For nearly a decade now, ever since she scored her first Oscar nomination for her performance in 2010’s Winter’s Bone, beauty and glamour have been big parts of Jennifer Lawrence’s life. But the 28-year-old actress insists that hasn’t always been the case: “When I was growing up, my brothers used to tell me I was ugly. Butt-ugly, to be exact. One time I went into the kitchen and said, ‘Mom, am I pretty?’ And she said, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ She refused to answer!”
In retrospect, Lawrence says, “I was fortunate to go through a lot of my life without being too concerned about my appearance.” Which isn’t to say she’s against looking good now. “I love dressing up and wearing uncomfortable shoes and getting blisters,” she says cheerfully. And perfume is an essential finishing touch: “I do a squirt and walk through and it makes me feel complete,” she says. So her new gig as the face of Joy ($100/1.7 fl. oz.; bergdorfgoodman.com), Dior’s first major fragrance since 1999, is a perfect fit.
Describe your style in 10 words. Um, ’90s sex worker who’s just won her case in court.
OK, elaborate. I like the style of the ’90s — a little bit androgynous but also elegant. I love mixing it up.
What’s it been like helping to launch a new perfume? Just watching the whole process was so cool. Flying to Paris, visiting the laboratory, and meeting [Dior perfumer-creator] François Demachy, who is such a genius ... it was this whole world I knew nothing about. I got to smell different ingredients and see how they worked together. My mom used to wear Miss Dior when I was a kid, so I’ve always had a connection to Dior perfumes.
When did you first start wearing makeup? Middle school was when it got fun to be, like, girlie. I’d do frosted lips and shimmery teal eye shadow. I wasn’t allowed to wear eyeliner, so I’d take my mom’s mascara to school and line my eyes with the wand, which looked great. The raccoon look! I’m going to bring that back.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to your hair? One time I went on a cruise, and I chopped it all off. And I remember that [when I got back to school] I went into the gymnasium and the whole place went quiet because I had this full-blown curly ’fro. It was the worst haircut of my life. But I still go through phases when I want to cut off all my hair.
Sometimes we learn the hard way. What else have you discovered about your look over the years? When I was young, before I knew better than to Google myself, I learned by looking at photos online that my face looks better from the side because of my giant cheeks. More recently, I’ve learned that if I’m working a lot, waking up at 4 a.m. and
doing 16-hour days, I’m going to get really bad [undereye] bags. That’s my biggest battle when I’m working.
You need that beauty sleep. How do you take care of your skin? Well, I have really dry skin, so I wear night cream even during the day. I’m also really, really good about sunblock. And, in theory, I get microdermabrasion once a month, although that’s one of those things I always find myself postponing.
When do you feel most beautiful? Honestly, when I’m at my most disciplined. Like, when I’m really making myself go to the gym. Which is a joke, because I definitely pay more for canceled workouts than actual ones. But when I’m there and running on the treadmill, that’s when I feel most powerful.
I know you’ve been vocal about unrealistic beauty standards, particularly when it comes to body shaming. How do you deal with that? I just like it when everyone’s honest. If you are 20 pounds underweight and talk about eating pizza and fried chicken all the time, that’s not going to make people feel good about themselves. If I’m going to the Oscars or having a movie premiere — I won’t lie — I’m probably eating differently from how I would in my regular life to fit into those dresses. And I feel comfortable saying that.
VIDEO: Jennifer Lawrence Says She Was Told to Lose Weight for a Movie Role
In a world that’s so hung up on impressing others, how do you manage to enjoy fashion and beauty without feeling the need to conform? You just have to keep it personal. If you want to feel beautiful, whether that means extending your eyelashes or bringing out your natural lip color or whatever it is, then you should. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s only a problem when you’re doing it for someone else.
Have you become more confident as you’ve gotten older? Yes. I’m starting to get a little more control over myself. Like, I’m aware that I have a tendency to say whatever pops into my mind. So when I go out, I try to be my own personal trainer and tell myself, “Don’t say it.”
Is that why you’re not on social media? I’m on it. But I’m a voyeur: I watch, I don’t speak. There is always so much backlash. So many people are listening and paying attention, and they have so many opinions about absolutely everything. I really don’t want to welcome that unless it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t want to put myself out there for no reason. Unless I’m promoting something or something really burns my onions, you won’t hear from me.
What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life so far? Everything gets better as you get older. It’s easier to cut through things, and everything gets simplified. Physically, everything gets worse. Like, why does my neck hurt? Why are my knees cracking? But emotionally, it gets better.
For more stories like this, pick up the October issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Sept. 14.