Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh 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, director, producer, activist, and Covergirl ambassador America Ferrera. As the face of Covergirl’s newest campaign, she aims to bring a fresh perspective to our idea of beauty and is ready to disrupt the status quo. She’s answering all of our rapid-fire beauty questions and sharing her secret to lit-from-within skin below. Enjoy!
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?
Well, sunscreen for starters! I always like sunscreen, mascara, and a tinted lip.
What’s your favorite tinted lip oil or gloss product?
Well, I know you know I’m a Covergirl [laughs], so I love the tinted lip balm. I really love the colors that they have. They have some that look like a real lip, which I like.
What does the rest of your daily makeup routine look like?
Well, to be perfectly honest, if I’m not working, I like to wear no makeup unless there’s a reason to. And you know, in this pandemic age, I’ve obviously had to do my own makeup a lot more than I’m used to. I like a more natural look. For me, it’s all about glowy skin. If there’s a fresh glow to the skin, then everything else can be pretty minimal. Maybe I’ll use a tinted moisturizer, a great mascara, and, again, a tinted lip. Really, I just love something super simple! I do think that beautiful, glowy, fresh skin goes a really long way in simplifying your makeup routine.
On that note, what does your skincare routine, both morning and night, look like?
I’ve been using Covergirl’s new skincare. It’s really hydrating, which I love. It’s the Covergirl Clean Fresh Hydrating Cleanser ($14), which is so velvety. I love the feeling of it, and I feel clean, but I don’t feel dry. And it leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized. And then, because I love to pile on the moisture, I follow with the Weightless Water Cream Moisturizer ($20), which, again, feels like velvet going on but doesn’t feel heavy. It absorbs really evenly, really beautifully, and it leaves the glow. I love the glow! The post-workout glow, to me, is my ideal look—when your skin is just glowing from the inside out. And I do love their Clean Fresh Skin Priming Glow Mist ($14), which I feel like I can pull out any time of the day when I need to wake up or just look awake at least. And I always wear sunscreen. If I’m going out, I always wear sunscreen, whether it’s gloomy, sunny, rainy, or snowy. Whatever it is, protecting your skin with sunscreen is so important.
And I love that you said “glowing skin” because your skin is absolutely radiant in the new campaign! It just looks so fresh, authentic, and natural. Do you have any glowy-skin secret weapons that you can share with us?
I think a lot of that has to do with the cleanser and the moisturizer because some cleansers can just leave you dry, you know? Some cleansers feel like they’re working deeply (and they are) but don’t necessarily leave you feeling moisturized. So I think it’s about not stripping away everything. And I don’t like the feeling of thick moisturizers or sunscreens that leave me feeling like if you were to perspire a little bit you’d have film all over your face! I just love things that really let my skin breathe. Personally—now having had to look at myself in a camera for over 20 years—I think that anything that doesn’t let my skin breathe actually makes me look older and drier. So I think that, when it comes to glowy skin, less is more.
And shine isn’t always bad. I think we’ve come to look at shine as a bad thing and immediately say, “Oh god, put some powder on it,” but I think too much powder makes your skin look dull sometimes. So foundations and moisturizers that let your skin breathe are the key. And of course, drink lots of water! Drinking a lot of water makes a difference. And with sweating, I feel like my skin looks better when I work out in the morning. My skin looks glowy and amazing the rest of the day. I bet that just has to do with blood circulation. I’m not sure if that’s a trick necessarily, but it works. And I have another secret—acupuncture facials.
I was just talking to someone about those, so I would love to hear about your experience!
I started doing acupuncture when I was pregnant because you have all kinds of fun, exciting things happening to your body when you’re pregnant. [Laughs] I felt such an amazing, huge difference in circulation and the opening up of tight parts of my body. My acupuncturist was doing stuff around my head to open things up, and I was like, “Ooh that feels like a facial,” and she was like, “I can give you a facial!” So she gave me a whole acupuncture facial. Apparently, it’s cumulative, so the more you do it, the better the benefits. It’s all about circulation and bringing that new, fresh blood to the surface. I’ve only done it a couple times, and there was definitely a new glow. So maybe that’s a secret weapon to pull out for special occasions.
I’m definitely going to have to try that for myself! And what would you say is the best piece of skincare advice you’ve ever received?
Wear sunscreen every single day! I’m a freckly person. I love my freckles and don’t try to hide them, but I feel like that can translate into sunspots. It’s hard to find that balance because I want to tan in the summer, but I don’t want to damage my skin. I think a good sunscreen is just so important. Another great piece of skincare advice I’ve gotten is to always do to your neck what you do to your face.
That’s all great advice and contributes to having glowing skin I’m sure! That being said, what made you say yes to your debut campaign as a Covergirl? What attracted you specifically to the new Clean Fresh skincare line?
I mean, Covergirl is just iconic. We all know Covergirl and can conjure up an image of what a Covergirl is and looks like—that fresh, natural beauty. What really attracted me to being an ambassador for Covergirl is that I thought it really said something that they were interested in someone like me to be the face of their brand. Growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me in the dominant conversation about mainstream beauty. I’m in my 30s now, I’m a mother of two children, I know myself more than I ever have, and I feel more beautiful than I ever have before. I feel stronger, more confident, and like I know myself now more than I ever have.
