It’s a passionately held belief that Holmes inherited from the women in her family and that she is adamant she will pass on to her own daughter, Suri, seven. “In terms of when I became a mother and what I’m imparting to my daughter about beauty, I’m pretty much imparting what my mother and grandmother taught me. What’s most important is what’s going on in your heart and your head,” she says.RELATED: The Best Hollywood Style Breakovers
For the 34-year-old, who found global fame playing feisty, fresh-faced Joey Potter in the coming-of-age drama Dawson’s Creek, it is fitting that her beauty advice is so grounded and honest.
“Drink a lot of water. Be careful with the blush. Because sometimes...less is more,” she explains.
What do women need to feel beautiful? “Confidence,” Holmes says.
It makes perfect sense then, that if Holmes was going to team up with any make-up company, it should be with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, renowned for their less-is-more approach and pared back, elegant take on beauty. The actress ranks as the brand’s first celebrity ambassador in their 22-year history.
Holmes relationship with the cosmetics pioneer is grounded not only in mutual admiration but also friendship, with the two women instantly hitting it off when they met for the first time last year. "We had tea in the afternoon and we bonded,” Bobbi Brown has said of their initial tete-a-tete. “And then it was, 'Oh, my God, you would be the perfect face for Bobbi.' We weren't looking for a celebrity, just a cool, amazing woman who would fit with our brand. And she's just ridiculously naturally beautiful.”
Brown herself, like Holmes, is from America's Midwest and both women have a girl-next-door vibe. "I love how her makeup is really about showing the woman and not showing the makeup," says Holmes, "just enhancing the beauty that's already there."
That belief in an innate loveliness is the result of her upbringing. The youngest of five children, the future Hollywood star grew up quietly in a home with a white picket fence in Toledo, Ohio. Her parents - her father is a lawyer and her mother an interior decorator – had a firm view about what was appropriate for their daughter. "If I had come down for school in the morning with a lot of makeup, it would have been taken off.” As a teenager, Holmes began experimenting with her look. "I was allowed when I was 14 to have mascara and lip gloss. And then in high school I got away with blush and maybe a little eye shadow."
Attending Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic high school in her hometown, Holmes developed a love of performing and jumped at any chance to act. Taking part in a modeling competition in New York, she met a manager who encouraged her to go to Los Angeles for television's pilot season. In 1997, she turned down a place at Columbia University to star in Ang Lee’s critically acclaimed film, The Ice Storm.
The rest, of course, is history. Holmes won the part of Joey, a headstrong tomboy, and moved to North Carolina alone at the age of 18, where she worked on the show for five years, the only actor to appear in all 128 episodes. "So much of me is in Joey," Holmes has said of the role, "and it really felt like I grew up on television."
Dozens of magazine covers followed in the wake of her small-screen success, along with roles in major movies, including The Gift with Cate Blanchett and Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas. In 2005, Holmes starred in Batman Begins and later played Jackie Kennedy in The Kennedys, showing an uncanny resemblance to the former First Lady.
After more than a decade in the spotlight, Holmes admits she can still find fronting the cameras a daunting experience. “I feel like those photos will be around,” she says, “So it’s a little more high pressure, in a way. You want it to be perfect. Plus you’re standing there, and they can really zoom in.”
Despite the scrutiny, Holmes keeps things simple. "You have 15 minutes on the red carpet, and then you see everyone you know. And if you look like a clown, it's kind of weird. So I look very subtle. But I love false eyelashes. If I could put them on myself, I would do it every day."
Trial and error have played a role in Holmes’ style evolution. "I've made a lot of mistakes,” she says. “I was always confused, are you supposed to go heavy on the inside with eyeliner, and lighter on the out? Everyone would tell me something different. And the cat eye is not for me, apparently. I always want to try it, but I just look like a mess."
Holmes, however, has long learned the feel-good power of makeup. “My mom was never a lipstick wearer - she was always very natural - so I never really had that example,” she says. Then, "one of my friends pulled me aside one day and said, 'You have got to start wearing lip gloss.' I said, 'I do?' Now I always have lip-gloss in my bag. I'll put it on in the elevator and it’s like, 'Oh yeah! I feel good!"
One look-good lesson that the Batman star swears by: good eating habits. "My mom is big on being healthy and eating well. She says, 'It always shows up. Always.'”
But Holmes also cautions that balance is everything: "You do have the meal of the week that's like French fries and cupcakes, and I think that's important. But I try to eat a lot of kale, salad with chicken, that kind of stuff. That just helps me keep up with life. And then I think it definitely plays into your skin."
Another big part of her feel good regime? Regular exercise. "I work out four times a week, or try to. I ride the bike and run, I lift weights, do yoga," she says.
Since Holmes’ divorce from Tom Cruise last year, the actress has called New York City home. Life in the city that never sleeps offers a constant source of creative energy she channels into her personal style, she says. "I find inspiration walking down the streets of New York and seeing women of all different backgrounds and all different professions and what they come out of their apartment wearing every day...I also get inspiration from old films, new films, old beauty books, old fashion books, art..."
Acknowledging the pressure to look good in the Big Apple, Holmes says she enjoys the challenge: "That's what I love about New York: you can never just go somewhere in your sweats. No one is going to forgive you for that. You've got to be ready when you walk out. And that's your statement."
For the past four years, Holmes has been able to add “designer” to her CV, having launched, with her former stylist Jeanne Yang, their Holmes & Yang. In the years since its debut, the brand has earned plaudits for its clean lines and impeccable tailoring. “We try to make beautiful things, and we're not so trend-driven,” Holmes has said. “We try to do a touch of rock'n'roll with our stuff, but keep it very classic."
Asked what makes her feel powerful, her answer is one that many women can relate to: "After I have accomplished my 'to do' list."No matter where Holmes’ career takes her, the mum and businesswoman is adamant that she will always be true to who she is, whether it’s in front of the camera or in real life. "I still always want to look like me."