Katie Holmes on her new role as the face of Bobbi Brown

THE curse of the child star is surely that, in the public eye, you are forever that child, doomed to never truly enter adulthood. Even when Katie Holmes played Rachel Dawes, the love interest to Christian Bale’s tortured Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, it was hard to shake the pretty little tomboy of Dawson’s Creek from the mind.

And when she married Tom Cruise, became a mother, then found herself embroiled in a very public divorce, there was still something desperately fragile and girlish about the sweet-faced brunette with dark eyes and a cheeky smile.

Now aged 34 and having survived the frenzy of the divorce courts, she has just finished a run on Broadway – Dead Accounts was closed seven weeks early, a result of poor ticket sales it seems, though Holmes is said to have acquitted herself admirably in the play about a beaten-down woman living with her parents – and has been announced as the ‘face’ of Bobbi Brown cosmetics.

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The first celebrity to be connected to the 21-year-old brand, Holmes finally looks like a woman comfortable in her own skin, with an inner strength to replace that childlike fragility.

“I really like Bobbi’s philosophy that make-up makes you feel beautiful,” says the actress. “You’re already beautiful, but make-up makes you feel stronger and better. When you haven’t slept enough, or if you’re going in to a big meeting and you’re a little nervous, it might be that tube of lipstick that gives you the extra confidence you need.”

The pair met through mutual friends and immediately struck up a rapport, two fiercely independent women with similar backgrounds, both mothers juggling family and career. “I’m a huge fan of Bobbi personally, and have so much respect for her as a professional,” says Holmes. “She’s built this company. She’s so dedicated. She works so closely with so many women and that’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

It’s not the first brand Holmes has endorsed. She’s modelled for the high-end Brazilian jewellery label H Stern and for fashion store Ann Taylor. She also recently signed a deal with eco-friendly hair care brand Alterna, making her both celebrity spokesperson and co-owner. But her connection with Bobbi Brown is as much about a personal connection as business.

“I’ve always been a fan because her colour palettes aren’t extreme, so when I first started wearing make-up it felt comfortable and I didn’t feel like I had too much on,” she says. “Then I met her, and she is just a lovely person – so generous. She’s an incredible woman.”

Continuing the love-in, Brown says: “I never set out to find a celebrity face, I hired a woman who just so happens to be a celebrity. Katie and I instantly clicked. We’re both girls from the Mid West, entrepreneurs and mothers who live multi-dimensional lives. It was nice to find out we had so much in common.

“Katie reminds me of a modern day Ali MacGraw, who I admired growing up. She is a classic beauty with a sparkle in her eye and a smile that lights up a room. She is beautiful without trying to be.”

In September, the make-up artist worked backstage on the look for the New York Fashion Week debut of Holmes and Yang, the label Holmes set up three years ago with her longtime stylist and friend Jeanne Yang. “Bobbi’s make-up highlights the woman – you see her, you don’t see the make-up,” says the actress. “And we try to do the same thing when we’re designing – we’re always making sure that the girl isn’t lost. And that the cuts are as flattering as possible and that the clothes are wearable and practical. Plus we sat down and met the models and spent some time thinking about what model went with what outfit based on what she felt good in. You can tell.

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“So then when Bobbi came and we were doing the make-up tests to come up with that look, it was really about creating enough colour to make the girls stand out – not doing anything too strong. We wanted it light, because they’re gorgeous. So we just wanted to highlight them a bit. The girls were transformed. I thought they were gorgeous when I met them, but when I saw them all ready I was like, ‘Wow’.”

Since her split with Cruise, Holmes has been under intense scrutiny and is often photographed by paparazzi, her style either criticised or praised depending on what publication or website or blogger you happen to be reading at the time. But she remains unapologetic about her low-maintenance look.

“I usually just do light blush, eye shadow, mascara, a little lip gloss. One of my friends pulled me aside and said, ‘You have got to start wearing lip gloss.’ I said, ‘I do?’ My mom was never a lipstick wearer, she was always very natural, so I never had that example. But now I always have lip gloss in my bag. I’ll put it on in the elevator and its like, ‘Oh yeah. I feel good.’”

She also admits to drinking a lot of water and exfoliates every day. “And I love lotion. I put a lot of lotion on in the morning and wear a mask at night.”

Her new-found strength may also be partly thanks to an intense exercise regime that sees her working out four times a week – “at least, I try to” – as well as cycling, running, lifting weights and yoga.

“Exercise just helps me keep up with life,” she says. “And I think it definitely plays into your skin. And I really try to eat healthy. I eat a lot of kale, salad with chicken, that kind of stuff.” Though she does confess to a weakness for chips and cupcakes.

And she says she’s trying to pass on that sense of balance to her six-year-old daughter Suri. “I’m pretty much imparting what my mother and grandmother taught me. What’s most important is what’s going on in your heart and your head. We’ll always have fun with lip gloss and all those things, and she’ll grow up and she’ll wear it like we do, but I try not to have the focus be on looks. It’s definitely more about running really fast, and reading, and that sort of thing.”

She will, she hopes, grow up to emulate one of the many women Holmes admires. “Lauren Hutton, because she’s amazing and becomes more and more amazing. Her beauty keeps up with her, and she with it. Audrey Hepburn. Michelle Obama. Grace Kelly. My mom. There are so many women. They have it all together.”

Twitter: @Ruth_Lesley

• Katie Holmes is the face of Bobbi Brown Longwear Compact Foundation, on counter from April, £32 (www.bobbibrown.co.uk)