Yara Shahidi On Her Favorite Fragrances And The Skincare Products Saving Her Dry Skin

Growing up in a Black and Iranian household, I’d say food is my earliest fragrance memory. I’m somebody who’s been pushing for a garlic-scented Febreze since I was younger. To me, it is the sign of a lived-in house and exciting family moments.
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Yara Shahidi has starred in dozens of television shows and films (think: Grown-ishBlack-ish, and Peter Pan & Wendy), but her latest role isn’t for a big or small screen project. Instead, the 23-year-old multihyphenate is starring in the campaign for Jean Paul Gaultier’s new Gaultier Divine Eau de Parfum ($90). The fashion house describes the fragrance as “a balancing act between floral and gourmand notes,” and it is beautifully housed in a gold corset bottle. The creamy, floral scent and its striking packaging are meant to evoke feelings of empowerment and encourage you to embrace your uniqueness.

For Shahidi, who prides herself on championing inclusivity and individuality, fronting the visuals as a golden goddess was a no-brainer. “I loved that the campaign was not only creatively beautiful but the messaging [was beautiful] as well,” she says. “It’s about being proud and grounded in one’s identity. Gaultier intentionally chose an entire cast of people who are known because they celebrate who they are. With the visuals, it’s not about conforming to the image of the bottle. Instead, it’s about how the bottle encapsulates all of us and can be made our own.”

In celebration of Shahidi’s appointment as the face of Gaultier Divine, we chatted with her in-depth about her fragrance wardrobe, winter beauty essentials, and her evolving approach to self-care in 2024.

All of your partnerships are very intentional. What made you want to work with Jean Paul Gaultier?

“I have always loved fashion for the sake of self-expression. So, from that perspective, I’ve always followed Gaultier as a fashion house. The brand has always been a space for creativity and cutting-edge ideas. I haven’t created a mood board without a Gaultier image in the last seven years. When they approached me, I was excited to be in conversation with them. But then, when they presented me with [this campaign idea], I realized there was a natural alignment between us. Typically, I’m used to explaining my values to a brand, especially in the beauty space where so many statements are made about what it means to be a woman or be beautiful. But the Gaultier team just got it.”

Tell me about your relationship with fragrance. What’s your earliest scent memory?

“Growing up in a Black and Iranian household, I’d say food is my earliest fragrance memory. I’m somebody who’s been pushing for a garlic-scented Febreze since I was younger. To me, it is the sign of a lived-in house and exciting family moments. Beyond that, I grew up in a family that uses essential oils. I like to apply frankincense oil to my temples and wrists. We also use Hyacinth flowers, jasmine, and rose water during the Persian New Year.”

What about Gaultier Divine resonates most with you?

“I like that it has a balance of scents. I love beautiful floral fragrances. But when I smelled the fragrance, I immediately understood why the campaign had a nautical theme. Gaultier Divine smells like the beach. You have floral notes, and then there’s a sea salt, ocean undertone. Before the fragrance came out, I often paired fragrances and essential oils. So, having a perfume that hits all the notes [you want] is always great.”

What other scents from Gaultier are in your fragrance wardrobe?

“I love Classique Eau de Toilette ($71). I’m also a cologne girl, so I love the Le Male Eau de Toilette ($64). My approach is based on what mood I’m in. For example, there are moments when it’s gloomy in Los Angeles, and I want something that smells very upbeat.”

What are some of your winter skincare essentials?

“I focus on skin management during the winter because my skin is very reactive based on the weather. So, I try to create a gentle skincare routine. I often turn to my Dr. Barbara Sturm products, but I’ll also use brands like Cetaphil or Aquaphor.”

What’s your go-to winter makeup look? 

“As much as we know that summer is the time to do light glam, I like to do light glam in the winter as well because it gives your skin time to breathe. From a purely aesthetic perspective, I love to wear brown lipliner or brown eyeshadow in the winter. With Grown-ish, Zoey’s makeup is aesthetically very different than how I wear makeup, but I always ask to add a little brown liner to her look.”

How are you practicing self-care these days?

“I approached this new year by trying to think about long-term goals and creating balance. I’ve walked into many years with a long list of resolutions instead of breaking [my goals] down into bites. This year, I want to maintain the work-life balance I found last year. I’m calling this year ‘Trust Your Gut 2024’ for a few reasons. First, I’m trying to heal my gut health and experimenting with probiotics. Secondly, last year was about stepping outside of my box and pushing my boundaries. I’m really happy I did that, but at the same time, I also realized some of those boundaries existed for a reason. ‘Trust Your Gut 2024’ is about finding an equilibrium between stepping out of my comfort zone and honoring who I am.”

You recently graced the TED Talk stage to speak about letting curiosity lead. What was that moment like?

“There are very few milestone moments where I feel I have to do something—TED Talk is one of those moments. It was very surreal because I was a speech and debate kid. Plus, I’ve been listening to TED Talks since I gained consciousness. They’ve meant so much to me because it’s been the stage where people from around the world come to share their insights. To be at a TED conference surrounded by people I admire was super exciting. The theme for the 2023 conference was ‘possibility,’ and it felt like such a perfect topic for me to speak to. Talking about curiosity was fun because my life has been guided by curiosity. I feel I’ve become better at what I do because I have multiple sets of interests.”

What’s piquing your curiosity when it comes to work? 

“As an industry, we’re figuring out how artists can once again be of service to the world. Without sounding pessimistic, I feel Hollywood has become its own entity that can sometimes feel so disconnected from the world. But the one thing that happens when you have wake-up calls where, regardless of your profession, you’re being called to be humans and acknowledge other people’s collective humanity is that you see a return to artists being in conversation with the world.

I love that, and it makes me excited. It also doesn’t have to be in obvious ways—it can be through a love story or biopic. I’ve enjoyed everything that has blossomed from having a new set of directors, writers, and actors who are very concerned about their particular communities.”

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