Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh beauty series where you'll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favorite celebrities and content creators. They'll reveal their guilty-pleasure beauty practices, the five-minute-routine product lineup they can't live without, the one good-skin tip they'll be forever thankful for, and so much more. To bring every conversation full circle, we ask each celebrity to send us a selection of self-shot, filter-free photos of their choosing to capture the essence of their Unfiltered beauty philosophy.
Up next, we're getting to know presenter, style icon, and all-around It girl Alexa Chung. Below, she's answering all of our rapid-fire questions and sharing her favorite products, best-kept beauty secrets, and more. Enjoy!
Can you share your experience being a Code8 ambassador and what the brand means to you?
I've been working with Code8 for at least a couple of years now… maybe longer. COVID kind of made me confused about time. I find them really lovely to work with.
I think it's about a solution to a problem. … In the marketplace, what's trendy is makeup that's relatively involved. There are so many places to visit to look at ways to apply makeup, like new trends from Korea and brilliant television shows with artists doing glitter-bomb stuff. I think all of that is fantastic, but we have a no-frills approach. We still want to look beautiful. We still want to feel glamorous at times, but just more like ourselves. This is a brand that enhances beauty but doesn't repaint you as someone that's not yourself.
How do you think that fits in with the London beauty aesthetic?
It's difficult because I think nowadays as everything has just become so much more globalized, it's harder to identify looks that belong to a nationality. I see girls in London who have really thick fake lashes. I see girls in London who have a really minimalist approach which might be more affiliated with French women. I see people being really playful, kind of like the club kids of New York. These are all represented in London.
At fashion parties, I think it's skin that looks healthy but hasn't been caked. It depends on what kind of gal we're talking about. There are still hipsters of 22 running the streets with neon and glitter and stickers on their faces, but then there are older women maybe in the professional space who have a cleaner, more subtle look.
One thing for sure is our hair isn't as glamorous as in the States. I call it "American hair." Everyone's got thick, luscious, gorgeous hair, whereas ours is a bit more low-key. I think the Kate Moss bedhead look that was established in the '90s went a long way.
If you could only use one Code8 beauty product for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
The one that I use every day that I travel with is the Beauty Balm ($58). I have hyperpigmentation on my face from the sun and hormonal imbalances and a history of living essentially. That really evens out my skin tone in a way that's a light touch. It looks like you've got no makeup on, which is my dream, but it offers coverage that makes me feel better about myself.
How do Code8 products fit into your daily routine? Do you always apply makeup in the morning, or do you stash products in your bag to use on the go?
I am strictly a morning-makeup person. I have a shower, put my clothes on, then do my makeup. I'm fashion first or at least outfit first. I need to know what I'm wearing before I take the plunge on a lip or something. [I'm] more about personality than packing it all on with makeup. It's not going to solve my charm issue. [Laughs]
I have a friend who I really admire, and she's so beautiful. She has perfect lipstick on all the time, and she also always has her compact out, and she's reapplying it at the dinner table. It makes me want to put makeup on. I'm like, "Wow, that looks really elegant and cool," but I'm not that girl. Once it's worn off, it's gone.
I'm the same way. If there's any upkeep involved, it's not happening.
Exactly—unless I'm going out for an event in the evening. Then I'll take a bath, wash it off, and start again. If I'm not, I just sort of slowly disintegrate throughout the day.
I'm curious about your skincare routine and whether you would describe it as minimalist or maximalist. What are your favorite skincare products?
It changes. Sometimes, I'll get my shit together and invest in loads of products. I love my Dr. Loretta face wash ($35). I find it really gentle. It does a hard cleanse but without a stinging aftereffect. They do a serum that's really nice. It makes your skin feel really silky.
I'm a huge fan of Augustinus Bader. I use The Cream ($180)—not The Rich Cream, just The Cream—but I will put oils in it if it's winter to really hydrate. I worked with makeup artist Georgina Graham, and she said, "Your skin loves oil," and I was like, "Noted." I tried the Sisley Rose Oil ($260), which is really nice, and I also just love how it smells. And now, I'm into sunblock, even if it's winter. It's a white bottle with a red stripe or something. Something MD?
Yeah, that's the one. I'm also not afraid of a CeraVe in a pinch. I find that pretty good. There's also a B5 Balm ($16) by La Roche-Posay that I quite like. It feels almost claggy, but basically as much moisture as I can pack into my head, I will give it a go. Oh, and the Avène water spray. It comes out like a fine mist, and sometimes after I've done my makeup, I'll put that over the top just to lock in some moisture.
What is the most surprising beauty product we'd find in your bathroom?
