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How Naomi Watts is changing the conversation around menopause: 'We've earned this moment'

The actress opens up about aging and experiencing perimenopause in her mid-30s.
Courtesy Ben Watts

Naomi Watts has certainly earned her stripes. The accomplished actress's resume includes a slew of hit shows and movies, ranging from "King Kong" to "The Impossible," and her impressive work has earned her two Academy Award nominations, among other accolades. Her most recent project, the eerie Netflix series "The Watcher," was the No. 1 most popular TV show in the U.S. on the streaming platform when it aired, according to Netflix.

And in Oct. of 2022, she stepped into a new role, as the founder and Chief Creative Officer of menopause beauty and wellness brand, Stripes. It wasn't her first foray into the beauty world — she is the co-founder of clean beauty retailer, Onda Beauty — but it does feel like a particularly meaningful one. Because with this brand, she's hoping to tackle some of the taboos around perimenopause and menopause (which, she says is '"considered still, unfortunately, a dirty word").

"I reject the notion that [menopause] marks the end of one's life," Watts said during a previous Zoom call with Shop TODAY. "Just because it's the end of one's reproductive life doesn't mean to say you're invisible or irrelevant. In fact, I wanted to have it be reminded that this is the beginning of a new point. Every woman will experience this at some point in their life — and obviously, they will be hit with it in different ways — but why not make it the best it can be? Even the better half?"

Her desire to found the company was inspired by her own experience with perimenopause, which she says began in her mid-30s, as she and then-partner Liev Schreiber were trying to get pregnant. "That's when I started to hear from my doctor that my hormones were changing at quite a drastic level, and it put me into such a terrible panic." After trying multiple interventions, she was able to get pregnant, first with Sasha, now 15, and later withKai, 13. "I started feeling extreme symptoms after the second baby," she said. "And I sort of tested the waters, trying to talk to my peers about it and wasn't met with a huge reception, because I just didn't think they were there yet."

One of her biggest symptoms? Dry skin. "This was something I saw every day play out as being an obstacle for me because I'm in front of the camera and my skin became irritable and itchy," she said. She hadn't given much thought to what would happen, so she said that most of the symptoms were a surprise. "I heard about hot flashes, I heard about night sweats but I hadn't really heard about things like migraines. I certainly hadn't heard about skin issues. I mean, 90 percent of women experience painful sex as well after menopause. And that's the most taboo subject area."

Along with providing solutions for those experiencing the symptoms, with the brand, she wanted to create a community. So they made The Hot Spot, a platform where people could share their stories and hear tips from others, as a way to help break down the stigma and normalize conversations around perimenopause and menopause.

"We're at that point in time where we should feel proud of our cumulative experiences," Watts said. "We've been through ups and downs, we've recovered, we're wiser for that, we're stronger, we should embrace this moment in our lives in a positive way, as if we've earned this moment — we've earned our stripes."

When Watts stopped by the show on April 27, she shared that in her career, she was told that "it will all be over at 40." Though she clearly hasn't let that stop her. In fact, it would seem that Watts is really making this period in her life the "better half."

Last fall, she celebrated her 54th birthday. And while women often struggle to look at aging in a positive light, especially in an industry that's so focused on aesthetics, for her, the occasion was worth celebrating. (And she said she did, first with family and then later with friends.) And instead of focusing on the negative, she said she's trying to make this time easier for herself, focusing on what she's achieved, feeling more comfortable and being kinder to herself.

"The years are shorter ahead of us now, so how do we make them our best?" Watts told Shop TODAY. "In my industry, it's so polarized, the whole aging thing. I do see a lot of change since I began in this career, which was considered late by Hollywood standards. I really got going in my early 30s and I was told, once you get to your 40s it's pretty much done. And here I am in my 50s and still going. And I look at women like Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, multiple fantastic, talented, intelligent people and I'm just so impressed by them. So I'm just, I'm just trying to make the most of it and celebrate this time."

Stripes' line includes skin, hair and vaginal wellness products as well as supplements and is sold on Amazon, Sephora and the Stripes website. Here, Watts shared with Shop TODAY some of her personal favorite picks from the company as well as a handful of her other go-to beauty products.

Shopping Diaries: Naomi Watts

The Power Move Facial Serum

"I really am in love with the serum, which is called The Power Move," Watts said. "And it's called that because it's such a powerful product that's just jam-packed with super hydrating ingredients." Along with mushroom extract and five different versions of hyaluronic acid, it features a combination of squalane and Ectoine, "which not only nourishes the skin barrier, but it strengthens as well and it really locks in the moisture," she added.

"In the summer I would use it on its own and it acts perfectly well as a moisturizer, but in the winter I'm going to use it with the Dew As I Dew [Hydrating Cream]," she said.

The Full Monty Squalane Body Oil

Watts also cited The Full Monty as another one of her favorites from the line. The formula, which blends squalane, antioxidant-rich acai oil, and vitamins C and E promises to deliver deep hydration and brighten the appearance of skin.

"All of our names, we've tried to have a little bit of fun with," she said. "Just little reminders to lift the spirits, make you feel good and tap into nostalgia."

The Resting Clean Face Facial Wash

"Cleansing is always important, particularly if you're someone like me that has to wear makeup on camera," but she added that it's important to use a wash that isn't too harsh and won't strip the skin. "That's the cleanser, Resting Clean Face. It's something that we did quite a few iterations of because we needed to make sure that it was something milky and soothing, not something that was stripping."

Relevant One And Done Everyday Cream With SPF 40

Sunscreen is a staple in Watt's beauty routine and something she always keeps in her bag. She likes this one from Relevant Skin, which she said was founded by Nyakio Grieco, who also created Thirteen Lune, a beauty marketplace showcasing beauty brands from Black and brown founders. "Her sunscreen is just wonderful," she said.

Westman Atelier Vital Skin Full Coverage Foundation and Concealer Stick

"I really try to give my skin breaks as much as possible," Watts said. "But if I'm doing makeup myself, I'll always use a nice concealer — I love Gucci Westman's one at the moment."

Beautycounter Lipstick

"I'm a big fan of a lip, like just popping a lip and then you can use it on your cheeks as well ... I love Beauty Counter's lipsticks," she said.