elizabeth lail

Exclusive: "You" Star Elizabeth Lail on Skincare and Instagram Stalking

For those who binged Lifetime’s soapy thriller series You in an overnight Netflix fury (just me?), you know that things didn’t turn out particularly well for ingenue Elizabeth Lail. Actual spoiler alert: Her innocent, literature-loving character Guinevere Beck meets a tragic fate at the hands of her stalker-murderer boyfriend Joe Goldberg, played by the so-scary-it’s-almost-hot (or so-hot-it’s-almost-scary?) Penn Badgeley.

Offscreen, I’m happy to report that 27-year-old Lail is looking much more lively than her You character, at least in part because, as it turns out, the actress is completely obsessed with skincare. (She’s one of us!) “This year has been a major skincare year for me,” Lail gushed to me over the phone earlier this week as we chatted about her intense infatuation with serums and peels (which, as far as I can tell, rivals Joe’s infatuation with Beck). “It’s getting a little out of hand.”
Now that her You character has bit the dust, Lail (also known for ABC’s Once Upon a Time) is focusing on her next lead role: It’s another scary one, this time in the form of the horror film Countdown. But amid the hustle of shooting, Lail still finds the time to care for her complexion. Keep scrolling to discover the $18 anti-redness mask she can’t live without, what’s on her beauty bucket list, and why she herself is a bit of a beauty “stalker.”
So… tell me about how this skincare obsession of yours developed. 

Well, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of skincare on Instagram. I find that it’s replacing food for me. Like, if I’ve had a really stressful day, I go out and buy a bottle of serum.

I feel you. Your Saturn Return comes around and suddenly it’s like, serum is my coping mechanism!

Right. And of course it never fixes the underlying problem.

Sure. But, hey, having nice skin doesn’t hurt! What are some of your latest product obsessions?

I’m really loving Pai. I’m trying to introduce more clean beauty into my routine. But more than anything I want something that works. So I also really love Murad. Their eye cream is amazing. As far as makeup, I feel like a clown when I have too much on so I like to keep it simple. I just spot correct with Clé de Peau concealer. And then I use a lot of Beautycounter because it’s a clean beauty brand. I have their mascara, brow gel, and sunscreen stick, which is great on the go. I’m just constantly on Instagram buying the next thing I see… for better or for worse. 

It’s so funny that Instagram stalking is your beauty shopping method of choice.

Well, sometimes I’m gifted things and that’s how I discover them, or a makeup artist uses something on me that I like. But I started following estheticians on Instagram and I find that that’s where a lot of my knowledge is coming from. And honestly Byrdie. I discovered Byrdie through Instagram and thought it was such an incredible resource.

I love that! Who are some of your favorite estheticians to follow?

Well, Shani Darden… 

I just got a Shani facial yesterday! 

From her?? Oh my god. MY DREAM.

You should go to her new studio in Beverly Hills next time you’re in town [from New York]. It’s stunning. She has this LED light therapy bed. Have you tried one of those?

Not yet, but I’ve seen and am very intrigued. I mean the truth is I’ll try anything. 

You must. LED is supposed to help with immunity, acne, stress... everything. I swear when I got off that thing I felt like I’d spent 100 years in cryogenic sleep. 

Amazing. I also follow this woman named Jasmina Vico from London. Jasmina has been a big Skinceuticals girl. She’s also on my wish list of estheticians to see. Her and Shani are my two favorites. I’ve picked up iS Clinical from Shani, and the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta peel pads. I’ve honestly gotten to the point where I have too much skincare and need to chisel it down to the necessities. Skincare has gotten so expensive for me. But then you buy something that expensive and you’re like, was this really worth it? I don’t know.

Yeah. And then it was such an investment that you trick yourself into believing it was worth it, and then you see all these phantom results which makes you want to buy the expensive thing again. Beauty products can definitely play mind games on you! Are there any cheaper products that you’ve tried and would say definitely, definitely work?

You know, in New York, Birchbox has opened pop-up corners in Duane Reade. And through that I discovered this incredible brand called Huxley. It’s a Korean skincare brand. They have these sheet masks that are insanely hydrating. And I’ve always been a fan of Aveeno moisturizer

If a You-esque skincare stalker came to your house and stole your entire product collection except for five things, which would you hope they left behind?

Excellent question. Definitely Supergoop sunscreen. I use that pretty religiously. Burt’s Bees Chapstick. The pomegranate color, because I like how it gives my lips a natural flush. Then probably Shani Darden’s Texture Reform because I use retinol. And I really like the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Moisturizer which is something I first got years ago in college and still come back to. And then you know what I love? I have sensitive skin so I use Mario Badescu’s Azulene Calming Mask. When I’m filming, I use it every night. It’s one of those products where I wake up and I see the difference. My skin is easily irritated and red, and this keeps it calm and soothed. So that would be my top mask. 

elizabeth lail

How have your skincare needs have changed as you’ve gotten older? I’m 27, too, and I’ve been amazed how much my skin has changed in the past year.

It’s interesting because I feel like I lie to myself sometimes. Like I’ll tell myself, no, my skin has always been this way. This is how it is so I don’t need such-and-such a product. But I’ve really had to confront myself and be like, no, actually my skin is breaking out more than it ever has before.


I don’t want to admit that that’s something that’s happening. And it’s really unfair because I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been for sure, and taking better care of my skin than ever. But it’s constantly changing, with the seasons, too. So I’m trying to get to a place where I have enough skincare knowledge, science-wise, to know what my skin needs as it changes. That’s my dream. 

Wellness-wise, what are some things you do to keep yourself balanced when work gets really hectic?

I prioritize sleep above all else. So I kind of have to sacrifice my social life in order to become an operating happy healthy human being. Ultimately it’s worth it because then when the project is over I can travel and take a vacation but I basically have to come home from work, call the people I love, get in bed, read, and sleep. Sleep is the most healing self-care I can possibly do. And I do a mask every night. But I try not to have too many sources coming at me. I try not to look at my phone too much.

No Instagram shopping before bed: solid rule. 

I also drink tea every morning. That’s become a meditative practice. It sounds so simple but tea is of the earth, so it’s really grounding. And it’s something I can do anywhere, on any set. Have a cup of tea to myself.

elizabeth lail

What’s your go-to tea, and what are you currently reading?

Teapigs Earl Grey
. I usually put almond milk in it. I’m sure that’s a big no-no for some people. Tea is a very particular art form for some people but for me it’s about pleasure and me time. And I’m reading two things right now. I’m rereading The Unbearable Lightness of Being and I also just picked up Women Who Run With the Wolves.

That’s one of my close friend’s favorite books!

I just barely started it. But it’s one of those books that kept coming up and that I kept hearing about so I figured this must be the time to read it. I’m very much an advocate of like, text comes to you when you need it. Sometimes you’ll pick up a book and it won’t resonate at all and in another season you’re like, this is my bible. 


Photographer and Makeup Artist: Tina Turnbow

Hair: Rheanne White for R+Co

Styling and Jewelry: Maison Mayle

Shot at the Williamsburg Hotel

Next up: Don’t miss our beauty exclusive with Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch.

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