Kate Walsh Is Embracing Aging—Not Avoiding It
Photo: Derek Kettela/Courtesy of Systane
On Beauty

Kate Walsh Is Embracing Aging—Not Avoiding It

“Things get better and better and better the older I get.”

As Told To
Sumiko Wilson

Welcome to On Beauty, a series where we take a look into a person's relationship with beauty, how that relationship has transformed over the years, and how they experience being seen. This week, we're talking to Kate Walsh, star of Emily in Paris, Grey’s Anatomy, and more. Off-screen, she’s the founder of Boyfrienda fragrance line that she created after a breakup in 2009 hoping to conjure the scent of an ex. As she gears up for another appearance on Grey’s Anatomy next month, Walsh shares in her own words her love for fragrance, her approach to aging in Hollywood, and how eye care is a form of self-care.

When I was a little girl, my best friend’s mom was an Avon lady, so I remember seeing her boudoir covered with all of these gorgeous perfume bottles. Then, my mother would put Oil of Olay all over her face. That was her nightly ritual. Meanwhile, I had one of those doll heads that was almost like a mannequin head, but you could put makeup on it. Even though I was a total tomboy, I really enjoyed [playing with] that.

Fragrance was always a love of mine—not just the fragrance, but the packaging of it. I think that definitely influenced my own fragrance, Boyfriend. The look of it, but also the romance of it. I’ve always loved the idea of a woman sitting at her vanity with a mirror and having these rituals that were all hers, [just like my mom]. I usually don’t wear makeup, but one of my oldest friends and makeup artists, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, who won an Oscar last year for working with Viola Davis in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, talks about that memory of being a little boy and seeing his mother put on makeup and wanting to put it on himself. It’s still delightful.

Walsh at NBC's All-Star Cocktail Party in 1999.

Photo: Sam Levi/WireImage via Getty

Walsh in 2021 with a bottle of her fragrance, Boyfriend.

Courtesy of Instagram/ @katewalsh

For women’s health and self-care and beauty, we can’t talk about eye care enough. There still seems to be this void in the culture with women’s health. You can never have enough people talking about it, particularly as it relates to aging. I’ve worn glasses since I was a little kid, then I got contacts, then I had Lasik years ago. In 2015 my vision was starting to get blurry and I was having a hard time concentrating, so I went to the optometrist and they told me that my vision’s still 20/20, but I have dry eyes. That’s why working with Systane Complete Preservative-Free Lubricating Eye Drops felt like a really natural partnership. My best effort was using a saline solution, but I loved that there’s actually a special formula that Alcon makes called Systane Complete Preservative-Free Lubricating Eye Drops. I take it with me everywhere—there’s a little bottle in every purse and one drop lasts me, like, eight hours.

I’ve been acting since I was a little kid, but I didn’t really start making a living from it until I was 28 or 29 years old. Grey’s didn’t happen until I was 36, so I was kind of a latecomer, if you will. It still felt at that time that if you had a job like that, you couldn’t get pregnant and have a baby. Things have really changed a lot. I feel really lucky in the opportunities that I’ve had, but also because I persevered. I was told that you have to have a really thick skin. I was told that I was too tall, too this, too that, I’d never make it, but I was just very passionate about [acting], so I kept going. I really do feel like things get better and better and better the older I get. It’s an exciting time for women. There’s a big [reckoning] going on for women, for women of color, and for people of color. I’m a big proponent of taking care of myself and I feel like I’m just getting started in terms of beauty and health.

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