Jared Leto has a look that is all his own. The prolific filmic and musical chameleon—who is an Oscar winner in addition to the frontman of the band Thirty Seconds to Mars—stands out in an industry whose stars rarely have their own innately chic style (to be frank, and with all due respect, many celebrities’ “signature looks” are cooked up by talented stylists). Unless you’re Leto, of course, who possesses his own charm and oozes charisma with his androgynous, almost messianic taste.
Underneath Leto’s proclivity for fashion and beauty—the House of Gucci star’s shining, deeply moisturized skin and hair have been the subject of many interviews—is a deep sense of spirituality. That affinity for a higher power may have inspired the vegan animal-rights activist to partner with businessman Jonathan Keren on a new lifestyle brand called Twentynine Palms (either that, or his mother served as the spark; she lived on a hippie commune filled with creative individuals who inspired Leto to pursue his passion for the arts as a child). Named after the entry point to Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms offers cruelty-free, vegan products that evoke the harmony of the desert while incorporating precious ingredients from that clime, such as prickly pear and desert wildflower, or evening primrose oil. This locale has been a place of rest and reflection for Leto for quite some time, he tells W. Below, he reflects on the brand, his approach to self-care, and why he finds a rock climbing wall (or, in fact, a real boulder) in most cities and towns he visits.
What inspired you to introduce Twentynine Palms with skin, body, and hair products? What other categories can we expect from the brand in the future?
I met my co-founder, Jonathan Keren, when he had a brand called Maapilim. They were the first products I tried that I really loved and used regularly. I considered making an investment, but the more we talked, the more it made sense to start something together and build it from the ground up. The plan with Twentynine Palms is to continue making things we are passionate about, regardless of category.
How does the Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms locale fit into your personal world?
The desert is a great escape. It’s seductive. It’s intoxicating: the vastness, the scarcity, and then the abundance. The first time I experienced it was in Morocco. Now, when I visit Joshua Tree and the area of Twentynine Palms, it always allows me to step away from life for a moment. There’s rarely cell phone service and great opportunity for solitude.
Was there a certain person in your life who first inspired your wellness journey?
The first person I would think of would be my mother. She’s a lifelong vegetarian and has always prioritized health and wellness. She always made sure we were surrounded by art, creativity, and adventure. I still value those things above all else.
Last time I ran into you, before I saw you, I saw the back of your hair. It’s beautiful, long, and healthy. Let me be a bit superficial here, because it’s my beat—how do you maintain it?
Twentynine Palms haircare!
The packaging for Twentynine Palms is simple and chic, yet so vivid and cool. I can imagine any of your products on a nightstand inside a midcentury modern home. Are you into architecture at all?
I used to live in a midcentury modern home. I’m a fan of the architect Tom Kundig. His work is always reflective of the use of the space and the natural surroundings.
What’s in your guest bathroom? Is there Twentynine Palms hand soap and lotion?
What about candles? Is that a space you’d ever get into?
We are working on a Twentynine Palms candle right now.
You have never pretended to be anyone you’re not. But you still live and work in one of the world’s most difficult towns and industries. Do you feel pressure to create or project a certain image that you have it all together?
No. None of us has it all together. I try my best to treat others well, be a kind and considerate person, and believe in the value of good, old-fashioned hard work.
Let’s get into the Beauty Notes questions. What time do you typically wake up in the morning and what’s the first thing you do, beauty-wise?
I don’t have a typical schedule, as I travel so much and am often adjusting to different time zones. But I put sleep first and make sure I am always well-rested. Our products, which are all natural, use products that have naturally sourced scents from essential oils—which is key to helping me fall asleep.
What is your desert island, can’t-live-without-it wellness product?
It’s water. Even when I’m not on a desert island, I drink tons of water during the day.
Do you work out every day? Do you consider workouts important in your quest for wellness or is it just a way to stay fit?
I don’t have a set routine, but I love to rock climb and prioritize it in my life. The best is when you can get outside and do it in nature. Yosemite National Park has the best climbing in the world, but when I want to be closer to home, I go to Red Rock in Nevada or bouldering in Joshua Tree.
What about when you are on tour? Do you engage in any specific activity to keep your energy up on stage?
Every city I go tends to have a rock-climbing gym, so I like to go out and explore what’s there. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find outdoor climbing close by, too.
What’s your favorite form of self-care?
In the past few years, I’ve enjoyed learning to meditate. I practice Vipassana Meditation. Vipassana is about seeing clearly, so in some ways it was what I needed to prepare me for being alone in lockdown. It ended up being a really important time for me creatively.
Is there a particular scent you love?
For special occasions, I wear Gucci Guilty.
Do you have a style or beauty icon?
David Bowie for his bravery. Andy Warhol for his singularity.