TIME 10 Questions

Katie Couric on A New Documentary, Her New Job and the NBC Rumor Mill

The anchor and activist answers 10 questions in this week's TIME

How did the nonprofit you co-founded, the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up to Cancer, get involved with the PBS series premiering March 30?

Cancer has been life-­shattering for me on more than one occasion. My husband died of colon cancer in 1998. My sister died of pancreatic cancer three years later. Laura Ziskin, one of my co-founders, died of breast cancer. She’d read an advance copy of Dr. Siddartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies and immediately said, “We have to turn this into a documentary.”

Many people touched by cancer get overwhelmed or tune it out. Why do you return to it again and again?

Everyone has a different reaction to cancer. My husband, who was one of the most intellectually curious people I’d ever met, didn’t want to know much. As someone who loved him, my impulse was to protect him. My journalistic instincts also kicked in. I learned everything I could. After he died, I realized I had this built-in bully pulpit and it would be almost criminal not to share what I’d learned.

Do you do anything weird to stay healthy?

I wish I drank, like, copious amounts of green tea. I’m just not one of those maniacally healthy people. I try to say no to french fries. I’m very good about getting screened, about getting mammograms.

You’re Yahoo’s Global News Anchor now. What have you learned from Marissa Mayer?

I think you learn to keep your blinders on, focus on the job at hand and ignore the noise. Marissa is very good at that.

What makes a good anchor?

Someone who’s experienced and who has credibility. When I came to CBS, people said I lacked gravitas, which was frankly an unfair assessment. I had probably done more interviews than most of the sitting anchors, and certainly my share of hard-hitting ones. I always said “gravitas” was Latin for “testicles.”

After the Brian Williams ordeal, some people said anchors face pressure to get in the trenches or be part of the story. Did you ever feel that?

It’s a very hard balance, because there are stories that warrant the anchor being there, but you also have to be cognizant that it not be as window dressing. You have reporters out there, day in and day out, covering a story, and then you have an anchor parachute in. You hope whoever that anchor is brings something to the table.

Every couple of months, there’s a new rumor you’re going back to NBC—

I know, I know. It’s very disconcerting and bizarre to be the focus of stories that just have no factual basis.

So is there any truth to it?

No. No, no. Listen, I love NBC and I spent 15 wonderful years there. I still have a lot of friends there. But right now I’m really excited about the work I’m doing at Yahoo. It’s wonderful to feel entrepreneurial. As a friend of mine said, it’s great to be part of a place that’s expanding optimistically instead of managing decline.

Who’s your dream interview right now?

Pope Francis. He’s such a transformative figure. He has expressed some attitudes of tolerance and compassion and some Jesuit values that I really admire.

Gossip sites ran some photos of you and your husband in swimsuits recently. How did that feel?

Oh my God, that was awful. I took some time off with my husband, and I look out and there are three big, huge cameras. I’m a 58-year-old woman. My heart sank. I guess it’s part of the fine print of having a public job, but I hope women out there everywhere felt my pain.

This interview appears in the April 6, 2015, issue of TIME.

TIME skin care

3 Ways to Exfoliate Without Using Microbeads

Honey dripping off Dripper
Getty Images

Illinois is banning microbeads in facewash. Here's what to use instead

News about Illinois’ ban on facewashes that contain microbeads raise serious environmental concerns that are being heeded by a number of states. But for the vain among us, it begs the question: What to use instead of microbeads if you want that squeaky-clean feeling?

First, it bears a reminder that aggressively scrubbing your face is not a good idea, both because it can cause tiny tears in the surface of your skin—making it prone to infection and inflammation—and also because you don’t want to disrupt the skin’s acid mantle, which is there to keep in moisture and keep out pathogens.

There are thousands of products that claim to safely remove dead skin cells, but sometimes, simple is best. Here are three easy ways to clean your face that won’t break the bank, expose you to harsh ingredients or ruin your face.

Make Your Own, With Honey

Honey has long been a mainstay in DIY natural beauty, and for good reason. Honey is naturally antimicrobial, which makes it an effective cleanser on its own. You can rub a tablespoon between your hands and will find it gets nice and slippery—the consistency of a fancy face wash. It’s also humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture and can help keep your skin dewy—something a lot of harsh exfoliating scrubs cannot claim to do—and it contains gluconic acid, a mild acid that is considered benign by public health experts.

A recent review in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology concluded that: “Honey is particularly suitable as a dressing for wounds and burns … dandruff … In cosmetic formulations, it exerts emollient, humectant, soothing, and hair conditioning effects, regulates pH and prevents pathogen infections.”

Some natural beauty mavens like to mix their honey with baking soda—which is something you want to be careful with because it’s quite alkaline. Your skin’s pH is widely thought to be around 5.5 (though a 2006 study placed it closer to 5), and it has what’s called an acid mantle on it. That’s an important barrier to keep intact, both to protect against infections and to keep in moisture. Try honey on its own, and if you want that scrubby feeling, mix in just a pinch of baking soda.

Use a Konjac Sponge

You could spend upwards of $150 on an electronic face scrubber, or you could drop $11 and get yourself a reusable sponge made, as the name suggests, of fibers from the root of a konjac plant. It comes rock hard, but put it under warm water and it softens into a springy dome that you can use with or without a cleanser to slough off dead skin cells. It’s gentle enough that you can use it daily. Some brands make konjac sponges infused with things like charcoal, which is a natural detoxifier for the skin. You could go that route if you want to, but I prefer the basic one. One konjac sponge will last you six weeks of twice-daily use.

Use A Gentle Peel With Lactic Acid

There are two main ways to get rid of the dead skin cells that dull the look of the surface of your skin. There are manual exfoliants—like scrubs and konjac sponges and face cloths—and there are chemical ones. The latter use acids to dissolve the material that keeps skin cells bound together, making dead cells easier to remove. (There is some evidence that some acids also support cell turnover. Cell turnover slows as we age, which is why these acids are also touted as antiagers.)

These kinds of exfoliants can be natural or synthetic, and can cause irritation in some people. There are tons of different acids in products on the market—well known ones include alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid and glycolic acid. Lactic acid appears to improve water barrier properties, which helps the skin retain moisture, while also being an exfoliant. You should not use products containing acids in the morning because they can increase sensitivity to the sun. And always wear SPF on your face, whether you’re using a scrub or not.

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