Nathalie Emmanuel Told Us Her Brow, Skincare, and Curl Secrets—Need We Say More?


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 actor, 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!


(Image credit: @nathalieemmanuel)

If you had to leave the house in five minutes, what are a few staple beauty products you’d quickly apply or bring with you?

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Barbara Sturm's skincare line, so I would absolutely make sure to apply her Sun Drops ($145) before I leave—because sunscreen AF—and then lip balm. I’ve got one I really like from Cosmetics À La Carte, which is a really cute company out of London. They have a rose hip lip balm that’s really nice. So, lip balm, sunscreen, and if I’m leaving the house in five minutes, in all likelihood, my hair is just wild, so it’s probably under a scarf. I also feel like deodorant is important? [Laughs] I use one from Salt of the Earth and I quite like the Lavender & Vanilla. I don’t care about covering up my acne scars as much anymore, but I do have a little bit of an acne situation, so if I’m going somewhere, I might put a little bit of concealer on. At the moment I’m using one from Chanel.

I saw an interview where you described your skin as "volatile.” Can you expand on that bit and walk me through your morning and evening skincare routine?

For the last five or six years, my skin and I have been sort of at odds, you know? We just have different ideas about what we should be doing. For my morning routine, I like to use Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Darker Skin Tones regime. It’s just so amazing, and it’s actually been sort of a game changer. I start with the Foam Cleanser ($70) followed by the Balancing Toner ($75), and then I use the Hyaluronic Serum ($300) and the Face Cream ($215) from that range as well. On top of that, I’ll do her Anti-Pollution Drops ($145) and her Sun Drops ($145). If I have any blemishes, I’ll use the Clarifying Spot Treatment ($55) on any of the little friends that have popped up that day, and then I’m sort of good to go! Sometimes I put makeup on, but 90% of the time I don’t because I’m lazy, and I’m just out the door.

In the evening, it’s basically the same process but twice a week I’ll use her Enzyme Cleanser ($75), which is basically a powder that you add water to, and I’ve also tried the Facial Scrub ($70) which I quite like. I’ll throw in a face mask here and there, all from her range as well. She has a Clarifying Mask ($145) that’s really nice, and I also use the normal Face Mask ($120). After I’ve done all of that, I’ll use the Hyaluronic Serum again, put my cream on, and go to bed. 

It sounds like you have a good system and know better than to go overboard with the exfoliation.

Yes, and you know, I think that’s where I’ve gone wrong in the past.

What’s the single best piece of skincare advice you’ve ever received? 

Sunscreen. Always having sunscreen, even if it’s overcast. But also, what you do unto your skin on the surface is one thing, but there's really a conversation around the "inside out” component—what you eat, and your lifestyle, and how it affects your skin. When I’m working, I’m not sleeping enough, I’m probably not drinking enough water because I don’t want to be going to the toilet every fifteen minutes on set [laughs], your general habits change, and you’re maybe not able to take quite as good care of yourself.

I do what I can, but you instantly see a change in your skin. It’s very much about trying to identify things that your body doesn’t want. Like, I’ve been vegan for a long time, and with so many vegan options now, I started consuming a lot more soy than I ever did before, and I realized my body doesn’t like digesting it. I have it occasionally as a treat, but I know when I’ve been having too much of it, my skin will be affected. 


(Image credit: @nathalieemmanuel)

Totally. Having that kind of self-awareness about what does or doesn’t work for you is key. Do you have any favorite wind-down beauty rituals after a long day on set?

My favorite is a bath. I need a bath, I need to soak in a bath! [Laughs] I’ll do my skincare routine, and on those nights when I do a face mask, it’s really nice to do it in the tub. I put a nice oil in and just really wind down that way. It’s a huge, huge part of my day, actually. I love me some Epsom salts too.

Okay, so let’s say you had the day off and you could dedicate an entire day to self-care. What would your schedule look like?

Okay, so, I wake up and probably do the bad thing: just scroll on Instagram for a minute because I’m not too big to admit that I’m addicted like everyone else [laughs]. I’ll also have some fresh celery juice first thing because it’s really good for the gut and recalibrating things in the body. I’ll wait maybe 15 minutes or a half an hour, and then I’ll have a cup of tea (usually an earl grey with a splash of almond milk because it’s delicious), and then make some breakfast. I’m really into oats in the morning—it’s just a really good, hearty breakfast. I’ll usually add plant-based milk, blueberries, cinnamon, some banana, and just make it really delicious.

