As far as perfect last names go, Judith Light has it. Even on Zoom it’s like she’s lit from within, and it has nothing to do with the whatever lighting situation is going on in her Los Angeles office. The Tony and Emmy winner radiates kindness and warmth, and even when we run out of time before her next interview, she suggests we continue our chat another day so I can get what I need. And not only does she keep her word, but she schedules it on her birthday, no less.
Speaking of that birthday—number 73, to be exact—she is more than happy to talk about it and celebrate another year around the sun. “Somebody once said to me, ‘Well, you’ll get older or you won’t. So how about appreciating every minute, day, week, month, year you have on the planet in this particular body for this time?’” she says. “And it’s true. It’s how you think, who you are, how you live your life, and your kindness. It’s how you are of service in the world.”
But Light doesn’t want to sound annoyingly optimistic either. She knows—and occasionally has—those days when you just feel blah. “It’s why I’m always hesitant to talk about these things because it sounds like, hey, positive thinking [will cure it all], you know. Or, Think good thoughts and all will be well!” she says. “To me, that’s such bull, and it’s so not the active work that needs to be done. You have to stop that sort of programmed mind.”
She continues: “What’s really true for me is: Who are you inside? Do you have a good relationship with your partner? Do you have good friends? How do you appreciate life? I’m not letting myself get caught up in all of these thoughts that bring me down or make me feel depressed, because all those thoughts are going to be there. So the focus is more on the things that are positive. We are magnificent, and as we age, we garner wisdom and connection.”
It’s one of the many reasons she was immediately drawn to the new horror comedy Shining Vale, which premiered last Sunday on Starz. In the series about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to an old, somewhat haunted house in a small town where awful things have taken place, she plays Joan, Courteney Cox’s onscreen mother, who has long battled mental illness. Joan is extremely critical of her daughter and also extremely wrapped up in recapturing the beauty of her youth.
“I wanted to do the show because of the writing, and the distinct issues that relate to women like aging, menopause, sexuality, mental illness, artistry, etc.,” she says. “You’re covering all of those major issues within the body of something that is funny and dramatic and paranormal.”
Light is equally as open when it comes to discussing her own journey with aging and skin care, whether it’s adult acne (“The first year after Who’s the Boss?, I broke out in cystic acne,” she says) or the procedure she had to take care of the “bags” under her eyes. So, for Glamour‘s latest edition of Drop the Routine, she fills us in on her tried-and-true products, the dermatologists she visits on the regular, and what she’s learned from the pros. Read on.
I use the Proactiv Solution cleanser and Crêpe Erase refining facial scrub, as well as La Prairie cleanser. I need things that are noncomedogenic, which means that they don’t clog the pores, which create the acne. I also like Proactiv’s deep-cleansing wash, which is for the face and the body. That has the salicylic acid in it. Rodan and Fields [the schooled me in all of this when we used to go on QVC to talk about it, and the other cleanser has benzoyl peroxide. So if you are sensitive to benzoyl peroxide in one of the cleansers, you can use the deep-cleansing wash for the salicylic acid.
My makeup remover and exfoliator
My toner and repair treatment
I really like the Proactiv toner and its repairing treatment. Proactiv really saved my skin. I don’t believe in selling anything to anybody unless you’ve tried it and unless it really works. The fact that I’ve been using it for so many years and that it has this exfoliation aspect to it is really what has changed my pores, the look of my skin, and that’s what I think is really most important.
My eye cream
Colleen Rothschild Complete Eye Cream in a tube. It’s got a little metal applicator, so you just squeeze it and rub that under the eye. And then when I’m filming, I use [products like] Plexiderm, Genucel, MAC Fast Response eye cream, and Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Inflammatory eye pads that I put in the freezer. I had those interminable fat pockets under the eye, so, years ago, when I was doing a film, I found an ophthalmological plastic surgeon, [the late] Henry Baylis, at Jules Stein Eye Institute in Los Angeles. This procedure is the only time I’ve ever done anything to my face. I had a producer come to me and say, “We’re taking hours to light you because of the bags under your eyes.” So there was an operation where you go inside the lower lid of the eye and take out the fat pockets. That really made a difference for me. I did that many years ago, in 1987 or something. I don’t think Henry is practicing anymore. But I didn’t want a regular plastic surgeon. I wanted somebody who worked on eyes. And that’s what I did.
My spot treatment
Proactiv mask for breakouts. If I have a breakout, which is rare anymore, I’ll put it on that and I’ll leave it on overnight. Or I just throw it on for 10 minutes.
Sunscreen is a must for me, so I use Procativ’s Daily Oil Control SPF 30 sunscreen.
I love my jade roller that I put in the freezer, as well as my Clarisonic facial brush, my gua sha stone, and a dry brush. The gua sha is amazing. A makeup artist gave me a really wide ice roller, which is also really good.
My lip balm
The original Burt’s Bees for my lip balm. I have a lot of color in my lip already, so I don’t need a tinted one.
My hero product
Vaseline! It’s my go-to. It’s amazing. I take a bath every night, and when I get out, I dry off really, really well, and then I put the Vaseline all over. Then it sinks in overnight.
When I was in my 20s, I started having facials every single week when I was on One Life to Live. And look, I have good genes. I have parents who aged really beautifully. But you have to take care of yourself too. I go for regular dermatologist visits for skin checks and see Dr. Larry Rivkin in Los Angeles and Dr. Diane Berson in New York City. I’ve been going to Larry for years. He’s just a great human being, and a great doctor. And Diane is just extraordinary.