Invasion Star Shioli Kutsuna Reveals the Skincare Step She Never Skips

I’ll be the first person to admit that I got the wrong impression of actress Shioli Kutsuna. If you’re a fan of the Deadpool franchise, you’ll recall her small (but mighty) role as the chipper mutant Yukio in the second film. She spoke with the soft, soprano tone of someone incredibly shy, yet the actress still managed to leave a lasting impression as she became quite the fan favorite after the film’s premiere. 

Her character might have given me that idea, but when I hopped on a call with the actress one afternoon, I discovered an incredibly poised woman with quite a different demeanor. Kutsuna was actually born in Sydney, Australia, and has the relaxed and smooth accent to prove it. She speaks with a level and laid-back voice when she tells me about making the move from Australia to Japan at the age of 14. “It wasn’t the easiest transition,” she explains. “We were only allowed to speak Japanese in the house. I thought I was familiar with the culture and the language and everything, but obviously, my mindset was quite different from other classmates who were born and raised in Japan.”

Photo:

Alison Engstrom; Styling: The Brisk necklace; Stylist: Masae Sakurai; Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Noriyoshi Yamada

Starting work as a teenage actress in a new country sounds a bit overwhelming, right? But Kutsuna is incredibly graceful and full of positivity when she describes how this time in her life actually unfolded. “I think that earlier transition helped me prepare for the next transition [into Hollywood], where I completely changed my environment for the next phase of my career. There’s obviously a lot of small differences between the industry in Japan and the industry in Hollywood. I guess I’m still spending time getting used to all the small changes. It’s been an interesting journey so far, for sure,” she says.

Kutsuna may have had a more playful and upbeat role in films like Deadpool 2 but has now transitioned into a more dramatic role, starring in her first American show, Invasion, now streaming on Apple TV. So when the opportunity arose to speak with the actress at such a pivotal point in her career, I simply couldn’t pass it up. We spoke about everything from this exciting (yet challenging) new role to her self-care rituals, ride-or-die beauty favorites, and the skincare step she absolutely never skips.

Photo:

Alison Engstrom; Styling: The Brisk necklace; Stylist: Masae Sakurai; Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Noriyoshi Yamada

Now 28, Kutsuna has truly perfected her beauty routine, having worked in the industry for so long. After all, one of the perks of the job is being surrounded by a talented glam team who all have different tricks of the trade. “It’s really interesting because I feel like makeup is different in every culture,” she says. “So it’s really fun to work with all these international artists and be glammed up by the professionals.” When I ask her about what sets each apart, she takes the opportunity to express her utter admiration for makeup as an art form and way to connect with those around her. “Small trends here and there are different, but honestly, I think every artist has their own individual style and way that they interact with people. Even more so than a fashion stylist, I think makeup artists, especially, are physically touching you, so you really feel their energy, and they feel yours. It’s a very spontaneous and intuitive experience—they really play off whoever they’re working with, and that’s been a great experience on the job.”

Of course, my next question (because I’m nosy) had to be about how she keeps her skin in such great shape while being regularly steeped in the world of camera-ready makeup. Her secret? None other than cultivating a solid skincare routine—and there’s a crucial first step she never leaves out. “Before even getting to skincare, the biggest thing I’ve learned is to actually completely take off all the makeup and oils that build up from living in a busy city or shooting. I think it’s really important to do that, so I’m a huge believer in double-cleansing. Some people say it’s not necessary, but I totally love it.”

A favorite she always reaches for is Bioré. “[Its Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil ($8)] is one that really allows you to cleanse everything but doesn’t leave that dryness where it feels like your skin is pulling,” she shares. In the morning, when her skin is fresh, she relies on two key ingredients to brighten and hydrate her skin—vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. To no one’s surprise, she uses the gold standard of vitamin C serums, SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic ($166). “It’s so good—I love it!”

Photo:

Alison Engstrom; Stylist: Masae Sakurai; Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Noriyoshi Yamada

Although the actress sports glowing skin nowadays, she admits that this wasn’t always the case. “I’ve been really lucky because I’ve been in this industry so long. It made me a lot more careful and knowledgeable about makeup and skincare at a very young age. I was a kid who already had a lot of skin problems (like pimples) starting around the fifth grade. Your confidence level and everything just lowers, so I think I really take care of my skin so I won’t have to face those negative emotions again!” To her,  this is why skincare and self-care are absolutely critical. She feels like her best self when dives into a luxurious nightly ritualand nothing says instantly lush quite like a good chemical exfoliant.I have this peeling soap from Japan; it’s very mild. I started using it recently, and I think it takes off (not in a harsh or aggressive way) the top layer of dead skin. It has helped my skin so much. If I ever feel like my pores are clogging up a little bit, I’ll usually use that. Once I do that, I like to do a mask for extra moisture.”

