My Good Day Face: Tina Majorino, Actress and Podcaster

Her anxiety goes back almost as far as her acting career, but Tina Majorino has finally found compassion…for herself. Stream one of her tear-jerkers—When a Man Loves a Woman, anyone?—but first scope the makeup she promises you can cry in.

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“My Good Day Face” is a Mental series about the feel-good beauty products people use to boost their moods. 

Tina Majorino comes at makeup differently than us non-Hollywood types. With an acting career that started when she was just 2, “I’ve had an extensive journey with makeup,” she says. “It’s one of the pillars of character development.” As important, perhaps, as the research she does to prep for a new role. “Makeup is transformative. Until I can look in the mirror and see [the character] the way I imagined, until I can feel like her, she’s not fully realized,” Majorino explains. “If I can’t convince myself I’m someone else, the audience sure as shit won’t believe it, either.”

Though she starred in such hits as When a Man Loves a Woman, Waterworld, and Corrina, Corrina (RIP, Ray Liotta 😢) as a kid, she wasn’t allowed to wear makeup outside of work until 15—and at that point in her life, it was hardly a love language. “I only used it to hide my acne, which was bad,” she says. “My skin was so inflamed, it really ate away at my self-esteem. I’d cry about it constantly. So for a long while, makeup only reminded me of something painful.”

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But once her skin cleared, makeup took on new meaning, and Majorino rhymes a phrase that could easily be a rallying cry for many of us. “The older I get, the bolder I get,” she says, “and the less I care about how anyone else feels about what I look like. With that confidence comes a bravery with my self-expression.” Now, I’m not saying I can beat my own face like Zendaya can, but I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I know how to do the things that make me feel beautiful and confident.”

This, for Majorino—who, if you haven’t figured it out yet, starred as side-ponytail Deb in the 2004 cult film Napoleon Dynamitehints at the power of makeup and skincare beyond the creative outlet they provide: They’ve become therapeutic. As someone who’s dealt with anxiety throughout her life, “I use them to self-soothe all the time,” says the actress, also a past regular on Big Love, Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars, and True Blood.Because we’re living in the age of information, it can feel incredibly overwhelming when everyone everywhere is telling you what to do to feel better or look better. And sometimes that can morph into feeling helpless, because you start thinking, I won’t feel better about myself or snap out of this funk until I do something drastic and huge.

“It’s just not true,” she continues. “For me, the path to finding my own recipe for feeling good was all about simplifying: focusing on the small things I had access to that I knew I could commit to everyday, or already felt pulled to do but maybe judged myself out of doing.”

One such thing? Skincare, which she calls a fail-safe, because “it’s one of the only things I do every day that is only for me. It’s dedicated time, morning and night, without fail,” she explains. “I love how it feels before, during, and after. It feels loving and tender toward myself.”

We write back and forth about people who see beauty products as superficial, a waste of money, or even selfish. Majorino’s not havin’ it. “I think for women, in particular, the world really tells us we should hate ourselves, and not take care of ourselves for fear of being or appearing selfish,” she says, and she’s got a point. According to a 2020 study published in the journal Sex Roles, participants rated women who were wearing makeup, versus those without it, as having “less humanness, less agency, less competence, less warmth.” Less human… Okay then!

Like countless other makeup-lovers—and there are plenty, considering beauty is a $511 billion industry—Majorino buys her favorite lipsticks and liners, not into this crap. “This is my one beautiful life and the vessel I was given for my time here. I’m gonna take care of it and treasure it,” she says. “If considering what makes me feel good, learning ways that help me love my face more, adorning it with beautiful colors that lift my mood and make me smile when I look in a mirror makes me ‘selfish’ to factions of society, then so be it, ya know?”

