As our favorite funny girl from Will & Grace and most recently, a Broadway writer on the hit series Smash, Debra Messing has been entertaining us for years. And though she always looks flawless on screen, she’s been covering up a not-so-pretty little secret: she’s a severe allergy sufferer. Turns out, she’s one of many—96% of women suffer from allergies and the beauty woes that accompany them (watery eyes, a red nose and a puffy face). So Messing is teaming up with Zyrtec, the number one allergist recommended brand, to help fellow sufferers look and feel their best by sharing her own personal story and beauty secrets. Here, she explains just how embarrassing allergies can be and how she manages to conceal the dreaded “allergy face.”
With spring comes warm weather and pretty flowers, but it’s also the start of allergy season. Can you explain what it means to have “allergy face?”
“I’ve been an allergy sufferer since I was really little. I grew up in New England, and anytime allergy season would come along, I would have these reactions. It would include my eyes watering constantly and my eyelids puffing up and my face getting blotchy and red, just to name a few things. So for me, that’s what allergy face means. It’s so great to be working with a company that is addressing the beauty needs of women during allergy season because in the past, it has prevented me from doing the things that I’ve really wanted to do. Like you said, taking advantage of the warm weather and going out to Central Park for a walk with my son or worrying about looking good if I have a press event outside. I partnered up with Zyrtec because it’s the first thing that actually works for me. It’s something that I can depend on and I know that if I take it in the morning I’m going to be ok. It really does prevent those reactions from happening to me.”
What’s your most embarrassing allergy attack story?
“I was shooting a movie called The Wedding Date in England, and we were out in the British countryside. Beautiful rolling hills, flowers everywhere, grass and everyone was so excited because we were going to be shooting outside for days. I went in to have my makeup done in the trailer and they brought in a new makeup artist to help out and she was doused in perfume, an all floral essences. By the time my hair was fixed, my entire face blew up and my throat closed. My eyelids were so swollen that my eyes looked like slits. I turned and said ‘uh oh’ and everyone turned and looked and said ‘Oh my God!’ The director came in and said we couldn’t shoot. We had to shut down production and wait until my allergy attack subsided—embarrassing! Everyone was literally just sitting around looking at my puffy face and waiting for it to get better.”
That sounds terrible! You mentioned being in the makeup chair, what are your go-to beauty products to conceal allergy symptoms?
“Because my eyes get itchy, I like to carry portable saline drops just to wash out my eyes so that any allergens in the air won’t stick around too long. In the morning, I get a bowl full of ice and add in aloe juice, which is inexpensive from the health food store, and I make the aloe juice really freezing and put in a washcloth and put it on my face for a minute or two. It takes all the puffiness out and it’s really soothing. My skin gets red and rashy so the aloe soothes that, too.”
Beside the products you use to hide your “allergy face,” do you have any other favorite beauty products?
“You know, my allergies are so severe that I really have to use fragrance-free products so there’s a makeup by Lorac called Natural Performance Foundation ($36, loraccosmetics.com) that I use everyday. It’s fragrance-free and doesn’t have anything in it that can exacerbate my sensitivity.”
So we know you’re a busy mom and working on the set of a hit TV show, so how do you find the time to stay fit?
“You know what, it’s all about my son. He is now turning nine. When he was about four, I was so amazed by how active he was and I thought there was no way he could get more active then he is. He is like the Tasmanian devil now. He is constantly running around and he wants me to play with him. He loves sports. So when the weather is nice, we go across the street to Central Park and we’ll take the soccer ball and play soccer. He likes football and tennis, too. He just really loves sports so that’s what keeps me healthy; I wouldn’t say fit.”
What is your diet like with such a crazy schedule?
“I also have a lot of food allergies, so for me, it’s about staying away from the foods that I’m allergic to. I try to eat very clean. I try and stay away from dairy and sugar. I try and eat a lot of fish and fresh fruits and vegetables, basically all of the things that your mom tries to teach you in kindergarten.”
When you splurge, what do you splurge on?
“I love pizza and I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!”