I always like to exercise in the morning, and that could be going for a run, going to the gym, or doing yoga, or whatever. I love Netflix and TV and streaming and all of that, but I’m also a huge fan of just sitting in silence and enjoying being on my own. I can be quite introverted, so actually, quiet and alone time is quite essential for me to be able to recharge and go back out into the world or go back to work. I’ll maybe read a script that I’ve been asked to read, phone my best friends or family and check-in with them and see how they are.

And then for dinner, it changes every day, but last night my mom and I made a really delicious cabbage soup and we had it with nice, buttery bread. I love to cook vegan Caribbean foods—rice and peas, plantain, steamed vegetables, sometimes I do a curry chickpea. I like to cook; there’s something about cooking that’s really therapeutic and fulfilling for me.

Switching gears a little bit, but out of all of the characters you’ve played, whose beauty aesthetic did you have the most fun with?

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I do think my character in Army of Thieves just because of how much I got to play around with hair and makeup. But, I think there was also something so classic and natural about my character Missandei in Game of Thrones. She had her cute little braid in the front, [and] just the simplicity and beauty of it. I always associate that with her, and it sort of just gives me warm fuzzies. I like how in the later seasons, they kind of upgraded her braid situation, which was really cool. 

We also have to talk about your curls because they’re beautiful, and I know you’ve been very open about embracing your natural texture. Can you drop some of your best curl secrets?

Hydration is key. Also, combing your hair when it’s wet, and if you can kind of detangle with your fingers beforehand, that’s even better. There are better brushes than others, so use one that’s gentle on your hair and take your time so you’re careful not to cause breakage. Another tip would be to set your hair when it is sopping wet with a good leave-in conditioner—something that’s got a little bit of hold—or you can even mix a leave-in with a curl gel when your hair is wet. Lastly, if you can avoid heat and let your curls dry naturally and let them expand over the coming days in your wash cycle, then cool, but if you are going to have to dry it with heat, use a diffuser and keep it on the low setting!


(Image credit: @nathalieemmanuel)

Are there any specific haircare brands or products you can’t live without?

I���m a huge fan of this little brand out of the UK called Jim & Henry. They have really lovely leave-in conditioners. And then I’ve been loving this other company called Flora & Curl as well. Oh! I recently started using this shampoo and conditioner from a brand called Imbue which is really nice. They have these very nourishing shampoos that don’t make you feel like you’re stripping your hair. And I’m also a huge fan of Pattern Beauty. I love, love, love the Edge Control ($12) and the Strong Hold Gel ($25), and I’m a huge fan of the combs and the tools they have as well. 

I asked our other beauty editors what questions they had for you, and one of the first things that came up were your brows. So on behalf of the entire WWW Beauty team, we want to know your secrets. [Laughs]

Thank you! You have no idea what that means to me because my brows and I have been through so much. Naturally, I basically have a monobrow, so I have to pluck them so that there are two instead of one. My mom was so strict about us not changing anything about ourselves growing up, and I pretty much begged her to get them done when I was about 14 because I was getting teased about them. Finally, she said, "Okay, yeah, but we need to go somewhere professional,” but when I got there they gave me to a trainee, and my eyebrows were basically just destroyed. Oh my God, she took the whole middle section off of them! It was just a mess and they took so long to grow. After that, I was just so terrified of anyone doing my eyebrows. I do them myself now. I don’t really let anybody else touch them because I’m scarred for life. That said, I don’t really have to do that much to them anymore, anyway.

I feel like once eyebrows kind of know their shape, they almost remember what they’re supposed to do and naturally require less maintenance as time goes on.

Exactly, exactly.

Okay, so this is actually my last question for you. What’s your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or less?

Hmmm, I can do it in eight words… But something like, "Whatever your face is doing, it is worthy.” I have issues with my skin and acne, and I also get a little bit of eczema around my eyes when I’m stressed. Sometimes, you can get really upset and in your head and insecure, [but] actually, having clear skin or whatever it is doesn’t make you better at your job. It doesn't make you smarter. It doesn’t make you nicer. It doesn’t make you a better person just because you have perfectly clear skin, or don’t have that eczema flare-up, or you don’t have perfectly plucked eyebrows. Whatever your face or appearance is doing, you are worthy of all the good things.

Shop Nathalie's Unfiltered Beauty Edit

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.