Beyond her OG black M.A.C eyeshadow—Black Tied Velvet, which we, unfortunately, discover has been discontinued—Majorino knows what’s most important to her, a small silver lining that has emerged from the pandemic: “how much I value people, especially the ones that I love. How much we all need each other.” In 2020, during the midst of COVID, she launched a podcast, No Pressure, with her brother, Kevin, where they often discussed the effects of lockdown and the emotional epidemic that followed the viral one. 

“People’s mental health has really suffered, and seeing as we don’t have a lot of care for such things in this country, the effects of lockdown and the collateral damage of COVID has been really devastating,” she says. “Even though things are going back to ‘normal,’ I don’t really think our definition of that word will ever be the same again. [My brother and I have] both said how we feel so done living through unprecedented events. Everyone is. Between the news, and social media, and our day-to-day responsibilities, our relationships… It can all be so overwhelming. I’ve definitely had to make adjustments to cope.”  

For Majorino, the podcast, now in season 2, has itself been cathartic. “Being the super-sentimental one, it’s just such a joy to sit down every week and have amazing conversations with my brother that I can keep forever and listen to anytime,” she explains. “Obviously, we also love connecting with others. It’s so nice that we’ve created our own little corner of the internet where people can come and relax, where we can share our experiences, things we’ve learned, and that people resonate with our chats. Kevin and I are both so invested in making a space for humans to just be, that’s why we called our podcast No Pressure. Thinking of topics we’re both passionate about, talking about mental health and things we’ve learned about how we can better take care of our minds and ourselves… I’m really grateful for it.” 

What, exactly, does it mean to just be in today’s always-on, TikTok’d, if-it-wasn’t-on-Instagram-did-it-really-happen world? Marjoino references something her friend, writer Jamie Varon, once wrote: “I’m a human being and too often I forget that the ‘being’ part is essential.” It’s what Majorino hopes people can experience through her podcast. “When I say that it’s a place for people to come and just be, it is very much so because there seems to be so much pressure on all of us, all of the time,” she says. “It’s important to let yourself breathe—relax, check out a little bit, laugh. So come drink coffee with us. Let’s step off the hamster wheel for an hour or two, let’s set our bags down. Let’s chat. Nerd out with us. Take a minute. We don’t need you to be anyone but who you are.”

Though Majorino and I met—and bonded over boss-lady and mental-health-y-type stuff—on Instagram, social media is certainly not her ideal platform of connection. “I’ve always preferred in-person hangs, or phone calls, or personal texts and emails. I’ve always valued that personal connection,” she says. “Before getting on Instagram, I was getting my feelings hurt a lot by friends who had it. Because I wasn’t on social, people just stopped taking the time to reach out. There was this attitude of, ‘Well, if you care to know what I’m up to, look at my Instagram.’ Which is absurd to me. Especially now that I’m on it. People see about 4 percent of what I’m actually doing, and how I’m actually feeling.”

How is she feeling? “I’m in a transitional stage, shaking things up and making different decisions, which can feel scary, but it’s also really liberating knowing that when things aren’t working, you can make the decision to burn anything you need to to the ground and start over again.” Her work in therapy—a “game-changer,” as she puts it—has helped her finally understand herself. “I’m a really sensitive lady, and while I spent most of my life being chastised for that, I’m finally in a place and surrounded by people who actually make me understand that that’s a really good thing. It’s my superpower. It’s why we’re here. To experience. To feel. And not just to feel good. To feel everything.”

Majorino then says something I regularly tell my kids, to help them understand my OCD or why they might be feeling or acting some way on any given day: “Everyone has their stuff.” She credits her doctor for learning how to rewrite her own narrative and discover the real meaning of self-love. “I don’t think I ever truly understood what that actually meant. But I feel like I have been able to grasp what that looks and feels like to me,” she says. “It’s hard to be a human. And I’ve struggled a lot. The difference now is that I have a deep knowingness that I’m learning tools that will carry me throughout the rest of my life. Hard times will always come. But I know now I can handle them, whatever they may look like.”

