Zosia Mamet Gets Real About the Girls Makeup That Made Her Cringe

Updated 04/17/17
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After six drama-packed seasons, HBO's Girls has ended, and with it, so do the dozens of beauty moments that defined the show's quippy, millennial-centric spirit. Whether you are a die-hard fan of the series, watch it passively, or gave up after Adam and Jessa started dating in season five (seriously, what the heck?), you can't deny that Girls has inspired a generation of young women to wear buns in the shape of doughnuts, give their friends stick-and-poke tattoos, and feel not-so-shitty about their own bodies.

Undeniably, the character of Shoshanna, played by Zosia Mamet (pronounced "za-shah," by the way), gave us some of the show's most iconic beauty fodder. Her perky, fast-talking personality was complemented by a flamboyant aesthetic (think feathered hair accessories and multicolored side braids), which we looked forward to every week. And even though the real-life Mamet will miss her character as much as the rest of us, she maintains that the two have never been, and will never be, anything alike.

"Yeah, we're just super different," Mamet tells me over the phone on her way home from a Burt's Bees party. (The actress is a big skincare buff and a fan of the brand's lip balm, which she says was a go-to on set.) If nothing else, Mamet's speaking voice proves her point—it's about 10 times slower than anything we'd hear from Shosh. What do you know? Sometimes a character is just a character.

That said, we can all agree that Shoshanna was a special one. So to honor the Girls series finale, we invited Mamet to look back on some of her most memorable beauty moments—from Shosh's worst makeup look to Mamet's personal beauty evolution to which Girls character would be most likely to shave her head.

BYRDIE: I know that you and Shoshanna are nothing alike, but over the years, did she rub off on your personal aesthetic in any way?

ZOSIA MAMET: It's hard to answer that because we're just so different when it comes to everything aesthetic. Jenn Rogien, our costume designer, is brilliant, and I love everything that she's ever put me in as a character choice. Jenn's a genius, and I think she did an epic job designing the entire show. Everything that she'd show me for Shoshanna, I was like, "Yes, perfect!" But I never wanted to ever take anything home with me.

BYRDIE: When you started the show, you were so young—22 or 23? Off-screen, how has your beauty philosophy evolved since we first met you?

ZM: My hair was really overprocessed a couple of years ago. I didn't really know about what it meant to take care of my hair. Since then, I've definitely learned how to take care of my hair better especially now that I'm a pretty consistent blonde. But I've always taken really good care of my skin. My mom started me on getting facials when I was a teenager, which I think really saved my skin. My skincare has been pretty much the same for a while. It's very simple but regimented. I have really sensitive skin, so I have to stay on it.

BYRDIE: What does your skincare routine look like right now?

ZM: I am obsessed with Osea Malibu products. I use all of their moisturizers; they're my favorite. I use Skyn Iceland Glacial Cleansing Cloths ($15) to take my makeup off. There are two serums that I use—one in the morning and one at night—that I'm obsessed with. One is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($166), and the other one is a jambú serum, which smells so good. And then I make sure I get a facial once a month.

For facials, I go to Joanna Vargas. I think of facials like a medical treatment. I'm not someone who wants to go and have someone rub nice-smelling things on my skin. I want them to clean the bad shit out and put the good stuff on my skin to help it stay healthy. Every time I go, I talk to my facialist about the science of what they're doing, and they're so knowledgeable there. I swear by them."

BYRDIE: Back to Shoshanna though (because we can't help it). Do you have a favorite look of hers from the past six seasons?

ZM: I mean, I remember the night that they put the doughnut on my head that I referred to as "the bagel." I was like, "This is so much bigger than a donut—this is a bagel!" So that was one funny thing. I had so many favorite looks; it's sort of hard to pick one. But to me, the bagel was just the most iconic of Shoshanna's looks. It kind of encompasses her in a great way.

BYRDIE: Totally. Do you have a favorite look from any of the other Girls characters?

ZM: [Marnie's] bad wedding makeup was truly exceptional.

BYRDIE: I weirdly sort of loved it. What about Jessa?

ZM: I think my favorite look of hers was in Bushwick when she's wearing the crazy feather thing.

BYRDIE: If you could give one piece of beauty advice to Shoshanna, what would it be?

ZM: Put down the lip gloss. I'm really not a fan of lip gloss. I think it's disgusting.

BYRDIE: Right? Like, it's too soon. We still haven't recovered from the early-2000s lip-gloss era.

ZM: Yes. Just put away the lip gloss, Shoshanna.

BYRDIE: If you could give one piece of beauty advice to 22- or 23-year-old Zosia, what would it be?

ZM: Oh my god. I would tell myself not to touch my eyebrows at that point in my life. I'm still trying to grow them back. They're starting to, finally, but I'd tell my younger self not to touch my eyebrows. Just please—DON'T TOUCH THEM.

BYRDIE: Okay, now we're going to play a little game where I read a list of wacky beauty activities, and you tell me which among the four main Girls characters would be most likely to do it. 

ZM: Got it.

BYRDIE: First, who would be most likely to get a vampire facial? 

ZM: A what facial?

BYRDIE: It's that crazy facial made from your own blood...

ZM: Oh my god—that sounds horrible! I think that's something Hannah would do by accident. She would think she was getting a massage and then accidentally get a terrible, terrifying facial.

BYRDIE: Who would be most likely to dye her hair green?

ZM: Jessa.

BYRDIE: Get a tattoo of Ray's face?

ZM: Probably also Jessa.

BYRDIE: Go raw vegan?

ZM: Hannah.

BYRDIE: Get a colonic?

ZM: Marnie. Or Shoshanna—Shoshanna might get a colonic too.

BYRDIE: Who would move to France?

ZM: Jessa. But also maybe Shoshanna.

BYRDIE: Who would swear off body hair removal?

ZM: Probably Hannah.

BYRDIE: Get plastic surgery?

ZM: Marnie.

BYRDIE: Become a yoga instructor?

ZM: Jessa.

BYRDIE: Shave her head?

ZM: Hannah.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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