Christie Brinkley's Surprising Secrets To Aging Gracefully

Photo: Matt Baron/BEImages.
It's hard not to think of Christie Brinkley's decades-spanning modeling career when you hear her name. And, for good reason — she was one of the OG supermodels. But, Christie has done much more than that. That was abundantly clear when we spoke with her on a recent cold day in New York City. Cozied up at the St. Regis hotel, Christie was both warm (in more ways than one) and impeccably put-together. (P.S. Anyone who says that models are stuck up should take a look at her Instagram feed.)

Christie has more irons in the fire than her career. She's an activist, working with PETA and UNICEF, and has won many a humanitarian award. But, on that chilly February morning we were there to chat about skin care. Specifically, Christie's latest venture: Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare. The line, which is available today on HSN, offers efficient products in environmentally friendly packaging — and pulls it off with flying colors. Though the entire line is worth checking out, its hero product is a day cream that offers stellar hydration. 

We talked about caring for your skin, what Christie wishes she had known at the beginning of her career, and (of course) the ending of Parks and Recreation

When you were starting this line, what were some of the major holes that you saw and wanted to fill in the industry?
"When it came to sunblock, a lot of [other brands] were doing SPF 15 — and that just isn’t enough! Even when [a product] did have above SPF 15, the packaging was unconscionable. I would drop the packaging in my trash can and it would practically break the bucket with the weight of the plastics, and I thought, 'How can we do that?' That’s vanity, you know? To be using something that is going to harm our environment just for my face. I want my skin-care jar to reflect beauty, too, and respect for nature... I wanted something that really repaired, and I’d been reading about circadian rhythms. That’s something I really wanted to take advantage of, and so it all came together."

Over the course of your career, are there any major lessons you've learned — whether they were about beauty or life?
"Yes — I wish that I could say to young people who are in that anxiety phase to just relax, and that there really is no 'they.' They’re always so concerned with what 'they' think, what 'they' expect of them, and all of that. Just enjoy the moment! 

"I posted [an image to Instagram] a little while ago that I copied off of somebody else’s Instagram, and it said something like, 'Choose two words you would tell your younger self.' Everybody was [commenting] everything from 'just relax' and 'just enjoy,' [to] 'love more' 'more joy.' By the bottom of the thread, I got the feeling that a lot of people realized that they spend a lot of time worrying about things that they really didn’t have to be worried about, especially looking back. When I got onto social media and stuff, everybody flooded the site with old pictures of me that I hadn’t seen in 30 or 40 years! I looked at them and I went, 'What? I was thin when I did that picture.' I didn’t know it [then]; I didn’t feel it."
Is there anything your daughters have taught you about beauty?
"My kids have taught me everything! I think that most parents will agree that we learn so much from our kids. Mainly, about the kind of beauty that doesn’t come in a jar... Alexa [Ray Joel], specifically, is a product of my 'sunblocking' her. I think seeing my own beach-surfer-girl skin, I was determined to take good care of her. And, by the time she was a kid I’d run around chasing her and spray her with sunblock at the beach, and keep a hat on her, and pull a little T-shirt on at a certain point in the day, and say, 'No, you have to keep that on!' I took good care of her skin, and now her skin is flawless. She is the living example of [what happens] when you take good care of your skin. That’s why with my skin-care line, you can’t be too young to start, because the sooner you start protecting yourself from the sun, the better off you’re going to be."

Parks and Recreation ended recently. Can you tell me what being on the show was like?
"It’s the best. First of all, I’m the biggest SNL fan that exists, and so Amy Poehler, I adore. When I was asked to come do the show with the possibility of being a recurring character, I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' Just to be in the same room and watch this cast — every member of that cast is so special, so great, so funny, that I couldn’t even believe it. That I got to be a recurring character, and go back time and again...I loved it so much.

"I cannot believe that the series ended. It was so smart, so smartly written, so well-played, and it was such an honor just to be around all of them. And, Jim O’Heir, my TV hubby, is just the sweetest, sweetest guy. It was just the best; it was great. You saw the [final] episode, right?"   

Yes, of course!
"When we did the scene with our family, our first take that we did it, we were both crying in the scene. The director goes, 'That was really moving, and I understand, but the Gergichs are optimistic! Now, I need you to do it a totally different way, as happy Gergichs!' But, we really had lumps in our throats."    
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