Well, I've been known to use a toothbrush as an eyebrow brush. I'll just put Elnett ($15) on a toothbrush and brush them up if I run out of brow gel.
How has your beauty routine evolved over time? Did anything or anyone inspire it to evolve?
When I was much younger, I liked the Spice Girls, so I was just trying to do like a Rimmel Coffee Shimmer ($5) and silver eye shadow, but at school, we weren't allowed makeup, so it had to be really subtle.
When I started presenting television, I was really inspired by Goddard and Julie Christie in Darling. I took a lot of cues from '60s movies. I cut my hair into a bob. I wanted to look like Anna Karina. I stayed faithful to that look for many years, that's why the cat eye stuck around. I used a black eyeliner that was in a pot with a brush, and I would keep it in my handbag, so everything I owned was covered in black eyeliner essentially. When I look back at pictures, I've got way too much makeup on. The aforementioned "not worrying about how it progressed throughout the day" meant that in most pictures from that sort of indie-sleaze era I have loads of makeup down my face. We didn't have cameras on our phones. We were too busy having fun.
As I got older, I definitely moved into a clean-girl thing. I want balmy skin. I think it tracks with how much more comfortable I've become with myself that I can use less and less. I now love warm blushes and bronzers. it's more skin based, basically.
My next question takes us all the way back to the start of Instagram. Has social media impacted the way you see beauty and fashion?
With beauty, I'm still following accounts that post more vintage pictures—'90s people pretty much. It's funny. I feel like the people we like we feel similar to.
Is there a fashion or beauty trend circa 2010 that you regret participating in or maybe you think we should leave it in the past?
I was always drawn to the classics, and the good thing about that [is] it's a cautionary tale. It's meant that it's more or less aged well. I never dipped into current trends. I was always wearing vintage clothes and aspiring to look like someone from the past than from the future. The people that inspired me informed my fashion, and they were always from other eras. It saves me from being too much of a victim of the moment. That said, I kind of wish I didn't wear so many Breton tops. It's kind of on the nose, isn't it? I don't know why I was obsessed with pretending to be from France.
That is the least embarrassing thing. If I was asked this question, I would have 800 different things to say.
Oh God, that made me sound arrogant. I'm sure I fucked up. I don't know. I suppose the key is to explain how I get dressed. I always dress for my figure. If a trend didn't suit me, I didn't embrace it. There were just certain things that looked bad on me. I've been pretty much wearing dungarees since I was born. I haven't really changed the look. I mean, I can't wear Peter Pan collars anymore; they make me gag a bit.
That's how I am with bright skinny jeans. I don't know if you remember when those were in.
Oh, I'm so sorry. Yeah, there were so many shameful denim moments that I embraced. But be careful, 'cause they'll be back any minute. The cycle is getting quicker. The way I justify that is I like the Ramones, and I wanted to look like I was in the Ramones. Even though it might look bad now, I suppose I see Joey Ramone, and I think, "You know what? Not that bad."
Totally. Everything comes back. Speaking of fashion, how does it influence your beauty routine and vice versa?
I get dressed first, and then I build around that, and it can change radically. I'm going to the British Fashion Awards, and I'm really lucky I get to wear a Prada look. I've been looking at their past shows and making sure I interpret it so that it fits within the borders. I understand the blueprint, so I know what my beauty look is going to be. I'm doing gelled finger waves and a poppy-red mouth, kind of like a deranged old-timey starlet.
I let one inform the other. The only time I've ever radically changed my hair was for a red carpet. For one, I was inspired by Scarface—what Michelle Pfeiffer wears in Scarface—and we were particularly inspired by her hair, so I did that, and then the next day, I was like, "Well, now, I've got a bloody fringe." For another British Fashion Awards, I wore a marigold velvet dress, and I was like, "This needs a black bob," so I dyed my hair dark and cut it short. Then, again, by the time it was Christmas, I was like, "Fuck's sake." You know what? I just bought an old-school '70s clip, like the tiny toothcombs that you can comb back and stick in. I think that's a vibe.
Definitely. Seventies hair is back.
I think most people just have hair that suits them. Everyone's hair is so different. I think people always look best then they lean into what they got. I'll be jealous of Zoë Kravitz's crop, but I can't have a crop because my head looks stupid.
What is your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words?
Beauty quite literally comes from within.
It's not just about having a perfect face. I think we're living in an era where there's a big onus on beauty because we're always looking at ourselves, but the more seductive or comely thing is always intention, kindness, personality, and humor. There is no correlation between how attractive someone is and how beautiful they are. When you meet someone kind, light, and special, you're like, "God, you're beautiful." That's why people become more attractive the longer you spend [time] with them.
Shop Alexa's Unfiltered Beauty Edit