Say hello to Unfiltered, a beauty series where you’ll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favorite celebrities. 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 Army of Thieves actress, Nathalie Emmanuel. As a fellow beauty enthusiast, she’s answering all of our rapid-fire questions and sharing her best-kept beauty secrets below. Enjoy!
If you had to leave the house in five minutes, what are a few staple beauty products you’d apply or bring with you?
Wow, I mean, that typically is where I’m at in my life right now. It’s so funny because growing up, I would allot maybe a full hour and a half to get ready, which now just sounds completely mental. For me, the most important thing is brows—no matter where I’m going or what I’m doing, I always apply brow gel. “Bigger is better” has become my brow mantra. I don’t even really touch them; I just let them go wild. So I’ll apply some brow gel, and then I’ve only been religiously using SPF for the last couple of years—I wish I could say I was diligent about it growing up—but I always use SPF. There’s this one by EltaMD that is good for breakout-prone skin which I love. It doesn’t clog my pores; it’s just really great. Hmm, and then maybe some lip balm? And that’s kind of it! If I have some more time, I might apply some concealer and mascara, but I typically just wear big sunglasses, anyway, and we have a mask on our face most of the time now, so we don’t really have to do much! My skin breaks out pretty easily, so if I don’t have to wear much makeup that day, I try to just let my skin breathe a little bit.
Speaking of skin, can you walk me through your skincare routine, both morning and night?
Yes! It's so sad because I love products. Like, I’m a beauty hoarder. I love trying new things, and I’m a sucker for everything. But I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that my skin just can’t handle too much, and I’ve had to really cut back. I mean, I used to be the girl who had a 15-step skincare routine every single night. My whole approach to skincare now is really about consistency and less about the number of products I’m using.
But okay, I’ll start with my morning routine, which is a little simpler than my nighttime. I like to start by using a gentle cleanser to really get off all of my products from the night before and any oil that’s built up. Next, I’ll do a toner, and then it depends, but typically every other day, I’ll either use a vitamin C serum or a hyaluronic acid serum, or sometimes I’ll just kind of mix them together. I don’t really need to add a lot more moisture since my skin naturally produces quite a bit of oil, so I just put on that SPF, and that’s pretty much it for the morning.
So, okay, sorry I have to interrupt you here. Vitamin C serums can be so tricky for people with acne-prone or sensitive skin. Which one do you use?
Yeah! I’ve definitely had that problem, and a lot of vitamin C serums just made me break out even more. There’s a really good one from SkinCeuticals that’s specifically meant for breakout-prone skin. I find that with any products I use, I try to go the oil-free route, so with vitamin C serums, it can get a little tricky since so many of them are oil-based. But that’s a really good one that I’ve found.
Oh, are you talking about the Silymarin CF? It’s truly the only vitamin C serum I’ve ever been able to use without my skin freaking out. I break out super easily too.
Yeah, yeah, that one! And you know, I’ve actually found that using different products on different parts of my face really helps curb my breakouts. For instance, my cheeks and my forehead can handle more than my nose and my chin, so I kind of almost have to spot-treat all around my face with my different products.
And then for nighttime, if I have time, and if I have a whole evening, I’ll multi-mask. I’ll do a purifying mask. I’ll maybe do some microcurrent with my little NuFace device, which is amazing. But as far as my standard routine, I’m all about double-cleansing. It’s shocking how much stuff is left behind on your face when you just cleanse once [laughs], so I use a gel cleanser first, and that kind of grips everything and pulls everything out from the skin, and then I’ll do a milky, more moisturizing cleanser after that so I’m not overdrying or stripping my skin. I’m also a big believer in retinol. Teresa Tarmey makes a Retinol Gel ($105) that is a little easier on my skin and doesn’t make me flake. After that, I’ll use a hyaluronic acid serum or something that’s just really moisturizing. I’ll use a spot treatment with salicylic acid in it if I have any zits or breakouts, and then at night, I’ll apply a slightly heavier moisturizer, but it still has to be oil-free. And that’s pretty much it! Although, I will say that I love sheet masks, and if I’m traveling or on a plane or just feel like I need a little extra moisture, I love to sit in a sheet mask for 30 minutes.
Do you have any favorites you use religiously?
I love the ones from 111Skin—they’re bio-cellulose—which is a little more grippy—instead of paper, so they stay on your skin better, and it feels like the ingredients just soak in more. They make a couple of different ones that I really like.
Nothing is worse than when your sheet mask just slides down your face.
I’d like to pivot a little bit toward makeup. You’ve been a global ambassador for Almay for a little over a year. What would you say is the best makeup trick you’ve learned since you started working with the brand?
I don’t know if it’s really a tip or trick per se… It's more just me having formed a deeper appreciation for clean, hypoallergenic makeup. I’ve been so lucky to work with really amazing makeup artists for the entirety of my career, but one amazing thing about Almay is realizing how much of a difference these products can make in my skin, especially being acne-prone. Almay was actually founded by a dermatologist—he created the whole line for his wife who had breakout-prone skin, which I thought was really, really sweet. I was like, that’s my dream man!
I need someone who will do that for me! Overall, working with Almay has really changed my approach to beauty and makeup. To me, the fewer ingredients there are in a product, the better. I also love that Almay was the first brand to voluntarily include ingredients on its packaging. They have nothing to hide, so that transparency has always been there. Not to mention all of their makeup is geared toward people with acne-prone skin, but the products are still amazing! They don’t sacrifice color or pigment, and the makeup is still really fun.
Okay, prepare yourself. If you had to choose your three favorite Almay products of all time, what would they be and why?
