Jennifer Garner is an award-winning actress with more than two decades of working in television and movies under her belt, a co-founder of a successful baby food brand, mom of three and one of our favorite people to follow on Instagram. But she also just so happens to have a reputation as being one of the most down-to-earth and relatable celebrities out there.

When I recently hopped on the phone with the 49-year-old actress to chat about her beauty routine and involvement with hair care brand Virtue, which she joined in 2019, it instantly became clear that the warm and genuine person that we’ve come to know (and love) on our screens is truly who she is: funny, kind and endearing —and not afraid to use phrases like “bomb diggity” in conversation.

So given her approachable personality, I wasn’t too surprised to learn that when it comes to her beauty regimen, she is pretty “low-key.”

“We can almost all wear less than we think because, to me, I don’t want my kids or people to only see the actor version of me that is perfectly made up by brilliant artists and think that’s how I look,” Garner told Shop TODAY. “I want to look normal and I want to normalize looking normal. I always have felt really strongly about that. And then if I’m dressed up, I like that my kids are like, ‘Woo, look at my mom!'”

For her, an everyday makeup look consists of just a few essentials: concealer, blush, mascara and “a little something on my lips.” But that wasn’t always the case. When I asked her if she had any beauty regrets, she barely paused before answering.

“When I was in college, and I’m sure after college, my idea of makeup was what I would wear if I was doing a ballet recital or the Nutcracker,” she said. “I had very light-colored pancake makeup, and seriously, you could see where my chin met my neck … it was atrocious. It’s really made any picture from college unusable because if I thought I needed to look nice, that’s what I did. I literally opened up my fishing tackle box of theater makeup and just went at it.”

Now, for Garner, it seems like a big part of feeling good is mental. “I try to not see unflattering pictures of myself because I know I look better in real life than paparazzi pictures make me look, and if I don’t, I don’t want to know it.”

Though for anyone who has moments where they feel less than their best (don’t we all?), she has some good advice: Step away from the mirror. “When you start getting super critical of yourself, turn around, pivot in that spot and go do something nice for someone else,” she said. “Or go work out, or just take that and make it active instead of letting it just fester in you.”

Here, we asked Garner to walk us through a handful of her favorite beauty products, from drugstore staples to hair care favorites.

Jennifer Garner’s favorite hair products

Virtue Jennifer Garner’s Healthy Hair Bouquet

This item is from a brand that Jennifer Garner is paid to promote.

This new set from Virtue features three of her favorite products that she uses in her own routine. There’s the Healing Oil, which according to the brand, can be used daily to add moisture and shine and the Restorative Treatment Mask, which hydrates and repairs hair without weighing it down. Then there’s the 6-in-1 Styler, which is a universal styling cream that “really does six things at once,” Garner said. It can help define a wave, “it helps to smooth [hair], it adds a shine, it smells great and it makes your hair healthier in the process,” she added.

And it’ll make a great gift for the season. “Instead of a bouquet of flowers, give a bouquet of great hair,” she suggested.

Virtue Full Shampoo

This item is from a brand that Jennifer Garner is paid to promote.

Garner said she switches between Virtue’s Full Shampoo and Conditioner and the Recovery line, “because both work so well for me.”

Garner was first introduced to Virtue by her long-time hairstylist (and the brand’s creative director), Adir Abergel. “He was just like, ‘I think you’re going to flip when you try this, I think we should work on it together, we have to make this happen.'” she said. “So I tried it, kind of feeling like, there are a lot of hair products out there, but oh my gosh, I cannot even tell you.” She added that it gives hair, “health, bounce and shine like nothing I’ve ever used.”

Sheila Stotts Wood Handle Application Brush

But Virtue’s hair products aren’t the only ones that Garner keeps in her arsenal. She also loves this brush from Sheila Stotts and said she buys them to give away as gifts. “They’re perfect for detangling a little kid’s hair,” she said. “I mean, you wouldn’t think it because they’re just straight wires, so you don’t want a little kid to whack you in the face with it, but they are great at detangling and they also just move through your hair really easily.”

Reed Clarke Gold 4-Inch Hair Pin

“Of all the hair pins I’ve ever tried, this is the best,” she said. (She was even wearing it when we spoke.) “It’s another perfect gift. If you give some Virtue, the bouquet of Virtue, even add a little shampoo, conditioner and this hair pin, you are just going to make someone’s life. Not to mention my favorite hairbrush.”

Jennifer Garner’s favorite makeup and skin products

Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick

For concealer, Garner added that she’s currently using this stick from Westman Atelier. It’s made with nourishing ingredients like squalane and Berryflux Vita, which according to the brand, help prevent moisture loss and boost hydration.

Stila Convertible Color, Peony

“I’ve used the Stila cream blushes for about ever, especially in Peony,” she said.

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick for Lips

This item is from a brand that Jennifer Garner is paid to promote.

She also loves this color stick from Neutrogena in Raisin. “I might have used it in a commercial or something once, and now I can’t live without it.”

Neutrogena Healthy Lengths Mascara

This item is from a brand that Jennifer Garner is paid to promote.

“I also feel the same about Neutrogena’s mascara … I love a drugstore mascara,” Garner said.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Face Oil Retinol Serum

This item is from a brand that Jennifer Garner is paid to promote.

“Once you’re sloping down the back half of your forties, you’re going to want to get yourself some retinol,” she said. When starting to use a retinol product, you do have to be a little cautious. “You can overdo retinol and feel like your face gets really tender or is too sensitive, you have to build your way up to it and realize how many nights a week you want to use it and what that looks like,” she said. “But it really will start to resurface your skin.”

For more stories like this, check out:

Subscribe to our Stuff We Love and One Great Find newsletters, and download our TODAY app to discover deals, shopping tips, budget-friendly product recommendations and more!