As Game Of Thrones' fearless Mother Of Dragons she's glared down the Night King, sobbed her way through the streets of London as the well-intentioned but lost Kate in Last Christmas, and emoted to the gods as the love-torn Nina in Chekhov's The Seagull. Add to that a pair of enviable, and now iconic, eyebrows and a refreshingly unfiltered approach to her skin, and it's easy to conclude that whatever situation she finds herself in, Emilia Clarke gives good face.
ELLE UK caught up with the actor, mental health advocate and Clinique Global Brand Ambassador to talk all things ageing in Hollywood, extreme skincare tips and why, for now, you won't find her reaching for the fillers...
Why are we all so obsessed with our skin?
'I think in this kind of new world of "authenticity" and dreaded selfies it makes you want to have your skin be this glowy gorgeous thing. But also you wake up every morning, you don't want to have to put make-up on all the time... you want to be able to wake up and look at your skin and think, "It's alright, ok, yeah, it's good".'
Tell us your top skincare tips...
'The most helpful skincare tip I've ever got is from my mum. From the age of dot she was always telling me to cleanse, tone and moisturise. The most ridiculous skincare tip I've got? I mean Goop... I love her, love me a bit of Gwynnie [Paltrow], but I think there is a limit to certain things where you're like "now it's just getting a bit silly".
'And then there are the mad tips that actually work. I remember when someone told me about the teaspoon trick, where you put a cold spoon on your eyelids to reduce puffiness, and I was like, "Sorry, what?" But it really does work.'
What's the worst skincare advice you've ever received?
'I once had a facialist who told me I needed fillers and I showed her the door. I was literally just like, "get out". Her exact words were, "Then, you can have your face back." At that point I was 28.'
How do you feel about ageing as a woman in an industry that favours youth?
'You've got this idea of ageing, and then you've got the idea of what ageing makes you look like. At 34, I am wiser, more intelligent, I've had more experiences, I've done all this stuff and I'm proud of that. You can only do that because you are the age you are. Time is the only thing allows you to do those things. So, if my face is gonna reflect the time that I've spent on this earth, I'm down for that.
'My mother has never had any work done and I think she's incredibly beautiful. I look to women and actors who are older than me who are f*cking beautiful and I think what your skin does as you age is elegant. I can imagine them all saying "Ssh, you do not get to talk about this yet", but I've got lines on my forehead.'
Do you feel pressure to get injectables as an actor?
'Oh my god, yes. You hear about all your contemporaries getting it done and you're like, "Does that mean I have to? Should I be doing that?" And then you work on a movie and the director of photography lights you beautifully and you get over it.
'I work in an industry where I've got to move my face, and I've got to be expressive, and you can't light filler. You just can't light it. It doesn't look right, you look shiny and strange. If my job is telling me that I need to have anything more than possibly a bit of botox when I'm 45 or whatever, then I'll stop doing the job.
'Caitlin Moran has botox. As soon as she did it I was like, "Ok, we can talk about it, it's ok." I've never had it because I'm petrified, and I definitely don't want it now, but I'm not saying I won't want it later. I'm allowing myself room to change my mind. But, I don't like the fact that it's suddenly become normal that everybody just gets work done.'
What would you try on your skin?
'I've never really gone too wacky because my skin is really sensitive. I have to patch test any products before I use them. I had a facial pre-lockdown and my skin reacted so badly I had to ask the facialist for antihistamines. I was just like, "I know my skin is sensitive but this is ridiculous."
'Using less products of a more "chill" variety is the absolute key for me, because otherwise my skin will blow up like a little blow fish. Clinique has genuinely changed the game for me. I've tried everything and it all works on my sensitive, dry, patchy skin. The Moisture Surge is an absolute game changer because it's got hyaluronic acid and aloe in. You know how you think if you've got dry skin you've got to use really thick moisturiser and rub it in for ages and it's all still white and you look like a ghost? Well, this glides on and you don't even notice it.'
What's your go-to self care situation?
'A hot bath is needed. I like to use half a tonne of Epsom salts in it and maybe a bit of lavender oil if I'm feeling fruity. I light candles, get my book out, have some classical music playing, all of that jazz. Then I do yoga every morning and, since lockdown, I've started meditating. I meditate every night using the Calm app. I find it's been a really helpful tool for if I'm having a panic in the day and I need to just take five minutes to breathe.
'I've definitely learnt in lockdown to catch myself when my inner saboteur is raging strong, and to just be aware of it. I came up with some mantras to practice kindness on myself. I know it sounds prescriptive, and normally all that self-love stuff makes me feel weird inside, but actually during lockdown I found my own way of doing it without feeling like a human Clintons card.'
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