The One Thing
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.
The last time Byrdie spoke with Lily Collins, she was the cover star of The Fall/Winter Issue. Fresh off the heels of filming a little show called Emily in Paris (ever heard of it?), Collins was stepping into her own as a newly-minted streaming star. A lot has changed since then. Pandemic aside, she’s gotten married, wrapped season two of the Netflix juggernaut, and picked up a beauty partnership (or two) to boot.
When it comes to glam, Collins’s fresh skin and fluffy brows often take center stage, but her brunette hair is no less recognizable. On set, she’s often seen wearing Emily Cooper’s signature barrel curls, but in life, she’s more prone to switching it up. So, when she announced a partnership with cult-favorite line Living Proof, it felt like a natural fit for someone whose hair no doubt requires a little TLC between filming. "I have been a fan of the brand for a long time," says Collins, citing Jennifer Aniston's endorsement as her intro to the products. "When you genuinely love something, use it, and get to talk about it, and spread the word, it feels it's just such a genuine partnership."
Ahead, get to know the Emily in Paris star. Lily Collins talks about haircare, getting bangs, and the secret to Emily Cooper-approved waves.
The One Product That Keeps Her Hair Healthy
"I just swear by the Advanced Clean Dry Shampoo ($30). If I can maximize on a hair look for a few days, I'm going to try. I love my [beauty] team so much. Whatever they do, I'm like 'I think it's a work of art that I want to maximize on.' With Living Proof's dry shampoo, there's no residue, and you can easily get to about a week if you keep applying it correctly. It also just smells insanely lovely—and that's very rare. I've tried a lot of dry shampoos, and to not have it be flaky and smell really nice is a win. I also love that I'm able to keep applying it and have the same texture on my hair day in and day out... sleeping on it, all of the above. That, for me, is a real win."
The One Product She Swears By for a Perfect Air Dry
"Also, the No Frizz Vanishing Oil ($30). I love air-drying my hair in my free time to get that kind of beachy, slight wave aesthetic. I want that, but I also don't want frizz. So, those two products go hand in hand. Having bangs now, they can sometimes get quite fluffy if I blow dry them or let them air dry. I'm still learning how to maintain those, but if I apply just a little bit of the vanishing oil on the bottoms, work my way up, and do a little bit of separation with my bangs, it adds hydration and looks shiny. There's no fuss, and it also doesn't look frizzy and dry, which is exactly what I'm looking for."
The One Beauty Product She Always Has On Hand
"I'll always have dry shampoo in my car. But if I can have it in my purse, because I love big bags, I will. There's nothing like being able to just go to the bathroom, flip your hair up, and spray a little bit, and go from day to night knowing that your hair is just gonna look fresh. So yeah, I usually have a bottle of that somewhere in my surroundings."
The One Thing That Changed Her Relationship With Her Hair
"I used to be someone that felt I always had to look the same in order to have an identity. I think it was very much a safety blanket. I thought, 'If you always look the same, then people can recognize you, and you can recognize yourself.' And I was afraid of change in that way. For the first movie that required me to color my hair, I was very anti [the change]. But then, I realized, 'Well, I have to in order to get this role, and I really want to do this'. So, I went red.
"That was my first shocking experience into coloring my hair. I thought, 'Well now I've done it, it's open the floodgates.' From that moment forward, I got to see what it was like to try different things... makeup matching my skin tone differently because of my hair color, chopping all my hair off to create a pixie cut. Now all of a sudden, there's a different personality coming out. There are different clothes that look better, or maybe don't work as well anymore. You get to create a new style or experiment with a new side of yourself. And hair is a non-permanent way of making that change because it will grow back."
The One Hairstyle She's Loving Right Now
"Bangs are definitely something that I've wanted to do for a very long time. But it's a committed choice—that is very obvious. They'll grow out, but sometimes they awkwardly grow out. So, they have to be cut by the right person. And there's a lot of thought that has to go into it. But I think now I'm someone who loves to experiment, and I don't even look in the mirror when I'm getting my hair and makeup done because I trust my team so much. You know when DJ is doing my hair and creating some cool updo, I'm like, 'Okay, cool.' Or if we're doing a Met Ball look with Gregory Russell, I let him just do his thing. Because everyone on my team is an artist, and I want them to get to play."
