In our new monthly series, Self-Directed, we invite influencers in the world of beauty and fashion to direct their own editorial story and create the looks they love with the glam teams they trust. You’ll learn about their best-kept beauty secrets, favorite products, and more.
There’s nothing we appreciate more than an Aussie beauty who’s willing to share her secrets. (Let’s be real: We all know Australians have effectively cornered the market on effortless beauty.) And from the moment Phoebe Tonkin stepped on set, the Originals star was letting us in on everything from who made the adorable denim skirt she arrived in (Frame) to her favorite vegan lunch spots in town (Postmated, naturally). She was an open book on the beauty front, too.
In her average day on set, Tonkin’s hair-and-makeup situation looks much different than the setup of her Self-Directed shoot. Namely, there’s no fake blood involved (fake blood, aka cough syrup, as we learned from the television werewolf). Thankful her Byrdie shoot wasn’t going to end with a coconut oil–fueled makeup removal session (her method of choice), Tonkin came to set armed with three stunning beauty mood boards and ready to experiment.
“I love Pinterest and I love looking at photographs and different kinds of inspiration. I just wanted to do something different,” Tonkin says. The actress confessed she’s not exactly a beauty maven, admitting the majority of the time her beauty preparations consist of grabbing a hairbrush. “I’m really bad at it,” she laughed.
“I wish I was better at it, and I’ve been doing this for so long that I should be able to do my makeup, but I actually just don’t wear a lot of makeup in my day-to-day life. I’m not that experimental with hair and makeup, so I thought this was a nice chance to do something that was still me but something a little more planned than what I normally do with my hair and makeup.” Think smudgy eyes, just-bitten lips, braids, and even a hair ribbon or two.
Scroll through to see how Tonkin, with the help of makeup artist Georgie Eisdell and hairstylist Christian Wood, brought her three favorite beauty looks to life.
BYRDIE: How do you keep your skin in-check when you’re flying back and forth from L.A. to Atlanta all the time?
PHOEBE TONKIN: I was very lucky to meet an amazing lady called Shani Darden who really changed my skin. I never really had great good skin, and I was always very self-conscious about not wearing concealer or anything. I met her at the beginning of this year and she put me onto this regime, which I’m so diligent about—I’m more diligent about that than anything else. My skin is just night and day. She has a great retinol that I use, and I try to see her if I can when I’m in L.A., but it’s more just about the retinol that I use of hers and a couple of the products by IS Clinical that she put me on—there’s a great cleanser and a great thing called an Active Serum. I just stick with that and I’m strict about it. I do it every day, every night—if I have to wake early just to do it, I will.
BYRDIE: You travel for work quite a bit. What are your in-flight essentials?
PT: I always buy two big liter bottles of water. I have a little Chanel lip balm that’s really good, and I just apply the Active Serum and an oil-free moisturizer. I like those Hannibal Lecter masks—the sheet masks—I do like the SKII mask.
BYRDIE: No shame—you wear that in-flight?
PT: Only if I have a friend—I don’t like to do it if I’m by myself—but if I have a friend they can be like looking at me and joking to the flight attendant who knows that I’m not crazy.
BYRDIE: What’s in your handbag right now?
On the Look:
“I wanted to do something that was kind of a little rocky, edgy, schoolgirl. It’s like the schoolgirl that ran out to go see a band. I love hair ribbons, but I don’t like it to look too preppy and high school-y. So, I just wanted to make it kind of sexy and undone with a dark eye.” — Phoebe Tonkin
“It’s just that cool sexy smudgy goodness. I used Dior's Diorshow Kohl Professional Hold & Intensity Eye Makeup Pencil in Black ($32) and that’s literally all I used. I ran that across the lash line and into her crease, and smoothed that out with a brush. I brought the same product underneath, and again smudged it out using a flat brush, and placed it on the inner rim as well. It was kind of cool and smoky and smudgy and sexy. We wanted it to have a bit of a sheen to it—but not wet, so I just kept it nice and creamy. And then tons of mascara. I used Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Clis ($32). On her cheeks, I just wanted there to be a hint of color so I used Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks in Pale Pink ($29) and just used a little, tiny bit of it. It was simply so she wouldn’t look flat. I actually used it in the hollow of the cheeks and not on the apples because I didn’t want it to be blushy—I didn’t want it to be a full-on blush effect. For the lips, I used Burt’s Bees Lipstick in Nile Nude ($9).” — Georgie Eisdell
BYRDIE: What keeps you in werewolf fighting shape?
