In our monthly Self-Directed series, we invite beauty and fashion influencers 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.
Today, Lea Michele is going to do things a little differently.
It’s not that the actress and singer hasn’t practiced full rein for an on-camera beauty look before. On the contrary, she has collaborated closely with makeup artist Melanie Inglessis since 2009, aka the year that Michele evolved from Broadway darling to household name, thanks to a buzzy new show called Glee. Seven years down the road to superstardom, the pair still makes a great team—there’s ample evidence of that in every consistently poised turn on the red carpet. That being said, Michele cops to having a certain beauty uniform—and when she arrives on set for her Self-Directed shoot, it’s with the intention to shake that up.
“[Melanie] and I have experimented with a ton of different looks at shoots and on carpets, but I’m pretty simple and I’m not one to go outside of the box too much,” she tells us. “I really know what works for me, and I like to stick with that. So to have the opportunity to play at this shoot is so much fun.”
Play they do—and once the shoot comes to a close, it’s pretty clear that Michele and Inglessis might have a few more go-to looks to add to their rotation. Keep reading to see how the actress, along with makeup artist Melanie Inglessis and hairstylist John D., craft each stunning look.
On Lea Michele: EX1 Cosmetics Invisiwear Liquid Foundation ($17); Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer ($70); Make Up For Ever Sculpting Palette ($45); Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator ($28); Chanel Le Volume Mascara ($32) and Liquid Lipstick in Light Dusty Rose ($20); Kevyn Aucoin Cream Blusher in Creamy Glow Tansoleil ($26).
BYRDIE: Is there anything you do before a big event, before a red carpet, that gives you kind of like that confidence boost before you step out there?
LEA MICHELE: It’s important to look good and feel good. You can’t really know how you’re going to feel on any given day, but you can do your best to make yourself feel as good as possible and prep well for it. So I like to take a nice bath the night before and do a really good peel.
BYRDIE: Do you have a favorite?
LM: I have Dr. Gross’s peels ($16); they’re amazing! And I have a steam shower, so I steam in the morning before the event for a really long time and put a nice eye mask on my eyes. So I really do what I can. But the most important thing to feel good is to not be hungry, because if I’m hungry, I can’t take a good picture. It’s important to do what you can before events to look and feel good. And I’m really about wellness and self-care so I follow that routine on a day-to-day basis, but I’ll make sure to do it especially before a carpet.
BYRDIE: On that note, is there a pre-photo snack or meal that you know is going to give you enough energy all evening?
LM: I eat the same thing often every day. My breakfast usually consists of avocado toast, maybe an egg white with some greens, and a green juice. So I love having a really healthy, good breakfast to start the day. And then throughout the day, I like to eat on the lighter side because I don’t want to feel too heavy during the shoot. Plus, you have a lot of makeup on, so I like to eat a salad, just something light that will give me the energy that I need—definitely with a protein like quinoa or tofu. It’s important to eat foods that fuel you and give you energy because a lot of carbs will tire you out, or make you feel like you just want to cozy up. So I keep it light midday, and then at the end of the day, I’ll go home and eat whatever I want.
BYRDIE: What’s an ideal dinner for you?
LM: Pizza! Pizza and a glass of wine.
BYRDIE: Yes! Red or white?
LM: Red, 100%! I don’t like white wine. And I only keep organic red wine in my house because it has no sulfites. So it’s better for you—you get all the actual beneficial properties of the red wine and it also doesn’t give you a hangover. It’s amazing! The only downside is that it’s only good once you open it.
BYRDIE: That’s so good to know!
LM: The sulfites are what preserve wines. My favorite is Our Daily Red; it is fantastic organic red wine with zero sulfites.
On Lea Michele: EX1 Cosmetics Invisiwear Liquid Foundation ($17) and Blusher in Jet Set Glow ($13); Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer ($70); Make Up For Ever Sculpting Palette ($45) and Aqua Cream ($23); Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator ($28); Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Color in Golden Peach ($62); Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro in Chinese Lacquer ($38); Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Bang ($20).
BYRDIE: What else would we always be able to find in your fridge?
LM: Grapes, cherries. Because I really like to snack. Cheese—I love a good cheese. It’s really not good for me to have too much cheese in my refrigerator—I try to keep my home as vegan as possible. But [I like] a really nice cheese occasionally as a little treat. I always have Ezekiel bread, I have avocado in there all the time, tons of water in my house. And then I have a lot of good snacks like Pop Chips, gluten-free pretzels, healthy stuff! I don’t keep junk in my house at all, because I’ll eat it. So I just keep good food in my house—great stuff to snack on throughout the day so that I don’t have to deprive myself.
BYRDIE: Totally! And what about fitness? What is your workout of choice?
LM: I go to SoulCycle almost every day. I am so excited; I’m going tomorrow. I love SoulCycle—I heard about it for so many years and was kind of like I don’t think I’ll ever be into that. But the minute I went, I was instantly hooked. I just love it—that is my tribe. But I do like to mix it up because I can’t stick with one thing. Throughout the course of the week, I’ll definitely do SoulCycle, a hot yoga class, and I’ll hike. I have a beautiful trail right by my house that I hike, and it’s just gorgeous.