In terms of her hair ventures, let’s just say Kutsuna never shies away from a bold hue. Case in point? Her character Mitsuki’s epic platinum look in Invasion. I couldn’t help but wonder if the ice blonde she sported for filming was more of a permanent fixture or simply a fleeting bit of fun. “I think I’ve been quite extreme in my hair color choices—I’ve only ever colored my hair black, super blonde, blue, or pink!” she says with a laugh. “I think [this latest shade] was really fun. I had that color blonde since our shoot was so long due to a half a year COVID break. I ended up having that hair color for two years. During that half-a-year break, I went to my hairdresser here and asked if there was any color I could try without leaving any leftover because I had to go back blonde. That’s when I was playing with pink. It’s a lot of effort to keep a nice blonde shade. You have to keep using those purple shampoos, so I don’t think I’ll be doing that again for a while!”

Since we’re on the topic of her Invasion character, Mitsuki, and her striking look, I had to know what else she loves about playing such a dynamic, challenging character. Mitsuki, an extremely intelligent woman who feels more comfortable delving into the world of patterns, codes, and cryptography, struggles to connect with others on an emotional level until she meets her partner, Hinata. “Emotionally, this has been one of the toughest roles I’ve had to play,” she shares. “Mitsuki loses the love of her life in the very early stages of the show. It was a whole season of grief and really trying to overcome that. I also felt really responsible playing this character because I feel like, in Japan, it’s still really rare for an LGBTQ character to be portrayed, especially in the world of engineering and space programs. It’s kind of something I haven’t really seen done here before, so that might have been a challenge for people in Japan to watch. Preparation was definitely key when taking on this role.”

Photo:

Alison Engstrom; Stylist: Masae Sakurai; Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Noriyoshi Yamada

She confesses that drama is a genre she feels the most at home in, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be branching out anytime soon. “I think a more comedic genre would be great to dive into. I just feel safe doing more dramatic roles; comedy kind of terrifies me! I just think you have to be so talented to be funny, so that does scare me. But other than that, I’m always open to any sort of exploration. I guess in my line of work, what’s so amazing is that no role ever has to be repeated twice. Taking responsibility in being given a role and portraying it in a way that would touch the audience is just really major to me. I’m just excited to continue to see how my career will evolve in the future.”

As she continues to grow as an actress, her personal style and makeup routine continue to evolve with her. “I love makeup, and I have a ton of lipsticks—I just really like a dark, edgy vibe. For my daily makeup, I tend to pick quite dark colors. I like a good darker lip. I always say just put on lipstick, and you’re good to go!” Obviously, I wouldn’t be a beauty editor if I didn’t ask what shades and brands are her ultimate treasures. “I love Bobbi Brown. I don’t know how to describe it, but the brownest shades the brand makes are just so gorgeous. I also love the brand RMK. RMK lipstick just doesn’t dry out. It moisturizes your lips for, like, the whole day!”

Photo:

Alison Engstrom; Stylist: Masae Sakurai; Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: Noriyoshi Yamada

Another obsession that will never lose its appeal for her? Blush. “I do love other things like eye shadow, but something I just cannot leave without is blush. Especially with my skin tone, it just makes me look healthier instantly. Something with a peachy tone rather than an orange tone usually works for me. Putting it on is always one of my all-time favorite makeup moments.” As our conversation wraps, Kutsuna also has one piece of advice that can be applied to makeup, self-care, and just life in general. “I always say do everything you’re willing to do when you the have time. Working in Japan for 10 years, I never had an issue meeting up with my friends or family because they could always visit me there. It’s only been over the last couple of years that I’ve been trying to adjust to this new environment and atmosphere that I’ve been living in. I think whenever you do have time, just explore and follow where your curiosity leads you. I think that’s something that’s made quite a big change within me the past few years.”

Do yourself a favor and binge Invasion on Apple TV. You won't regret it. And keep scrolling to shop a few of Kutsuna’s choice beauty products and all-time favorite brands.

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