5 lessons we learnt from Emilia Clarke's sensitivity-soothing skin care advice

Including why you shouldn't dry your face with toilet paper

Editor / March 31 2023

Alert: even celebs aren’t immune to sensitive skin. You could be the richest, most fabulous, most talented person on the planet, and if you were born redness-prone, you’ll stay that way, even with the industry’s best skin specialists on speed dial. Unfortunately, it’s just the flushed complexion card you’ve been dealt.

Exhibit A? Emilia Clarke. She may have shot to fame as the Mother of Dragons, but in real life, she admits she’s more the ‘possessor of redness’. Rough stuff.

So how does Clarke keep inflammation at bay while making sure her skin stays clean/hydrated/healthy? Here’s how! She spilled her top sensitive skin care tips in a chat with Glamour, and let’s just say, some serious wisdom was dropped…

Lesson #1: Less is more and consistency is key

“I'm definitely a skin care minimalist and it's because I've got sensitive skin," Clarke explained of her 'less is more' skin care philosophy. "If I didn't, I reckon I would've been like: ‘and then what do I need and what else shall I get?’ And I would pile stuff on, but my skin tells me ‘no, you can't do that.’ I went through this phase of trying more stuff and now I'm like, ‘I ain't got time for that.’ It was the most liberating thing, opening my cabinet and being like, ‘that's going to my mum, that's going to someone else, that's going to my mates’ and all I need are these four things.

“I've always had dry, sensitive skin. When I was a teenager, I used eczema cream on my face because it was so highly sensitive. I was like: ‘I'm at school, I can't afford to break out. I can't afford to have a reaction. I fancy the boys, I need to look good,'” she laughed.

She started her skin care routine (limited as it may be) young, too. “I'm a weirdo. I've always been really diligent. It's something my mum drilled into me. She worked in beauty and so from a very young age I've always cleansed, toned and moisturised," Clarke confirmed.


#2: Never let your skin physically dry

Ever used toilet paper in your skin care routine? No, us either. But Clarke actually used to pat her face dry with the stuff post-cleanse. "So you've washed your skin and what I would normally do is dry my skin with a Kleenex or loo roll or whatever. Now what I'm realising, is that you can just air-dry it and put your moisturiser onto it, so your skin never gets dry, in the immediate and long-term sense." Wisdom that leads to less waste; we love it.

#3: Keep your products cool

Thought the beauty fridge fad had died down? Not for anyone inflammation-prone, and certainly not for Clarke. "Because my skin is sensitive and dry, I find that the cooler it is, the better and calmer it is. Like if you're getting hot, it's getting worse. So I keep all of my products in a little tiny fridge underneath my sink in my bathroom. The door doesn't quite close properly. I always have to give it a good shove," Clarke explained.

"I know there are really fancy ones, but I definitely got mine from Argos for like a tenner. And it's definitely showing itself because I've literally had it for like six years now. But there's no other fridge I can find that will fit that space. I think the people who made it were like, 'it's cute to have champagne in it'. But I’ve got all of my creams in there. And my sheet masks, which I find are really good, especially if you find a calming one. And I keep my jade roller in the fridge. So every morning I start by calming everything down with cooling things, then jade rolling the crap out of it."


#4: Know your safe and non-safe ingredients

We know skin care ingredient lists can read like they're written in a secret language, but, especially if you're sensitivity-prone, it's worth committing any 'red flag' ingredients (retinol, glycolic acid, anything harsh) to memory, as well as ones you know you can trust: think vitamin E, aloe, green tea, hyaluronic acid, and anything else specifically soothing or nourishing.

Clarke is all about letting ingredient lists lead her purchasing habits. "I had a brilliant dermatologist who said these things might trigger your skin – you could try the hard way and test it, or you could just take out all of these things from your skin care routine. And I was like, ‘I'm lazy as ferck’, I'm just not gonna use things that have any of these and keep it simple. And now I really read packages in the way that you'd read the back of a packet of a food to be like 'what is actually in this soup?'". 

#5: Wash your makeup brushes weekly

Skin care doesn't stop at the products you put on, either. Anything that touches your skin counts, and dirty makeup brushes are some of the worst culprits for spreading bacteria and triggering breakouts and inflammation. Clarke refuses to stand for that, so she commits to a weekly wash.

"I wash my makeup brushes once a week. Yeah. This is the girl who never washed a makeup brush. Ever. I was using makeup brushes I hadn’t washed in like six months – it’s disgusting. I just didn't think about it. So now I have a whole way of doing it with my hand and some soapy water. Sometimes I like to add a little bit of oil in with whatever I'm washing it with and that can help soften the brush." We're on our way to the sink!

Main image credit: @naokoscintu

Want more celeb skin care tips? Here's why Camila Cabello uses egg whites to purify her pores...

Delaney began her career in the Australian beauty media industry in 2015, landing amidst the glossy world of women’s lifestyle magazines (or more literally, in their beauty cupboards). Since then, she has gone on to write across a multitude of beloved Australian media brands, including OK!, NW, InStyle, and Harper’s BAZAAR. She’s covered every side of beauty content, from directing beauty editorial shoots to rounding up the best glossy serums for golden hour skin. Having spent nearly a decade immersed in the beauty realm, Delaney’s knowledge of beauty is as extensive as her collection of tinted lip oils (read: extremely extensive). Delaney is currently the Digital Managing Editor of BEAUTYcrew, and her beauty wisdom also appears across beautyheaven, ELLE and Marie Claire. She enjoys channelling her personal hobby (testing beauty products) into her professional work (talking about testing beauty products), and considers perfecting the art of a cat eye in a moving car her life’s greatest accomplishment.