PT: I like being trained by ballerinas, so I go to someone called Mary Helen Bowers in New York, and here I met someone called Andie Hecker about five years ago and I’ve been training with her on and off for five years. She’s like the naughty ballerina. She’s great and she’s in L.A. So when I’m here for longer, I try to see her.
BYRDIE: What about when you’re working in Atlanta?
PT: I do the Ballet Beautiful videos and just walk.
BYRDIE: What about diet-wise—what’s always in your fridge?
PT: So gross. Vegenaise is vegan mayonnaise. I’ll dip carrots in it. I always have brown rice in my fridge. I could just sit and eat brown rice. What else? Carob, salmon, hemp milk, [laughs] really stupid actress things like that.
BYRDIE: What’s a typical breakfast for you?
PT: I try to wake up and have a big glass of water, and then I’ll have a coffee. And I like to get English muffins and put tahini and manuka honey on them. That’s what I had for breakfast this morning.
On the Look:
“The second look was kind of undone no-mascara look with kind of a blotted stained lip, which I think is really easy to go out to dinner, and it’s not too fussy.” — Phoebe Tonkin
“It was really important that the skin was glowy and beautiful. I used Chanel’s Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup ($48), and I actually mixed Nars’s Illuminator ($30) into the foundation, so it gave a really beautiful glow to the skin. In the crease of the eye, I used a neutral Tom Ford palette ($80). I just wanted it to be a nothing color in the eye—just a natural contour. On the lashes, I used one coat of brown mascara, and brushed them out with a mascara wand, just so the lashes were coated, but it didn’t look like she had mascara on. And then we did this beautiful bronzy cheek—very light contour using Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base ($50). On her lips, I did Burt's Bees's Scarlet Soaked Lipstick ($9).” — Georgie Eisdell
BYRDIE: Picked up any genius makeup tricks over the years?
PT: Not in terms of putting makeup on… but one time I was stuck in a hotel and I had nothing to take off all this really heavy makeup, so I ordered room service and I asked for a side of olive oil. And I used tissues with olive oil and took my makeup off. And it worked!
BYRDIE: Any beauty DIYs you like?
PT: I put manuka honey on my face as a face mask. Leave it on for 20 minutes. I use Epsom salts in the bath a lot. But the manuka honey one is really nice. I’ve been eating a lot of it. It’s an investment, but it’s delicious.
BYRDIE: What Australian beauty products should we all be using?
PT: I like the Lucas's Papaw Ointment, which is really boring because everyone says that. You know, I quite like Miranda Kerr’s stuff, Kora, there’s rosehip oil that’s really nice. And then just the good old Australian seawater; it’s great for the hair. Oh, and emu oil as well!
BYRDIE: Okay, final question. What’s more fun to play a witch or werewolf?
PT: A witch, definitely. They’re a little naughtier.
On the Look:
“I wanted something that was a little bit more done and cool and something I haven’t done before. I really like the idea of a middle part with the headband—we used a little velvet ribbon instead of an actual headband, and I just think it’s really cool and interesting and classic at the same time. I love a braid.” — Phoebe Tonkin
“I love that soft, soft smoky eye, like someone’s just kind of blown it onto the eye—no edges. I used Laura Mercier’s Matte Eye Colour in Truffle ($25), keeping the eye open to create that contour and create that shape.” — Georgie Eisdell
Photographer: Kat Borchart; hair: Christian Wood; makeup: Georgie Eisdell; styling: Ilona Hamer.
Which look would you wear? Tell us in the comments below!