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Why Drew Barrymore is not here 'to tell you to drink water, get better sleep and work out'

We spoke with the actress about cleaning, wellness and what she can't live without.
Grove Collaborative

If anyone can find joy in the little things, it's Drew Barrymore. The actress and talk show host has been known to run into rain storms with a smile (as evidenced by her now-iconic TikTok), get emotional during home improvement projects (see viral internet moment No. 2) and talk about cleaning products with an unmatched sense of excitement.

That last bit is something we got to experience first-hand during a recent Zoom call with Barrymore to discuss everything from her beauty routine to her surprising love for cleaning and her partnership and role as an investor and global brand and sustainability advocate for the household essentials retailer Grove Collaborative.

"Cleaning is such a metaphor for your life," the 48-year-old icon tells Shop TODAY. "I loved when someone said once 'your head is as messy as your room is.' I was like, well, I can clean my room."

For Barrymore, the importance of tidying goes deeper than just keeping a clean home. "When I moved out into my first apartment — I got emancipated at 14 — I was really overwhelmed and scared and I was like, I don't know how to do any of this stuff. So cleaning and laundry became a way of empowerment and ownership over the life I was living. It became this beautiful ritual, especially laundry. I actually wrote a chapter in a book I wrote called 'Wildflower' that's all about how I'm convinced laundry saved my life and gave me systems and a direction."

She says she would carry her basket to the laundromat at the mini mall (she was too young to drive), take her book, get a carton of Chinese food and spend her afternoon there. "It made me feel so happy and so joyful and productive and peaceful and optimistic about something that was feeling very intimidating and daunting."

That doesn't mean that she attacks every task with vigor. While laundry is still one of her favorite chores (along with loading the dishwasher and organizing her refrigerator), there's a clear standout that falls at the bottom of her list. "For whatever reason, I don't always love vacuuming. But I appreciate it afterwards."

Beyond cleaning, Barrymore's approach to self-care (though she may not call it that) is much more focused on her mind than anything else — you won't hear her going on about the life-changing effects of a good HIIT session.

"I'm not the person who is going to tell you to drink water, get better sleep, and work out and use SPF. That is not probably ever going to be my rhetoric. I'm gonna say, work on the inside. And that's where I know I spend a consistent, decent amount of time on. The other stuff? Full fail. Inconsistent, sometimes good, sometimes terrible, sometimes meh, in between. So don't ask me about all that health and wellness. If you want to talk about like solving problems and working on your s---, I can talk about that all day."

For her, that work involves going to therapy, writing everything down and taking accountability for her actions. "I just try really hard to keep the whole ecosystem very open and communicative. I think the more you stuff stuff under the rug, the worse it smells. And it just keeps everybody not evolving."

When it comes to beauty, she says that her routine now is "simple." "Which is funny because that's not how I used to do it," she adds. (As evidence, she holds up a picture that was featured in a recent issue of Drew magazine to her camera; it's a younger version of herself at a festival, sporting a face full of brightly colored makeup.) "That was so much cooler, but I'm a mom now, I'm busy and it's just different, I'm different and things are different."

Though in the spirit of looking back, as someone who has spent her entire life in an industry that's fixated on age and appearances, we couldn't help but ask what she would tell her younger self about aging if she got the chance. And no, it isn't to wear more sunscreen.

"I'm so sick of hearing about SPF, I can't even talk about it," Barrymore says. "I'm so tired [of hearing] that the answer to life is in SPF. I get it, you don't need to hear that from me." (Don't worry, she wears it! Though, she'll admit, "I don't use it as much as I should.")

Instead, her advice would be to "work on your s---." "I know that I look terrible, I'm puffy, I've got zits, I've got dark circles under my eyes when I'm not doing right ... I know I look so much worse when my insides are toxic. And when I'm clear-headed, and I'm working on myself and I'm being really diligent about behavior, I feel like it shows on the outside."

