Zara Larsson Dishes on Her Beauty Must-Haves, Makeup Tips for Glowing Skin (Q&A)

Zara Larsson - H 2016
Sasha Haagensen/Getty Images

The Stockholm-born singer and face of Clinique's Play With Pop campaign also reveals what she won't leave the house without.

Makeup faux pas, over-plucked brows, the embarrassing style and beauty choices most teenagers inevitably make? “I haven’t messed up yet,” laughs Zara Larsson, the rising Stockholm-born pop star who made her Billboard Hot 100 debut this week for “Never Forget You" featuring MNEK. “I mean, there’s still time. Maybe ten years from now, I’ll look back on today and think ‘What was I doing?’ Sort of like Britney [Spears] and Justin [Timberlake] in their denim VMA looks."

But whether she’s in a glamorous peachy-lipstick, like the one she wears this afternoon at Cheer Up Charlie’s in Austin, Texas — or in a smokey contoured eyeshadow with falsies (“drag makeup”), which she’ll don hours later at her SXSW debut — Larsson has become somewhat of a beauty chameleon this year thanks in part to Clinique.

The Estee Lauder Companies subsidiary made Larsson the face of their Play With Pop campaign, which included four Hiro Murai-directed music videos that corresponded with four genre-bending versions of her hit “Lush Life” and four drastically different beauty looks (bare, bold, sweet and vixen). In its own way, the interactive video, which users can seamlessly toggle between, sets forth that same notion of makeup as a medium through which an artist’s persona can shift — a notion that Beyonce emanated in a big way when she dropped 17 transformative music videos with her 2014 Beyonce album.

“Makeup isn’t just about covering what you don’t like,” Larsson says. “I’m still so young, so I feel like people have wanted to keep me in a ‘no-makeup’ fresh type of look — sometimes artists are a little afraid of really putting the makeup on me,” she says. “But sometimes, especially when I perform, I love putting some falsies on, a brighter lip, heavy contour, heavy eye makeup.”

Before getting ready to play Clinique’s party at SXSW, Larsson candidly dished on her beauty must-haves. Here is an excerpt from that chat:

Your skin is glowing right now. What's your secret?

My skin is actually really bad. It’s getting better now, but underneath this makeup I have some really bad spots. Last year it started breaking out, which I thought was pretty late because I'm 18. But I went to the doctor a month ago and finally just said “Give me something to help with this.” I try to take care of my skin from the inside as well, but then I wash it every night and use the Moisture Surge Hydrator, which feels really silky when it goes onto the skin. I try not to do a heavy foundation every day and stick to BB cream, which still gives me great coverage.

When did you start wearing makeup?

I guess it started in the seventh grade with lip glosses. I didn’t need makeup in the seventh grade, but it was around the time when I started wanting to wear bras — I wanted to feel gown up — but ... what are the sizes you have here? I would have been like a 25AAA [laughs] and it was like, "Honey you do not need a bra."

If you’re leaving the house and don’t have time to do full makeup, what are you going to focus on?

The most important things to me are my eyebrows and skin — if the skin looks good then I’m good. I do my brows myself, I tweeze them. I never let anyone touch them and I’ll apply a little brow mascara or pencil to thicken them a bit. Other than that, I typically like to wear a shimmery bronzy blush — not pink because I don’t think that really fits my skin tone.

What was it like filming the music video for “Lush Life”?

It took two days to make it, but I know that I could have done it in one — but it was nice to have two days. In Sweden we just work until we’re done, but here it was like, “It’s 3 o’clock, everyone take a one-hour break; we are going home at 9 o’clock." I wasn’t exhausted by the end.

So in Sweden, it would have been like, “We’ll stay as long as it takes"?

In Sweden they would have been like [makes whip sound].

You are so young and doing so much traveling. Do you have family that goes along for the journey with you?

Yes, my mom is with me always except for this trip. Usually I spend a lot of time in L.A. and I love to have her with me. Even though sometimes I think of myself as a grownup, sometimes I’m not. My mom is not a manager, she’s not a “mom-ager” [laughs] — she’s only concerned about what is best for me and nothing else.

Do you think you’ll eventually relocate to L.A.?

I think I’m gonna definitely move to L.A. at some point — I don’t know when, but the dream is to have a bed in Stockholm and a bed in L.A. It’s funny, Swedes seem to go from Sweden to L.A. to sing and write with Swedish people. I guess we love the weather.