Leighton Meester is one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars, and the latest to sign a beauty deal that will put her long, flowing locks in the spotlight. Herbal Essences has tapped Meester, who is actually a natural blonde, to be a global ambassador, appearing in print advertorials and on its web site and Facebook page. Fresh off of filming Gossip Girl, in which she stars as the devilish Blair Waldorf, Meester has had little time to rest: she can now be seen alongside Steve Carell and Tina Fey in the comedy Date Night, she will play Rebecca in the upcoming thriller The Roommate and she just wrapped filming Love Don’t Let Me Down, a country music drama with Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Mcgraw. In between all of this, the 24-year-old, who has also released an album, took time out to talk about her fresh-faced beauty evolution and why she leaves red-carpet beauty choices to the experts.
WWD: What do you consider your best beauty asset?
Leighton Meester: Versatility. I try different looks and I’m happy that I can achieve them and not look like a clown. I like to have fun with hair and makeup.
WWD: What was your prior experience with Herbal Essences products before signing with the brand?
LM: My first memory is those iconic commercials back in the day. My mom used it, too—the kind with the clear bottle with the flowers. Now it has a new look and everything is different. I started using it because Charles [Baker Strahan, Meester’s hairdresser] uses it and he [is Herbal Essences’ spokesperson].
WWD: Do you mix and match drug store beauty brands with prestige brands?
LM: Because of my show, I get to sample everything. I try the best of the best. My bathroom can look like a drug store! I like tried-and-trusted brands, especially since my hair gets a lot of damage because of all the hair spray and irons.
WWD: Do you have any daily beauty Rituals? What about for the Red carpet?
LM: Being in New York and L.A. a lot, I use Evian’s [Brumisateur Mineral Water] Spray as much as possible and also Lancôme’s eye-makeup remover. I try to have a clean face and stay without makeup when I am not working. I look back at the years when I went for auditions with hot curlers and everything. Now, I switch it up—I like being as natural as possible, and for my hair, to treat it well and not appear over the top. To achieve a look, you have to use heat, but I like a look that is free and easy and I let the clothes and my attitude make the statement. When it comes to hair and makeup [for the red carpet], I leave it to the experts.
WWD: If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be?
LM: You can get used to getting your makeup and hair done all the time and then you don’t love what you look like naturally. So I try to embrace that. I learned to love the way I look without makeup and how my hair dries naturally. It took me a long time.
WWD: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three beauty products could you not live without?
LM: I would need [Herbal Essences] Tousle Me Softly. That is one of my favorite [products] and it’s really a look that I love since my hair is stick straight. Sunscreen is something that is totally underrated and hugely important, and most smart people will tell you that you should be wearing sunscreen. Last but not least, Rosebud Salve.
WWD: Is there a celebrity you admire for her/his beauty? Why?
LM: Celebrities in general are beautiful people. I love Julianne Moore. She embraces her natural beauty. She has fair skin and red hair and her smile is natural. I also love Helen Mirren. She is definitely a natural beauty. She embraces her age.
WWD: Do you have a signature scent?
LM: I do! There’s a place in New York that has all different types of essential oils and you choose which you want and they put them in these long-lasting roller-ball applicators. They’re all natural. I think mine has white tea, fig and vanilla. The store is called Sniff, just off of Third Avenue and Seventh Street. I also like Chanel No.5, Yves Saint Laurent Elle, Angel by Thierry Mugler and Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb.
WWD: Does being a role model as well as a style icon to so many young women influence your style choices? How do you handle the pressure that comes along with so many looking up to you?
LM: I’m lucky because expressing my personal style is fun and I have fun with it. Everyone should love their own look. Don’t copy; do your own thing.