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Cobie Smulders talks confidence, her 'latest obsession' and why she considers her beauty routine 'chaotic'

We spoke with the actress about her go-to beauty and home finds.
Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images

Cobie Smulders – best known for her portrayal of Robin Scherbatsky on the hit TV series "How I Met Your Mother," and her recurring role as Agent Maria Hill in various Marvel films and TV shows – is one of those actresses who whenever she pops up on the screen, someone almost always chimes in with a comment along the lines of "Oh, I love her." (At least, that's how it is in my friend group).

And much like the ultra-likable characters she often plays on-screen, Smulders is down-to-earth and refreshingly honest in real life, too. During an exclusive interview with Shop TODAY, Smulders spoke about her day-to-day, discussing everything from her own experience with building confidence to her new partnership with the Colgate Smile Fund.

When asked about fostering optimism and self-confidence in her own life each day, Smulders confessed it's a daily practice: "I think that there are good days and there are bad days for all of us. And I think it's about stepping up and owning what that mood is. For me some days, you just feel really low. And it's acknowledging that — it's not trying to hide that or immediately make it better, but it's kind of sitting in that and asking why and asking how and knowing, with practice, that it will end."

"When you do something that is challenging over and over again, it gets easier," she added. "Thus, I guess you become confident at it — but I'm Canadian, so I'm dodging the word confidence. I don't even know what that is!"

So when does she feel the most confident? It's not necessarily when she's on the red carpet or crushing a scene. "Honestly, I don't ever feel I'm like, 'I've got this,' ... maybe it'll be in things I have absolute control over and are kind of like small — like, yeah, I can do this lap in the pool!" But, she said that for her, it's less about confidence and more about trying to do everything to the best of her abilities at that moment — then, the rest might come later.

Though by that measure, she should feel pretty confident when stepping onto a Marvel set. As Hill, she's appeared in eight movies and shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the course of 10 years (not including the much-anticipated upcoming "Secret Invasion" series, which she said has "a lot of twists and turns that I think are gonna leave people really excited"), and she says that returning to this same character time and time again has been "a gift."

"It's one thing to just be able to be in multiple productions across film and television playing the same character — I don't think that that happens just as a thing," she said. "But to be able to work with such creative, talented, kind, funny people that I have over these past, I don't know how many years ... it's wonderful because you jump into a new project and you get to meet a new batch of people or sometimes you get to work with the same people over and over. And that's really the takeaway for me, the friendships that I've made and the exposure that I've had to such amazing, talented people. Not just actors, but writers, and crew members, and animators and artists."

In addition to her on-screen work, Smulders is excited for another endeavor she newly took on. Most recently, she teamed up with Colgate to support their latest initiative, the Colgate Smile Fund. While the partnership with the oral care brand felt like a natural match (Smulders said her dad was a dentist whose saying was "brush every day and only floss the teeth that you want to keep"), the fund was what really drew her in.

"I was just really excited, because first of all, their focus is on helping make children more optimistic, supporting them to have brighter, healthier futures," Smulders told Shop TODAY. "And speaking specifically to City Year who's receiving this grant, they're an amazing nonprofit organization that is working in under-resourced schools across the U.S. providing academic and wellbeing support with a focus on socio-emotional learning, which I just feel is like a huge need right now coming out of the pandemic."

Through our chat, we asked Smulders to share a few of her favorite things with us as a part of our ongoing Shopping Diaries series. From her family's go-to board game to the gardening tool that's her "latest obsession," you'll likely want to snag a few of Smulders' current favorite items for yourself.

Shopping Diaries: Cobie Smulders

Stasher Silicone Reusable Bags

"In my home, I use those Stasher bags, those ones are really good — I try to minimize plastic use, [and] I try to minimize chemical use," she said.

Ticket to Ride Board Game

"We're a big gaming house," Smulders explained. And along with Scattergories, she named Ticket to Ride as one of her favorites. "We [she and husband, former SNL cast member, Taran Killam] used to have big game nights," she said. "We'd always have buds over and play games, and hopefully we'll be able to see the return of that."

Herbivore Botanicals Moon Dew Eye Cream

When it comes to her beauty routine, Smulders said her approach is "minimal," yet "chaotic." ("[I] slap it on, get in the car.")

"I lucked out, because I grew up in [Vancouver,] Canada which is a very green, clean city in terms of atmosphere and I have very good genes, so I haven't battled too much. I have found a very minimal routine that works for me."

Keeping skin hydrated is an important part of that routine, ("moisture, moisture, moisture"). Another one of her must-haves? Eye cream. "Mama's getting up there, so she's got some eye cream, which I use frequently — just drowning in eye cream. And I like Herbivore. I like their products," she said.

Lettuce Grow The Farmstand

"I just bought one of those Lettuce Grows, it's a vertical garden, and I'm obsessed," she said. "I mean, I have a vegetable garden and it's actually maddening how easy [the Lettuce Grow] is, because I toil in the soil and I put so many nutrients in the soil, and it's like, oh, it's getting too much sun, let's get it some more shade — I treat these plants like they're my babies. And then I buy the vertical garden, and this thing, just herbs, vegetables, you want a cucumber? It's got seven this morning. It's amazing, it's kind of my latest obsession."