At just 23 years old, Ellie Bamber is in high demand. She is, in no particular order, an ambassador for Chanel, a proud feminist and one Britain’s hottest acting talents, having starred in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, BBC1’s adaptation of Les Miserables and, more recently, The Trial of Christine Keeler. No shrinking violet, she’s as charming and playful as her make-up choices. Here Bamber tells Marie Claire’s Fiona Embleton, beauty makes a big difference to how she’s feeling right now…
FIONA EMBLETON: What does beauty mean to you?
ELLIE BAMBER: For me, beauty really starts with what you stand for inside and kindness. I think that really shows on the outside. Self-confidence is something that’s really beautiful, too, so being comfortable in your own skin and acceptance.
FIONA: You make no secret of being a feminist. I know this question just won’t go away, but do you think you can be a feminist and still be into beauty?
ELLIE: I think it’s a total misconception that you can’t be a feminist and be interested in beauty. Because why not? It’s quite a judgmental thing to think. Feminism is all about equality. So what if a woman wants to experiment with beauty and feel confident? That’s really empowering. I don’t think they should be linked in any way. You should be able to do what you want with your beauty and experiment in all kinds of wonderful ways. I know, personally, that experimenting with new make-up looks is something I find exciting.
FIONA: I agree, it’s fun to experiment with make-up and as a beauty editor that’s my job. But not many people are brave enough to step out of their comfort zones. How does it make you feel?
ELLIE: I really enjoy it. Adding a new colour for a lipstick or trying something else on the eyes makes you feel different. For me, I’m used to wearing make-up to get into character so I think that plays a role in my life. If I’m going out for dinner with friends I’ll sometimes go for a darker eye as it makes me feel more mysterious. But if it’s a sunny day I’ll go for a bright lipstick.
FIONA: What’s product are you experimenting with at the moment?
ELLIE: At the moment I’ve been doing liquid liner flicks, which I’ve never really tried before. I normally use a pencil that I’m able to smudge into a flick. I was terrified liquid liner would be quite difficult to attempt but it’s actually just as easy.
FIONA: And what about your every day look?
ELLIE: I usually wear a Jane Iredale Tinted Moisturiser as it’s really light, and some kind of concealer. When it comes to blush, I’m obsessed with the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Sticks in peachy and pink tones along with the Baume Essentiel highlighter. I also really love curling my eyelashes. I give them a really good curl and I’ll use the Chanel mascara because it’s the best and brush my brows. Having said that I use all these items of make-up, I don’t actually apply a lot on my face. For me a little goes a long way.
FIONA: What’s the best make-up tip you’ve been given by a pro?
ELLIE: I’ve had loads, which is really nice. Recently I was working with a make-up artist and she told me not to put mascara on my bottom lashes as it looks too harsh. I didn’t really listen to begin with because I like curling my lashes, and so also really like mascara. It’s kind of a big deal for me. I ignored her advice until one day she tried it out on me on set. I was like, ‘oh my God I should have listened!’. Now I never put mascara on my bottom lashes.
FIONA: How’s your skin behaving right now?
ELLIE: I’ve got quite a lot of blemishes at the moment and my skin’s feeling quite dry. I ordered the Dennis Gross blue LED light, so I’m super excited to try that. The facialist I usually go to was saying it was brilliant for clearing up spots.
FIONA: What skincare products do you use and really rate?
ELLIE: My skincare is quite complicated. There are a lot of products! The Medik8 Surface Radiance Cleanser is the first step in my regime. I don’t know the science behind AHAs but it does some interesting exfoliation. When I get out of the shower in the morning I spray on a toner. Then I’ll work Medik8’s vitamin C serum into my skin, followed by PCA Skin’s Dual Action Redness Relief Serum, and then usually a Chanel lip balm. If I’m spending time on my balcony I’ll put SPF on. I use retinol every other night and PCA Total Strength Serum on the nights in between. Chanel’s Sublimage La Creme Yeux is another favourite.