Oh, let’s see. Well, they have this line of lipsticks called Lip Vibes, and they have them in many, many colors, but there’s a shade called Treat Yourself—it’s a red, but it also has a little bit of pink in it, and it’s kind of become my signature red lip color. Then, they have a mascara in a blue tube called Length & Lift ($7), and it’s SO good. I’m really picky about mascaras and the brushes, and this just has the perfect brush. And then, they have the All Day Intense Gel Eyeliner ($8), which really stays put. They’re great for sensitive eyes, and I mean, normally I’m not a huge eyeliner person, but I do like to use it to rim my upper waterline. They have this really beautiful brown color called Deep Chestnut. So those are my faves right now, but they’re always coming out with new fun things.
You mentioned earlier how fun Almay’s makeup is, and it seems like you have so much fun with beauty, in general. You’re never afraid to try a new hair color or makeup look, which, for many of us, can be scary or intimidating. Where does that fearlessness come from?
Well, that is really sweet of you to say because I often don’t feel fearless enough, so it’s nice to hear that. I don’t know! I’ve always appreciated makeup and beauty, which I think really comes from my grandmother. She wore this iconic red lipstick, and she would let me play with her makeup, too. I think also growing up as an actress has been a huge part of that. I would basically live in my makeup-and-hair trailer, and I have gotten super close with all of the hair and makeup artists I’ve worked with. I think having fun with beauty and trying new things has become a really beautiful way to express myself. I think that’s ultimately what it is—I get very bored with a lot of things in my life, but with makeup, there are constant ways to try and do new things. It’s almost like trying on a new identity too because, in my day-to-day life, I keep it pretty simple. I’m not spending an hour and a half getting ready. But if I have a character for a movie or a show or if I’m doing an event, it’s almost like I pick who I want to be. Like, what girl do I want to be tonight? It’s just fun! There are no right or wrong answers.
You’re right—there’s no need to take ourselves so seriously. Hmmm, okay. What’s one thing about your beauty routine that would surprise people?
Oh, wow. Oh my god. Maybe I’m not full of surprises. Um, let’s see. Oh! Well, I’ve talked about my brows before, but I literally don’t do anything to them at this point. I don’t see anyone to tweeze them, and I probably only trim them twice a year. I don’t know—some people might not be that surprised by that. But what else is surprising? I don’t know… I guess I’m not a girl of mystery! [Laughs]
No, that’s a good one! I was recently talking to Emilia Clarke—who also has amazing brows—for this same series, and she essentially said the same thing. The secret is really just not doing anything.
Right! But oh! I just thought of another good secret: I do use a lash serum.
Every night. I kind of swear by that, and it really helps keep my lashes healthy. I’m constantly having to wear fake lashes or mascara when I’m working every day, and this keeps them really strong, and it’s one that I’ve found that doesn’t make your lashes go crazy. It just makes them really, really long.
Well, now I have to ask you which one you use. Lash serums can be tricky! And they can often be super irritating.
Yeah, yeah! It’s the one from Rodan + Fields. It’s definitely an investment—it’s pretty pricey, but it lasts a long time, and I swear by it.
Okay, switching gears a little bit. If you could dedicate an entire day to self-care, what would your schedule look like?
Oh, I love this. I wake up really, really early because my dogs are like children and want to wake up when the sun is still down. [Laughs] I make my cup of coffee. I love having slow mornings. I've found that not having to rush really kick-starts my mood in the right way. I try to hike every day. There’s a canyon near where I live, and that’s sort of my “me” time. I’m not a big meditator in the sense that I can’t really sit still, so it’s kind of like moving meditation for me. So a hike, and, you know, I am all about a massage and a facial. That’s definitely how I treat myself a lot of the time. I love a good hydrating facial, and there’s a place in L.A. called The Now that gives really amazing massages. I also love really good food, so if I’m really just going to have a day, I’m going to order from some of my favorite places in L.A. I like to order in, watch a good Netflix show… It’s kind of all of the standard things. Oh, and there would probably be some retail therapy thrown in there too.
That sounds so, so nice. Let’s see. I think I still have time for a couple more questions. So there’s kind of this huge, distorted fear around aging in our culture, and I know you’ve recently entered your 30s…
Would you say you’re enjoying this decade more than your 20s?
I am! I am. When I was in my mid-20s, everyone would tell me their 30s were the best years of their lives. And at that point, I just kind of did the whole eye-roll thing like yeah, okay, whatever. But they actually are the best years! It’s really true that your priorities start to shift as you get older. Things I used to worry about, I don’t necessarily worry about [them] as much anymore. I feel like I’ve taken some of my power back, and I just feel like a way more confident version of myself. So I am enjoying my 30s so far, and I hope it continues!
Yeah, I mean, I know you are still very early on in the 30s spectrum.
Yeah, but it’s true! I mean, in the next couple of years, I’ll be in my mid-30s. It's exciting though. I’m proud of where I’ve come from and what I’ve been through to get to this point, and I think it’s important to be grateful for where you’re at in that particular moment in time. It’s been a journey, for sure.
Last question, and I’m going to preface this by saying you can add some context to your answer. What’s your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or fewer?
Seven words or fewer! Let’s see. I want to say something along the lines of remembering that what you see on the internet isn’t real. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in these beauty standards that are just totally unrealistic. So how do I say that in seven words?! The. Internet. Isn’t. Real. That’s four words.
Ignore. The. Internet. [Laughs]
Yeah, ignore the internet. There we go!
Especially in this time when everyone is constantly on social media and the comparison game gets intense. It’s hard!
It’s easy to think that what you see is real, and it’s easy to get super sucked into all of that. It’s really important to try to just step away.
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