The Hilary Duff Effect |

The Hilary Duff Effect

On the day of our interview, Hilary Duff is having a low-key day, which she says never happens. Her husband of three and a half years, Matthew Koma, is on kid duty, which has given Duff some much-needed breathing room. “I woke up at 6:45 a.m. and worked out, had a meeting, and then I came home, put my heating pad on, and I’ve been doing emails in bed,” she says. “Everything in my world just feels really mellow right now.”

Hilary Duff wears bronzed makeup look for Shape's 2023 digital issue
Jonathan Simkhai dress. Marrin Costello earrings. JONNY MARLOW

That feeling is likely because she isn’t currently filming — her show How I Met Your Father wrapped months earlier, and the second half of its second season is currently streaming on Hulu. While Duff may not be as busy as she normally is, that doesn’t mean her plate isn’t full. She still has projects to promote, photo shoots to dazzle in, and hosting duties. Most recently, she was an honoree of the Organization for Social Media Safety, receiving its 2023 Social Media Safety Education Award for working to use her platform to educate the public on the dangers of cyberbullying, with the goal of making social media safer and kinder for millions of vulnerable youth.

 “I’m almost more busy when I’m not shooting than when I’m shooting,” she says. “When I have a call time, I have to go to work, obviously, and I’m there all day and have to keep my head in that game. When I’m not [shooting], I’m so scattered and all over the place. It’s just madness.”

Navigating A Fruitful Career

I mention to Duff that I just spent the last week binge-watching the entire seven seasons of Younger (because it was that good) and I can hear the smile in her voice. “That makes me so happy,” says Duff, who played the smart, ambitious, and unlucky-in-love publishing editor Kelsey Peters. “I always say this, but I feel like our show was like The Little Engine That Could. I literally never knew if we were getting picked up after every season, but everybody loved it. People just caught on to it later, and then it was done.”

Hilary Duff wears white dress and visor with bright blue eyeliner for Shape's 2023 digital issue
AKIRA dress. Ian Charms necklace. Melinda Maria necklace. Bondeye Jewelry necklace. Luna Skye necklace and earrings. Stylist’s visor. JONNY MARLOW

 Kelsey is just one of the beloved characters that Duff has played in a career that spans about 25 years and counting. Another, and arguably her most well-known role, is the awkward adolescent Lizzie McGuire, who Duff loves and appreciates just as much as her fans. Then there’s Duff’s current role: Sophie Tompkins, a 30-something aspiring photographer navigating love in the concrete jungle of Manhattan in How I Met Your Father, a show billed as a sequel to the much-loved How I Met Your Mother, which aired from 2005 to 2014.

 Duff is admittedly in a different place in her life than Sophie. She’s married to singer-songwriter-producer Koma and has three children, including her son, Luca, 11, from her previous marriage to retired hockey player Mike Comrie, and her daughters, Banks, 4, and Mae, 2. But she says her magic trick is gravitating toward characters like Sophie that have relatable qualities. 

 “She’s so open-hearted and open-minded, and I love that,” says Duff, who calls her character the ultimate optimist. “She’s not afraid to look dumb, and I feel like in this world of being scared to fail, we’re also afraid to take chances…and she still has this childlike quality where she’s unafraid of that.”

Hilary Duff wears bronzed makeup look for Shape's Summer 2023 digital cover
Jonathan Simkhai dress. Marrin Costello earrings. JONNY MARLOW

She’s not afraid to look dumb, and I feel like in this world of being scared to fail, we’re also afraid to take chances…and she still has this childlike quality where she’s unafraid of that.

But Duff, who’s been open about going to therapy, is also quick to note that Sophie may need to spend some time on a therapist’s couch to deal with her past trauma. “She has this big hole in her life where she didn’t have a dad, and her mom didn’t really share very much with her,” she says. “I think her mom loves her a lot, but it’s complicated, and Sophie kind of raised her mom. And she’s really scared to be hurt…I think you’ll see in these next few episodes that she is working to heal that side of her, so hopefully, she can have success in love.” Of course, for the sake of the show (no word on a season three yet, unfortunately), Duff admits that Sophie probably needs to keep seeking for a little bit longer.

Duff was also happy to bring a bit of Lizzie McGuire, via flashback, to How I Met Your Father this season. “I don’t think it was enough to satisfy the fact that [the Disney+ Lizzie McGuire revival] project is shelved,” she says. And while Duff is quick to never say never about the project happening at some point in the future, she is adamant about not wanting to be a 40-year-old playing the teenager. (You hear that, Disney? You’ve got five years to make it happen!)

With How I Met Your Father, Duff isn’t just responsible for breathing life into Sophie, but she’s also an executive producer on the television show, with a hand in everything from casting to hiring crew members to handling issues on set, which has made the stakes on the show even higher. “The fear of failure is, of course, there, but I don’t think if our show didn’t get picked up, I would be like, ‘I could have done this differently,’” she says.

