Emilia Clarke dishes her best skincare hacks that even work when you’re ‘lazy as f***’

‘Every morning I start by calming my skin, then jade rolling the crap out of it.’
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“Hello, how are you!!!” Emilia Clarke beams through the screen at me as she Zoom calls in from a cosy armchair at her home in North London. Despite being best known for her fiery side as the Mother of Dragons in Game of Thrones, it’s clear within a couple of seconds that Emilia is one of the friendliest celebs you could hope to meet.

We’re here to discuss skincare, and as Clinique’s global brand ambassador, I’d imagine she’s pretty clued up in that department. “Yeah, I’m a weirdo. I’ve always been really diligent. It’s something my mom drilled into me. She worked in beauty and so from a very young age I’ve always cleansed, toned and moisturised,” she admits. But, she’s contended with tricky skin from the get-go. “I’ve always had dry, sensitive skin. When I was a teenager I used eczema cream on my face because it was so highly sensitive. I was like: ‘I’m at school, I can’t afford to break out. I can’t afford to have a reaction. I fancy the boys, I need to look good,’” she laughs.

It can be tough to keep under control, especially since her job can make things pretty hard on her skin, but over the years, Emilia’s learned how to make her routine work smarter, not harder. “I’ve been working non-stop for 18 months, with a lot of people putting a lot of different stuff on my skin. It had a bit of a melt down,” she winces. “So I’m currently in the moment of stripping it all back. I’m going back to basics and making sure that the products are good for sensitive skin,” she nods. She’s also learnt to maximalise the impact of her skincare without breaking a sweat (teeny mini skincare fridge, anyone?).

Here’s how Emilia Clarke keeps her skin on top form…

1. ‘Moisture sandwiching’ is the easiest tweak

So this moisture sandwich term is new – I’m trying to wrap my head around it, – but it’s basically just what I do anyway. So you’ve washed your skin and what I would normally do is dry my skin with a Kleenex or loo roll or whatever. And now what I’m realising, is that you can just air dry it and put your moisturiser onto it, so your skin never gets dry. In the immediate and long-term sense. And it’s really good with a cream like Moisture Surge because of the consistency. You can get some moistursers that feel chalky and almost cloying. This just feels like you’re adding on liquid water to your skin anyway. It allows me to not wear a huge amount of other things and not worry that I’m not doing enough for my skin because it protects it. And that’s me done, unless I’ve had a little breakout, then I might put a topical ointment on the specific area of my skin that needs it.

2. My dinky mini fridge is a skincare game-changer

Because my skin is sensitive and dry, I find that the cooler it is, the better and calmer it is. Like if you’re getting hot, it’s getting worse. So I keep all of my products in a little tiny fridge underneath my sink in my bathroom. The door doesn’t quite close properly. I always have to give it a good shove. I know there are really fancy ones, but I definitely got mine from Argos for like a tenner. And it’s definitely showing itself cuz I’ve literally had it for like six years now. But there’s no other fridge I can find that will fit that space. I think the people who made it were like, it’s cute to have champagne in it. But I’ve got all of my creams in there. And my sheet masks, which I find are really good, especially if you find a calming one. And I keep my jade roller in the fridge. So every morning I start by calming everything down with cooling things, then jade rolling the crap out of it.

3. Less is more if your skin gets irritated easy

I’m definitely a skincare minimalist and it’s because I’ve got sensitive skin. If I didn’t, I reckon I would’ve been like: ‘and then what do I need and what else shall I get?’ And I would pile stuff on, but my skin tells me ‘no, you can’t do that.’ I went through this phase of trying more stuff and now I’m like, ‘I ain’t got time for that.’ It was the most liberating thing, opening my cabinet and being like, ‘that’s going to my mum, that’s going to someone else, that’s going to my mates’ and all I need are these four things.

I had a brilliant dermatologist who said these things might trigger your skin – you could try the hard way and test it, or you could just take out all of these things from your skincare routine. And I was like, ‘I’m lazy as ferck’, I’m just not gonna use things that have any of these and keep it simple. And now I really read packages in the way that you’d read the back of a packet of a food to be like what is actually in this soup?

4. Don’t be gross. Wash your makeup brushes

I wash my makeup brushes once a week. Yeah. This is the girl who never washed a makeup brush. Ever. I was using makeup brushes I hadn’t washed in like six months – it’s disgusting. I just didn’t think about it. So now I have a whole way of doing it with my hand and some soapy water. Sometimes I like to add a little bit of oil in with whatever I’m washing it with and that can help soften the brush.

5. Make time in your beauty routine for affirmations

Affirmations play a big part of my beauty routine. I get an affirmation in every morning for sure, depending on what’s going on with my head. If I need the hardcore stuff, then it’s just reminding myself as I’m putting on my perfume that ‘you are enough.’ I feel like whatever you are coming up against, however big or small it is, that’s a phrase that cuts to the heart of it where you are like: you don’t need to try. You don’t need to change. You don’t need to be better. There’s no such thing as better. There’s just such a thing as you existing. No skincare, no makeup, no clothing, no nothing. Just you is enough. And then the other one – if you’re just having one of those really stressy days or you’re kind of nervous about what might happen – is having my hand on my chest and saying ‘I got you’. That’s a nice one. You’re supported by yourself. It’s fine. Even if you don’t see any mates today, even if you don’t see anyone you love today, you’ve seen yourself and that’s enough.

6. Appreciate what you’ve got

Oh my god. The most radical thing I did in the name of beauty was definitely dye my hair peroxide blonde. That was dumb. That was the stupidest thing I think I’ve ever done in my life. I had straw that was attached to my head that just kept falling out and then I had to cut it all off and now it’s baaaack, yay. Every time I blow dry my hair I’m like, I am so grateful I have my hair. My mum keeps being like, ‘you looked so beautiful when you were blonde.’ And I’m like, shhhhh. That’s what wigs are for. I’m a brunette and proud of it.

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