From building a DIY dunk tank (!) and killing the amateur cooking video game to mastering quar skincare, Jen Garner is embracing lockdown life and, frankly, I really want to invite myself over
Jennifer Garner is as warm and friendly as you think (slash hope) she’ll be. When we connect over the phone during month 246 of the COVID-19 pandemic, the actor and mom of three immediately noted I was in Toronto and spoke fondly of her good friend and former Alias costar Victor Garber, a London, Ont. native. We talked about the importance of routine, wearing masks and feeling the quarantine travel itch. I had the overwhelming urge to call her Jen. (Jenn + Jen = BFFs 4ever?)
Aside from a bit of wanderlust, it turns out she’s relishing this downtime at home as much as her Instagram feed, a charming mix of DIY home projects and amateur cooking videos (check out the #PretendCookingShow hashtag), would lead you to believe. Here, the longtime Neutrogena celebrity ambassador tells FLARE what’s changed about her quarantine beauty routine, her one non-negotiable skincare product (sunscreen, it’s sunscreen) and how she plans to maximize the rest of the summer of lockdown.
You mentioned the importance of routine. Has quarantine shaken up your fitness routine?
“[Working out is] the one thing I really try to do for myself every day and if I don’t, I’m definitely aware of it. I love to go to classes but because of kids and work and everything else, I’ve always been lucky enough to have a little home gym wherever I’ve lived, and so I’m definitely used to working out at home. I’ve been doing my favourite trainer in New York City (dance cardio and HIIT workouts with Beth Nicely of The Limit) and that’s actually been great. She’s been able to keep me motivated and I work out pretty much every day.”
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Tell me about your quarantine skincare routine.
“I would say I’m taking a little bit better care of my skin. I’m always super careful and could not believe more in the importance of sunscreen as an absolute must; just like how when we walk outside or we are anywhere, we have got to have face masks on. That is a must. It’s for yourself, it’s for your neighbours, we have to do it. But for yourself, you have to have sunscreen on. And luckily, Neutrogena has come up with one where if you’re out and about and have to put sunscreen on but don’t want to touch your face—this awesome new Ultra Sheer Face Mist.
“Sunscreen is always number one for me but as far as the rest of my beauty routine [goes], I’m taking a little more time to make sure that my skin is clean at the end of the day. And then I’ve really been into the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Oil because at my age, you need a little retinol. There are two things, hyaluronic acid and retinol, that really make a difference in skin as one ~glistens~ into their later years.”
What’s your stance on sunscreen indoors?
“I put it on as soon as I’ve washed my face in the morning and I have it on all day, even if I’m [planning on being] inside all day because you do end up outside—if you’re taking the dog out, if you go to the mailbox, it’s just better to have it on. Otherwise, you go out to the mailbox and stand outside six feet apart from your neighbour and chat for a few minutes, and then it’s like ‘Oh, I’m just going to run and grab this’ and the next thing you know, you’ve been out for a couple of hours without sunscreen on your skin and that is a no-no. It’s like brushing your teeth in the morning. You do it.”
Read this next: Should You Be Wearing Sunscreen Indoors?
What has been the most pleasant surprise about quarantine?
“I can’t believe how much I was travelling before! So, just being home, being with my kids on a day-to-day basis without travel, and without their travel or running around as well. I’m so disappointed for them that their summer plans were cancelled but gosh, I’ve loved having this time with them.
“And the first couple of months [of quarantine] were all about Save with Stories, which is an initiative that I started with Amy Adams to try to raise money for Save the Children and No Kid Hungry. It was actually picked up in Canada so it became a whole global thing, which is so cool. We were able to really get the ball rolling and raise a ton of money to make sure that kids in rural America—and Canada and Australia and South Africa and all over!—were able to have the educational supplies and the food that they needed.”
On a different note, you built an epic dunk tank. What’s your next DIY project?
“[Laughs] I don’t know! We’ll have to see what comes to me but as soon as I saw the dunk tank, I had to make it right away.
“I like to build, I worked in theatre all over the country during my summers of college and I was always in the shop building sets and props and whatever else, and so I can manage tools pretty well. The dunk tank was a huge hit. You just need something to surprise your kids and make something fun.”
How do you plan to make the most of what’s left of the summer?
“I want to make sure that I’m actually doing the things and taking advantage of the things that we do get this year. We need to camp outside, we need to just do something unexpected. Go somewhere and look at the stars. I just have to plan and make sure they actually happen—something every week—to make the end of the summer special.
“And also, all the things we’ve talked about doing in quarantine, [like organize] your closet or your garage, I’ve started to put on the calendar because I realized—I’m going to come out of quarantine someday and I’m going to look around and I won’t have done anything I was supposed to do.”
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I know you’re happy having this travel-free time with your family right now, but is there somewhere you’d love to visit once you can travel again?
“Anywhere. Gosh. New York City! Anywhere, I would take anywhere. I want to go to West Virginia and stay in my mom’s house and my dad’s house and not feel like I’m putting them at risk. There’s nowhere I don’t want to go. I’m ready. Put me on a plane.”