If you’ve been following Lily Collins on Instagram for as long as I have (since 2013 after I watched her as Clary Fray in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), you might have formed an impression of the Hollywood actress that’s quite similar to mine.
Someone who’s quirky (see her #makeupmonet posts and street photos) and as comfortable posting a selfie where she’s in full-on glam makeup for a big event like the Met Gala (see more of this year's looks here) or an off-duty makeup-free one; someone who values her privacy, yet is willing to share with her fanbase her personal thoughts and vulnerability as evinced by her book titled Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me (get it here).
When I sat down with the Lancome ambassador in Shanghai, I found out that she was all that and more: thoughtful, well-spoken, humorous and a genuinely warm person. Here’s what she has to share about the different aspects of her life.
If I had to choose a modern-day Audrey Hepburn, I would say Lily Collin's pretty much it.
On her beauty must-haves and beauty routine
What are your three beauty must-haves?
Lily Collins: Lancome’s Hypnose mascara, L’absolu Rouge lipstick in #367 Bouquet Final and Genifique Youth Activating Second Skin Mask. The mask gives my skin a great boost before a photoshoot and after a long flight because it locks in moisture, and makes my skin feel soft and look dewy, like I’ve just had a facial.
How about your beauty routine?
LC: When I wake up, I splash cold water on my face to wake me up. Then I use the Energie de Vie range, which I love, because they are made for the girl on the go who lives in a world where there is lots of pollution, and we don’t even know what’s on our phones, and we put it to our ears, which is really gross when you think about it (here's how to germ-proof your tech gadgets).
Throughout the day, I touch up my makeup minimally. If I’m not attending an event or something big, I do less is more.
At night, removing makeup is a must for me as it helps my skin breathe. Then I follow with the Energie de Vie range again. Sometimes, I use the Genifique sheet masks. For me, I take more time and pride in my skincare than my makeup just because the base needs to be a solid base in order for the makeup to go on smoothly.
Lily, doing her less is more thing on Instagram.
On brow nightmares, beauty tips and makeup looks
What is your brow grooming routine like?
LC: I used to go to someone who would groom my brows for me, but then I travelled so much that it didn’t really make sense to wait to do it – I was like, waiting, with brows that looked crazy.
Now I just do it myself. I look into those freaky magnifying mirrors that show you everything and tweeze out my stray hairs (and other tips to get perfect brows). No waxing, no threading because that freaks me out. I’m afraid that it’s all going to (makes a whooshing sound) and all my eyebrows’ going to be gone. I’ve had nightmares before. So, less is more – or in this case, more is more.
What’s the best beauty tip that you’ve ever received?
LC: You can do eyes and lips in a look – you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. I used to think you can only do bold eyes and muted lips or vice versa, but there’s a way to counterbalance each. You just have to get the proportions right (click here for video tutorials).
Bold eyes and bold lips – Lily's Met Gala look this year is proof that these two can work together.
What is your go-to look?
LC: I don’t have one anymore. I used to think I had one, but I’m switching it up all the time. But I do love a bold lip and mascara. But it depends – for fashion and red carpet events, I pick the dress first, then I let the hair and makeup team come up with inspiration, then we decide on an idea, and I don’t look in the mirror until they’re done.
On the difficulties of having vibrant and glowing with pale skin
What is your biggest skincare concern?
LC: I’m quite pale, so I worry about the sun. And I live in LA, where it’s sunny, so I try to wear as much sunscreen as I can. And I want to do it without worrying about looking shiny. If I go to the beach, I want to look somewhat glamorous, like a natural version of my skin – I want to look not like I’m wearing a bunch of sunblock (try these 10 lightweight ones).
Lily channels her inner surfer girl at a recent photoshoot with US Shape magazine.
How long have you been using the Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Serum and what difference do you see in your skin?
LC: About two years ago, I was in Taiwan for an event for Lancome and my makeup artist observed that my skin was quite dry from all the travelling. So he asked me to try on the Genifique serum, saying that it would make my skin soft, vibrant and glowing, and also make applying makeup much easier. I put it on that night, and the next morning when I woke up, I was sold. My pale skin looked so dewy. Personally, I use the serum only in times of need like before a photoshoot and after a flight – just for that extra kick to look like I’ve been to the spa (you have to check out this new spa in Langkawi).
On learning how to be more moderate in life and social media
Are you morning or night person? What time do you get up?
LC: My ideal time is 9am, but when I’m working, I get up and I like to exercise first thing in the morning, so that’s around 7am. I’m not really a morning person, but it’s amazing how much I can accomplish when I get up that early because by 10am, I’ve done half the things I’m supposed to do that day, and suddenly I have all this free time.
Lily looking flawless even while out on a gym run.
So I wake up not in a good mood, necessarily, but then I become a morning person and by the end of the night I keep telling myself to go to bed, but I get a bunch of stuff done, then I go to be super late. So I’m definitely more of a night person. I just need to learn more about moderation. Beauty sleep is important (this is why you need to sleep before 11pm).
What’s your favourite way to unwind?
LC: I love baking. I love watching reality TV. Usually it’s Top Chef, Great British Bake Off. I like The Real Housewives, anything on Bravo (an American TV network). Project Runway. I love going to the movies with friends, trying new restaurants, and I do love a good massage every once in a while, so when I’m travelling I may pencil in an appointment at the spa.
How do you use social media to drive social changes, to do good?
LC: I believe that it’s a platform that we can use to speak freely and honestly about certain subject matter that may have been a little too taboo to talk about. I’ve spoken up about my eating disorder history and I feel like social media was what inspired me to write my book Unfiltered because a lot of young girls were telling me their stories and putting their photos next to them – they were so brave. And they all assumed that I couldn’t relate because I was an actress whereas in fact, I am just like one of them and have the same amount of insecurities and fears (check: do you have social media envy?).
So for me, social media is a platform where I could reach directly out to them and share my stories with them. And it was an amazing way of creating such a positive headspace, and a positive community of young women. And to communicate with girls around the world, from Russia to China to Singapore, Africa, Dubai – I mean, it’s incredible, the outreach you can have.
Unfiltered chronicles Lily's deepest thoughts about her relationships and her battle with her eating disorder.
On self-confidence, beauty and happiness
In Unfiltered, you talk about self-confidence among other things. So what is self-confidence to you?
LC: It’s stepping outside your comfort zone and still feeling like yourself. Feeling strong, emotionally and physically, with or without a man – that’s very important.
What’s the definition of beauty to you?
LC: Beauty is accepting what’s different about ourselves – the quirky things that make you stand out – as what makes us unique and beautiful.
When do you feel the happiest?
LC: When I’m surrounded by my closest friends, and when I know that I’ve pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of and come out the other side successful.
Lily embraces her quirks by posing with a bunch of flamingoes in New York.