I do believe that’s where beauty comes from. It shines from within. Yes, I’ve been younger. Yes, I’ve had more of those markers of youth and beauty in years past, but I think as a woman who knows herself and who feels beautiful, I am more interested in having a conversation about the source of beauty—about how beauty can be and feel empowering.
In all my conversations with the Covergirl team about a partnership, that’s what they wanted to lean into. They wanted to have that conversation with me. It wasn’t about me becoming something that I’m not, which, for a lot of young women, it can be when trying to meet mainstream expectations of beauty. A lot of the time, it feels like it’s about, How do I change myself? How do I fit the box, mold, or standard? And it isn’t. It’s about embracing what’s unique about you. I do think that the conversation around beauty, fashion, and self-expression is moving in the direction of what makes us unique. There’s beauty in age. There’s beauty in youth. There’s beauty in all skin colors and gender expressions.
I was thrilled that such an iconic brand like Covergirl was ready to really expand that narrative and get involved in that conversation about who has yet to be included in our story about what is beautiful. And that includes what we see in our culture and what we see in our world reflected back at us. It’s especially important when we’re young and shaping our identities. It teaches us what to believe about ourselves. It teaches us whether we belong or we don’t belong, whether we’re visible or invisible. So my deepest hope is that, as a Covergirl ambassador, I can give many people a new image of what beautiful is and what beautiful means.
As a woman of color, I really relate to that. We didn’t see a lot of women who looked like us as cover girls that often when I was growing up. What would you say to other young women of color out there about this and our evolving ideas of beauty within the industry?
If you’re missing from the dominant narrative, it’s not because there’s anything wrong with you. It’s because the narrative needs to grow, expand, and change. With every person who embraces their uniqueness and claims their beauty, strength, and power, it gives everyone else permission to do the same. We don’t have to be unique in the same way, but seeing somebody amazing like Lizzo show up and claim her beauty and power… Think of the countless people who are unique in their own way who felt permission to do that. There are so many other examples of men, women, and nonbinary folks claiming their uniqueness as their power and beauty. That rising tide lifts all of us. It makes us all feel like we belong too. There is nowhere that I don’t belong, and if I’m missing from that picture, it’s not me that has to change. It’s the picture that has to change.
Moving along to everyone’s favorite subject: self-care. I loved a recent Instagram post of yours that felt so deeply authentic. You spoke about struggling to factor self-care into your daily routine, and I think that’s something we can all relate to. Do you have any wellness practices, supplements, or other daily rituals that help to give you a boost both mentally and physically?
I think that post was really about how I struggle to make self-care a daily ritual and how there are a lot of things I need to be on a daily basis. I need to be a mom, I need to be a wife, I need to show up for work (whatever that calls for on that given day), I need to show up for friends, and sometimes, showing up for myself doesn’t make the cut. What I was expressing is that, at times, that can feel like another thing that I’m failing at. [Laughs] Self-care becomes a to-do item that you’re failing at, and that’s the opposite of the point of it, right? What I’ve realized recently is that it’s okay to give myself the grace to say, “It didn’t get done today, and the thing I’m going to do to take care of myself today is not to worry about it.”
To that point, I think the easiest way to care for myself is always accessible to me, and it’s about kindness. It’s about being kind to myself and remembering that I’m doing a lot. I’m doing well, and I don’t have to be all things at all times. Whenever the anxiety and the stress of “I’m not doing it all” gets to be too much, the very least I can do to care for myself is to say, “You’re doing enough. You are enough. You’re good enough. You’ll try again tomorrow to do a 10-minute meditation, 30-minute workout, or a moisturizing mask at the end of the day, you know? Today, you did other things, and that’s okay too!”
Totally. I do think it’s important to give ourselves that compassion through our self-care practices. Like you said, you’re a busy mom, actress, director, producer, and now Covergirl! How would you say this self-care philosophy has evolved over the course of your career?
You know, it’s interesting. I feel like what I’m really proud of at this stage is that everything I’m doing—whether it’s being a Covergirl, directing, acting, doing activism work, being a mom, or producing—that I don’t think of each of those things as a separate hat that I put on and take off. I think of them as all coming from the same source, from me. They’re different ways that I express who I am, and who I am doesn’t have to change with each of those roles that I step into.
And oftentimes, for me, the lines are really blurred. The stories I tell as an actress and director, who I’m trying to be as a mom, and the message I’m trying to get across as a Covergirl are the same. They aren’t separate philosophies necessarily. I know enough about who I am at this stage in my life that it feels the best to me to step into any given role as exactly who I am and with all that I am. I don’t have to leave behind any part of myself to do a separate job. I can just be all of who I am in any role and any room that I step into.
Absolutely! This brings me to my last question: What is your unfiltered beauty philosophy in seven words or less?
My personal beauty philosophy would be [this]: I feel beautiful when I feel powerful and like myself. That’s more than seven words, but close enough! [Laughs]
Up Next: Karrueche Tran on Her Favorite Beauty Hacks and the $4 Lashes She Buys at CVS