Lily Collins has been acting since the ripe age of two—most notably known for her roles in Love, Rosie and To The Bone. In the midst of her career, she became an ambassador for beauty brand Lancôme in 2013. Yet, Collins skyrocketed to mainstream fame with the 2020 Netflix series, Emily in Paris, where she stars as the titular character, an American advertising consultant, working in Paris. Now, the 32-year-old actress, eyebrow extraordinaire and longtime Lancôme ambassador is getting her due diligence. Here, Collins talks about her career, the beauty products she swears by, the importance of self care and Emily in Paris.

You have been a Lancôme Ambassador for eight years now. How has your relationship with the brand developed over that time?

Lilly Collins: I feel so grateful to still be in the family after eight years. I’ve always admired Lancôme’s loyalty to their Ambassadors, and to their customers. I don’t think I expected a huge company like Lancôme to feel as small as it does; it really feels like a family. I have met such wonderful members of the team in many different cities and countries. Having done so many shoots, I know the photographers so well. I love the makeup and hair artists. The brand is very collaborative, and I love that I can just pick up the phone and discuss new products or ideas I might have. It’s been interesting to see a certain edginess emerge over the years. If you look back at my first campaign compared to some of the more recent ones, you see that Lancôme is constantly evolving as a brand, listening to their consumers, and responding to the time that we’re living in.

What does beauty mean to you?

Lily: It means being internally happy. I think when you feel the most centered, the truest to who you are, the most you—that’s when you’re happy. I would describe it as a deep knowing. When you can be in touch with your deep knowing, I think that makes you happy and self-fulfilled.

You have said in the past that beauty comes from within. How do you see that internal beauty expressing itself?

Lily: For me, it’s when I laugh. I also truly enjoy helping people and being a good listener. It makes me feel centered, and like I’m able to make a difference and give back. Also, going back to the deep knowing, I think it’s beautiful when you feel that you’re on the right path, and that the right things are happening and coming into play at the right time, or that you’re in the right place at the right time, or that you’ve worked so hard to get somewhere and you feel proud of decisions you’ve made, or people that you’ve met, or things that you’ve done.

You have previously mentioned coming to love your eyebrows, which earlier in your life you didn’t appreciate as much. Would you encourage others to harness and appreciate the aspects of their looks that are remarkable and particular to them?

Lily: A lot has changed in the fashion and beauty world since I was younger, in that the people we’re looking at now and considering beautiful often have really interesting features. It’s always important to take note when you respond to someone and find them fascinating and intriguing. Is it because it’s something different about them and, if so, why can’t you apply that to yourself? When I was younger, I was definitely more self-conscious of my eyebrows, but my mom would always say that the quirky things that make you different are also what make you beautiful. That’s easier said than understood when you’re young, but the older I got, I realized that my eyebrows are what make me Me, and there’s only one Me, so why not be the fullest version of Me? Embracing those characteristics of yourself is about allowing yourself to be loud. I think we quickly try to silence ourselves, because sometimes the fear is that if we’re loud, or if we’re the fullest version of ourselves, we won’t be celebrated. But if you have a voice, use it. If you have differences, let them shine.

Alex Lubomirski for Lancôme

Looking after our skin is full of ritual. Do you have particular routines that you follow? Do you enjoy looking after your skin?

Lily: I enjoy looking after my skin. I think it’s so important to take your makeup off at the end of the day, to let your skin breathe, and to start fresh the next day. I know sometimes it can get late and we think we’re going to do it in the morning, but it’s just such a nice feeling to wake up fresh and hydrated. So I always take my makeup off, I use Lancôme Bi-Facil makeup remover. It works so well. Then I’ll add a toner or serum, like Advanced Génifique serum, or maybe a mask if I really want to treat myself. Then I’ll apply the Hydra Zen moisturizing night cream and go to bed.

What makeup items would we find in your handbag most often if we took a peek?

Lily: I’d probably have Lancôme UV Expert sunscreen. I’d have my Burt’s Bees chapstick. I would have hand cream because I’m really big on soft hands. My grandmother always used to say, make sure that your hands feel soft. I would probably have the Sourcils Styler clear brow gel to make sure that my brows always stay looking fresh. And I would definitely have a lipstick in there, like L’Absolu Rouge. Just in case.

The past year has been incredibly difficult for so many people, we’ve all come to appreciate life’s simple pleasures. What’s your simple pleasure?

Lily: I realized that I’m someone who invests more in people and experiences than in things. My friends, and obviously my husband, too, have really stepped up and supported every feeling, emotion, insecurity that I’ve felt during the pandemic. They’ve talked me through things, whether it be on FaceTime, Zoom, phone, call, text message, social media, whatever. I have found pleasure in people being so open and willing to share, communicate, and help during this time. I’ve found pleasure in talking about our memories and things we want to do in the future. Lastly, my husband and I have a dog, little Redford. He makes us laugh. He makes us crazy. He makes us all those things. I’ve learned to appreciate being present to feel the good, the bad, the annoying, the exciting, everything, because that’s what makes us all human. That’s what makes us alive.

Have you found yourself practicing self-care more? If so, what have you been doing?

