It's in Kobe, Japan, that I first catch a glimpse of the complexion Judi Dench famously compared to a white peach. Still luminous after a 13-hour flight, Cate Blanchett is all cool gaze and architectural cheekbones. Save for a few subtle lines (which indicate the proud refusal of Botox), the peach analogy is spot-on. In Asia to promote SK-II, the cosmetics line that snagged her as spokesmodel after discovering her devotion to its products, the Oscar winner lets us in on her beauty secrets.

MC: Any movie roles that were particularly tough on your skin?

CB: Yes! Both were with Brad [Pitt], actually. The Babel shoot in Morocco was three weeks of unmitigated dust! I stayed out of it as much as possible and spent a lot of time getting off all the grime. In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, my character goes from 6 to 86, courtesy of prosthetics. I'd be in them for six hours, and they drew all the moisture out of my skin. To restore hydration, I used SK-II's Skin Rebooster, my go-to airplane treatment.

MC: How did you feel about seeing yourself age in Button?
CB:
I was more concerned about my mother's reaction — especially since I look like her. Few parents see their child at 86!

MC: Any secrets from her?
CB:
My mum stayed out of the sun and moisturized — she set a good example. I tried to tan when I was 14, because it was deeply uncool to be this pale. But I just burned and peeled, so what was the point? I even carried a parasol for a while. A bit pretentious in Australia — although it's common in Asia.

MC: What's your current beauty regimen?
CB:
I'm really bad about my hair. I do almost nothing. When I'm not working, I use the Frédéric Fekkai Glossing line and just pull it back. The only thing I'm diligent about is skin care.

MC: You once said that chasing around your sons was enough exercise. Is this still the case?
CB:
I started doing Pilates — sometimes twice a week, then not for another month. Does that count? I think after having a baby it's important to get your body's strength back, but the media scrutiny can be insane. Bounce back too quickly and you're a terrible role model for other women; don't bounce back and you're labeled a balloon.

MC: Speaking of scrutiny, more and more actresses are having plastic surgery. What's your take?
CB:
What other women do is not my business, but my feeling is that actresses shouldn't have a mask for a face; they need to be able to reveal feelings. Obviously, you want to look as good as you possibly can, but you don't want to get too obsessed. There's a lot more to life. I certainly don't want to be 25 again.

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