Nikki Reed has been turning heads with her stunning red carpet looks for more than a decade — her breakout hit Thirteen celebrated its 10-year anniversary last week — but the talented star is all about embracing inner beauty as well. Today, she is one of the celebs (along with Brittany Snow, Maia Mitchell, and Debby Ryan) who is kicking off the Love Is Louder and Benefit Cosmetics' Inner Beauty Challenge, a seven-day initiative that offers users daily activities to help them feel positive and empowered about beauty.
When we chatted with Nikki about the challenge, she revealed her own struggles with inner beauty and what she does to remedy them, ranging from trading kickboxing for meditation to writing music with her husband, Paul McDonald, and reinventing herself with a potential pixie cut. And though she is confident going au naturel and makeup-free, she revealed that she's a total cosmetics junkie. However, when it comes to red carpet glamour, she stays conservative — her body is "not a thing" she likes to put out there. Keep reading to find out how she got her start in beauty as a pint-size makeup artist and how she wants to inspire other women to feel gorgeous, both inside and out.
POPSUGAR: What excited you most about getting involved with the Inner Beauty Challenge?
Nikki Reed: Well, first and foremost, I have a long history with the people behind it: Courtney Knowles and Brittany Snow are two people who I'm very close with, and I love what they're doing. Since Thirteen and the message behind that, I've had a history with girls who are being bullied by other girls, and that's what Love Is Louder is about — getting through that. And I now have a 14-year-old brother who has dealt with a ton of this right now, and it kind of brought it all back up for me. It made it very relevant for how easy it is — especially in this day and age with social media — to take bullying to another level. I am [happy to be] able to take a moment to remind young people, especially young girls, how to refocus their attention on the positive.
PS: How are you going to tackle the seven challenges? Alone, or maybe with your husband?
NR: What I've been trying to do is have these conversations with myself actually — whether it's related to these challenges or not — and take a moment to think about some of the things that make me feel good about myself that aren't about diet or weight loss. For example, this year, instead of doing a lot of kickboxing and running and very active stuff, I decided I'm really going to focus my attention on meditation and yoga. For me, the real challenge is being at peace with my mind, so that's something I'm really focusing on. I also separate myself from the normal everyday distractions that bring up so many insecurities by writing. It's very therapeutic, so I try to remind myself to do 10 minutes of writing in the morning just to clear my head — it's my own form of meditation. Paul and I are writing a lot of music together, so we spent all of December writing. We wrote and recorded seven new songs, and that makes me feel empowered and good about myself.
PS: It sounds like to you, inner beauty is about confidence and strength. What have you struggled with most, and what defines inner beauty to you?
NR: Well, first of all, human beings are just naturally insecure creatures. I think we always tend to pick ourselves apart, and I work in an industry where all of that is taken to another level, elevated with this pressure of how you need to look and act. I take a real focus and effort to concentrate on developing other aspects and not just physical ones. Not just waking up and planning your day around, "What am I going to eat today? What exercises am I going to do today?" I just want to remind myself that the things that last longest are my body and my brain and how I feel emotionally. So I try to take time to go back to school and study and feel confident about those characteristics. Anytime we become stagnant or complacent and we don't feel in a place where we're out of our comfort zone, that's not good.
PS: You are very minimal with your makeup. Did you feel like your skin changed after these big changes and you didn't have to wear any, or is your mantra to go makeup-free?
NR: You know what's funny? I love, love makeup, I just don't feel insecure when I'm not wearing it. Actually, let me tell you one of my favorite stories. My very first job when I was 12 years old was doing makeup for my mom, who was a hairdresser, and her clients. My mom's best friend Alex was a makeup artist and she gave me her kit, and I used to get all of her leftover things or she got extra products. To this day, it's one of my favorite things to do. If I could have another career, I think I would probably do something in the beauty world, because it's my favorite thing. When I do my own hair and makeup for events sometimes, it's like painting to me. If I have a girlfriend who is going to an event, I'm the first person to volunteer, like, "I'll do your makeup!" I even love the tedious things, like putting on individual lashes that take like 30 minutes.
PS: With the 10-year anniversary of Thirteen, how much do you think you've changed over the past decade, with big milestones and your beauty regimen?
NR: I will say I'm much more interested in fashion now. When I was younger, I was probably rebelling against Hollywood in the sense that I wanted to not care about what I looked like and not care about my fashion choices, and now I'm genuinely interested and I enjoy the process. I just had my conversation with my dad the other day. We were hiking and talking about people and changes. He said, "One of the most incredible things about the human being is we're constantly changing and evolving, and you can constantly reinvent yourself." And that's kind of my mantra. That's what I want to go for in my life. Just the freedom to constantly reinvent myself and be who I want to be in that moment, whatever feels truthful.
PS: It's a new year and a lot of people are making some big changes. Is there anything you want to drastically change about your look — like would you try the pixie cut trend?
NR: I just cut all my hair off a few months ago, so I've been rocking short hair. It's growing now, believe it or not, but I cut off like a foot of hair! I've never had a bob before, and I just did that. I would love any excuse to cut all of my hair off, just go for it. I feel like my agents would be really upset, but I'm kind of getting to the point where I don't care and I'm googling images all the time and sending them to Paul, like, "You're going to love me if I do this, right?!" That's probably the thing I would do: all of the hair gone.
PS: You've been vegan for a while now and you gave up smoking recently. Do you think those inner changes have impacted the way you both look and feel?
NR: Oh, yeah, absolutely. When you feel physically good, it's totally empowering as well. When I quit smoking, which is a choice I made on my own, that made me feel very good about myself. I went down a whole new path with my food and exercise. I had literally never stepped on a treadmill on my life, and I also developed a whole new relationship with food when I started actually eating more. As a young kid in the business, there's so much pressure on you to be thin and have a body that people idolize, and I'm never going to have that exactly. My favorite part of myself is not me in a bikini or me showing off any part of my body. Even, as you can see if you look at any red carpets, I dress pretty conservatively. I try to have some interesting fashion choices, but my body's not my thing that I like to put out there. When I started eating more food, I realized that if you just treat yourself well, then you can give your body what it needs and get what you need in return. The last five years for me, this journey, has been really incredible.