London’s New Rising Star on Her Unconventional Approach to Beauty

Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh, new 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 actress Emily Beecham who has been lighting up our TV and cinema screens this year with starring roles in period drama The Pursuit of Love and Disney’s Cruella. Ahead, we chat skincare, favorite products and embracing unconventional beauty. Enjoy!

If you only had five minutes to leave the house, what products would you use?

I have to wash my face, always. At the moment, I’m using an Environ face wash. Then I’d use some hyaluronic acid which is good for hydration and keeps the water in your face. At the moment, I’m using a Green People Hyaluronic Serum ($32). This one is vegan and cruelty-free which I like. And then my makeup artist friend Justine Jenkinswho I work with a lot and who uses a lot of vegan products, gave me this Organic Facial Oil ($48) by a company called By Sarah which is really brilliant.

Are natural and organic important factors for you when choosing products to use?

Sometimes, but I mix it up, really. My skin is a mixture of very sensitive and dry and spot-prone, so it took me a while to find things that work. So I use the facial oil and then after that I put on factor 50 sunscreen on my face. Especially at the moment when I’m working in Berlin and it’s been 36 degrees here. I use a Dermalogica sunscreen for my face and a Jason mineral one for my body. Although I do love a hat, too! [Laughs] I’m a big hat gal—it means you’re super protected from the sun.

And what about makeup? Are you someone that wears it on a daily basis?

It depends on what I’m doing. I definitely take lots of days off with makeup, but when I do wear it I’ll put a bit of light foundation on and I’ll thicken my eyebrows a bit because I overplucked mine loads when I was younger [laughs]. There’s a brand called Cosmetics à la Carte that I found a few years ago and who really saved my bacon because for a while, after a particularly exhausting job, I got allergic to nickel, which is in a lot of makeup products. They are a family-run business and they can tailor-make your makeup. So I use their eyebrow cream ($56) and I use their makeup when I’m on set every day—I just love their products.

I always like a bit of something on my lips too, either I’ll lightly tint them or if I’m going out and I want to have fun, then I quite like the darker, plummier, more gothic kind of colors. I love Chanel’s Rouge Noir ($45) or Laura Mercier’s glossy lipstick in a plum color which is very sheer, but it’s got a slightly more gothy, boho kind of look. Because I’ve got blonde-red hair and I’m so pale, I don’t like looking too girly—I like to push against it a bit and wear colors that are a bit darker, more striking and I guess less feminine. I like playing around with no eye makeup too, which can be a bit of an odd look, you know? No eye makeup but a strong lip.

When I was younger, I always felt like I had to kind of gel and fit in, and especially as an actress, I thought I couldn’t be so unconventional-looking. I couldn’t be so pale and red [headed] in order to work. I had to blend [in] a bit better. And now that’s just not true. I love it when I see all sorts of people just embracing what they have naturally. … I find that really inspiring. I also think that the beauty industry—finally—because of what women have been pushing for, is starting to adapt and cater [more] to everybody’s unique looks. I think that’s really important. I definitely felt in my teens and early 20s that I couldn’t find foundation that would match my pale skin. I wore fake tan instead, so it’s nice that we can all appreciate our uniqueness now.

In terms of using beauty as a tool to unwind and relax, what do your evening rituals look like? And, most importantly, are you a bath or shower person?

It really depends. I think I’m both! I use Epsom salts and a lot of the Jason products, like the Coconut Body Wash ($14), Or if I’m feeling a bit pizzazy [laughs] then Chanel gave me some which makes you smell really great. For my skin, in the evening, a couple of years ago I started using retinol which has been great for my skin. Because I’m spot-prone on my chin anyway and I have to wear makeup on set every day, I get a lot of pimples, but retinol has really changed that. It renews the skin and exfoliates it over time, but you have to make sure you use SPF during the day because it makes you extra light sensitive. So I’ve been using the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum ($85) which has been really good, although I have also used a cheaper alternative from The Ordinary. I leave that on for about 20 minutes for it to properly soak in, and then I’ve been using a vitamin C night moisturizer from Murad, although I have to say I change all the time, and then an eye cream. My friend runs a company called Malvina, and I use her Rejuvenating Eye Cream which I like.

Oh, and an amazing discovery I’ve made which a lot of actors use are little pimple plasters. I’m using a brand called Dots for Spots at the moment. You just stick this little see-through plaster onto your spot, and then in the morning, it’s completely flat. It’s gone and it’s magic! It’s been an absolute gamechanger for me and the makeup artist loves them too. She keeps buying more and more as we’re filming because it costs them so much money to edit out your spots if you get one, but actors get breakouts all the time mid-shoot.

