Actor, singer and activist Zendaya is best known for her Emmy-winning performance in hit TV show Euphoria and her role in the Spider-Man franchise, as well as for being a stellar Lancôme ambassador since 2019. Now the face of the brand’s Idôle scent, she speaks to Hannah Coates about her brows, taking risks on the red carpet, and why she never skips moisturiser.
On skincare rules
I never skip moisturiser – I feel like my face would just crack in half. Also, I do not sleep with make-up on. That’s a big rule. But overall, I really enjoy the process of skincare. It’s one of my many obsessions. Even though I tend to keep the routine basic, I try new products all the time and I enjoy the ritual [of it]. Sometimes it’s fun to treat yourself with a little facial before bed. I’ll incorporate different serums every now and then. I think it’s good to switch up your skincare so that your skin doesn’t get too used to it. My products always seem more effective after I’ve left them for a bit and come back.
On how she wakes up
I usually wake up to my dog and, unfortunately, go right to checking my phone. It’s a habit I’d like to break.
On the products she can’t live without
Concealer, because if you have a good concealer you can just tap it over problem areas and you’re good. That, and some kind of brow product, whether it’s a tinted brow gel or a brow pencil. I love my brows. Somehow they change your whole face. I’ve let mine grow out, and with different brow products I can change the shape and opaqueness. It’s so interesting how doing that can really change your whole look.
On her biggest beauty risk
Every time I step on the red carpet, it’s a risk. We always do something risky.
On make-up free vs full glam
It’s day to day. Like most people, I don’t have time to go full beat all the time. So there are some times where I just chill. For events, my stylist Law and I like to create characters, and so my make-up will depend on what character I am that evening. For example, for the last Met Gala, we did a Joan of Arc reference. We added a little extra blush, because we wanted the look to remind people of an old Victorian painting with the rosy cheeks.
Another year I had this giant dress, and dewy make-up and lashes — the whole thing. At the last minute, I looked up, and was like, “Something’s not right.” I took off the fake lashes, and I added extra gloss to my lips. But I still needed something. So I put on this bright, red-orange lipstick, and it was perfect. It was one of those things where it’s like, “Hmm, something’s just off … who is this character? I haven’t found her yet.” I like to figure it out as I go.
On her hair
I like to wear my hair natural. My natural curl pattern came back after I stopped putting heat on my hair so I try to just embrace [what I have] while learning to care for my natural hair.
Spraying perfume is the final step to polish off getting ready. If you’re like me and attach memories to scents, the right fragrance can bring a lot of joy. I always just do the old spray-and-walk-into-it technique.
On make-up looks
I’m a sucker for classic neutral tones, you know, just browns. They’re easier to blend, for one thing – you don’t have to be so precise. If you make a mistake, you can just add some more, no big deal. All that said, I do love a yellow eyeshadow! Or a very yellow-gold. I also appreciate a plain red lip, with nothing else on the eye or just a little mascara. When you find the right red, that can change everything, you know? It’s got to be bright enough, deep enough, not too blue, not too this, not too that. I usually just go for a simple matte red.
On doing her own make-up
Once I started working with make-up artists, I’d just watch them. If I liked the way someone did my eyebrows, I’d just watch how they did it and try it a home. Over time, learning to do my make-up became about taking different techniques and products from people I liked and putting them into my Rolodex. Then it was a matter of trial and error. I’d go out on the red carpet and later look at photos. Sometimes, I’d be like, “Ooh, I look like a ghost,” so then I’d fix it the next time around. It’s really about trying, failing, and trying again.
I pretty much do all my own make-up for events now. It’s very therapeutic for me, especially if I’m ever stressed out before a press junket or a big event. There’s something about taking that time to just be with yourself that I find very relaxing.
On her go-to confidence booster
I go to work – I love working. That’s where I feel the most powerful and in my essence.
On spa treatments
I love a good massage, but the problem is most massage therapists don’t apply enough pressure! People think I’m going to break in half. I’m like, you’ve got to do a little bit more than that, you know?
On her personal mantra
I don’t know if I have a specific personal mantra, but I do think it’s important to live with a sense of gratitude. You can’t ever have more if you don’t appreciate what you have. I always try to list the things that I am thankful for and take a moment to appreciate those things. That act helps put everything into perspective.