InStyle.com) -- The dark horse in a stampede of sun-kissed curls, Lucy Liu's ebony mane sets her apart from the typical Hollywood leading lady.
"Even if you don't have any makeup on, you can still look really pretty if your lips are soft and shiny."
"My hair is so dark that I'd have to bleach it to add color, so I never dye it," she says.
From long, sexy locks on Ally McBeal to razor-straight styles that whip around as she side-kicks and slices her way through Charlie's Angels and Kill Bill, Liu's hair practically plays a supporting role. This fall she returns to television as publishing exec Mia Mason on ABC's Cashmere Mafia.
With a wavy bob (thanks to a grown-out perm), Liu, 38, embraces her girlier side. "When my hair was longer, people didn't come up and talk to me," she says. "Now they find me more approachable."
What's your earliest beauty memory?
I used to watch my mom put makeup on, and we would go to the five-and-dime store and experiment with whatever makeup was there. It was basically L'Oréal lipstick -- which is funny, because I still use it.
So is your mom your beauty guru?
No, now she's coming to me for tips. She sees how amazing my makeup looks, but it's not me. It's the people putting it on. I really like to keep my skin clean. I use just a little concealer. I don't even put on sunscreen, but I don't sit in the sun either.
No sunscreen! How do you keep your skin so young and smooth?
I drink a lot of water, and I've never had coffee. I think caffeine can be really bad for your skin. And I don't get facials, ever.
Why don't you get facials?
I think they damage your skin. People are getting peels and dermabrasion, and anything with the word "abrasion" doesn't work for me. I also think a lot of plastic surgery hurts your skin.
Do you always carry around two different eye liners?
Yes. The liquid liner is for above the eye, and the pencil is for inside the eye. But I rarely use the pencil unless I'm going out. If you put liquid liner on during the day and then add pencil to the inner rims at night, it glams it up.
What about your hair? How do you keep it so shiny?
I alternate between Dr. Bronner's All in One soap, Davines and Prawduct for shampoo and different conditioners like Pantene. I love herbal scents because I'm a little bit allergic [to fragrance]. If I walk into a store and it's all perfume, it's too much. And I let my hair air dry. I rarely blow-dry -- I don't have time.
You sound very low maintenance. Do you have any beauty indulgences?
I splurge on acupuncture. It's preventative medicine: You go in once a month, and you get a little checkup so you're regulated. It keeps you healthy. My parents used to get acupuncture. It has been a part of my culture and my life for a long time, and it really, really works. It can help you lose weight, it can help your skin stay young -- and I've found it helps with jet lag. [Acupuncturists] look at your tongue and will say: "All right, you're drinking too much" or "You're emotional, aren't you?"
How else do you stay healthy? Do you still practice martial arts?
I just trained for the movies. But I love going hiking, and now because I'm [filming in New York City], I go biking. People can see me on the street -- I'm not biking that fast. It's just good exercise, and you get around quickly. It's like being on a horse or a motorcycle because you're outside.
What about Aquaphor? I've heard you're obsessed.
I use it for everything. It's not too glossy, so I wear it when I do movies because it looks really natural. I always carry a mini with me. And if I fall, which I do a lot -- I generally skid -- I'll put it on my [scrapes]. When I was shooting a movie in Montreal, it was freezing. If you take a little bit of Aquaphor and dab it on your face, it keeps your skin looking fresh. I dubbed it Aqua for Everything.
Get her look
Makeup pro Scott Barnes applied La Femme eye shadow in Clove (far left, $6; alconeco.com) in Liu's creases and black liquid liner along her upper lash lines. Next he lined top and bottom inner rims with black pencil. For a natural glow he used the same beige cream makeup on cheeks and lips (Scott Barnes Crème Color in Flush, left, $24; saks.com).
To enhance Liu's waves and add volume, stylist Hallie Bowman spritzed Kiehl's Super Thick Volumizer ($19; kiehls.com) on her damp hair, then blow-dried with a diffuser while scrunching the ends. Once hair was dry, Bowman rubbed Kérastase Vinyle Nutri-Sculpt cream ($29; kerastase.com) between her palms and finger-shaped waves to tame frizz and flyaways. E-mail to a friend
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