The One Thing: Kat Graham on the $25 Product She Uses Before Every Photoshoot

The multitalented, multilingual star takes us on a tour of her favorite things.

Kat Graham

Kat Graham/ Design by Cristina Cianci

Our series The One Thing is a Sparknotes version of the products, rituals, and moments your favorite celebrities and influencers swear by—their go-tos, must-haves, and can’t-live-withouts. So go ahead—take a brief, intimate peek into the lives of your favorites through the things (and people, and moments) they hold dear.

I'm entirely convinced that 20 minutes with Kat Graham can change your life. Seriously, take our interview for example: we'd barely exchanged introductions when Graham taught me how to organize my life with multiple planners, get a movie star glow at drugstore prices, and how volunteer work changes your life—and that was all before we started a garage band together with our musical instrument-focused New Year's resolutions.

Graham doesn't have much time to practice though, her schedule is already packed with the projects and commitments of a Young Hollywood darling. After a star-making turn on Vampire Diaries, Graham's television and film roles took off, with five high-profile projects debuting in 2020 alone. Graham has her sights set higher than just a booming acting and singing career, though. With work with various refugee communities across the world, Graham's "How can I help?" approach translates through everything she does. Now, as the ambassador for fine jewelry emporium Piercing Pagoda and its #BeMoreYou campaign, she's promoting individuality and self-expression through the art of accessorizing.

Here, Byrdie speaks with Kat Graham exclusively on her favorite things, from the $25 dollar cream that gets her res-carpet ready to the day planners perfect for the year ahead:

The One Thing She Wish She Had an Infinite Amount of

There's a part of me that never wants to be a billionaire or anything because that's...intense. But then I think about all the people that could help and all the people that need it. So I guess money to give away [laughs]! Like I still drive my Prius from 2010, y'know? So I'm not materialistic. You know what? I like vegan cheesy puffs. I could really go down a dark path if I had an infinite amount of those. Everything would be covered in cheesy puff grease. It's like food, or money to give away—that pretty much sums me up.

Lesser Evil Vegan Paleo Puffs $3.99 $2.99

The One Thing She Would Give Her Younger Self

I think when I was younger, I didn't trust myself much, Which I think is pretty normal when you're a kid or you have insecurities about your poverty, or only having one parent, or coming from a broken home—or anything of my circumstances. You don't feel totally sure of your own environment or your life, let alone yourself. I wish that I could go back and tell her to trust yourself more and that you have it more together than you think you do, and don't panic—just don't panic. It'll be ok. I think I would tell her that.

The One Thing Her Skin Loves

Anytime I have to be on-camera the night before, I'll use Revitalift Triple Power Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer ($25). I do it before bed, not right before the shoot because I like to put on a bunch. L'Oréal makes it and my skin loves it. It gives you the best glow.

L'Oreal moisturizer in a tub
L'Oréal Revitalift Triple Power Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer $25.00

The One Thing That Makes Her Feel Like Herself

This is gonna sound a little corny but it's when I go on my mission trips. I feel like, "Ok, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be." I love working and I love acting and all that but sometimes you're not in your own clothes, you're not speaking words you've written so I wouldn't say when I'm working because I'm a professional pretender [laughs]. I would say when I'm doing my mission work. Jordan was my first one, that was a Syrian refugee camp. The last one I went to was Uganda. I think there is something to going to the Middle East, because I'm half middle eastern and the other half is African. I feel like myself when I'm doing that work. And also when I'm laughing with my friends. I think humor and laughing, because I'm a naturally silly person, makes me feel most like myself.

The One Thing She Keeps in Her Bag

My first reaction would be my organizers. I'm a big organizer fan. I'm Miss Particular. This organizer brand called Ink + Vault is for the year, and then my 90-day planner (yes, I have two planners that I run around with) is called #ThisIsMyEra ($25). Those are my jams.

Red planner
#ThisIsMyEra 90-Day Planner $25.00

The One Thing She'd Do If She Were Invisible

I think because I played a witch on Vampire Dairies for so many years, I think it would be funny to spook people. The cast used to spook me a lot because they knew I was a scaredy-cat—I'm such an easy target because I'm so gullible. So I'd probably go back and haunt the cast [laughs]. Seek revenge on all the pranks they pulled on me and make them think it was the ghost of Bonnie Bennett.

The One Beauty Item She Swears by for Winter

You know what I just thought of? Waking up in the middle of the night and my lips are burning because I don't have chapstick. We all have that winter moment and you just grab a tube of Vaseline—but I'm not gonna say that because it's not glamorous [laughs]! I think my must-have is a light, portable thermos to have your hot drinks in. Coffee in the morning, tea in the evening. If I have coffee after 3 p.m., everyone in my home is up. Like, we're staying up, guys.

Pink Vaseline tin
Vaseline Rosy Lips Lip Therapy $3.49

The One Piece of Jewelry Everyone Should Own

Pagoda makes a lot of these: A very good, thin, gold necklace. If you have a simple, nice chain, you can change out the charm easily. Then, you can get into charm-collecting and those charms can be representative of different memories you have. That's what I've been really into now: I'm always, no matter what these days, wearing a thin, gold necklace. They're also really great to stack. I do keep one on me all the time and I'll stack on a few sometimes. I don't know if you have a bunch of piercings but I have about 12 so I'm like, "Ok, I got two down, 10 to go!" They have a lot of good pieces and studs like that so if you want to mix and match Pagoda is a great place to start.

Gold chain
Piercing Pagoda 3.7mm Hollow Singapore Chain Necklace in 10K Gold - 18" $230.00

The One Resolution She Made for 2021

Even though we were all in quarantine last year, because I had so many projects out, it was kind of a constant surge of press. I didn't necessarily have time to practice all my languages or continue practicing the bass, which I had picked up not too long ago, and work on all of my music production and stuff like that, or finish books. I didn't get to work on my skills other than my acting. So in 2021, I want to get better at my skills and just be a better version of myself. I want to be a better artist, a better musician, a better speaker, I want to speak to more people which means I have to be more fluent in other languages.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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