How have your self-care practices at home changed during the pandemic?

They’ve seesawed. Sometimes I’ll be having the green juices like I am now [laughs] and I’ll be doing yoga a lot, which I really benefit from because it chills me out and keeps me feeling strong, and eating lots of veggies. Then on other days, I’ll swing and eat some junk food. But I generally try to keep things balanced and I eat a lot of healthy fats. A nutritionist recommended that to me when I was filming a martial arts series where my body was under loads of pressure—and that was actually the time where my skin got really sensitive and my entire immune system went a bit out of whack. It’s gone back to normal now, which is good, but it was a real learning experience. Now I take probiotics every morning. Sometimes I take a shot of Symprove, although it is a bit pricey, or other times I’ll just have kimchi (which I love as it’s so delicious) or some kefir. And I always try to get enough sleep, which is really important. I feel like when I keep my body chilled and rested and when I’m not making my blood sugar bounce all over the place with sweeties, then my skin is normally a lot calmer, so maybe there is a correlation between that [laughs].

Of course, we have to talk about The Pursuit of Love because it’s been such an enormous hit. Congratulations! How did you prepare for the role of Fanny and were you a fan of the Nancy Mitford novel beforehand?

I knew Nancy Mitford already. I was a fan of her work, but to be honest it was so long ago that I had to re-read it. Emily [Mortimer]’s adaptation was so funny and she’d picked all the best bits. It was such a gift having Emily directing because she’s an actress herself and she understands the process and she understands the challenges and she was so generous. We spent so much time together talking about the women and the characters and she really brought it off the page. She gave the women a lot more depth and more complexity to their friendship, and her, Lily, and I had lots of time together. We had to Zoom because it was when the pandemic had started, so we spent a lot of time Zooming together and talking on the phone about who these women are, all the messiness of growing up, the complexity of life and love, and trying to discover who you are and what you want to do and where you want to go, the pursuit of identity and love, and the push and pull of friendships.

Yes, lots of chatting [laughs], which Emily is really, really good at. She’s really personable and honest and makes the job feel really easy. We spent a lot of time doing that sitting outside during lockdown because the weather was great, just sitting amongst plants and flowers. I was in Hackney and the traffic had just stopped [during lockdown] and you could hear all the birds and the animals and the bees and it was suddenly like some suburban village.

Have you taken any fashion or beauty inspiration from the show?

Well, Fanny and Linda wear a lot of neck scarves, and I’ve definitely taken up a bit of neck-scarf wearing [laughs]. In terms of makeup, in the ’30s, they did like a really strong lip, which I like [too]. I find that when I started working with professional makeup artists I noticed how sheer and lightly they put on the makeup in comparison to what I always did when I was much younger—I just kind of trowelled it on! They just apply it so lightly that you can still see your own freckles and skin texture underneath, so I’ve learned from that to just chill out a little bit with my application. I’ve certainly taken that on. 

How about hair? Are there certain products that you like to use?

I like a salt spray or something that can make it a little bit of a rougher texture, but I’ve also had the red in my hair color-enhanced for the job that I’m on at the moment so I’ve been using some product from Davines. It’s a really good brand, I really like them, and they’ve given me a great copper shampoo ($30) and conditioner ($33). Also, they use a plastic that’s made from sugar cane and it’s biodegradable, which is brilliant as there’s so much packaging that comes with beauty products.

As a natural redhead, how do you feel about things like copper hair being on-trend right now?

I always think of being a teen and growing up when red hair was the absolute opposite of being trendy. You’d get teased so badly for having red hair, nobody wanted red hair and then all of a sudden there was Christina Hendricks and I had so many women asking me what color I dyed my hair. It was interesting to see and I think that it just reaffirmed that you should be confident in yourself and whatever’s natural to you. Don’t listen to haters, you know? When you see a woman who is confident in herself, you see the beauty in that and you see the beauty in that confidence and the freedom that person has with how they look and who they are.

Are there any other women whose beauty looks or personal style particularly inspire you?

I find Tilda Swinton really wonderful. She was really blazing a trail for actresses by doing something different and not following the crowd. … Pushing something that’s a bit odd or considered a bit different. And I just love my fellow actresses at the moment. I love Jessie Buckley. She just wears what she wants to and that’s really liberating. You really can express yourself in any way that you really want.

Finally, what’s your Unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or less?

I wrote this down [laughs]: Wear what you’ve got naturally, loud and proud.

The Pursuit of Love is streaming on BBC iPlayer now.

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK. Up next, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s facialist just shared seven tips for amazing skin with me.

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