Tell me those tools, you say? They include:

  • Weekly therapy
  • Daily meditation (“I try my hardest to stick to it”)
  • Exercise, preferably outdoors
  • Good boundaries, “not only with other people but with myself”
  • “Not hanging out with people who make me feel like shit”
  • “Unfollowing people on social media whose content doesn’t evoke positive emotions”
  • Saying “no” when she needs or wants to, “and meaning it”
  • “Not being so black and white about everything—learning how to live in the gray”
  • Talking to her friends every day
  • “Letting myself suck at new things”
  • Practicing gratitude

It sounds like a lot, but like an all-you-can-eat buffet of deal-with-it tricks, she picks and chooses as she needs. There is, however, one thing that sits at the heart of these strategies, one takeaway Majorino considers critical for her mental health: acceptance. “Accepting that when I take care of myself, I will at some point inevitably disappoint someone, and that’s okay. That certain decisions I have to make for my well-being will make me a villain in someone else’s story, and that’s okay, too,” she says. “Accepting that I will never be perfect, my life will never be perfect, and what a beautiful relief that is. And the more I can accept my own complexity, the more I accept and embrace everyone else’s—the more compassion I can feel. There’s so much freedom and beauty in the mess. I accept the mess.”

Speaking of mess… back to makeup! The crushes and crumbles and pigments that turn unadorned lids and lips into jewels. “Makeup is so fun. I love that I can embody anything I want to any day of the week, just by adding or subtracting a thing or two here and there,” she says. “And on particularly ‘meh’ kind of days, nothing feels more like self-support than leaning into something I would gladly do for a friend, for myself. Pulling out all the stops: busting out the steamer, putting on a great mask… Really loving on myself.”

She’s got a lonnng list of masks she toggles between—from Origins Clear Improvement and Laneige Water Sleeping Mask to Fresh Rose Face Mask and SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque—along with these makeup faves, which, Hollywood type or no, may just help transform your mood, too.

Tinted Moisturizer

Saie Slip Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen Tinted Moisturizer, $35

“For my everyday face, I rarely wear foundation. I have worked so hard on my skin and com  so far from my teenage days that now I’m really grateful I can go barefaced, so most days I try to. However, one  of my girlfriends turned me on to this Saie tinted moisturizer that I am obsessed with. 

“It’s gorgeous. Doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything on your face and it really gives you this  delicious glow that I love. I prefer a more hydrated look over a matte face. Not fully sweaty but almost (haha). It’s easy to color match and doesn’t hide my freckles—I love my freckles. So I usually wear that if I feel like stepping it up a notch or really just elevating my natural skin.”


Foundation

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation, $46

“If I’m going to do a full beat, Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation is just sublime. This shit is incredible and lasts forever. I’ve worn it for nine hours, cried in it, taken a nap in it, and it hasn’t budged. Looks insanely good on camera, but still not over the top  in person. So I love it.”


Volumizing Mascara

Maybelline New York The Rocket Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara in Very Black, $15

“One of my favorite features of mine is my eyes, and I’m really lucky I have naturally long lashes. So I flaunt the fuck out of those blessings. It makes me feel so pretty to curl my lashes and put on mascara. I like a dark black, and I also have to use a waterproof formula. (I know, everyone tells me it’s too gnarly but I don’t care—I sweat and cry and need that shit to stay put thank you very much.)

“My go-tos are Maybelline The Rocket Volume Express and also their classic Great Lash in Very Black. If I’m doing a more natural moment I won’t put it on my lower lashes. For heightened glam, I will.”


Brow Groomer

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Gel, $20

“I don’t do my brows daily, but when I want to look more put together I will. I found a product that actually gives me the look I want with minimal effort (always a win).”


