The Riverdale actress opens up about prioritizing mental health in the limelight.

By Mara Santilli
July 12, 2018
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

No one could say that Madelaine Petsch doesn't prioritize health. She's eaten vegan for most of her life, is an essential oil devotee, loves an energizing workout, and knows when to step away from the limelight when she needs a break.

"Because the job is so social, we're expected to always be 'on.' I feel like it's easy to lose your identity in all of it," she says. "So I try to stay really grounded within myself through all of that, and just take care of myself." (Related: Camila Mendes Admits She Struggles to Love Her Belly and She's Basically Speaking for Everyone)

Ahead, the Riverdale star and Bioré brand ambassador chats with us about jumping on the Soul Cycle bandwagon, how she found peace with her skin, and the self-care routine she uses to combat social anxiety.

How She Learned to Love Her Skin

"From an early age, my mom always told me, ‘you don't need anything on your face,' so taking care of my skin has always been a priority. Funny enough, the first skincare product I ever owned was Bioré pore strips-it was the product I always saw in the movies, and I always wanted to be that friend at sleepovers who'd have that. I would have the occasional breakout here and there, but around age 18 I got hit with pretty bad cystic acne-my whole forehead was covered in it. My relationship with my skin was not great, and it's hard to feel comfortable in your own skin when you hate your skin. I was mad because I ate super clean and I drank a lot of water, and I didn't understand why this was happening. But looking back I was extremely stressed: I was working three jobs, trying to pay rent, and living in LA on my own for the first time. I was just so hard on myself that it made my skin worse, and it was this never-ending cycle of learning to be happy in my own skin. Also, learning how to wash my face properly-when you've got a full face of makeup on, one wash is not enough! So I had to get to know my own skin and become comfortable in it to make it clear, which is ironic. Plus, finding inner peace and happiness truly does help." (Related: Chloë Grace Moretz Opens Up About Being Acne-Shamed As a Teen)

Her "No Makeup Makeup" Approach

"I'm really working on feeling comfortable enough in my own skin to not feel like I have to wear makeup all the time. When I booked Riverdale, I thought I always had to keep my appearance up and look a certain way, but I realized that these are just society's standards of the way I'm supposed to look...I need to be comfortable with the way I look naturally. My boyfriend [Travis Mills] has really helped me with that and encourages me to see that less is more with makeup.

Still, I never leave the house without lip balm on, and eyebrows are the one thing I focus on-if you have strong brows you don't need makeup. I filled my eyebrows in for 30 minutes today-I have very light eyebrows, so I get serious eyebrow envy. They're the one thing that I always notice on other people. But I try to turn that envy of things that I don't have into an appreciation for other people, rather than having it be a jealousy-which is important for self-care and mental health."

Finding the Right Workout Class Brings Her Joy

"Before I went to SoulCycle, I felt like it was a little out there because everyone tells you, ‘it's amazing, you're going to feel a life change'. And I was like, 'okay, whatever,'-and then I went with my personal trainer. There's one instructor in Vancouver that I'm absolutely obsessed with and she knows it. I was nervous to do SoulCycle until I got into class. If you do it in the morning, your entire day is better, because your body is nourished and your soul is nourished. People don't get it, and I sound like a SoulCycle ambassador, even though I'm not-I've only done it maybe five or six times so far, but every time I do it I'm happy. However, my bum does hurts afterward! I'm still learning the right posture because I feel like I'm doing it wrong." (Related: The #1 Way to Get More Out of Your Spin Class)

She Eats This Vegetable with Every Single Meal

"I was raised vegan, so I've always eaten super clean-I ate out of my dad's garden my entire life. It's pretty great, and I think I took it for granted. Now living in L.A., I'm realizing that I had organic food at my fingertips 24/7, and I wasn't paying $15 for a head of broccoli. These days, I eat steamed spinach with every meal. When I have a nice big bowl of steamed spinach, I just feel better. I think it's all a mental thing, but I do see a difference in my skin and energy. And yes, I have it with breakfast too-avocado toast and a side of steamed spinach go great together. Or I'll do a spinach smoothie with berries. I try to incorporate it into every meal." (Related: Riverdale Actress Camila Mendes Shares Why She's Done with Dieting)

How She Deals with Social Anxiety

"I've always had social anxiety-I get stressed really easily. When you have social anxiety, going out isn't that easy. With that being a huge part of my career, every time I'm getting ready to go out, I have that feeling of weight on my chest, the anxiety of everyone looking at me and the self-consciousness-it's something that I have to learn to deal with. It's about breaking down that wall, and I'm getting there. It's easier now to have a boyfriend who holds my hand to go to these events. I'm not saying to rely on a man by any means, but having that person that supports you and can hold your hand through it, whether it be physically or metaphorically, really helps. A year ago, I would have been stressed about hosting an event tonight, and now I'm ready to do it." (Related: What It's Like to Have Social Anxiety As an Instagram Influencer)

She Always Leaves Time for Self-Care

"I'm a huge candle and diffuser user. I'm really into scents-they seem to help me a lot. I like to use lavender essential oil a lot, and that really calms me down. So I'll get home early-I'm such a grandma-make a tea and put on my diffuser, light a candle, take a nice hot shower, and then I'll get in bed, put my lotion on, and read a book. This process really helps me wind down and check in with myself. I need to have that moment of full silence, where I'm just sitting there, thinking and reflecting on my day. (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None)

What also helped me a lot with the social anxiety as well in the beginning was keeping a journal with my experiences and feelings, like how an event went, how my feelings were when I met this person, or when I walked into the room. Getting to know yourself, and just being okay with where you're at, even if it's not a great place, is just the first step for me. Self-care and enjoying my alone time and finding my routines and sticking to them makes me feel a lot calmer."