Melissa McCarthy (spoiler alert, she plays Satan). “Who knew having some kind of access to the outdoors was such a luxury?”
“Everything is just going pear-shaped here. My computers aren’t working, the Australian cellphone doesn’t work, my American cellphone is a mess,” she segues with a kind of multitasking, overflowing, ready-to-share energy that makes an interviewer’s job easy. “I’m not very technical-savvy, but, overall, I’m good. Today, I have the day off, so I can’t complain. I have to learn how to swordfight a little later, which is not a usual thing for me to say, and then, I’m getting a bikini wax, which I’m so excited about. Because of COVID, you usually can’t get those—but, in Australia, where they haven’t had a case of COVID in more than 200 days, I can, so I’m very excited.
It sounds so ridiculous, but I am really the ‘lotions and potions’ girl, so any kind of treatment right now is something that I look forward to. I always have the creams and the face washes and the body scrubs. I just love all that stuff. Having a beauty routine and taking care of my skin makes me feel good about myself! Honestly, I kept coming back to that during the pandemic—the beauty products. It sounds so silly, but I think the pandemic made it so hard for people to take care of themselves. Obviously, it all hit on a lot of fronts—emotionally, physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually—but those little things that make you feel better, it’s something.”
Beauty has been part of your life for a long time—you were discovered as a model on The Oprah Winfrey Show. How did that lead into everything else?
“I remember walking into Elite, and my booker said to me: ‘Don’t ever go out in the sun again.’ I was from Virginia, and everyone laid out in the sun there. That was what you did. My mom used to lay out with the baby oil and iodine. I was literally like, ‘What?’ And my booker said, ‘Yes. We don’t need any of that.’ And that was the start of that: I don’t mess around with the sun and I haven’t since. I take really good care of my skin. I get facials. I always wash my face before I go to bed. I feel like my skin is all I’ve got—it’s what I’m going to ride through the rest of my life with. So, I think that was something that really saved me, just being out of the sun. It’s a ruiner, which stinks, because I love vitamin D.
But something I learned later on is that your skin constantly changes. The skin I had in my teens, versus the skin I had in my 20s, versus the skin I had in my 30s, versus the skin I have now in my 40s, it’s not the same. In my 30s, I got cystic acne, and it felt like my skin had turned on me. I always had this really nice skin that never gave me problems, and, suddenly, it was, ‘Why have I become a 16-year-old teenager in my 30s?’”
How did you treat it?
“I started going to this amazing facialist, Faith Tatro, Touch of Faith Aesthetics in Los Angeles. She single-handedly changed my skin. I always say she’s the Russell Crowe of skin. She’s Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, but with skin. You literally will be in the middle of a facial and she’ll start talking about something scientific that she’s doing. She really believes in not using chemicals and trying to use fruit enzymes and stuff. She uses the red laser, and she does dermabrasion and all of that. She starts talking and it’s totally over my head. I’m always tell her, ‘Faith, you lost me. I don’t know anything you just said. Can you just help me with the lines on my neck? They’re making me crazy.’
She changed my skin game for me in my 30s. I had a moment with the cystic acne and the melasma, and I remember going to my gynecologist then, and asking, ‘What’s happening?’ She asked me if I was on the pill, and I hadn’t been since my 20s, and she immediately told me that’s what it had to be. She told me that the pill can actually give you melasma later in life. That was really shocking to me— that something I did in my 20s was suddenly popping up in my 30s. Even now, I look at pictures before I went to go see Faith and she has changed the game for me. She also continually educates me, which is so important, since so many of us ask, ‘Is this the latest fad?” Her answer is usually, ‘Yes, it is, but look at this and look at the ingredients. If you can’t say most of the ingredients on the back of the product, don’t use it.’ It’s very smart. How can my skin breathe if I’m literally applying an 18-letter word to it. If I can’t say it, I don’t think my skin’s going to be able to take it.
I’m going down the beauty rabbit hole, but that’s what I do. I don’t get sun, I wear SPF, and I know this is going to sound corny, I also drink lots of water. I could always be better on my water game, but that basic H20 does help. That’s all the good stuff.”
