Ana de Armas is having a great year. The Cuban actress is taking Hollywood by storm, with starring roles in the next James Bond film, No Time to Die, and as Marilyn Monroe in the upcoming Netflix biopic Blonde. Now, de Armas is taking on her biggest (beauty) role yet: She’s the new face of iconic brand Estée Lauder.
“I’m very, very excited. I’m very proud and honoured, and also really happy with all the things we’ve done,” de Armas tells BAZAAR.com exclusively. “It’s all looking beautiful. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
Ahead, de Armas opens up about stepping into Monroe’s shoes, her Cuban upbringing and beauty philosophy, and all her favorite products.
What do you think is Estée Lauder’s personal legacy?
It’s very inspiring. She was so ahead of her time and was so passionate about everything she did. She turned her dream into one of the most prestigious companies in the world, and she changed the world of beauty—it’s really incredible.
It personally touches me because, I think there was a phrase that she said, “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” Coming from Cuba and a very small town growing up, your dreams are bigger than that. You have to do something to change your path. It takes more than just dreaming about something, you have to pursue it and do something about it and be bold and brave. You have to be ahead of your time, or at least ahead of your surroundings, your situation. As a woman, I feel like that is so inspiring today. We still have to keep doing that.
What are some of your favourite Estée Lauder products?
There was a time I was getting on a plane, probably going back to Cuba—back then, I was living in Spain, I was very young—I remember being at the airport and realizing that I didn’t have anything to put on my face. My skin was going to get dry from the nine-hour flight. So I was looking at all the stores at the airport, and I bought the DayWear moisturizer in the blue jar. That was the first time I ever used the product. Since then, I’ve been using lots of other things. My favorite? I like the Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation. I love the concealer and the Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick. I love the fragrance too. Lucky me!
How has your routine changed in the last year?
I guess everyone’s routine has changed in the last year. In some ways, I think it’s pretty much stayed the same. The only difference is that at night, I feel like I do notice that I have more time for my routine and I can really get to enjoy it. It feels almost like meditating while I’m taking care of my skin. In the morning, honestly, right now I’m working, so I don’t have much time in the morning. Sometimes I even wear the face mask in the car—people look at me like I’m crazy. But it’s literally the only time I have to do something for myself, and I feel really good. And then, I get there and my makeup artist is like, ‘Oh, you look great.’
Do you wear makeup when you’re not working?
I don’t usually wear makeup when I’m not working. When I wake up in the morning, I wash my face and take a shower. I’m really good with maybe just a little bit of concealer. Mascara is really important for me, and it makes me feel like I’m awake, I’m ready. Also a really great lip balm too.
What is one beauty product you can’t live without?
I would say it’s the mascara. It feels like it opens my eyes, and I feel like I’m awake. I also don’t know why, but my lips are always dry. So I always have the lip balm in my purse. Always.
The Marilyn Monroe Blonde project is coming out soon, which everyone is very excited about. What did it mean for you to be chosen to play Marilyn as a Cuban woman, and how did you prepare to become her?
It was an incredible opportunity, and it was a very scary project to walk into. It was a very challenging process, but very beautiful. I worked closely with the director, and I watched a lot of old Marilyn movies. I listened to her interviews and studied her life. Everything I could learn about her was important for me to know. It was a big, big challenge for me as a woman, as an actor. I think any actor would have felt the same. Not being very good at the language on top of everything, because English is not my native language, the accent and her voice and everything, that added up to all the regular work that you have to do when you’re going to play someone like her that everyone knows so well. Everyone’s seen so many images of her. It was an incredible adventure, and it all came out of my deepest respect and love for her. I didn’t really know much about her until I started working on this, and she was really someone incredible. I respect her a lot.
Tell me a little bit about what your experience with beauty was like growing up? For example, did you get your nails done by pros, or was it something you did at home?
[Laughs.] The pros? The pros were my neighbors. I remember my mother would not miss a weekend without getting her nails done. I started going with her to my neighbor’s house, she was the nail person in the neighborhood, and I started getting my nails done very, very early. Then, I did it myself, and I still do it myself sometimes, and my hands are bleeding after I’m done. But it’s been a thing that I’ve always done. I like them short. I am not a long-nail person, but I like to keep them clean and oil my cuticles.
Growing up in Cuba, the things we had and the beauty standards were pretty simple. I would say people are not very used to taking care of their skin, or being aware of having a beauty routine, or the products even if they wanted to. They just don’t have access to all the things we have here. So I grew up being more I conscious about other ways of taking care of my skin, like don’t sit in the sun too much, which I loved. My mom would not let me do that. I would just take care of it with what I had and not rely too much on products, because we didn’t have them.
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What’s a piece of beauty wisdom that’s been passed down to you over the years?
Less is more. I’ve heard it many times, since I was very young. The Cuban poet José Martí said, There’s nothing more beautiful in a woman than her own natural hair. It’s just the idea of being natural, fresh, and being comfortable in your own skin, with who you are, and in every moment in your life as you grow old, to feel comfortable with that. I think that brings out the beauty in a woman.
This article first appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.