“Slightly Sunburnt” and “Living Doll” Blush

“Now, I love blush. Sometimes I like to create a look where it’s more natural and like I’ve just been out for a walk and gotten sun. And sometimes I like to look like a living doll. Either end of the spectrum, I dig that these two accentuate my cheekbones and make me look like I have better blood circulation than I do (haha). They’re gorgeous and buildable, too.“

Saie Dew Blush in Rosy, $24

“‘Slightly sunburnt’ is one of my favorite vibes—to look like I’ve been in the sun, or I’m a bit flushed. I am very fair-skinned and I am always, no matter what time of year, smothered in sunscreen. I burn very easily and I am so vigilant about my sunscreen that I never really change shades. So I like achieving a safer, less painful, more concentrated version of getting sun. This Saie blush [creates the look] if you put a lot on. I also put a dab on the end of my nose.“

Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush in Lucky, $20

“When I need a mood perk-up, I use the Rare Beauty vibrant pink for the living doll look. It lights up my whole face and makes me feel like Debbie Harry.”


Bronzer

Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder, $46

“Again, if I want to look like a person who thrives in the sun, I’ll throw on  some bronzer. The only one I’ve ever used is Bobbi Brown’s. I’ve never had to even try another bronzer—Bobbi’s is king to me.”


Black Eyeliner

KVD Beauty Tattoo Pencil Liner Waterproof Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Trooper Black, $22

“Maybe it’s because I’m a ’90s bitch, but I love a black eyeliner—sometimes just in my waterline, and sometimes top and bottom. I like that it makes my eyes pop and accentuates their shape.”

KVD Beauty Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black, $23

“Kat’s Tattoo liquid liner is so fantastic for creating the winged look. When I do a winged eye or a more smoky black eye, I read this quote by Alexander McQueen once where he said, ‘I don’t want women to look all innocent and naive, I like when women look stronger.’ That always really stuck with me, because I know exactly what he’s talking about. I have days where I am buzzing with a more powerful ‘don’t fuck with me’ energy, and I don’t want to look sweet. Or I could be feeling really insecure and want to tap into that buzz. When I throw on eyeliner, it immediately makes me pull my shoulders back, stand taller, and feel badass.”


Sparkly Black Eyeshadow 

M.A.C Dazzleshadow Extreme in Illuminaughty, $23

“Considering how much I lean toward a more rock-chic vibe—I love any look with an edge—I would be remiss not to mention one of my favorite black eyeshadows by M.A.C.”


Bold Lipstick

M.A.C Matte Lipstick in Lady Danger, $21

“Nothing can change my day like a beautiful shade. There’s something about putting on a bold color that makes me feel braver in my day. I’m a firm believer that you have to wear your makeup and your clothes—don’t let them wear you. I love the challenge of wearing a bold color or a bold kind of strange-on-the-hanger-but-dope-on-the-body outfit that makes you rise to the occasion and own yourself. I’ve got a lipstick for every mood. Anything that makes my eyes really blue makes me feel really beautiful and strong. My favorite reds are by M.A.C in Lady Danger or Russian Red or YSL’s Vinyl Cream Lip Stain in Psychedelic Chili.”

Dior Dior Addict Refillable Shine Lipstick in Tarot, $42

“I also love a lipstick that makes me feel a little bitchy, like a dark purple. I’m obsessed with Dior’s lipsticks, particularly their dark plum color, Tarot. Dreaaaaaamy. So vampy and gorgeous. Another purple(ish) lipstick I love: Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Lipstick in Deep Orchid or Full Blooded.”

Check out Tina Majorino’s podcast, No Pressure, and stream her latest movie I, Challenger on Amazon Prime.


MENTAL NOTE: Oh hi there. Like we said above, “My Good Day Face” is a Mental series about the makeup and skin products people use to boost their moods. Yes, there are conflicting studies on whether makeup is good or bad psychologically, whether it can soothe or inflame anxiety and depression. If beauty causes you angst or feels like a form of pressure, step away! We love a beautiful bare face. But if applying moisturizer and lipstick helps your mental state by giving you a routine to follow, acting as meditation, inspiring creativity, or simply expressing your inner human, then: By. All. Means. 

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