One of the most defining scenes in Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel takes place in season one, when Miriam "Midge" Maisel (as played by Rachel Brosnahan) is getting ready to fall asleep. Once her husband's head hits the pillow, she begins her secret midnight beauty ritual, finally taking off all that makeup, smearing on a heavy layer of face cream, and twisting her hair up in rollers. Hours later, as the sun rises and her husband still snoozes beside her, she gets up, wipes off all that cream, lets down those rollers, and smears on a fresh layer of makeup before getting back into bed — all to make her husband believe she really does wake up like that.
Obvious commentary on '50s gender roles aside, Brosnahan's real-life approach to beauty is far less high maintenance, especially when it comes to skin care. On Monday, it was announced that Brosnahan is the first celebrity spokesperson for Cetaphil, the brand behind the £8.99 cleanser beloved by the likes of Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian West, and, of course, Brosnahan.
"I’ve been using Cetaphil products for the better part of the past 10 years," Brosnahan tells us while perched on a couch in her hotel suite in downtown Manhattan. "When I was in high school, I was over-treating little breakouts, and then I was really dry. My mum recommended the Gentle Skin Cleanser. At the time, I felt like I had a medicine cabinet that looked like Midge’s, filled with products that were all supposed to do something different. Simplifying that really changed how my skin looks and behaves."
Now, Brosnahan's bathroom cabinet is stocked with other high street faves, including Cetaphil's Gentle Makeup Remover, which she just started using while filming The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3, and Maybelline Volum' Express Mega Plush Mascara. "I feel like it makes my lashes look really full but it doesn’t get clumpy or spidery," she says. Brosnahan, whose wavy blonde lob is a sharp departure from her character's brunette coif, is even a fan of the classic affordable Psssst! Dry Shampoo. "I’ve tried a thousand dry shampoos and I return to that one over and over again," she says.
When Brosnahan does have to transform into Midge, the housewife-turned-comedian who's never without lashes, blush, and a signature red lip, makeup plays a significant role. "I think the bold lip is the biggest difference between Midge and I and a lot of different characters that I’ve played," Brosnahan says. "The lip is so period-specific, and it feels like such an indicator of the 'ideal woman' of the 1950s. Whenever I put it on, I feel like I’m living inside of her."
That red lip, which is known to be a YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick, is something Brosnahan has taken with her from set. "I get up as early as 3:45 or 4 a.m. to get to work," Brosnahan says. "I’ve never been a person who wears lipstick outside of work, but recently, in an effort to save time in the morning, I sometimes use a bold lip to awaken my face. I feel like I don’t have to do anything else and I feel put together."
But come season 3, as Brosnahan told us, Midge's look will change a bit. "We're headed to Miami this season," Brosnahan says. "We’re also headed into the 1960s, and so beauty trends changed a little bit. That deep, blue-toned red lip was something that carried from the '40s to the '50s, and pinks and lighter-colour lipsticks were late '50s and early '60s. And there may or may not be a new nail colour introduced at some point in season 3."
All that glamorous makeup comes with an important message, too. In a world where female comedians still feel like they need to style themselves in a more masculine fashion in order to be taken seriously, Midge is decidedly dismantling that narrative, even if it is taking place in a fictional universe.
"One of the things I love most about Midge is that she is unapologetically and unabashedly herself," Brosnahan says. "I love that scene where she says, 'I don't want to have to find a gimmick. I just want to be myself and I think I’m enough.' I hope that we reach a place where women and men both recognise that femininity is not inherently less powerful, less good, or less inspirational. It’s just different."