After years in the spotlight, from the days of Will and Grace to her current role on Smash, it feels like we’ve come to know Debra Messing. But something you may not be aware of about the titian-haired funny lady, is that she suffers from severe allergies. ‘Spring is in the air’ has less of a ring to it when it comes with puffy eyes, redness, and ‘allergy face.’ Two thirds of women confess to feeling unattractive when suffering from allergies, so we chatted with the star (who is also allergic to an ‘endless list’ including dust, mold, mushrooms, and even chicken) about how she deals with this all-too-common affliction, how it affects her beauty routine, and on a side note: the dreaminess that is Dermot Mulroney.
Real Beauty: It's allergy season, how are you feeling?
Debra Messing: You know, I feel pretty great—I've got my armor. Zyrtec is in my arsenal and it's really been the only thing that's ever worked for me. I've been a very severe allergy sufferer all my life. It's always been an issue, causing anxiety and nervousness because it gets in the way of doing the things I want to do, like playing in the park with my son. Or if I have a photo shoot, God forbid, and it's spring outside... It was always sort of a crap shoot, and now I know that if I take Zyrtec in the morning, I'm covered.
RB: Have your allergies ever affected you on set?
DM: Absolutely. When I was shooting the movie The Wedding Date with Dermot Mulroney...
RB: Oh we were just talking about him. We love him!
DM: Oh gosh, he's dreamy. And he's just as nice of a human being as he is dreamy—and that makes him even more dreamy! So, we were shooting in the beautiful English Countryside, with flowers and grass everywhere, and I had an allergic reaction. My face blew up and turned pink and puffy, my eyes started running as if I were crying and would not stop. The director walked into the makeup trailer and looked at me and said, 'Oh my. Okay, we cannot shoot.' So literally, we had to stop production and wait for my allergies to resolve themselves. It was horrifying and embarrassing. I felt like I was inconveniencing everybody even though I had no control over it.
RB: Do you have any beauty tricks for when you feel like you’re having an allergy attack?
DM: I always carry these tiny portable, single-dose saline eye drops with me. So if I'm getting itchy, I use them to wash away any pollen or dust that might be stuck in my eyes. Also, I only use fragrance-free products—this has really made a difference for me. And if I'm working at Smash or doing a photo shoot, before I put makeup on I put either aloe juice or cucumber water in a bowl of ice. Then I'll saturate a washcloth in it and put it on my face for a couple of minutes, and it immediately takes down any puffiness.
RB: What is the most important think in your beauty routine?
DM: So much of it for me is dictated by my allergies. I drink as much water as I humanly can. It just flushes out my system. When you work such long hours, you get de-hydrated and sometimes don't realize it. So I drink a lot of water, and a lot of coconut water as well.
RB: What’s your go-to makeup brand?
DM: I use LORAC makeup because she [LORAC Founder Carol Shaw] suffers from allergies too. She actually created the line specifically for herself since she was so sensitive. She has a fragrance and oil-free foundation that I love. It's so light that it's almost like a tinted moisturizer—I use it all the time.
RB: What are your plans for the future? We heard you might be doing a new sitcom.
DM: Yeah, we wrapped the second season of Smash and we're waiting to hear whether or not we'll be returning for a third. I'm going to shoot the pilot for a half-hour comedy for CBS in second position. It's based on a show that is currently very successful in Israel and from the same production company that brought over Homeland in treatment from Israel. It's about a working mom trying to balance everything, but with a modern and fun approach to it—that's what drew me in. But of course, it's in second position behind Smash, so we'll see what happens.