The One Beauty Tip She Learned On Set
"When it comes to heat, you always want to protect your hair before you put heat on. So, use serums or sprays that are going to heat protect.
"I also need constant reminding to drink water. I just naturally don't drink a lot of water and that changes your hair and face drastically—your skin needs water, your hair needs water. So hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
"Another thing I learned: what combs or brushes to use for different parts of your hair. What you don't want to use on your bangs because they're gonna look piecey, but also what not to use so they don't look fluffy. There's a lot of method that goes into what combs and brushes pros use. I was just always like, 'I'll use my fingers.' Don't do that."
The One Meaning Behind Emily Cooper's Barrel Curls
"It's totally her signature. She's someone that's coming from wanting to always look her best, and in her personality—as well as her aesthetic—not wanting one hair to be out of place. It's, 'This is a representation of me, and this is what I know to be true. This is who I am.' And so the barrel curls felt like a very set look that even if you shake it out a little bit, you might have a fly away (which would drive her insane). Whereas for me, I'm like, 'you know, whatever happens, happens.'
"We wanted Emily to have a direct representation. Like I said, your hair is part of your personality. And so to have that [part of her personality] reflect in the hairstyle was something that we were looking for. For season two, she trimmed it a little bit, and it became a little shorter. And we're like, 'oh, spicy.' [LAUGHS]. Now, I have bangs, and it's like, 'Oh, are we going to embrace that in season three.' We're kind of allowing her surroundings and the people that she's with to help inform this new extension of her personality in France. It happens in her styling, her makeup, and her overall feelings about work and life—so why not her hair? Every season she starts to get inspired by different people: Season one was a lot of American icons, cinematic women that she admired. Season two was more about French icons."
The One Skincare Product She Can't Get Enough Of
"Genuinely, I've always sworn by skincare face masks. I will wear it on an airplane if I have to. I need to lock in as much moisture as possible because of putting on makeup on, traveling, and flying."
The One Makeup Classic She Loves
"I genuinely am all about mascara, and I'm such an old-school girl when it comes to that. It's not a new product, but Hypnose ($29) is a classic that I've always used. I love that no matter what you have on, as long as your eyelashes are more alert and open, it just opens up your entire face."
The One Beauty Trend She's Excited to Try
"I'm a really big nail person as well, so I'm always looking at what the newest nail trends are—whether they're different tip manicures or shapes of your nails. I work with some incredible nail artists, and I love experimenting. When it comes to nails, they're little but they say a lot.
"Classic French, adding different colors on the tips—I'm also interested in trying different shapes, whether that sometimes adding extensions and doing longer or embracing the short. I'm usually someone who likes uniformity, and sometimes different colors can throw me off. Now I'm like 'Lily, they don't all have to be the same, they can change in a week or two weeks. Let's just switch it up.' So, it's allowing artists to do their thing and free me up from having to control so much."
The One Routine That Keeps Her Grounded
"I do love a hot bath. That always helps. A hot bath and a really good cup of tea. I also love driving—whether that's going on a road trip with my husband and our dog, getting out of the city, or experiencing somewhere that's not too far. It's getting out into nature, taking a beach walk, things like that. I think quarantine really helped us embrace getting out of our comfort zone and outside more. In my line of work, you find yourself in studios a lot and on-set. You're not able to just lose track of time and get outside. So I'm trying to do more of that when I actually have the opportunity."
The One Thing She Does Every Morning
"Our dog is the most snuggly thing on the planet—so usually, I start by snuggling with our dog. I like to do my journal in the morning and read meditation books. And while I'm doing that, my husband makes me a cappuccino. Then, we Wordle. It's kind of this thing where I'm like, 'Okay, I'm gonna start my day off with this because I know that it puts me in a good place.'"