Lana Condor may have come into most people’s lives in 2018 as ponytail-wearing sweetheart Lara Jean Covey in Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but the actress has been a performer all her life. As someone who has been putting herself out there on stage and screen for so long, it only makes sense that she has developed a strong sense of what makes a great first impression. Her first dalliance into the beauty world was informed by stage makeup — the kind of looks that have to read to the back of the house. “I wasn't any good at it, but I absolutely loved doing it,” she says of her theater makeup. While those first looks were more about conveying character than personal style, Condor’s interest in beauty never really went away. Now, she’s even more of a glamour girl. She loves makeup, she admits, “I really love a full beat down — I love a snatched face”, and nails (“I never have just simple nails, it's part of my self expression”), scalp care, skincare, and everything in between. She can’t get enough beauty, and we can’t get enough of her.
Her knowledge about all aspects of beauty is vast, but what is maybe more impressive is her understanding of taking her mental wellbeing into her own hands. She talks adamantly about being strict about sleep, self-care rituals, and sunscreen, but she’s also done a lot of work to change the way she perceives potentially damaging beauty standards. She’s even figured out a way to stay consistent with a gratitude journal. Condor says she feels like her best self, “when I'm well rested, when I feel like I have properly connected with my family, and when I've been feeding myself well.” It sounds like she’s got it all figured it out.
Over Zoom, Condor talked with NYLON about creating healthy boundaries, the joy of having long nails, and why the most versatile item is in her makeup kit is soap.
What was the first beauty product you really loved?
When I was first started wearing makeup, in freshman year of high school, I had the worst makeup look. I went to school every day with nothing on the skin, nothing on the brows, and just a Stila eyeliner wing. And red lipstick. I thought I looked like the coolest person ever. I fell in love with the eyeliner because it was so sharp. Now, I can whip out a wing easily. I think that's my secret talent actually.
What was your relationship with beauty like growing up?
I was a dancer, so at first it was just a lot of stage makeup. I wasn't any good at it, but I absolutely loved doing it. I loved dressing up and doing makeup based on the character.
My mom was always a very big component. She was very into skincare and sunscreen, taking care of your body and taking your supplements. I think my parents were very into holistic wellness. That's why my Olly partnership felt natural and made sense, because it was aligned with what my parents taught me.
How do you think your approach to beauty and self-care developed since then?
For beauty, it changes based on the people that I get to work with. My glam teams, are probably the most educational people in my life when it comes to beauty.
For self-care, I've been working on setting boundaries and taking care of my mind and my energy levels. This past almost two years, we were forced to do a hard stop. It made me feel like, "Okay, I need to focus on my mental wellbeing."
What’s one habit you picked up that made a big difference for your mental health?
Not saying “yes” to everything. I’m now also wildly strict about sleeping because I'm the type of person that truly needs eight hours or else I'm a different human being. I used to work nonstop, I would never sleep.
On my most recent film, I really worked at regulating my energy levels and making sure that I could show up every day as the best version of myself. Olly has these awesome sleep gummies– Extra Strength Sleep, that’s my vibe. I need the highest dose. I used those gummies during the whole shoot. It helped me transition into working again and doing night shoots. Some melatonin products can give you like weird dreams, the Olly gummies don't do that for me.
Do you have a bedtime ritual?
I take my gummies before I do my skincare, so it has time to mellow me out and I start relax from the day. Then I Gua sha. I'm a huge Gua sha girl. I highly recommend it. Gua sha can look intimidating but it's really not. I'm telling you, it brings circulation back into your skin, which will make your skin brighter. I think it tightens your skin. It kind of relaxes any tension. I do that and then I sleep like a baby.
In the waking hours do you like playing with makeup?
I love playing with makeup. I love my makeup artists and I trust them wholeheartedly. They're the ones that push me out of my comfort zone like, "Let's try more color. Let's try glitter." When I do my own, I definitely try and apply what I learned from them. I'm not nearly as good, not even 3 percent as good, but I like to try and figure it out myself. I really love a full beat down– I love a snatched face. Now, I'm getting into the really fresh, clean skin look with a pop of color instead of wild contour everywhere.
What’s your favorite beauty tip you’ve learned from working with makeup artists?
Soap. Which is very weird. Clear glycerin soap, you can get it from Whole Foods. You can use it for your brows to help them stay put– I learned this from Melissa Hernandez, my makeup artist. It’s cheaper than buying any brow product and it helps keep your eyebrows up and mine fall all the time. You can also use soap for your flyaways, just take a spoolie, run it in the soap and push them back.
Is there a beauty product you’re excited about trying now?
I was a huge user of eyelash extensions, but I haven't used them in a few months, which is a new thing for me. I've used them for years now and I finally took them off and I've been using this eyelash serum from Vegamour that helps grow your natural lashes. That's been really awesome, because I'm feeling more confident without lashes.
Why did you stop wearing lash extensions?
I stopped because I realized one day, when I really needed a fill, that when I looked at myself, I was being really mean to myself. Lashes became such a huge part how I considered myself beautiful. So sitting there and talking badly about myself and I realized, "I need to nip this in the bud right now.” I needed to learn to love myself and think that I am beautiful inside and out without a lot on.
When do you feel your best?
When I'm well rested, when I feel like I have properly connected with my family, and when I've been feeding myself well. I feel like myself when I know that I've taken time to work on my mental health– like doing the five minute gratitude journal every morning or drinking a ton of water. I feel the most like myself when I'm taking care of myself. I think everyone gets burnt out.
How do you stay consistent your gratitude journal?
I have help because my boyfriend and I do it every morning. He has his own journal and we keep them on our nightstands. So it's just become part of routine and Anthony is quite disciplined. So when I see him doing it, it's a good reminder to keep going. He's not the only reason why I'm doing it, but he's definitely a big help.
Just as you got close to the camera, I saw your amazing nails. Do you always like to have your nails done?
I do. I love nail art. I love wacky nails. I never have just simple nails, it's part of my self expression. I work with Thuy Nguyen, who is amazing. She is very smart and in tune with matching my nails to a positive emotional state, so she keeps it fun. She does really cool artwork. She knows that it energizes me throughout the day and it keeps me feeling positive. There's no one that knows nails better than her.
I love having long nails. If I can't pull my credit card out of the chip reader, that's a sure sign it's the perfect length. I want to be fully unable to function with the length of my nails.
And what’s your hair routine like now?
I have been really focused on scalp health lately. My hair got super long, like out of nowhere, and I was like, "How did this happen?" I think it was because I'd been using a lot of scalp scrubs, scalp moisturizers. We do skincare for our face, but we don't really prioritize our scalp. At least I never had. Neutrogena has a great scrub that I use. They also have great masks. Vegamour has an awesome hair growth serum, that has been a game changer for my hair health for sure. Scalp care is my number one hair thing that I'm obsessed with right now because I see a difference.
Do you have a self-care philosophy?
When I was talking to my boyfriend about this he said, every morning you wake up with a bag of coins and every interaction that you have you give a coin to someone. But if you end the day and your bag is empty and you have no more coins left, then you have nothing to give to yourself. It kind of made me realize that I need to make sure that when I'm going through life I make sure that I put myself first too and I have the energy at the end of the day to care for and be kind to myself.