Standing just a little over five feet tall, actress Rita Moreno’s youthful glow and megawatt smile instantly light up the room.
“I’m probably the happiest person I know,” says the 82-year-old Moreno, the only Latina actress ever to win an Emmy, a Tony, a Grammy and an Oscar. And she's poised to accept another honor: a Life Achievement Award at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 18 in New York City.
What’s the secret behind Moreno’s ageless beauty? Simple, she say: It’s all about skincare.
“I guess it must be the Caribbean genes,” says Moreno, who was born in Puerto Rico. “I used to have very oily skin and acne when I was 18 years old. I also used to stay out in the sun for hours. I’m surprised I didn’t get baked like (Julio Iglesias).”
“Back then, (doctors) used to apply an ultraviolet light for acne and this acetone, alcohol rub,” she recalls of the less-than-glamorous ways once used to combat blemishes.
Moreno chose to take matters in her own hands.
“I used to use one of those rough, nasty brushes to scrub my face every day,” she explains. “It was very harsh, but exfoliating every day helped a lot. I would definitely say that exfoliating was really my main beauty trick.”
These days, Moreno prefers to go bare faced. When she needs to wear makeup, she's all about keeping it minimal.
“I like to keep it natural,” she explains. “I add a little water to my foundation to make it really light. But that’s really it.”
When you do wear foundation, use a brush, she advises. Finish with a sponge if needed. One of the most common mistakes Moreno still sees, especially in television, is forgetting one crucial step in creating a flawless canvas.
“You have to blend a lot. You always see the foundation end at the chin. It has to go further down,” says Moreno, pointing at her smooth V-neck line. “The décolleté area.”
And like any trained performer knows, daily exercise is crucial for keeping a trim figure camera-ready. Moreno, who “started dancing almost before I could walk,” no longer dances after knee replacement surgery. The other knee's not in great shape either, she says. But she still exercises every day -- and she keeps it simple.
“I do a lot of walking, every day,” says Moreno on her current workout routine.
She continues to act and has no plans to slow down. In her recently published memoir, she recalls her high-profile romances, including a messy affair with Marlon Brando (she later settled down with cardiologist Leonard Gordon to whom she was married for 45 years until he died in 2010). Her simple advice for lasting love?
“Be very careful when you’re hopelessly, obsessively, head-over-heels in love,” she says. “That’s when you have to look out. Love and those romantic feelings you tend to feel? Completely different, but easy to get them confused. That’s what happened to me with Marlon.”
“Don’t let your romantic self take over and consume you. Don’t seek out love and ignore everything else in your life. Focus on your goals and be true to who you are instead.”
Here's a look back at Rita Moreno over the years: