Exclusive: Emilia Clarke on finding self-confidence (and the perfect red lipstick)
She may be a huge Hollywood face, but British actress Emilia Clarke has a refreshingly real feel for beauty. While enjoying the star treatment that comes with the job (“transformative” facials and anti-ageing silk pillow cases – don’tyouuse them?), Clarke still follows her mother’s sensible skincare routine and reaches for a trusty red lipstick to get a confidence boost, like the rest of us. Quite unlike others, though, Clarke is fronting the new Dolce & Gabbana fragrance, The Only One. Her second role for the iconic fashion house’s beauty brand comes with a captivating campaign video in which she actsandsings, beautifully (as you can see below). To celebrate, we caught up with Clarke to discover her beauty philosophy, and the products she can’t live without.
HB: What was the decision behind your current haircut?
EC:“Yes, it is quite short – because my hair was, like, dying! So I’ve cut it a little bit shorter. It’salmostthe shortest it’s been. I’m honestly trying to grow out the blonde, because it’s just killed my hair, and I miss having nice hair! I do like the length but I wish my hair was longer. I do bloody love long hair, but then I’m always dreaming of cutting it all off and having a pixie cut – but I don’t know that my face could take it.”
HB:So we shouldn’t necessarily expect that to happen?
HB:Do you get recognised more as a blonde?
EC:“I feel like being this blonde is kind of like you’re constantly wearing an accessory. So, you can wear all black and be like ‘I tried! There you go’, whereas when you’re brunette and wearing all black it’s like, ‘meh’, do you know what I mean? But it’s also very difficult because I get recognised a lot more, and I’m less good at dealing with that. So I’m thinking ‘ah, I’ll go back brown and then maybe be a bit more incognito again!’. You clock anyone who’s got this hair colour anyway, so you see someone with peroxide blonde hair you look, and then [people] go ‘oh my god it’s that chick from the show with the dragons’ – and then I’m running!”
"It’s very difficult because I get recognised a lot more, and I’m less good at dealing with that"
HB:As well as cutting it, what are your other strategies for maintaining your hair’s condition?
EC:“Olaplex – which I’m sure people bang on about all the time – it’s really good. Sometimes I sleep in it. There’s this other amazing brand called , and that shampoo and conditioner is amazing. And then the Elasticizer, by Philip Kingsley,brilliant. I’m taking it all!”
HB:How has your approach to beauty evolved throughout your adult life?
EC:“I was really lucky; my mum always drilled it into me to cleanse, tone and moisturise, wear SPF, and don’t wear too much make-up – and your skin will be good. And don’t pluck your eyebrows. Those were the basics that I was brought up with. But what I found with my own way within it, is that I get really into the rituals and the routines of it. So the morning cleansing, toning and moisturising is like taking a bit of time to bring yourself into the day and have a little breath – which I do really like. But it definitely takes more confidence to wear less make-up. And so, to wear less and less is nice because when you do then whack a load on again it’s like ‘ooh this is fabulous’, but then you feel cool not to. It’s not like when you’ve got your first boyfriend and you’re sneaking out of bed to put more mascara on to go back to bed, like ‘I just woke up this fresh with minty breath!’ – it’s not like that anymore!”
"It takes a really long time to like yourself, and some people never manage it"
HB:Has your confidence simply come with age and experience?
EC:“Yes, all of it. Living in your bones a little bit more and you get used to them. You feel a bit happier with them. Happy is a really strong word and I don’t expect any woman to actually walk around being like: ‘Ilovemyself, Ilovemy body!’, because it takes areallylong time to like yourself, and some people never manage it. We can hope that there are people that actually do feel that, genuinely in their heart, and I’m not going to be one of those people that says: ‘just love yourself’, but if you just think you’re alright, and don’t say too many bad things about yourself and are kinder to your body and say words that are as positive as you can, it’ll start to become a thing. And I thinkthatreflects itself in how you take care of yourself.”
HB:So, your beauty routine is about self-care?
EC:“Yes, definitely. There have been times – and I feel like people have this – where you don’t even like looking in the mirror, and you just slap your moisturiser on and don’t think about it. But actually, taking the time to stop, and ritually clean yourself, and to take stock, is important.”
HB:Does this help separate beauty from 'vanity' for you?
EC:“Yeah. It’s hard to find that line with where we’re at in the world. What is vanity and what is self-care? I think that because it’s aesthetics I suppose when you say ‘vanity’ you infer a sort of cruelty with it – it sounds narcissistic and I don’t think that taking care of yourself is. It’s just good for you. Take that time. Have you got someone else taking care of you? Then it’s up to you.You’vegot to take care ofyou.”