Making The Most of Motherhood

When Duff isn’t focused on the business of entertainment, she is embracing her role as a mother. In fact, during our conversation, her daughter Banks comes into the room, and Duff turns her attention to her. “I think I hear a termite,” Duff says jokingly before placing me on a brief hold when she realizes Banks is crying. When she comes back, she explains how Banks was with Koma in Boston for a quick trip to celebrate his niece’s birthday. Then when Banks woke up this morning, Duff was already out of the house, and all she wanted was her mom.

Seeing Duff pop into Mommy mode and then back into the interview without missing a beat is a reminder of the incredible balancing act parents are tasked with on a daily basis. One that she says is hard AF and often leaves her simultaneously feeling like superwoman and roadkill. But being the person who leads her children into the world and watches them become who they are meant to be makes every up and down worth it.


I love the pressure of being like, ‘How the fuck are we going to make it through this day?’ And making it through the day and being like, ‘I don’t know how everyone is tucked in and fed and happy after all the things we’ve had to do today.’”

“I just love watching my kids form into their own individual unique selves,” she says. “I love my loud household with mayhem and the craziness and all the love and all the dirt. I love [parenting] with my husband. I love feeling like hugs and cuddles can make everything better. I love the pressure of being like, ‘How the fuck are we going to make it through this day?’ And making it through the day and being like, ‘I don’t know how everyone is tucked in and fed and happy after all the things we’ve had to do today.’”

Still, the pressure to always be on top of everything can be overwhelming. And sometimes, Duff admits, things fall through the cracks, even with the great team of women Duff says she has working at her home with her. Like the other weekend, when she and Luca showed up for his soccer tournament, and he was wearing the wrong uniform color because she didn’t check the parent thread in WhatsApp. “But I have two other kids to deal with and three dogs, [Matthew] was out of town, I had just thrown my mom her 70th birthday, and I was a little hungover…”

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I’ve had to get really good at being disappointed in myself. I think that when you have a baby, you’re just wired to think that you are loaded with all the answers and all of the capability, and we’re still just human beings.

In other words, life was happening. Still, that one little mistake left Duff feeling like she messed up big time. But more and more, Duff, who calls motherhood “fucking hard” and “endlessly rewarding,” is finding ways to relieve herself of some of the expectations of motherhood. “I’ve had to get really good at being disappointed in myself,” says Duff. “I think that when you have a baby, you’re just wired to think that you are loaded with all the answers and all of the capability, and we’re still just human beings.”

Embracing a Lifestyle of Wellness

One way Duff, who was a gymnast as a child, practices self-care is by remaining active. While she may not be doing back handsprings on a regular basis (though she most certainly still can!), she has taken up a new sport: tennis, playing for one hour each week with her husband. “I’m really loving that escape and that little break,” she says. “It’s a really complex game, and it’s hard to think about other things when you’re playing. It kind of drowns out all the buzzing in my head.” More importantly, it provides Duff with a challenge, which the Houston, Texas, native says she thrives on.

Hilary Duff wears white dress and bright blue eyeliner for Shape's Summer 2023 digital issue
AKIRA dress. Ian Charms necklace. Melinda Maria necklace. Bondeye Jewelry necklace. Luna Skye necklace and earrings. JONNY MARLOW

She also loves to work out, sandwiching her three to four gym sessions per week in between her kids’ busy schedules. Although you might not know it by the treadmill in her bedroom, which now doubles as a hanging rack for some of her husband’s clothes. “I’ve only been on it two times,” she says. Luckily her trainer, Dominic Leeder, keeps her accountable. Without him, “I would never work out on my own,” Duff admits. “I could go hike by myself or take a class by myself, but I would never run or do a circuit.”

I walk differently. I hold myself differently. I eat better.

When the two are together, they spend a great deal of time working on her upper body (hello, pull-ups!), which Duff says is not as strong as her lower body, as well as muscle imbalances through complex movements. More importantly, Duff says Leeder has her hone in on the mind-muscle connection, a psychological aspect of training where you think about the muscles you are using during a particular exercise to help them work more efficiently. “This is the first time I’ve really trained like that, and it makes such a huge difference, especially with my core and not getting hurt,” which Duff, 35, says happens so easily now that she’s getting older. “I’ll turn [to look] over my shoulder in the car to make sure I can change lanes and I’ll put my neck out.” Regular training also just makes her feel better. “I walk differently. I hold myself differently. I eat better,” she says.

Physical activity isn’t the only thing that helps Duff zero in on her general wellness needs. She’s big on making small shifts and changes around her home or in her lifestyle. “I love to roast vegetables like squash and broccoli,” she says. “I’ll make chicken thighs, tacos with cassava flour, arugula salads with whatever kind of fruits or vegetables I have in my fridge, and Israeli quinoa. My friend Gaby [Dalkin] is a chef and taught me how to reverse sear a steak — you cook it really slow in the oven first, and then once it’s almost cooked, you throw it on a really hot grill — it’s my favorite thing ever.” Add a heavy pour of sauvignon blanc and some ’70s yacht rock, and Duff says that’s what you call a recipe for instant happiness.

