If you see Brie Larson strolling the streets in a face mask, she’s likely sporting a shade of red lipstick underneath. It’s not visible to anyone else—but that’s precisely the point, she tells ELLE.com. “I like the idea that no one sees it. It’s like this little extra step that I’m taking for me that no one else can know about,” Larson explains.
In some ways, her covert lipstick symbolizes how far she’s come in the beauty space. According to Larson, getting glam wasn’t always a source of comfort. “I just struggled for so long with feeling ugly and embarrassed,” she recalls. “I had a tough time stepping into the ownership of wearing makeup and doing my hair, five or six years ago. I had gone so far in the other direction where I’d show up to events with wet hair and no makeup on.”
But all that changed with the Captain Marvel press tour—an international trip that opened Larson up to experimentation. “I felt like I was able to step into enjoying the fun of getting to play different characters, explore who I am, and have fun with it,” she remembers. “It doesn’t mitigate the fact that I also love not to wear makeup, but they can both co-exist together.” Larson is reflecting on her journey as a brand muse for Decorté’s 50th-anniversary campaign, ‘Embrace Your True Beauty.’
Ahead, she speaks to ELLE about partnering with the J-Beauty house, starting a YouTube channel, and labeling Bob Ross her “quarantine hero.”
How did your partnership with Decorté come about?
Decorté sent me products like a year ago, and I just loved them. They’re the products that I’ve been using as part of my everyday life and beyond. So when they asked me to be a brand muse, I was like, “Oh, this is easy.” It feels aligned with my journey of finding myself beautiful or finding my confidence in my physicality. I love their skincare because it allows me not to wear makeup and feels confident. I also love their makeup, so when I want to wear things, it’s effortless to put on.
Which holy grail products have you incorporated into your beauty routine?
I use the botanical oil at night and the radiant oils in the morning. The lip oils are awesome too. The tinted ones I use when I’m doing my YouTube videos, because they give a nice little bit of color, but it’s really relaxed and casual. I use a lot of the Liposome sheet masks. They’ve just always been a way of transporting me, making me feel like I’m at a spa. I use the under eye ones frequently as well. Because sometimes you have anxiety and you don’t sleep and eye masks help.
Who has influenced your own beauty journey?
Growing up, Jane Birkin was a huge influence. Donna Summers was a big influence. Cher was even a big influence. I remember when I was like 16 or so, just getting really into the fashion icons and respecting them, not because I wanted to look exactly like them, but because they were themselves and it pushed me to go, “Okay, how do I be myself?” I wasn’t like, “Oh, I want to find the exact same jacket that they’re wearing.” I was like, “Oh, it all looks so good because they’re being in their body.” So it’s inspired me to change and grow as I’ve gotten older too, discovering and finding the physical representation of myself.
A lot of people have changed their attitudes towards beauty in 2020. Has yours shifted?
Mine’s changed completely because I’m putting makeup on myself. For most of my life, I have sat in a chair and a professional puts it on. I never really felt equipped or understood how to apply makeup. So during this time, and then starting this YouTube channel, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to get to learn how to explore myself in this way.” It’s been super fun and empowering to learn how to do that. Sometimes I’m like, “Okay, I guess I’m going to just try eye shadow today.” I wore a red lip around the house like two days ago and it was super fun.
Your YouTube channel is such a relaxing place on the internet. What have you learned since launching it four months ago?
I always thought that my value was in the characters that I played, not necessarily in myself. But now I can make things as myself and they’re the things that I would like to be watching on the internet. I don’t mean to clog the airwaves. There’s tons of important things going on worth reading, but it’s okay to take a couple of minutes aside and take care of yourself or smile or laugh in between. So it’s been nice to participate in that. It’s great to hear that you’ve found it to be like a little happy place in the midst of this.
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What’s your makeup process before a video?
I’ll usually just put on a little bit of foundation, fill in my brows, mascara, the lip oil, and like a little bit of blush. That’s kind of it. The clothes that I wear are usually just what I was already wearing. And all of that has kind of been by design. The purpose of this was to just drop facade and be as honest as I can and be myself. So I don’t want to be premeditated in any way with what I’m doing or what I’m wearing. I’m just going to be as I am and trust that.
You probably can’t say much about Captain Marvel 2, but how do you feel about returning to set?
For me, it’s all about respecting the moment. I don’t need to push anything and we need to make sure that safety is at the forefront. I haven’t had any projects that have been on the horizon so I haven’t been really involved in a ton of those conversations about how productions are handling it right now. So most of it has just been project development, which is very easy and safe to do from Zoom.
Which books, TV shows, activities are keeping you sane right now?
I would recommend The Great Pottery Throw Down. I love it because, just like The Great British Bake Off, everyone’s so kind and helps each other out. It’s just not stressful. People are so apologetic when they’re eliminated from the show. So I found that very soothing. Then I also started listening to this podcast Chameleon, have you heard of this? Oh gosh, it’s so trippy. It’s not fully out yet. I’ve burned through that really quickly. But I tend to listen to podcasts like On Being with Krista Tippett, just soulful things while I’m like chopping vegetables at the end of the day.
What’s the first thing you want to do when the world returns to semi-normal?
I miss art museums. In LA, I love MOCA, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), The Broad, The Hammer. They’re a huge source of inspiration for me. And there’s still lots of great options online. Like I’ll take art classes on Coursera or Khan Academy. There’s even this great podcast called The Great Women Artists. But there’s something about being in the presence of a work of art that the internet can ever really capture. And I do miss that.
Are you doing artwork yourself?
Yes! My house is filled with craft supplies at this time. I’ve been trying it all. I’ve been doing water color. I got oil paints. I even bought some Bob Ross tutorial kits. He’s been my quarantine hero. I’ve been trying photo development as well. I’ve completely ruined the floor in my utility closet from trying to develop photos in the dark in there. I’m trying all kinds of things, whatever I can to try and stay inspired at this time.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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