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For critically acclaimed actress Emilia Clarke, beauty isn’t just a way to cover up dark circles or become a new character—it’s in her blood. So Clarke’s latest role as Clinique’s first-ever global brand ambassador for skincare and makeup—although unlike her previous—is one she was destined to play. Now, in an exclusive interview with The Memo, the effervescent and wildly resilient Clarke shares her life and beauty tools for greatness (and really, really good skin).
“I became interested in makeup really young,” Clarke reveals. “My mum worked in beauty when I was younger, so she taught me from a very young age to do makeup like it didn’t look like you were wearing any.” Preferring the no-makeup makeup look off-camera—with maybe just a pop of red on the lips—Clarke is all about makeup that enhances her features, not covers them. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about an editorial shoot with like weird, conceptual makeup and glitter, but on the day-to-day I just like it where people don’t really know that you’ve got makeup on, but you know that you do.”
With a penchant for a low-key look, Clarke’s self-professed laziness—combined with her desire for a natural-skin finish—makes her the perfect ambassador for Clinique’s new iD Dramatically Different Moisturizing BB-Gel. Product aside, however, it only seems right that Clarke now faces a brand pioneered by two women of her same compelling, all-guns-blazing nature. Despite launching 52 years ago, Evelyn Lauder (daughter-in-law of Estée Lauder), and Vogue beauty editor, Carol Phillips, managed to build a brand that has well and truly stood the test of time. Regardless of their consistent innovation, Clinique is inherently nostalgic; a result of watching your mum use their products in your younger years, as you do now—and their new ambassador couldn’t agree more.
“This is all going to sound like cheesy soundbites, and I don’t mean it to, because I mean it with such sincerity—really, really I do,” starts Clarke, “but the brand is remarkable. From when my mum was young—and I’m not saying she’s old—they’ve been a fresh, young, innovative, brilliant brand. And they still are today. They’ve sustained this incredible idea of being just really universal—and really relatable, and really good. And for a brand to have managed to do that consistently for this long is just incredibly impressive.”
Described as a powerhouse on 2019’s Time 100 Most Influential People list, Clarke’s cult-like following is somewhat of a by-product of her ten-year tenure as Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons, in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Since then, we’ve uncontrollably sobbed (in public!) watching Clarke work her magic in Me Before You, geeked out in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and indulged in the festive spirit of the actress’ most recent flick, Last Christmas (we’ve also fallen in love with her in the hot seats of countless late-night programs). Off the screen, following personal health struggles, Clarke launched SameYou, a charity aimed at revolutionising recovery for young adults following brain injury and stroke. Now, the charismatic actress takes on her first foray into skincare and makeup.
“I’m lazy. So I like the fact that I can use the BB-Gel and forget about it, and it just stays on my skin.” Afraid of sounding like another preachy brand ambassador, Clarke’s genuine love for the innovative skin tint is undeniable. “I try and be authentic in everything I do, so I made sure I actually liked the stuff before going ahead and promoting it. The BB thing is like my secret weapon; as soon as I tried it out, I was like oh, this is my vibe—this is so my vibe. As I said, I’m lazy—so I wake up in the morning, and I put on the BB-Gel as if it were moisturiser, and then just forget about it. And I swear from like the first time I used it my skin was GLOWING!” (Trust us; there isn’t enough formatting or punctuation in this world to match Clarke’s level of enthusiasm). “It doesn’t look like I have foundation on, but my skin looks so clear. It’s the one thing that I use every single day and people are like ‘have you been on holiday? Are you alright? Have you been sleeping well? You’re looking good!’ And so obviously I then told all my mates about it because it’s a genuinely brilliant product.”
Harnessing their customisable iD technology for formula personalisation, Clinique’s updated take on a BB cream offers 8-hours of oil-free hydration in the form of a lightweight gel that transforms—like magic—into a sheer wash of colour upon application. It feels like nothing on the skin but delivers a serious dose of hydration thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid and glycerine. All you need to do is combine the BB-Gel Base with an Active Cartridge Concentrate of your choice, and, like Clarke, spread it all over your face daily for a glowy yet barely-there base.
“When it comes to no makeup-makeup, you need to have good skin,” the actress declared, after chuckling about the ironic nature of the not-so-effortless look. “You really need to care for your skin. Like I said, my mum worked in skincare; so from like the age of 10 I cleansed, toned and moisturised twice a day, every day. I could have a big night out and I will still wake up the next morning with clean skin.”
“I’m pretty hellbent on not getting anything done to my face,” Clarke continued, joking that it’s easy for her to say as a “32-year-old who doesn’t have wrinkles.” “But I kind of want to do all I can in taking care of my skin. It’s a form of self-care as well—I’m choosing to put the energy into making sure I’m looking good.” If she’s feeling up to it, she’ll dabble in a bit of facial massage too; “at night—I can’t be bothered to do it in the morning,” the actress laughed. “It’s all just self-care. Like If I decide I want to go out, drink a bottle of wine and eat a steak, I will. I’m not going to try and act like I’m perfect.”
With a strong sense of earned confidence—the type one can only gain from hard work, innate determination and a bit of a trip through the ringer—Clarke’s outlook on navigating confidence, self-esteem and fame (a word she admittedly struggles to say) is one that everyone needs to hear.
“I try not to look at anything online, and that’s definitely helped my confidence… it’s helped me understand myself a little bit more. It’s all about meeting people, finding connections with them, and broadening your horizons—it’s opening your eyes to a world that’s not just your day-to-day; I am all about that.” What she’s not about? “Trawling Instagram for people that you believe look fitter than you do.” “I do not believe in that at all,” Clarke continued. “That is a recipe for disaster. It’s about understanding that when you feel happy in your mind, you radiate that through your skin, through your body, through the clothes you decide to put on, the makeup you pop on your face, how you do your hair… all of those things. It comes from if you’re happy. It comes from if you’re really listening to the tiny voice in your head that says ‘do you mind giving me a bit of love?’ It’s taking just a minute a week to give that voice a chance."
“You know, it can be that self-confidence for you is not wearing a flipping thing on your face, not wearing one dot of makeup, and only having like, your lovely moisturiser on,” Clarke divulged (with great passion, might we add). “Or, be it that confidence for you is whacking on a red lip and a blue sparkly eye and a pink wig. It doesn’t matter; whatever it is that when you look in the mirror and go yep, this is it, this is me."
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