“Totally. Like I said, I’m in Australia right now and I’m very much always yelling, ‘What’s happening!” when I see people on the beach. When I go to the beach, I look like an insane person—I have a towel on, I have a rash guard on, I have a hat on, I have SPF on. I want to be able to sit out there and get that pretty tanned skin, but it never quite ends up like the idea in my head. I want to look like Jennifer Lopez, and then instead, I look blotchy. To me, Jennifer Lopez is the most gorgeous creature. It’s like she is a portrait in an attic. I don’t know what she does. I was reading about how she doesn’t drink alcohol, so maybe that’s the secret…
Unfortunately, that doesn’t sound fun, right? Drink water, stay out of the sun, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sugar. I think all that crap works, but it’s not fun at all. I know when I stop eating as much meat and dairy and I’m more vegan, my skin does better. But it’s not very fun. It’s not very fun at all. I try to have a little balance. I can’t be stringent all the time. Sometimes, you eat the dessert, and, sometimes, you go out with friends and you have the glasses of wine.”
Do you miss the red carpet? You were a fixture on it the last time we had a true awards season.
“In so many ways, it’s fun, because I love my beloved Sam getting recognized and getting love. That makes me feel good, but it’s also stressful. Everyone makes it look fun, but the whole time you are really worried about so many things: ‘Does the dress look good? Do I fit the dress? Am I going to trip when I’m walking out?’ There’s a ton of that stuff that goes into it that isn’t very chic or enjoyable.
Melissa and I were just talking about the high heels, and I said, ‘If I could go to those things and just wear sneakers or Birkenstocks or something non-confrontational, I would love it.’ If we could all be in Adidas track suits and be hanging out, and if I wouldn’t be ridiculed for not wearing a fancy dress, it would be way more fun.’ I wore this dress for the SAG awards and I loved it, but it was very high-cut on one leg, and every time I was very much thinking, ‘Oh my God. Is my vagina going to come out or is my cellulite going to show?’ None of that is fun, and neither is being sucked into something, which is kind of my entire awards’ routine.
I like a non-confrontational pants. It’s nice to be in a comfy-chic outfit, versus something satin. I always feel beautiful when I put on these dresses and, don’t get me wrong, everyone does look incredible. It’s so fun to have your hair and makeup done and you feel like a million bucks. Then, after a couple of hours, you’re like, ‘I got to take these high heels off.’ The worst part is the heels. Especially now, I’m pretty sure my foot isn’t going to take it; I think it was conditioned before to be able to do it. I’ve been in a flat for a year-plus, and all of a sudden, I know my body is very much going to say, ‘No, we cannot.’ I wore heels the other day at work and I honestly forgot what it was like. It was something totally different.”
I think a lot of us are there…I can’t remember what I used to wear to the office anymore.
“Think about it. I’m partial to New York, but I feel like New Yorkers bring a pretty high fashion bar. Regardless of their budgets, New Yorkers come correct. It’s my favorite thing to sit on a subway and watch all the styles go by. I used to run around New York City, and I would walk miles in the worst shoes it didn’t even occur to me not to wear a high heel. I do feel like we’re going to have to do foot-conditioning to get used to those heels again.
I had to do press yesterday and I had hair and makeup—and I will say it felt good to feel put-together. I’m not very good at doing my own makeup or hair or anything, but I think that’s also why I try to take care of my skin because I know I’m not good at covering it up, so I have to at least come in with a canvas. I got to at least start with the canvas, since I’m really just going to be able to put lipstick and do a pink cheek. You know what I mean? But I definitely think not having something to look forward to has been a bummer. I miss all that. As silly as it sounds, to have a red lip and a blowout the other day felt really fun.”
What else are you looking forward to this year?
“The show that I have coming out for Netflix is this superhero show called Jupiter’s Legacy. I’m also doing another Netflix project with Melissa, which is a comedy. I’m playing Satan, which is really fun because it’s Ben [Falcone] and Melissa and all of these incredibly funny people. Today, after I get off the phone with you and get my bikini wax, I’m going to go learn how to sword fight. I’m going to have to learn how to sword fight, which is crazy!
