In SELF’s Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.
Despite the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker has been in show business for four decades and is best known for strolling the streets of Manhattan in chic stilettos and runway-worthy ensembles as Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, the superstar’s beauty routine is refreshingly, well, unglamorous.
In fact, Parker, who’s currently reprising her iconic small-screen role in And Just Like That, takes pride in the simplicity of her nightly skin care steps. “I’ve seen people on the internet showing us their regimens, and I’m like, How do you know so much? Are you part-time scientists?” she tells SELF with a laugh. Her low-maintenance attitude toward moisturizers and serums is one reason why, Parker says, she recently partnered with RoC Skincare for its Look Forward Project, an initiative focused on approaching aging with positivity—a topic she’s talked about extensively. “The older you get, the more you’ve lived and the more valuable you are,” she says. “Some might call it aging, but I simply call it another wonderful day.”
If you’re an SJP fan, we know you want the specifics, so we asked the Emmy-winning actor exactly how she winds down at the end of a long day, which involves accessible drugstore buys, true-crime podcasts, and one game-changing device.
I didn’t always have a self-care routine, but I’m a bit more thoughtful now that my kids are older.
For many, many, many years, I’ve had young children in the house, and they’re just getting to an age where they don’t need me to tuck them in every evening, read them stories, or make sure they’ve bathed. They’re independent of me now, so my nighttime routine is simply more relaxed. That doesn’t mean it’s not busy or that I’m not still checking backpacks and making sure laundry’s done. But it’s calmer in the house and I have more independence.
At most, I have three skin care steps.
I don’t want to walk into my bathroom and see a drugstore on my counter. It confuses me. It overwhelms me. So I pay close attention to what works on my face, what I know will integrate well into my everyday life, and I keep it as simple as possible. I personally don’t want to devote 30 minutes to skin care, but no matter what—winter, summer, spring, fall—I always wet my face before putting anything on it. That’s a must. [Editor’s note: Damp skin better absorbs skin care products.]
RoC’s multitasking, brightening Revive + Glow Daily Serum is often my first step. I then apply this RoC moisturizer, which I use every single night and in the daytime too. And to top it all off, I use their balm stick for my eyes. First of all, it just feels good to not have to touch or rub on a sticky cream, and you can just do a nice, quick swipe under each eye. I’m always really thoughtful about anything with actives because I have sensitive skin, but I would say those are my three must-haves. Simple, collaborative, and they marry well.
I like to listen to true-crime podcasts while I get ready for bed.
Some of the true-crime stuff that I’ve listened to has been really interesting. There’s one podcast out of Norway called Death in Ice Valley, which is really amazing. I also think Connie Walker’s reporting on Indigenous women is extraordinary—she hosts Missing & Murdered and she just won the Peabody and the Pulitzer [for a podcast called Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s]. I think of it as investigative journalism rather than typical true crime, but it’s really great.
I also listen to the news at night. I try to pay attention to world events, so I’ll tune into the BBC and its podcasts while I get ready to go to sleep.
God, no, I don’t have a complicated sleep ritual. But…
I have a diffuser. I turn it on before I wash my face every single night, and that’s something I’ve only been doing for the past couple of years now that I don’t hear one of my kids calling me or the bathtub overflowing. As for the essential oils, I buy all of mine from Bigelow Chemists in the West Village. I use some of them on my body too. They smell absolutely beautiful.
When it’s time for bed, I try to have the room at a cool temperature, which is such a luxury. The more I’ve read about that, the more I see that sleeping in colder environments is apparently a better way to rest.
That’s really it, though. I don’t drink special tea. I don’t wear sleep masks. As I said, I like to keep it simple.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.