HB:When you wear a red lip you totally own it, what’s the trick?
EC:“Just realise that it brightens your face, no matter who the bloody hell’s wearing it. But it is a brightener, and you need to wear it! I carry a red in my bag for that just in case moment – the day-to-night dilemma where you don’t have the time to go home – when I need to do something to make myself look in the mirror and go ‘ooh, that’s a bit different’ and it always helps. You have to wear it confidently, and walk out there with your head held high. Like, ‘I’ve got red lipstick on my face!’. It’s practice makes perfect. Andeveryone’sgot a red. My best mate was always like ‘no, I don’t suit red’ and I brought her on one of my photo shoots and sat her down with a make-up artist and said, ‘please can you prove to her that everyone can suit red’ and we took time and found the right red for her, and now she wears it all time and she looks like ababe.
HB: What’syourperfect red lipstick?
EC: “Dolce & Gabbana do a beautiful classic red, the Matte Lipstick in Red 611, they’re the kind of creators of it. It’s a pillar box red. And Nars do a lip called Dragon Girl,I mean! I love orangey reds at the moment, especially with the blonde hair.”
"When you look a bit puffy in the morning this trick literally sucks your face in"
HB:What secret beauty prep goes on behind the scenes before you take to the red carpet?
EC:“Okay, this is what people need to know – this happens to celebs: Before you get ready there’s all of these ice-cold face massages and these rolling tools that literally sculpt your face. When you look a bit puffy in the morning (or you’ve had a lovely evening the night before) this trick literally sucks your face in. Basically, you’ve got these tools that you keep in the freezer – there’s a vibrating one that’s a roller – and they transform you. And wake you the bloody hell up!”
HB:Are you good at doing your own beauty look?
EC:“Good at doing my own make-up; terrible at doing my own hair. Can’t do it to save my life. Never have been, never will be. I had a book of hairstyles when I was aged nine that my mum got me, that was like ‘how to do a French braid’ and months and months I poured over that book – and I can’t do it. If I try and curl my own hair I burn my face or my ears, I’m hopeless. I recently burnt my face before theGame of Throneswrap party and everyone was like ‘we never noticed that massive birth mark on your face!’ and I was like, ‘no, it’s a burn…’ I had my head under the tap for about three hours!”
HB:And do you still leave your brows be, like your mum advised?
EC:“Yes they just do their thing. They’re virgin brows. I pluck them so I don’t get a unibrow, and then brush them. No product. Every once in a while, if I can bereallybothered, I’ve got an eyebrow gel to keep them in place, but that’s literally it. But I was the ugly unpopular kid for ages when everyone else [at school] didn’t have eyebrows and I did. My mum was like: trust me!”
HB:What are your skincare secrets (that don’t come in a bottle)?
EC:“I do the silk pillows. Because that’s easy. They’re not any more expensive than normal pillow cases. They actually aren’t. And make sure they’re clean! A lot of us are lucky and we like to sleep in a double bed – so let’s say you have four pillows; one night you sleep on one side, the next night flip it over the other side, the next night do the same with the other pillow – and that way you’ve got a weeks’ worth of clean pillow case against your skin! And if you ever have frizzy hair problems, sleeping on a silk pillowcase really helps that too. It really makes a difference.”
HB:Congratulations on becoming the face of Dolce & Gabbana The Only One, what does it mean to you to work with such an iconic brand?
EC:“It’s brilliant! I associate Dolce & Gabbana with so much joy, fun, frivolity, feminine and beauty – it’s all very Italian!”
HB:What do you love about the new fragrance?
EC:“It’s quite a sensual fragrance I think. It’s got the lower tones that linger and I like that about it. You can smell the zesty top notes but there’s also the coffee vibe that’s creamy which makes it very sensual.”
HB:Would you wear it as a signature scent?
EC:“Yes definitely. I mean, the clue’s in the name! TheOnlyOne. [Laughs]”
HB:What scents are you drawn to?
EC:“I do like things with bergamot and vetiver in. I like those smells a lot. When I was a kid and put on boys’ fragrance, me and my best mate used to do that so we could smell like a boy – all the rich tones which Dolce & Gabbana do a lot of. Their boys stuff is good. Hilariously, there was a girl at school who used to wear Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and she was the most sophisticated woman I’d ever met in my entire life and therefore I wore it for ages because of her. I thought ‘I’m like her, and I’m like the advert’.
HB: And now youarethe advert!
EC:“Oh my god, yeah! I didn’t even think about that.
Video: Emilia Clarke & Sam Claflin Cry Together and Get Emotional On The Set of ME BEFORE YOU
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