“I was gone for a couple months working on a couple movies that are starting to come out, so I’ve got a movie called Dirty Grandpa coming out next week, which will shock everybody. It’s really something. I’m on a break right now and waiting to figure out what I want to do. It’s been great—I get to hang out with my dogs. I’m gonna try being a normal person.
When I'm not working, I don't wear much makeup. I was on a TV show for seven years, and having a professional put makeup on you, you are forced to learn about it—it’s definitely become a big part of my life. It’s been fun figuring out what I can do on my own because I was never very good at doing my own makeup or taking care of my skin. It’s a daily struggle for me to maintain, but, yeah—I'm much better at it now.
I need to have mascara on at all times—I feel naked without it when I leave the house. Trish McEvoy is my favorite right now—High Volume Mascara, Jet Black—I like this one and I don’t know why. Mascaras are so mysterious to me. I feel like they all work in different ways and then once you find one that you like you can’t live without it, but that one’s my jam right now. It doesn’t have big bristles and my eyelashes are not that long so it feels like it adds length to them without separating them. Then I like to have a tinted moisturizer or some light concealer on. Actually, I’ve been trying to not do that because I would like to not put anything on my skin. But I’ll put Clé de Peau Beauté Bronzer on for a bronzy, glowy situation. It looks like nothing, but it gives you an extra bronzy glow—it’s warm and nice.
The only thing I’m still not great at is figuring out color. I’m afraid of straying from my color palette, which is a bronzy brown and warm colors. I’m not very adventurous with colors, but my face can handle a lot of makeup, which is what people have told me over the years. I think it means that when some people get their eye makeup done their eyes kind of disappear and their face feels heavy, but for me, I can just keep putting makeup on and it looks better rather than worse. So, I can handle serious eye makeup. I experiment with that on my own and I have fun. Only in the past year or two have I tried to put an eyeshadow under my eyes, or something soft and smoky. Whenever I’m really hormonal I wear a lot of eyeliner. It’s a psychological thing and I think I’m protected by it—it protects me from evil. The other day I did leave the house with some Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon on and I was like, ‘I just need to put this in my car because you never know.’
It’s a very emotional process to do my own makeup. I start to zone out and then just do stuff and it almost feels artistic in a way, but sometimes it doesn’t end well. Like I said, I’m not very good at putting colors together, so I’ll think that certain things will go together and I’ll be like, ‘Fuck! That did not work out.’ At least I try.
My skin is really annoying because it will go for long stretches of being really chill and then it will just not be chill. Growing up I had really bad skin, so I had trauma. I’m always switching my routine up because I feel like I have to be five steps ahead of my skin at all times—once I get used to something, it doesn’t work as well anymore. On a regular day, I wake up and I use that gold ball in my soap dish called Golda Sphere Soap. It’s this amazing Japanese massage thing made by this woman Keiko [Matsuo] who gives me facials. It’s so awesome and it’s like a ball of oils. It’s the one thing I actually like using. It makes my skin feel really, really clean.
If I don’t have to do anything for work, I will do my little three-step routine. I’ll wash my face, do a little serum or toner, and then a lot of moisturizer. I’m really into the Kate Somerville DermalQuench [line]. They have an anti-acne one–DermalQuench Clear Anti-Acne Treatment and an anti-aging one–DermalQuench Liquid Lift Advanced Wrinkle Treatment. Those are kind of like serums. You pump them out and they fizz and you rub it all over your face. I’m into Mario Badescu’s line. I use all of his acne stuff if I’m having a bad skin day. I’m also really into oils–all purpose oils. The Pure Marula Facial Oil is awesome because you can put it in your hair and on your skin, so if I want to go completely oily, naked-y, and glowy, I’ll put that everywhere and it also smells really fucking good. My friend Peet Rivko is coming out with this oil that’s my favorite thing. It’s just a really simple, clean oil instead of a cream-based moisturizer. Then I always use Lucas’ Papaw on my lips and any weird skin irritation that I have all over my body.
At night, I have to wash my face—I have to! If I don't take my makeup off, I'll break out like crazy. One thing that I’m always in search of is the best makeup remover. I think the best one is the Cleansing Spa Water by Koh Gen Do. That one gets everything off, but I just ran out so I’ve been using the Erno Laszlo Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil, which is really oily and sticky. That Spa Water one is like water and I don’t know what’s in it, but it’s like magic and it gets everything off. Then I have a slip that goes over my pillowcase that's hypoallergenic and anti-aging. I got it in a gift bag and I was like, ‘This is bullshit,’ but then I put it on and it was amazing. Your face just feels so much cleaner.
At home, I am obsessed with taking baths with salt and any kind of oil. I also have a steam room in my guest house and that’s my ideal relaxation thing—steaming and sweating and doing a mask. I love the Naturopathica Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel and this mud mask that I got from the side of the road in Mexico. Or Mario Badescu’s serious Drying Mask that I use if my face is really freaking the fuck out. I’ll do a mask weekly, usually.
My hair gets a lot of heat because of work, so I have a ton of oils for it—even straight up coconut oil I’ll use. I like things that you can put everywhere and coconut oil you can eat, too. A lot of times when I take a shower and my hair is wet, I’ll just put oil in there and sleep in it and give my hair a break. Leonor Greyl also makes a really good Huile de Magnolia that I use.
My texture is really fine and, weirdly enough, pretty curly. I’m not the kind of person that can let my hair air-dry and look amazing. I look like an insane muppet if I let my hair air-dry, so I have to tame it. And my hair gets oily fast, but I definitely try not to wash it everyday—maybe every two days. Because of that, I use a lot of dry texturizing sprays and dry shampoo. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is great because my hair needs as much help as it can get volume-wise. If I’m going out, I’ll use L’Oréal Elnett Satin Hairspray because it’s good for colored hair, which mine is—gotta get rid of those grays. My mom went fully gray when she was 20, and it’s a genetic thing. If I was all gray like my mom maybe I would rock it, but it doesn’t work so well when you’re trying to play 20 years-old in a movie.
I went short this summer, but it’s growing out and it’s in the weird in-between. They cut it to my chin for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which doesn’t come out till next summer. The whole idea is that my hair is long and blue and I’m a crazy party girl and then I cut it and try to clean up. I was against bangs because I had them for so long, but I’m into them again. Of course, once you go short, you want your hair to be long again, but it was fun for a little bit.
The best for me is when the oils that I use on my skin smell really good, like the Marula Oil. I almost use it as a perfume because it smells so amazing. Elizabeth and James has two scents and I have the both of them—they’re both called Nirvana—but there’s the Nirvana White and the Nirvana Black and I love them both. The black one is more musky and the white is more floral. They come in the solids, which I like. It’s a beautiful case, too.
I had gels for a while and they ruined my nails, so I’ve been trying to just keep them really clean. I like manicures, but I also like keeping it simple—I’m not into nail art. I like my nails to be healthy, shiny, and sturdy, especially for survival scenarios, you know? You gotta have nails that can do some damage. I know we want our nails to look good, ladies, but you never know when you’re going to need to claw someone’s eyes out."
—as told to ITG
Aubrey Plaza photographed by Emily Knecht at her home in Los Angeles on January 13, 2016. Interview by Jane Helpern.