'When I first started on Pretty Little Liars, it was really tough for me because I'm almost a complete 180 from my character Emily beauty-wise. I'll never forget—when I went in for the hair and makeup test for the pilot, they pulled my hair back into a tight ponytail and gave me no makeup. Maybe clear mascara and some lipgloss. I was so uncomfortable because I was not used to that. It’s not like I wear pounds of makeup, but I'd been modeling and had my own way of applying products every day. And I like my hair down–it’s like my security blanket. But the character has grown while I've been on the show. The beauty look is more like what I wear. When I leave set, I don't have to tweak it as much.
For me, going out is honestly about grabbing a great dinner with friends at a cute little spot. Events are very different—it’s a whole process. I actually have a fridge here in my bathroom filled with Gatorade and ginger ale and sugar-free Red Bull. And undereye gels. But I like to have something to eat first, so I’ll make a dinner, have a glass of wine, and then I’ll jump in the shower if that needs to happen. I’m a huge fan of lotion because I have to moisturize before I do anything. It doesn't get much better than . I’m a big drugstore junkie and I grew up with Vaseline, so the scent is really nostalgic for me. Then I always do like before I start makeup because there’s nothing worse than chapped lips, so there's that. It’s all about moisturizing before I do anything. There’s nothing worse than when I’ve put on makeup and I’m ready to go, and then my makeup starts flaking off because I'm dry. You can’t go back and exfoliate—no. is good, but only when you do it before everything else. is really good for nighttime. It says it ‘Treats & Transforms’ your skin…I like to do that.
Then I will start with a base of and together. I have tubes and tubes of them because I don’t know what I would do without either. And then I use two foundations— in Tawny and Caramel. I feel like because I’m mixed-race, I can’t use one color. I always end up mixing shades together.
If my skin is good, then I move on to mascara. Or I’ll do a lip color. Honestly, I love a drugstore lipstick like . I've also been using . Sometimes I’ll fool around with on my eyelids when I really want to get crazy. Everything gets caught on it, though. But at the same time, nothing gets it shiny like this. But now that it's fall, I switch up my beauty look with my lips. Summer I go neon, and winter/fall I go more for ones like or .
I have one eyeshadow palette that I can't go anywhere without—it's . And I like the from Urban Decay. Really what I like are neutral tones—browns and bronze-y sort of things. I don’t go too crazy with it, but for night I like to smoke it out. Then I do a blush— , kind of the usual. I think everybody in the world does that one. As far as highlighters go, I really like the in Champagne Pop. Or also has a really good highlighter powder. are good as far as blending goes. I also have a weird obsession with cleaning brushes. I love it, and if I come over to your house, I’ll do it for you. I like using ...so you put it under water, you rub your brush in it, and then they give you this little pad that you like scrub it off with, run it under hot water again, and you’re good to go. It's so much easier than the ones that take forever. You really have to like to clean your brushes.
When I’m wearing dresses and going out and anything’s showing, is my favorite. You don’t get streaks, it has vitamin C and antioxidants, and it’s easy to apply anywhere. I’ll put it on my hand, use a , and use it as like a highlighter for body contouring.
If there were two Shays—one wearing heels and one wearing sneakers—the one in heels would win. By far. I'm just more comfortable in them. And if I get uncomfortable, it's time to go home. I like to do a cold bath for my feet at the end of the night if I've been out dancing. Sometimes I’ll get cups of ice and dump it in there because that’s what needs to happen. And I do not like sleeping in my makeup at all. It’s the worst. And makeup wipes are so easy—I have the and also the . Then I wash my face with and a hot towel. I moisturize with a couple of drops of . And then I put on and I’m done. Put on a nightgown and go to sleep.”
—as told to ITG
Shay Mitchell photographed by Emily Knecht in Los Angeles on October 19, 2015. Interview by Yasi Salek.