Though, there are also some things that help with that outside appearance. For our Shopping Diaries series, we asked Barrymore to walk us through some of the products she's loving right now, from the item she always keeps in her bag to the $12 face oil she has stocked in her beauty cabinet.

Shopping Diaries: Drew Barrymore

Grove Collaborative Power Clean Laundry Detergent Sheets

Earlier this year, Barrymore teamed up with Grove Collaborative to release a cobranded Fresh Horizons collection featuring a range of cleaning and home products in two scents, Island Orchid and Palm Leaf Mist. And Barrymore says that these laundry sheets are her "favorite."

"I've had to give up fabric softener which felt like such a sacrifice, but it makes my clothes very soft. I don't have to use fabric softener anymore."

Editor's Note: The Laundry Detergent Sheets from Barrymore's collection are currently out of stock, but you can get another scent here.

Grove Collaborative Hydrating Hand Soap + Reusable Hand Soap Dispenser Set

Barrymore was already an avid Grove customer and had been shopping under an undisclosed alias when the brand approached her about a partnership. "I was a customer, and I thought did they figure out my alias and they know that? That's so weird," she says. "And I was so excited because I was a huge fan and I did all of my shopping on there. I was really in love with the Grove products. I love that they have a little bit of everything and other brands, and they're an amazing shopper site so I didn't have to go to like five different retailers. But I just did all things, Grove. I preferred their products. So when they called to talk about working together, I was very prepped and primed. I knew exactly who they were and they were all over my kitchen."

This reusable hand soap dispenser is another pick from the collection that she says she loves, "because it's opaque."

Grove Collaborative Fresh Horizons Hand Soap Sheets

This package of sheets, which Barrymore says she loves "so much," is perfect for sticking in your purse or gym bag so you'll never be without hand soap when you need it. The brand says that they dissolve in water and still give you that classic rich lather and post-wash softness of liquid soap, but in an easily portable and mess-free sheet.

Now Solutions Vitamin E-Oil

This vitamin E oil is a staple in Barrymore's skin care routine. "It doesn't have any other ingredients in it except for olive oil, and unfortunately, a lot of them have a lot of stuff in them, so this is my favorite brand."

Flower Beauty Plump Up Gloss Stick

"My new obsession is our Flower Beauty click pen [gloss stick]," Barrymore says. She says the gloss, which is from her own beauty line, is both plumping and has a buildable tint.

One of the things she cares most about with lip products is whether they leave behind lasting hydration, without clumping or cracking — and this one checks those boxes. "The last thing I want to do is look in the mirror and be like, oh my God, I have crust and cracks and all that ... I'm 48 and I've lived my life, I don't have young lips, and so it has to function that way."

Standard Playing Cards

"I never do not have a deck of cards in my bag," she says. That way, whether she's with her daughters, Olive, 10, and Frankie, 9, her girlfriends or alone (she plays solitaire), she's always ready to pass the time with a game.

Personalized Bar Bracelet

Barrymore seems like she'd be a pretty good gift giver (I mean, did you see what she did for Jennifer Garner's birthday?), so we had to know if she has a go-to gift that is a practically guaranteed win every time.

"I love a heart locket or an ID bracelet, like really old school," she says "Anything engraved. A clock. For me, if it's been engraved that means you've thought about it before, you had to come up with something to say. You could engrave a piece of wood, it doesn't matter, anything engraved is my go-to."

If you're hoping to take a page from her book, we found this popular option on Etsy that allows you customize multiple features, from the material to the engraved message and texture of the plate.

Tiffany & Co. Return To Tiffany Lovestruck Heart Tag Bracelet

When it comes to the jewelry, she says she loves a present from Tiffany & Co. for really special occasions, adding, "you can find some that are like $100-something or $200. I'm not laying down crazy money, I'm just not that guy ... but anything you can engrave. Again, ID bracelets, silver ones especially can be very affordable."