I just think it’s so funny…if you asked me even 10 years ago, or, if at any point in my life, if you were to ask me to don a superhero costume or learn how to do all of this incredibly physical stuff, I would not have said, ‘Oh, no, it’s going to happen in my 40s.’ Who would have thought that that’s the age people were going to look at me and be like, ‘Leslie Bibb, she is really strong! Let’s teach her how to become a swashbuckler, or let’s teach her how to fly, let’s teach her how to fight.’ I never thought that, at this point in my life, I would be getting to do all of this fun stuff.
It’s hard work, but it’s so cool to be put in wire rigs and get to fly. It’s so cool to don a superhero costume—you feel like a badass. In Jupiter’s Legacy, I play this woman who, I think and I hope, is a character that women will like. You meet us in the 1920s, and then you see us present day. You really see the beginning and the end of these characters. The character I play has some serious moxie—it’s 1929, she’s choosing this career, and she is very much like, ‘I don’t need a guy. I’m going to make my own way.’ She’s a true maker. She’s just making her way. She’s like every New York City girl I see every morning when I go to get on the subway and every girl right now who’s like, ‘I can do this on my own.” I love that gumption. To be a self-possessed young woman, and then you become a superhero—I can’t think of anything better. You get to beat up bad guys and fly and kick ass.
Then, the show with Melissa, it’s sort of the same thing. I’m Satan, but I’m a fun Satan. I think you’ll have a good time with her. I get to fly and I am in roller skates and learn all of these fun things—I’m laughing even now thinking about my work with the stunt coordinator. I keep saying, ‘Oh, all the things I used to lie about on my headshot that I could do, I actually can do now.’ I’ve been learning how to ride a motorcycle, which is so cool but also something I would never, ever, ever do. I think it’s really fun to kick ass and take names.
If you put on that superhero costume, it’s tight but you feel cool. I can’t even believe I’m saying that. I feel like a kid. I’m not a superhero-type person! That’s not even my jam. But you put that costume, and it feels pretty cool to be the strongest woman in the world. I was into it, who wouldn’t be?”
Leslie’s Beauty “Somethings”
“During the pandemic, since I couldn’t get a facial, I called my facialist, Faith, and I was like, ‘What are we doing? How are we going to do this?’ She turned me on to a company called ISUN. They have a mask that I really love, really, really, really love. I’m really obsessed with them. I also, during the pandemic, found this company called Saint Jane. The packaging is gorgeous.”
“I’m a Vintner’s Daughter kind of a girl, but I also like to change stuff up because I think, like anything, your skin just gets used to it. I also have sensitive skin—I still get breakouts—so I have to alternate it. I can’t just be using one thing and then use something else. Saint Jane makes this serum for your face that I love. It has a little CBD in it. I don’t know what that does for my skin. I don’t know if my skin or my face is more relaxed and calmer, but I really love this serum. They also have a body serum, and it’s just delicious.”
“Face rolling is my new obsession, and I finally just cracked and got the titanium Pause one. Everybody does the rolling thing on their faces for the red carpet, but I keep this one in my fridge so it’s always cold and I can do it whenever. I’m working right now, and I have to do press, so I get up in the morning and I gently, gently roll—that’s what my makeup artist, Molly Stern tells me to do. She always says, ‘Gently roll that over your skin and push it over your skin.’ I love how cool it feels. I also have that Jillian Dempsey vibrating thing. It is lovely.”
“I’m an Epicuren girl. I’ve used their products forever, and they’ve been really good for my skin. I have noticed that, in Australia, because it’s so humid and it’s a different climate here, that I’ve been getting these little bumps on my face. It’s not really even a zit, it’s almost like a heat rash. I’ve been using calendula for that. Boiron Calendula Gel, I use that. It’s like a first aid thing. Sometimes I just use it on my skin just to calm it down, and it really works. It really is a nice little thing to use after you get your eyebrows waxed. I’m even sensitive to that stuff. I also have this crazy thing I’m really living for right now, the emerginC line. You know that Scientific Organics stuff? They have this grape stem cell, white tea, seaweed body butter. It smells so good and it feels so nice.”
“I always keep two Lord Jones CBD Lotions in my bag always—especially if it’s awards season. They have a Stiletto Cream that I keep in my purse, so that when my feet are killing me in these high heels, I will run to the bathroom and put it on my feet and then put my shoes back on and be like, ‘All right, I can do it.’”