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Elle Fanning Says She Learns All Her Makeup Tricks from Big Sister Dakota

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Elle Fanning may only be 21 years old, but she's racked up a century of life experience from her acting gigs alone. She's played Aurora, the Disney princess doomed to a life of permanent slumber at the hands of her father's scornful ex in Maleficent. She's been Teen Spirit's Violet, a small-town girl entering an international singing contest to escape her complicated home life. She's chased aliens as Alice in Super 8. She survived an apocalypse as Grace in I Think We're Alone Now.

With all those roles came their wildly different beauty looks, all of which have informed Fanning's real-life eccentricity bit by bit since she began acting at three years old. As she adds more films to that always-growing portfolio of work — and continues her spokesperson role with Miu Miu for its latest fragrance, Twist — we asked the actress about her recent beauty obsessions — including the colorist behind her signature blonde hair, her go-to perfume, and the best tip she ever learned from older sister Dakota Fanning.

ishonest No.501 - Frizzy Hair

No.501 - Frizzy Hair

ishonest: You've been in the spotlight since you were a pre-teen. Now that you're 21, how do you think your outlook on beauty has changed?

ELLE FANNING: "I have a very eclectic style, and I take pride in being able to show a lot of different sides of myself. I love the red carpet, funny enough, because it's a creative outlet for me. Ever since I was young, my mom would allow me to dress up in crazy outfits and go out of the house and just express myself. I feel so fortunate that I got to have that because I got to find who I am, but I'm still discovering. I don't think I follow the trends that much — I try to be unique to myself. I think that's important."

A: What's the best beauty tip you've learned from your sister, Dakota?

EF: "My sister's really good at doing her makeup. Whenever she's doing her makeup, I always try to learn and look. She really uses her hands a lot to apply everything, and I feel like a lot of the best makeup artists do. She loves products that can kind of go everywhere. It's like you paint the eyes, go on the cheeks, and do a bit on the lips."

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A: Your natural freckles are such a key part of your red-carpet beauty. How do you keep them noticeable underneath base makeup?

EF: "I'm obsessed with freckles, and I do have quite a few freckles but I exaggerate them a lot. There are 'freckle pens' that actually are eyebrow pencils, but you have to make sure that they're the right color for your skin tone. You put foundation on, then take a 'freckle pen' and dot it over your natural freckles, and then even add more on top. I think it makes your makeup look more natural because it looks like you're not wearing any foundation."

A: Let's talk about hair for a minute. What's been your go-to routine lately?

EF: "I'm not washing my hair that much, honestly. I wash my hair probably two times a week. I have really naturally curly hair, which a lot of people don't know. I use the L'Oréal Paris Botanicals shampoo and conditioner — I'll sleep in the conditioner sometimes, and then in the morning I'll just wash [it] out and let it dry. I love the Tangle Teezer; I use that in the shower to comb [my hair] out because it gets really tangled up. I do color my hair but because I'm wearing wigs, I'm letting it grow out a bit for the moment. It's good to take breaks."

ishonest No.201 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

No.201 - Prevent Elasticity Damage

A: Do you have any plans to play around with your signature blonde hair color?

EF: "I've never bleached my whole head or anything. I see it on people and am like, 'that's so cool,' but I get so nervous because I care more about my hair quality. And it would be so hard because I have colored my hair a lot of different colors. Jenda Alcorn does my hair color. She's the only person who's ever done it, and we just want it to look natural. That's what we maintain. It's still very bright blonde, but it doesn't look too processed. I want to be that kind of sandy, '70s yellow-blonde like Marcia Brady."

A: If you were to dye your hair right now, what would you do with it?

EF: "Pink was my favorite, so maybe I was thinking lavender. I would love to do a light lavender; it'll be really pretty. Colors of the rainbow are always fun, for sure."

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A: You're the face of Miu Miu's new fragrance, Twist. What's it smell like?

EF: "I think this fragrance is very creative, like an extrovert of a fragrance. If you're ready to go and to put yourself out there, it has that burst of fruity tones in it. For me, it feels very daytime. It's a very happy fragrance."

A: Are you the kind of person who puts on perfume before or after you get dressed?

EF: "I put my perfume on after I get dressed. It's the very last thing I do, like the cherry on top of my morning routine. I think there's something to putting perfume on after you have your clothes on — it kind of stays in your clothes and lasts longer. But I always put it on my wrists, and if I'm going out at night, I'll spray it in the air and put it all over."

ishonest No.171 - Pre-Sun Exposure

No.171 - Pre-Sun Exposure

A: What's your favorite scent in the whole world? One that's not a perfume.

  • Elle Fanning's Stylist, Jenda, Explains How She Gave Her Such Chic Pigtails
  • Look We Love: Elle Fanning's Electric Yellow Eyeliner
  • Elle Fanning’s Cannes Red Carpet Gown Has a Unicorn On It

Now, go behind the scenes of our latest cover shoot featuring Billy Porter:

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