Since bursting onto the scene following her 2018 debut in Crazy Rich Asians, Gemma Chan has quickly established herself as one of Hollywood’s leading ladies, as much for her lauded roles in the likes of I Am Hannah as her breathtaking beauty, so it should come as no surprise that L’Oréal Paris has tapped the 37-year-old British actress as its latest face.
It’s a full-circle moment for Chan, who grew up surrounded by the brand’s hair-care saviors and bright red lipsticks, and who will represent the French beauty behemoth across all markets and categories. “I remember wandering into my mom’s room as a child and just walking into a cloud of Elnett [spray],” Chan, who swears by L’Oréal Paris’s new Revitalift Derm Intensives glycolic acid cleanser, tells me over the phone from Los Angeles, where she is currently filming Olivia Wilde’s forthcoming psychological thriller, Don’t Worry Darling. (She’ll star in her first official campaign for the professional-grade skin-care collection in February alongside fellow brand ambassador, Eva Longoria).
Products aside, however, L’Oréal Paris’s philosophy is one that resonates with Chan, who just last year founded her own production company, Long House, to share stories from marginalized voices, the ones that often go untold. “Their tagline ‘Because I’m worth it,’ is iconic,” she notes, “but I also think it still resonates [today] because it’s an expression of self-worth. It’s permission to take care of yourself, and that’s so important at the moment.”
Of course finding ways to take care of oneself in the midst of a pandemic is not without its struggles. “It’s been a strange time,” admits Chan, who spent the first months of lockdown stationed at home in London, a stark contrast from her life pre-COVID when she would trot around the globe for shoots and premieres alike. “I think what helped was trying to find some sort of structure to the day,” she notes before adding: “I say that, but I don’t always manage to achieve it!” Nevertheless, when she is able to carve out her own space, she begins her mornings with a 10-15 minute set of sun salutations and Pilates-based core work, and dives into escapist books, such as Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Richard Powers’s The Overstory. “Finding books to read that take you out of the present moment and give you a different perspective on things has been such an escape,” she says.
Her beauty regimen has also provided solace. “When we first locked down I stopped brushing my hair and plucking my eyebrows,” she recalls with a laugh. Now, though, she’s found a middle ground and prioritizes herself with an amped-up skin-care protocol, the occasional pick-me-up swipe of mascara, and long, epsom salt-filled soaks. “I find it can be quite meditative to go through that routine and really just look after your skin and your hair,” she says. “There’s so many things we can’t control, but we can do those things [for ourselves].”