FIONA: The Sublimage range is amazing for dry skin. I could literally bathe in the buttery stuff…
ELLIE: I know. The cream is so good, too. I also swear by the Chanel Hydra Beauty Masque, which has camellia extract in it. It smells absolutely divine and works wonders. I’ve literally been covering my face in it when I need a boost of hydration.
FIONA: You’ve had a lot of hair colour changes for parts. How do you keep strands looking so healthy?
ELLIE: I’ve gone from ginger to blonde quite a lot. The biggest thing is, I never blow-dry my hair at home. I don’t see the point. I always let it dry naturally. That’s something I’ve done since I was really young and not putting heat on my hair has really helped. I always use Olaplex – the Bonding Oil is amazing. Nicola Clarke, who does my colour, recommended it.
FIONA: Weirdly I already knew that about you. I was once sitting a few chairs along from you at the salon getting my highlights done and was eavesdropping on the tips Nicola was giving you!
ELLIE: [laughing] Nicola is so great. I hear horror stories of changing from colour to colour. But I’ve never had any problems with my hair. I feel very lucky as I think it’s quite sturdy. Philip Kingsley products are also good. I went to see someone at his London practice once and I remember they gave me a really good tip about using a paddle brush as it’s kinder on your hair.
FIONA: When it comes to perfume, do you have a signature scent?
ELLIE: Yes I do. I wear Chanel No5 L’Eau. I spray it on every morning. It sits so nicely on the skin; it’s very airy and young. I really like it. I’ve always been a fan of Chanel No5 but there’s something extra to No5 L’Eau. It just suits me more.
FIONA: What’s your favourite way to relax?
ELLIE: I would say reading, especially in the evening. I won’t really touch electronics for an hour before bed as I find reading helps me sleep.
FIONA: Favourite book?
ELLIE: Ah! My God this is so hard! I mean I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. Tender is The Night is one of my favourite books and obviously The Great Gatsby. But then I also really love Play It As It Lays by American writer Joan Didion. I love poetry as well, so, yeah, I’m a big reader.
FIONA: What does wellness mean to you and how do you fit it in when you’re away filming?
ELLIE: Wellness to me is everything in moderation. I like to have a treat here and there; sweet things and stuff like that. Also looking after yourself and the environment around you is very important. When I’m away filming, be it a hotel or an apartment, I have to make it into my own space. So lots of candles, especially Diptyque Ambre, Vanille, Feu de Bois and Figuier. Sometimes I’ll burn them together to combine the scents. I also tend to put pictures of friends up so I feel comfortable. And obviously exercise is important for wellness.
FIONA: What do like to do to stay fit?
ELLIE: I really don’t like running or anything particularly aerobic. I mean, I don’t mind, like I’d love to do a dance class but I feel weight training is something my body works better with as far as toning is concerned. Before we went into lockdown, I quickly bought some changeable dumbbells so I could continue at home. I’ve got a pretty simple plan at the moment: I do weight training like four times a week and I try to do some walking and I really want to try a barre class online. We’ll see!
FIONA: Are you a big foodie? If you had to choose a last meal what would it be?
ELLIE: Again that is so hard because I’m a big lover of food! I always get around this question by doing different cuisines for starter, main course and ‘oh I’ll have a pasta course in between’. You know, I love sushi, I love pasta, I love Chinese food so maybe a huge big bowl of pasta. My friend cooked me this River Café sausage pasta sauce and its so brilliant I’ve now got the cookbook. I recently made it for my family. It’s really rich and just delicious.
FIONA: Any good boxsets you’ve been binge watching?
ELLIE: I just finished watching the series Caliphate on Netflix, which was really gripping. I’ve just started Gangs of London.
FIONA: Any last bit of advice?
ELLIE: One of the best pieces of beauty advice I’ve been given is to embrace your natural skin. When I’m at home, I try not to cover it as much as possible. I just put concealer where I need it. Some things that you feel are imperfections on your skin are actually really beautiful.