Sophia Bush On Holiday Beauty Survival Tips, What She Wants For Christmas, And How She’s Giving Back

We caught up with the actor and activist just in time for the holidays

It's been almost 15 years since we were first introduced to Brooke Davis, One Tree Hill's feisty and outspoken cheerleader with a penchant for super-real, to-the-point one-liners. ("You better back off unless you want your next period to come out of your nose," was just one of her most memorable statements.) Behind Davis' at-first-thorny exterior is Sophia Bush, an actor and activist who starred in another aughts favorite, John Tucker Must Die, and has fundraised for the likes of Pencils of Promise and I Am That Girl, among other organizations.

Years after we left Davis' story line, as a married mom of twin boys and fashion designer, Bush still has a soft spot for the beloved character. "Brooke Davis was, and always will be, the queen of beauty trends in my book," she says. A self-admitted beauty buff who believes less is more when it comes to her routine, Bush is hosting Birchbox's 12 Days of Prizes (and Surprises) advent calendar promotion this month, each day revealing a new giveaway; potential prizes range from a tropical vacation to a $1500 fitness wardrobe. "I'm a longtime subscriber. Birchbox has taken all of the guesswork out of personal care for me, and I love that this holiday I can pair up with them to shower people with presents," says Bush. "It's been a rough year for so many people. This feels like a little silver lining."

We caught with the Chicago P.D. star just in time for her favorite time of the year. "I love a good holiday party! I'm on location 10 months out of the year, so when I get to go home and see my closest friends and family, it's a dream," says Bush. "Add in ugly sweaters and hot toddies, and I'm in heaven." Read on to uncover Bush's beauty routine, what she's coveting this Christmas, and how she's giving back this season.

What is your daily beauty routine like when you're not on set?

[I do] as little as possible. I generally throw my hair in a bun, usually with a conditioning masque in it. I wear moisturizer and maybe a little mascara. And if I can manage to take a nap, it's the best day ever.

In the wintertime in Chicago, I just tend to wear a heavier moisturizer. And I hide lip balm in every single coat pocket. I'm also hooked on Tata Harper bronzer.

What’s your favorite beauty hack?

RMS Lip2Cheek. Two birds, one product, if you will. I love that their line is completely clean, and the pigments are beautiful.

What’s your favorite way to spend the holidays?

I'm such a nester, and I have a never-satiated travel bug. So I tend to alternate. I'll hibernate at home one year, snuggled up with the dogs and my family. Then the next year, I'll grab my passport and adventure.

What’s your favorite holiday beauty trick?

The holidays make my inner child's love of glitter come out in full force. And thanks to Pat McGrath's amazing kits, glitter is very high fashion this year.

How do you keep Zen during the stressful parts of the holidays? What would your holiday survival kit look like?

I try to get my gift shopping done early, for one. The actual wrapping of presents is very meditative to me. And I try to prioritize sleep. By the time the holidays roll around, I'm coming off of six months of 80- to 90-hour weeks, so I'm exhausted. Lying on the couch, watching a holiday movie wearing a paper face mask, is always a good way to recoup.

A huge knit scarf from The Arrivals, a tube of red lipstick, and a classic TRNK flask with some Woodford Reserve in it for bonfires and camping trips.

What’s on your Christmas wish list this year?

Charlotte Chesnais earrings, a Coach dinosaur bag, and LOC vibrant matte lipstick in red for my stocking. And if we're going ultimate dream? A trip to the Maldives.

Any tips for staying healthy with holiday party season in full force?

Take the pressure off. Keep it fun. This is a time to indulge. Maybe shake it up and schedule a dance class with your best friends or a boxing session. If the workout feels like a treat, it won't be torture.

Any New Year’s resolutions?

I hate to make resolutions. I prefer to set intentions. My intentions this year revolve around delving deeper into serious self-care. More meditation. More sleep. Not pushing myself quite so hard. I think we all deserve to be treated gently and kindly, and that has to start with the way we treat ourselves. Less ephemeral? I want to cook more!

You’re a big activist for women’s and young girls' empowerment. Why is that important to you?

Not only is gender parity a moral imperative, but it's a progressive and economic imperative as well. Societies where women are empowered do better, in terms of their economies and human happiness. Women and girls deserve to live their lives with the same opportunities as everyone else. It shouldn't be so complicated. And we have work to do until that's our reality.

What’s the best piece of advice you got when you were younger that you now like to pass on?

That ship you're waiting for? Build it.

You donate and fundraise year round, but how do you give back specifically during the holidays?

Every dollar we spend casts a vote for something. So during the holidays I especially love to highlight brands and organizations that are doing good for the world. That way people can buy give back gifts or make donations to causes that resonate with them.