Jennifer Garner Gave Me a Pep Talk About Aging Everyone Should Hear

"Remember to make room for joy"—and SPF.

Jennifer Garner on a step and repeat wearing an off the shoulder blue dress
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jennifer Garner and I were supposed to be talking about sunscreen. A face of Neutrogena for seventeen years, Garner was making the virtual rounds with journalists for Melanoma Awareness Month to discuss the beauty brand's skincare research and how she stays burn-free at the height of summer.

But somewhere during our Zoom conversation about skincare layering (she uses an SPF-based primer when she's on set), raising funds for research (Neutrogena has pulled in $1 million for the Melanoma Research Foundation), and Gen Z's questionable habits (48 percent of the cohort believes a "base tan" prevents sunburn, according to the brand's latest study with YouGov), I alluded to the 13 Going on 30 star that my own skincare routine is lacking in SPF. It's also lacking in consistency overall, despite being an age and in an industry where I definitely know better.

So Garner paused to ask me a question in the tune of her most memorable character: "Are you thirty, flirty, and thriving?" I told her the truth: I'm 29, and "thriving" hardly covers how I feel. In fact, I admitted, between the state of my skin and growing up in general, "existentially dreading everything" is a better description. My close circle of friends nearing their 30th birthdays have felt the same way.

Those little remarks were the bat signal Garner needed to give me a pep talk on aging I immediately sent to my groupchat.

Jennifer Garner attends a red carpet wearing a colorblock dress with her hair down and curled

Garner says that turning 30 felt like "the biggest thing ever" at the time. Now in her fifties, she says each decade only gets better.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

On the skincare front, Garner said I had more than enough time to "turn the ship around." While Garner says she grew up in a family that took care of their skin, she's still had to work to keep her good habits as an adult. Having hardworking products stocked everywhere—in her bathroom where she can see them, in the door of her car, and in bulk to gift to her friends and family—are her visual cues to apply and re-apply to keep her looking as good as she feels.

Taking care of yourself makes the transition from year to year easier, and it's as much a mental practice as a physical one. Garner said that with time, each year feels more like a gift than a ringing alarm. And while I should probably know better, it's worth repeating: aging isn't something to be afraid of.

"Tell all your friends that their 30s—it just keeps getting better and better thirties are great. Forties are better. Fifties seem to be better than that," she said. "So keep your chin up, it's all okay."

Garner remembers all too well that the transition to a new decade can feel like standing on the edge of a precipice. "By the time my friend group turned 50 we were all calm, but at 30, we thought turning 30 was the biggest thing ever," she remembered. "There are just so many big upheaval things that happen, you know, like, 'When am I going to have kids?' Or, 'Oh no, can I have kids?' And then it's just a lot of stress."

But she has a low-key, cost-free wellness ritual that's gotten her through. "Make sure you balance that out with some joy," she recommended.

Jennifer Garner walking in Manhattan wearing a yellow tie neck top and leather skirt

"I grew up in a family that did take care of our skin," Garner told me. It shows in her radiant complexion decades later.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the days since we've spoken, I've had Garner's advice stuck in my head as I've gotten ready in the morning. When I'm tempted to roll out of bed and go straight into my commute, without so much as a dollop of sunscreen or a minute to myself, I hit play on my mental recording: "Remember to make room for joy," and, by her example, SPF. They're two little additions that can make getting older better, day by day.

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Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.