As a former ballerina, Sonoya Mizuno has some serious makeup skills. “I used to wear loads of it for performances, so I can contour and apply fake eyelashes like a pro,” she says. Even after stepping away from the stage a few years ago and reinventing herself as a full-blown chameleon on the big screen, playing everything from a disco-dancing robot in Ex Machina to a Crazy Rich Asian, the always-adventurous, Japanese-English-Argentinian stunner continues to push the beauty boundaries—on and off the red carpet. “It’s fun to channel a different mood and character through makeup,” she tells Glamour recently in NYC.
With that philosophy, it’s no surprise that global beauty brand Shiseido would tap her as the new front woman for their latest makeup collection. Still, in a world where the industry’s top players have historically and habitually featured the idealized standards of Asian beauty (long straight hair, pearly skin, monolid eyes), casting the 30-year-old mixed-race actress in a major campaign marks a huge step forward for inclusivity and representation among Asian women.
We sat down with Mizuno as she got ready for the launch of her new campaign. Here, she opens up about being multi-ethnic, taking a hair risk, and the one J-beauty innovation she says keeps her face “right.”
Glamour: What’s the one beauty rule you swear by?
Sonoya Mizuno: It’s really boring, but it works. I drink a glass of water and half a lemon as soon as I wake up. I heard that it’s supposed to balance your body’s pH. Not sure if that’s true, but to be honest, it really helps with bloating.
Glamour: What are your non-negotiable skin care products?
SM: I’ve got combination skin, so it’s difficult to find things that are the right consistency. But Shiseido’s Essential Energy is the perfect lightweight serum-moisturizer hybrid that gives me a nice dewy glow. I love everything about it—the texture, the smell, and the pot is really pretty, which is always a plus. I also use its SPF 50 every day. I find most sunscreens are heavy, but this one doesn’t clog me up at all.
Glamour: What’s the one J-beauty innovation we all need in our lives?
SM: I bought a face roller in Japan years ago—it makes giving yourself a proper facial massage kind of fun. If I’m good about doing it, it helps keep my face lifted, tight, and right.
Glamour: What’s the biggest beauty mistake you’ve ever made?
SM: I was a child of the nineties and used to pluck my eyebrows non-stop. Mine were so thin, but in my defense, that was the look back then. They’ve grown back for the most part, but there are still bits that I don’t think will ever fill in. It’s fine, though, because there are plenty of tools, products, and pros that can work some brow magic.
Glamour: What’s the best makeup trick you’ve picked up on set?
SM: Primer is a miracle worker. My skin can get quite shiny and oily, so if I use a touch of primer underneath foundation, it makes the biggest difference.
Glamour: Your new pixie cut is killer. What’s your holy grail hair product for keeping it in check?
SM: I cut it for a job, and I have admit: Having short hair is much harder than I thought, especially when it’s super thick like mine. When I wake up in the morning, it’s literally sticking up everywhere. But I have a secret method: I’ll throw in a little Aveda Confixor when my hair’s still damp, then blow-dry with a durag on. I let my hair cool before I take it off and it behaves all day.
Glamour: Seems like you’re always down for a hair transformation. What’s the next big thing you want to try?
SM: Many, many years ago my mom used to have short blond hair and I always remember thinking how amazing she looked. I’ve got the cut, so now I just need the platinum color!
Glamour: You’re multi-ethnic—part Japanese, British, and Argentinian. How has that translated into your attitude towards beauty? Did you ever feel like you didn’t fit the “ideal” standards?
SM: For most of my childhood, I grew up in the countryside of England where it was very suburban—there weren’t a lot of people who were multicultural like my family. It was a place where the blond and brunette girls in school were considered gorgeous. And because of that, I remember feeling like I wasn’t good enough. But as I got older and experienced the world outside of my hometown, I started seeing more people like me. Now, I don’t compare myself to anyone. I look the way I do, and I totally embrace that.
Glamour: What’s the one thing you wish you could steal from your Crazy Rich Asians character Araminta?
SM: So many! I’d take her energy and confidence for sure. Let’s throw in her money and insane wedding, too, while we’re at it.
Glamour: What’s your go-to getting-ready music?
SM: It depends on what kind of phase I’m going through, but at the moment, I’m all about Awkafina’s new album [In Fina We Trust]. She’s so good and it’s so funny. I literally laugh out loud when I listen to it.
Glamour: What’s your favorite emoji?
SM: My signature response is the implacable face with the straight lines for the eyes and mouth: 😑. It’s the perfect way to say, “That was funny, but I’m not going to laugh” or “What you said was nice, but I’m not going to say thank you.” It’s appropriate for like 99 percent of text messages.
Glamour: What’s your best self-care tip?
SM: Sleep. I drench my sheets in lavender essential oil before I lay down and that helps a lot. Still working on getting more of it though. I swear by yoga, too.
Glamour: What smell always makes you smile?
SM: The scent of a Sunday roast, which my family would have every week growing up. It reminds me of them and all the good laughs we would share together.
Glamour: Who’s the person who inspires you most?
SM: I’m one of six and would be lost without my siblings. We’re really close. They always understand what I’m going through.
Glamour: What’s the one piece of beauty advice you’d give to your 13-year-old self?
SM: Be kind to yourself. I think back to all those ballet classes that would end in tears, and now, I’m like what was that for? I was harder on myself than I needed to be, but I guess in some ways it was good training for Hollywood—and life.