BYRDIE: That’s lovely! Now you mentioned green juice—is there a specific recipe or a specific smoothie recipe that you love?
LM: If I’m not making it myself, I’ll usually go to Pressed or Earthbar. It has to be green, though, because I’m not a sweets person. So like a green smoothie, usually like spinach, kale, and then they’ll sweeten it with a little banana. You could even throw broccoli in there, something like that. You have to be careful to minimize the fruit. You should really eat your fruits—you’re supposed to chew your fruit and you can drink your greens, [although] it’s good to chew your greens too.
On Lea Michele: EX1 Cosmetics Invisiwear Liquid Foundation ($17); Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer ($70); Make Up For Ever Sculpting Palette ($45); Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator ($28); Chanel Le Volume Mascara ($32); Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in Light Dusty Rose ($20); Kevyn Aucoin Cream Blusher in Creamy Glow Tansoleil ($28).
BYRDIE: Love it. Switching gears—we’re all about cheap thrills. Are there any drugstore products that you love?
LM: When I go to CVS, I immediately buy Epsom salt ($6). That’s the best thing I think you can buy at a drugstore because it has incredible beneficial properties for your body. The magnesium is an amazing detox, and it’s so good for your skin. You put it in the tub and try to soak for a least 20 minutes at night, and you sleep so well. I live for a CVS trip; I could just spend days in there. But that is my number one.
BYRDIE: What else is in your nighttime beauty routine?
LM: What is not in my nighttime beauty routine?! Listen—I don’t like to go out. I enjoy a good night out for dinner, but once the clock strikes, like, 8 o’clock, I’m all about an early-bird special. I want to be home. I want to be in my bath. So I love Epsom salt, I love any bath oils, bath salts, anything that’s just going to be good for my skin and for my body—all natural. I love doing a good body scrub at night. There’s this amazing new line, Shiffa, that I am obsessed with. The Basil and Rosemary Body Scrub ($91), you could literally be on the floor, down and out, and that body scrub will pick you up. It makes your entire body come alive.
Also, before I go to sleep, I always have tea, hot water, and lemon. It’s very simple: Drink water, take care of yourself, work out, and get good sleep. Follow those basic things and you’ll really start to see a difference. So for me, drinking water and getting a ton of sleep at night is the best thing because I have to have energy for my days, to work and to be on. Sleep is the number one thing.
BYRDIE: What’s the weirdest beauty-related thing you’ve ever tried?
LM: I mean I’ve done it all. I’ve done cryotherapy, I’ve done the infrared saunas, I’ve done crazy wraps—insane things like that. At the end of the day, I just really like to stick with what I know. The craziest thing is when you go to any of the Korean spas and you’re in this mugwort tub—which is basically dirt brown—with 10 other women and you kind of look around and you’re like, I don’t really know if this is okay. But I really have tried it all, and some things I keep in my routine and some things I say, Okay, I don’t need to do that again.
BYRDIE: Aside from the Epsom salt baths, are there any other DIYs that you like to do at home?
LM: I mean, I really love making stuff for my hair, like a really nice eucalyptus oil hair mask that I keep in my hair at night. So I’ll do a little coconut oil on the ends and some nice eucalyptus oil on my roots. Then I sleep with my hair in a bun and wake up in the morning and have my hair be really nice and fresh. I don’t like to mess with my skin, so I go to Shani Darden—she’s my facialist and my guru. I listen to her and don’t do anything without her telling me. For my hair, I go to Nine Zero One—Nikki and Riawna are amazing.
BYRDIE: You have such beautiful hair—is there anything that you’ve tried and regretted?
LM: I did cut my hair pretty short once, and the minute I cut it, I was like, I don’t ever want short hair ever again. I got that out of my system for sure. I really try to take good care of my hair because it’s so important and I’m always getting it blown out and getting lots of product put in it. So when I’m not working, I don’t touch my hair. I wash it and put it in a bun and I let it breathe, and I don’t put any heat tools on it or anything like that.
BYRDIE: So your day-to-day is wash and go?
LM: Yes, I like to do a simple center part and put it back in a sleek bun. I think that looks really chic without doing anything.
BYRDIE: One last question: What would we find in your shower?
LM: iS Clinical ($40) is my face wash—I live for that face wash. I also have Unite shampoo ($23), and I have a ton of body scrubs—some that I’ve made myself—and I also use one from Honest. I have a Venus razor ($11) in there, tons of bodywash. I really love Weleda’s bodywash ($10). It’s so fantastic. I also keep mouthwash in the shower because I like to use mouthwash when I’m in the shower. And I have essential oils that I splash around to get nice scents.
BYRDIE: You really do have everything!
LM: I try not to take long showers because it’s bad for the environment, but I could stay in there forever!
Photographer: Justin Coit, Hair: John D., Makeup: Melanie Iglessias, Styling: Sissy St. Marie.