Hilary Duff wears white t-shirt and jeans for Shape's Summer 2023 digital issue
Cotton Citizen tee. Patbo pants. Eriness necklace. Luna Skye necklace. CAST necklace. Effy earrings. JONNY MARLOW

Duff is also meticulous when it comes to her skincare routine — exfoliation (she loves C & the Moon Malibu Made Body Scrub), dry brushing, and face masks (she’s a fan of Biologique Recherche Biomagic Mask) — even if that means sporting under-eye patches while dropping her kids off at school.

“I don’t care,” she says. “I have to use my time wisely. I want these things for myself, so I have to, like, make it happen [whenever I can.]”

When she’s not multitasking (she admits that, as we speak, she is using one of those scalp massagers from the mall to stimulate hair growth) and has a bit more time on her hands, she luxuriates in a bath filled with Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts.

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Though Duff self-proclaims she’s not the tech-savviest person, her go-to face mask, the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro LED face mask, is an innovative dermatological treatment. “I use that mask all the time and I love it,” she says. “It’s combating fine lines and wrinkles and boosting collagen or [the] thickness of your skin, and it’s just so easy because you can just lay there and put the light on. Sometimes I add serums on my skin and then put the light on.”

Duff admits she’s a “freak about glowing products,” and the Dr. Gross mask is part of what helps her maintain that youthful radiance. She also gets facials roughly every six weeks and has a bevy of beauty products in her at-home arsenal that help her maintain her luminous look, including Perfect Skin by Christie Kidd Clean Natural Facial CleanserOdacité le Blue BalmRéVive Skincare Le Polish Micro-Resurfacing TreatmentBiologique Recherche’s Sérum A-Glyca and Elastine Line Correcting Serum, as well as the more makeup-based Saie Glowy Super Gel in Starglow and Jones Road Miracle Balm in Au Naturel. And no matter how late it is, Duff always washes her face at night and runs through her entire skincare routine. But nothing is more important to Duff, who attributes her good skin to her mom, than sunscreen. You can find her slathering it on not only her face but also her hands too (when she remembers).

While her stealth beauty routine is partly self-care, it’s also admittedly a 100 percent necessity in her line of work. “I have to. It’s my job,” she says.

Hilary Duff wears white for Shape's Summer 2023 digital issue
3.1 Phillip Lim jacket and pants. Stuart Weitzman shoes. Ian Charms necklace. Marrin Costello necklace. Luna Skye rings. Melinda Maria earrings. JONNY MARLOW

Living Life Her Way

When it comes to what’s next, Duff definitely has her eye on shooting a movie and producing more but is on the fence about any new music projects. Her last album, Breathe In. Breathe Out., was eight years ago, though she has broached the subject with Koma. “I don’t really have plans to, but I don’t have plans not to,” she says simply.

What Duff does know is that she wants to be in the moment, enjoy everything she’s worked so hard for, and really focus on being a mother right now. “I’m in my family making phase,” she says. “I built this and I wanted this and so I have to be here to enjoy the joyful and the painful and everything in between.”

6 Fun Facts About Hilary Duff

Last book read: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Currently watching: Love & Death — “I love TV shows about murder,” she says.

Favorite PJs: I sleep in pajamas like an old lady,” she says. Her go-tos: Éterne and Cozy Earth ones.

Morning trick to wake up feeling refreshed: The Hatch Restore 2 alarm clock. “I saw it on Instagram and I got ad targeted,” she says. “Forever my alarm was that dananananana from the iPhone, [but the Hatch] has this half-moon light, and it’ll just slowly start to pulse or get brighter in your room in a very mellow way. I can’t tell you enough how soothing it is and how much it’s changed my mood waking up in the morning. It’s so lovely.”

Something that’s been on your to-do list forever: “Organizing my attic, and I finally checked it off,” says Duff. “I had help. I had organizers come in, but I freaking did it. Everything is in tip-top shape. I got rid of so much shit. It was a dream.” Next on her list: organizing her iCloud account.

Quirky tidbit: “I like crocheting and knitting. Something about it really soothes me and calms me down, but I never finish anything. I have all these unfinished square or rectangle things because that’s all I know how to make.“

Shape's Summer 2023 Innovation Issue Cover featuring Hilary Duff



Jonny Marlow

Director of Photography

Brandon Scott Smith




Kelsey Deenihan


Nikki Lee


Ashlie Johnson

Set Design

Amy Jo Diaz

Assistant Camera

Derek Sullivan Smith

General Manager

Hayley Mason

Creative Director

Jenna Brillhart

Photo Director

Kelly Chiello

Fashion Direction

Corinne Pierre-Louis

Production Assistant

Amanda Lauro


Mehroz Kapadia


Talent Connect Group

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