Lily: I totally have. I think self-care can come in many forms, whether it be therapy, meditation, reading a book, or having an amazing cup of coffee. We haven’t been able to go out and get our nails done or go to the spa. Instead, I’ve been finding that joy in wearing a face mask, having a bath, taking a walk outside, reading a meditation book in the morning, writing in a gratitude journal. And just taking a moment for myself.

Alex Lubomirski for Lancôme

Your career so far has been rich and varied. Is your life as an actress what you’d imagined it would be when you started out in the business?

Lily: I am proud of myself and I think I can say that. I’m a big believer in working hard. And that when things feel right, they’ll lead to something else that feels right. When things don’t happen, they’re not happening for a reason. I believe in leaning into each experience knowing it is teaching you something. When I choose a job, it’s because the project, or the character that I’m going to play, is going to teach me something as an actor and as a human being. The process is just as important, if not more so, than the result. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also been surprised by my ability to balance my work and a personal life. I love my husband and our future and my friends. I didn’t know if I could have that balance. But I’ve been lucky to have worked with and been around these incredible women who have taught me that it is possible.

Emily in Paris was released when many people were still suffering the consequences of the pandemic and living with varying degrees of restrictions. The show provided an avenue for lightness and escapism in a very dark time. How did it feel to be part of a phenomenon during that moment in history?

Lily: I had such a magical, amazing experience filming the show, but you don’t know how that’s going to translate when it’s done. For it to have come out at a time when people wanted to escape and travel, laugh and smile, was amazing. I’m so grateful that Emily in Paris provided a sense of escapism and happiness during such a trying time. She did that for me when I was filming. Someone told me that the show reminded them of what fun felt like. So to be able to bring that to so many people was really special. Art can be so healing, whether that healing comes in the form of crying from a film like To the Bone or laughing to a show like Emily in Paris.

The show incorporates fashion, Paris, journalism and social media, which have all played roles in your own life. How much of you and your experiences are reflected in the character of Emily?

Lily: I feel a little bit like a fish out of water on any new set that I go to. There’s that little kid feeling of, “Are they going to like me? Am I doing the right thing? What am I doing here? Am I supposed to be here?” The nervous anxiety, the creative anxiety. And so, I related to Emily’s experiences that way. Then of course, I drew from my childhood moving from England to Los Angeles, when there were definite cultural differences. Plus, that idea of becoming yourself, growing as a young woman, like Emily is doing… that evolution is never fully done. There are things that in the past year and a half that I’ve discovered about myself, like, “Oh, I actually like wearing this,” or “I don’t find that funny,” or “I didn’t know that I liked that kind of food.” Through your surroundings and the people that you meet, you’re constantly figuring out who you are. That’s what Emily’s discovering in her new environment. She’s being judged and questioned. And yet she still stays true to who she is. It’s not about changing who you are. It’s about learning and growing and being open to constant evolution. And that’s something that I have become way more embracing of, on a personal level, in recent years.

Emily’s fashion and beauty looks are envy inducing! Did you play a role in helping shape her look? Did you keep any of her outfits after shooting?

Lily: Patricia [Field] and Marylin [Fitoussi] were so inviting and collaborative with fashion and costumes. I was so pleasantly surprised by how collaborative, in fact. I just assumed they’re both geniuses and they’ll know exactly what to put me in. But when I met Patricia, she just said, “Okay, so how are you feeling? What do you want to wear? What kinds of silhouettes and colors and prints, and this and that?” She sent me all these PDFs of different designers for me to circle what I responded to. When I went for my first fitting, I just remember being blown away. Of course, I lean on her genius to guide me because she does things so well in ways that I would never have thought to do. I’m chomping at the bit to see what Emily wears for season two.

Alex Lubomirski for Lancôme

What are you excited about doing next in your career?

Lily: Right now, I’m focused on Emily in Paris, but in general I’d like to continue to tell stories that push boundaries, that are inclusive and part of something greater. I like telling stories that are difficult to tell, or about topics that have been avoided. Such as in To the Bone, which deals with a subject matter people are often afraid to talk about. I think it’s important to continue to be open and to communicate so that people of all ages are less afraid to share, in whatever capacity that is, whether it be through film or TV. I’m also excited to be producing more and creating content from the ground up.  Being behind the scenes is so fulfilling and empowering in such a different way than being in front of the camera.

You are someone who gives back. How important is it to you to use your platform to do good?

Lily: I’ve always been an advocate for young people speaking up and sharing their experiences and insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams and connecting with one another at a time in their lives when they’re the most impressionable and can feel most alone. That’s been something I’ve been passionate about since I was in high school and continue to be, even now that I’m in my thirties. I often still feel like that teenager who needs to talk about things. What I’m realizing is we’re always that teenage version of ourselves somewhere deep down. Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, you will always have that kid inside that wants to communicate and not feel alone. Doing good for others constantly reminds me, as well, that I am not alone.

If you could gather four women – real or fictional, alive or dead – who have inspired you, who would you choose?

Lily: Audrey Hepburn. Amanda Gorman. She and I are friendly now and I’m just in awe every time. There is an amazing photographer called Vivian Maier. And lastly, my grandmother, Jane.

Shop the Lancôme x Emily in Paris collection here.

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