Lupita Nyong'o's best beauty tips and makeup must-haves
"I use Lancôme Génifique serum, which is a great hydrator, and you can use it before bed. You can also use it before makeup and on makeup, which is nice…I also apply it after a long flight when my skin is dry. I try to keep my regimen simple so that I remember it. With all the travel, I don't want too many bottles of God knows what, then I don't get through customs!"
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"John Masters has a cleanser, and it's nice because it's not too foamy, but it's also not too hard. I want that soapy feeling, but I don't like it when it's too overwhelmingly soapy because then I don't trust that it's actually doing anything. I cleanse before bed, and I don't cleanse in the morning—natural oils are so important because I have dry skin. I want them to last throughout the day. That's when you need moisture the most."
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"There's not much [room] in those little clutches, but I do take eyedrops just because, you know, there are all those bright lights flashing and your eyes are adjusting; the drops are sensitive to light and temperature. I take eyedrops and a powder to freshen up. My favorite is [from a brand] called Iridina—it's Italian. They're really nice and really gentle."
"The best beauty trick my mother taught me was to use garlic on zits—it dries them out. You want to do it at night so that you don't walk around smelling like garlic all day…nobody would want to be your friend."
"I use avocado oil [on my body]. It's great, especially in the wintertime when my skin is really dry—it's really good for that. I also use kukui oil on my face, which is a lighter oil than avocado oil. It's good before makeup…My mom always said, 'Nature knows best' and that 'within 5 feet of a poison is its remedy.' And growing up, I loved avocados. We had so many avocado trees in our compound—they grow like weeds, and here [in the States] they are so precious! I had been using coconut oil, and then I realized in the summertime that it solidifies and becomes grainy in a way I didn't like, so I switched to avocado oil. Kukui oil is something I found on a website."
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"When I have time, I use shea butter because you have to work it into your skin a little more! It makes me impatient. When it's a slow day or I took a bath, that's an occasion for shea butter."
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"Working with Nick [Barose] is so fantastic because I've worked with him from my very first red carpet. He was the man, and so we've developed a trust, a rapport, a banter. We just jive. I can trust him, and he can push me and I can pull him back in. He hasn't had to push me much because I am very experimental. For me, makeup is not a mask, it is not a shield—it is an adornment. I have fun with it. I have all these events and things, and for me it's a chance to play, a chance to have fun. It's a spectacle, so why not embrace it for what it is? Blush Subtil in Aplum was the shade that he used on my first 12 Years a Slave red carpet at the Toronto Film Festival. What I love about it is that it gives my cheeks a healthy [glow] without looking too flushed. Because I'm so dark, it's so easy for blush to be too prominent, too obvious."
"This is a great palette because, first of all, the bronzes are really good for everyday wear, with a flirtatious little salmon [shade]. And the dark color works really well as an eyebrow definer—it's a two-in-one situation. And I love eyebrow definition. That's a go-to thing for me because it just opens your eyes and just makes you look more focused."
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"Teint Idole Ultra 24H is great because it's lightweight, so I'm comfortable. And my skin looks natural—you know, as natural as possible—and it feels light. Especially with full coverage, it's so important not to feel weighed [down] by the makeup."
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"I like that Rose Contre-Temps is in the middle of red and pink. It's nice to just give my lips that quick perky look and that's it. And Bouquet Final is nice because it has a hint of purple, which is so springy, and it's a little different. If I want to put a little more effort into my quick look, I'll probably use that. And then, if I'm going for a lipstick-lipstick look, I like Merlot—it's a nice deep color, something a little more grounded."
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L'Absolu Rouge in Merlot, $30.50 Buy it now
"You have to have an afro pick because African hair is like clay—you can mold it and you can do all sorts of things. It's very obedient; it will follow your molding. But it also means it can get out of shape just as easily, so it's always good to have an afro pick on hand. I've learned to comb my hair when it's damp because that's when it's most obedient and you can really get the shapes you want."
"I use Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme. It's nice because it softens curls and moisturizes my scalp at the same time—it's easy. My hair is so short that all I have to do is put it between my hands, rub it around, and get it in there when my hair is damp. Then I can style it easily."
"My scents change with the seasons of my life. I like to use scent to mark chapters. Right now I'm wearing Jouer, a gardenia perfume oil. It's floral, but I don't usually like floral, so this one has surprised me. It's subtle and fresh, and it's not overpowering—it's light."
"Elizabeth Taylor was a very powerful and gentle woman at the same time. She wasn't afraid of love—at least it didn't seem that way. And she was curvaceous and just owned it. She had this classic sense of style, and she loved her jewelry. I just love that you could tell so much about her from how she held herself.
"When Alek Wek came on the international scene, I was shocked, first of all, that she was there on covers of magazines, that people thought she was beautiful, and that she thought she was beautiful. That was the shocking thing: There was no apology, there was no hesitation in her taking that stage. She stood tall, elegant, and just unapologetic, and it was shocking to me because I just hadn't seen that. She was from right across the way, so it had a great impact on me in ways that even I didn't want to admit. Subconsciously, I felt more seen, more relevant."
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To say that 2014 was a big year for Lupita Nyong'o might be the understatement of the century. It was monumental-titanic even. She was nominated for just about every statue on the awards show circuit for her role in 12 Years a Slave and took home the grand prize: Oscar. Nyong'o also landed a coveted contract with Lancôme, providing the world with a fresh face and perspective on beauty-a quality she often struggled to find within herself as a young girl. She noted in an acceptance speech at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon: "My mother would say to me, 'You can't eat beauty. It doesn't feed you.' And these words plagued and bothered me. I didn't really understand them, until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be."
Nyong'o undoubtedly has an exquisite way of being, one that sets the world abuzz with the sheer revelation of her lip balm. (The tube she handed over to Ellen DeGeneres at the Academy Awards sold out overnight.) Here, the hair, skin, and makeup essentials she swears by-some of which she'll probably have on hand as she preps for her appearances during Awards Season.