Rowan Blanchard On Beauty, Brows, & Growing Up On The Internet

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.
"Your skin is amazing, girl!" Rowan Blanchard tells me as she unwinds in a lavish suite in the Crosby Street Hotel in New York City. "Thank you," I reply, kicking off my own shoes. "I was just saying it wasn't always like this — birth control helps!"
We spend a few more minutes chatting about how hormonal birth control pills contributed to both our blemish-free complexions. "My skin was so clear when I was on it," Blanchard says. For a moment, I forget I'm interviewing a teen actress, and not at sleep-away camp with my longtime BFF.
That's what makes Blanchard so alarmingly special. She's young, giggles a lot, and uses Gen Z expressions like "beat your face to the gods." But she's also more mature than I was before I had my driver's permit. She's known for being an outspoken feminist who once addressed the United Nations Women and US National Committee about gender equality. What's more, she just landed at 16 what most celebrities try to earn for years: a beauty contract.
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The actress and activist's latest role as the new brand ambassador for Bliss is exactly why we're kicking back at 9.am. talking about Solange, acne, and dyeing her hair one day (if her mom will ever let her). She lays out all the beauty gossip, ahead.
Your generation was raised on the internet. What was that like?
"The first time I really felt that on screen was while I was watching Eighth Grade. There's this moment when [Kayla] is watching these YouTube videos and, in that moment, I just vividly remembered doing that growing up. That was only like fours years ago, but yeah, there's something about growing up online and having access to these videos that tell you how to take care of your skin and it feels like this weird, unspoken sisterhood."
Speaking of taking care of your skin — how would you describe yours?
"It used to be more oily, but now it feels more dry, so I've started moisturising more. Acne is definitely stress and period-related for me. I wear so much more makeup when I'm working than I do in my regular life, so it's important for me to have a cleanser that's specifically for taking off makeup, like the Bliss Jelly Cleanser. I have fun with masks, too, like the Mighty Marshmallow Mask. I figure if I do enough face masks, I'll just naturally look awake."
But you love playing with makeup...
"I definitely play a lot with makeup. Beauty is something that... is just so infinite, but also, so dictated by what we want to look like. It's always been something I'm fascinated by, like using the face as a place to paint. I think there's something very advantageous about makeup, but it's also a way to manipulate gazes, which I'm constantly trying to deal with and play with, like how do I make people look at me like this, or how to make them not look at me."
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Do you mean in your professional life or while in a role?
"It's kind of all over. When I started going through puberty, I became very conscious of how men looked at me. I think that I can still access beauty in a way where I want to look like a pretty woman, where I want to look like something that's beautiful, but without inviting [the male gaze] into my space. It's something I'm constantly trying to play with that, in a way, almost doesn't attract men [Laughs]."
Is there anyone you look to for inspiration?
"Solange is the perfect example of how I try to wear makeup. There's something about the way she wears makeup that's architectural and artistic. I've always referenced her looks for how I want to do my makeup."
Do you and your younger sister, Carmen, ever share beauty advice?
"Because I grew up on sets and was used to people doing my makeup, I've learned a lot more through Carmen. It's so interesting to watch someone like her, who is younger than me, figure it out. There's something about the particular age Carmen is at now, which is 14, that's so much about trying to look like something. I've passed that time where I feel pressure to really beat my face for the gods every day. But it's interesting to see how she plays with her reflection."
How did you get those amazing eyebrows?
"I literally don't do anything. I've never trimmed them or tweezed them. I've had a lot of makeup people try to and I say no so quickly. That's one part of my face I actually feel comfortable with, so I don't want to change that. My brows are like, 'Fuck yeah, this is me baby!' If you saw my dad, you'd understand my brows. We're Syrian and Armenian, so that's why I have them."
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When you cut your hair, you wrote that it was a “focused distraction” — what did you mean by that?
"Jia Tolentino wrote something to this effect in The New Yorker. I'm not going to fully quote her, but it's something on the idea of young women, in this day and age, making choices about their looks that isn't distracting, but not self-indulgent. Those choices definitely separate you from the rest of the world, but at the same time, beauty isn't so personal; it's so political and public. Making a decision like cutting or dyeing your hair, for me and my friends, is something that has always been a decisive action about how we want to be viewed."
Is there a hairstyle or colour you want to try in the future?
"I've always wanted to dye it platinum blonde, like Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted. No one will let me, but I really want to. Maybe I'll get there after I turn 18. I'll go platinum blonde and shave my eyebrows off."
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