Behind Emilia Clarke's beautiful bushy brows and bright smile is an inner strength. A strength that she displays both on-camera, in her role of the brave Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, and off, opening up recently about surviving two life-threatening brain aneurysms, while in the thick of her acting career. This fearlessness explains why she never shies away from swiping on a fiery-red lipstick or drastically changing her hair color whenever she pleases.
Clarke's strong-willed nature is reflected in her beauty choices. So, it makes perfect sense that the actress is the face of Dolce & Gabbana's newest scent The Only One, which packs bold and spicy notes of coffee, violet, and citrus. Below, she shares what beauty really means to her when the camera is off, and the one beauty rule she always follows—even when she's had one too many cocktails.
On the Scent She Loves the Most
"I don’t like heavy-toned, musky smells and [The Only One] is exactly not that—it's a fresh fragrance, and lingers in the room really beautifully," the actress says.
"I love it when you’re wearing perfume, and then you put on your jacket the next day and you can still smell it—like it's lived-in. The bergamot-y flavors really come through. You want a [scent] that makes others compliment you. It’s not abrasive, though, and it doesn’t pack too much of a punch or suffocate you."
On The Beauty Rule She NEVER Breaks (Even When She's Drunk)
"I’m diligent with my skincare routine," Clarke says definitively. "I got drunnnk at the Oscars this year and I still took off all of my makeup, cleansed, toned, and moisturized. I could be black-out drunk and I’ll still do that. I get nightmares if I sleep with makeup on. I just can’t do it. I can’t wake up with yesterday’s mascara on my face. Essentially, the key to good skin is clean, hydrated skin. Exfoliating occasionally is good, too, but really more than anything it’s about hydrating your skin. If you are drinking enough water, laughing enough, and hydrating enough, you’re going to have great skin. It’s as simple as that."
On the Products That Keep Her Skin Glowing
"Biologique Recherche does a fabulous VIP O2 Cream moisturizer (opens in new tab)," she shares. "It’s thick, but it doesn’t feel cloggy. It’s a lovely cream that rubs in really easily and is quite light. I also use sheet masks all the time. La Mer has an amazing hydrating sheet mask (opens in new tab) you leave on for three minutes, and you glow afterwards. I know they’re both expensive, but you really don’t need much. They’re both an investment, and you can drag that puppy out. I scrape the pot and use every last bit because it is pricey. If you can’t afford it, there are lots and lots of good moisturizers out there. As long as you’re putting on a moisturizer, that’s half the battle."
On Her Go-To Makeup Look
"I love classic makeup looks," Clarke admits. "I’m a lover of Old Hollywood glamour. If I honed in on what peak beauty means to me, I look to Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe. I love a red lip, black liquid eyeliner, and lashes—that’s all you need. This is the makeup look I’ll always lean on because your face looks fresh and classic. Hourglass does this bitching liquid liner (Voyeur Waterproof Liquid Liner (opens in new tab)) that has a tiny point, so it's really easy to use. I'm always changing my hair color, so my favorite red lipstick also changes all the time. If you are a peroxide blonde, you have to try Nars Lip Crayon in Infatuated Red (opens in new tab). It's my go-to matte lipstick—I think it looks so chic. When I'm a brunette, I love darker reds."
On the Mascara Secret She Swears By
"I pile on mascara because it opens my eyes up," the 32-year-old shares. "I like to use two mascaras together. Dolce & Gabbana The One mascara (opens in new tab) elongates and also separates my lashes, so I don’t get that clumpy effect, which is really good. Hourglass Caution Extreme mascara (opens in new tab), which I apply afterwards, is the shit—it’s so good. When you use two of them together, you get the separation and the drama. It’s a day-to-night-thing I love doing."
Shop Emilia's Makeup Bag
On the Hair Color That Makes Her Feel Most Like Herself
"This is hard because I love being blonde," she admits. "It's like you’re walking around with a permanent pep in your step because you’ve got an accessory on your head all the time, and you don’t need to do much else. But I must admit that when I recently went back to brown, I looked in the mirror and realized brunette is who I really am. I’ve been living with it for a couple of days, and I feel a sense of relief that I don’t have to keep up the facade that I’m a peroxide blonde. Because I’m not really," she says, laughing. I can't help but join her. She continues: "I’m a brunette. And you just can’t get peroxide blonde shiny unless you’re naturally a blonde. My hair is short right now, because dyeing my hair resulted in breakage. So, I cut it."
And you know the rumor that was swirling around about Clarke dyeing her own hair at the Oscars? We cleared that up. "Bless anyone who considers me even vaguely capable of doing that," she says. "Power to the people who can dye their hair out of a box and look amazing—they are my heroes. That ain’t me. I need to go to the salon and have someone do it for me. I’m fortunate enough that I can afford that. If I couldn’t afford it, I’d never ever dye my hair. My hair color was done by the amazing Nicola Clarke (opens in new tab)." [Editor's note: Although they share the same last name, there's no familial relation.]
On the Moments She Feels Most Beautiful
"In the beauty arena, everyone’s taking more risks and being more daring," Clarke explains. "But at the same rate, everyone’s pairing down, wearing less, and allowing their authentic beauty to come through. It's a powerful point of view when you know you don’t need anything to enhance your natural beauty. I love how incorporating beauty products that inspire you and align with what you naturally have can feel really empowering in this day and age."
"In my personal life, I’m quite low maintenance. Every part of my job is people doing stuff to my face and hair to create characters. I’m consistently looking in the mirror and someone else is looking back at me. I know for a fact that when I’m with my friends, laughing, smiling, having a good time, and connecting with people I love, I look my best beyond the shadow of doubt. I really, truly believe that natural beauty comes from a feeling in your mind that you are happy, which is no small feat."
After talking to Emilia, I thought to myself: She's so right. True beauty doesn't come from anything you can buy; it comes from feeling good on the inside.
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Maya Allen is the former Digital Beauty Editor at MarieClaire.com where she covered makeup, skincare, haircare, wellness, you name it! She has a 15-step skincare routine, owns over 200 red lipsticks, and enjoys testing the latest and greatest in beauty. On most weekends, you can find her at her happy place, which is her makeup vanity. There, she’s usually blasting her speakers while singing along to lyrics at the top of her lungs, and making sure her highlighter is on point.
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