It’d be easy to assume that Jenna Ortega is all about bringing the drama. After all, the Wednesday star has served plenty of major red-carpet looks as of late. There’s been high-shine Versace, hooded Saint Laurent, and skin-revealing Gucci—just to name a few.
But the 20-year-old says she actually prefers to keep things simple, especially when it comes to her beauty rituals. “Maybe it’s because of my chaotic lifestyle, but I find myself really drawn to a more minimalist, neutral aesthetic,” she explains. “Oftentimes, I’m away from home, so I need things that are comforting, relieving, and relaxing; clean.”
Makes sense. After all, she’s had a pretty epic year. She’s hot off the heels of appearing in the blockbuster hit Scream VI, is currently shooting a film with The Weeknd, and has just finished production on two other highly-anticipated films. She’s also just been named the new face of the fragrance Gris Dior.
“That was really exciting,” she says of her involvement with the iconic French house. Not just because she loves the fragrance’s super balanced unisex notes or because “the bottle is also cute on its own,” but because working with fashion legends Bardia Zeinali and Mikael Jansson on the campaign was a breath of fresh air: “I felt like I was really encouraged to be myself—I felt throughout the entire process that I could go with my own gut instinct and do whatever felt authentic and natural to me.”
As it turns out, feeling safe to be herself is a relatively new thing. “I mean, I’ve been acting for over a decade now, so I know what it’s like to not necessarily be heard or feel like I have a voice,” she explains. “I kind of had a hard time growing up because I was such a people pleaser; I was so desperate to be whatever I felt people wanted me to be. And I felt like the traditional beauty standards really affected me; they didn’t always resonate with me.”
It wasn’t until her star-making role as Wednesday—for which she cut bangs and dyed her virgin hair black—that Ortega says she finally started to feel more free, both style-wise and personally. “Up until then I was really, really attached to my long hair,” explains Ortega, who last year, sheared her lengths into a TikTok viral “wolf cut” off-screen that’s since spawned a million copycats. “Changing it encouraged me to be more adventurous; to experiment and be more creative in that way.” And, the fact that her TV character’s signature goth aesthetic was so well-received has certainly helped; Ortega says seeing #Wednesdaycore photos on social media—especially when shared by proud moms—makes her feel really seen. “I’ve always respected goth culture. I’ve always had a darker sense of humour, but I never felt like I was able to express that. Now I feel like I can embrace those qualities in myself.”
Another thing she’s embracing? Her freckles. “There was a time when I went the heavy makeup route for sure,” she laughs. “But I’ve definitely learned that beauty is more about enhancing your natural features rather than trying to cover them up. I’ve realised that less is more.” Who better than Ortega herself to serve as the ultimate beauty case study?
This story originally appeared on Vogue.com.