Self-Directed: Natasha Liu Bordizzo

Lisa Patulny

In our monthly series, Self-Directed, we invite beauty and fashion influencers to direct their own editorial story and create the looks they love with the glam teams they trust. You’ll learn about their best-kept beauty secrets, favourite products, and more.

When I first clapped eyes on Natasha Liu Bordizzo as ingénue Snow Vase in the follow-up to the Oscar-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it’s fair to say I was captivated. The 22-year-old Chinese-Italian Australian actress and model is certainly striking—all fine features, effortlessly tousled hair and willowy limbs. But, upon discovering the role was her on-screen debut, I was a little bit blown away. Could a first timer really be this good? This practiced? This natural? Her ability to portray a character with ease and credibility is so remarkable I knew I'd found Byrdie Australia's next beauty muse.  

The story of Liu Bordizzo's career beginnings is the stuff of Hollywood urban legend. After being scouted by an agent with a keen eye, she read for a supporting role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. The producers were so impressed, she landed the lead instead. (See: A Very Big Deal for a then unknown girl from Sydney.) But, if you think Liu Bordizzo's rise up the ranks is thanks to no more than her pretty face, you're mistaken. A former law student with a passion for everything from affogato to Egon Schiele, her Instagram account reveals a woman with an inquiring mind and a sense of self that belies her age. Plus, she has a black belt in Taekwondo.

Her latest project is big budget thriller Hotel Mumbai, a retelling of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, alongside Dev Patel and Jason Isaacs. In short, Liu Bordizzo is on the up. We caught up with her on a trip home to talk beauty role models, being an "accidental" vegetarian and her secret to flawless skin. 

Keep reading to see how Liu Bordizzo, with the help of makeup artist Elsa Morgan and hairstylist Luke Davis, does beauty.

The Interview

Keep scrolling for Liu Bordizzo's Chinese, Italian *and* Australian beauty tips, her go-to dinner (spoiler: it's pasta), and the "accidental" workout she swears by. 

Byrdie Australia: Walk us through your A.M. and P.M. skincare routines.

Natasha Liu Bordizzo: In the morning, I use Cosmedix Purity Clean Exfoliating Cleanser ($66) as it's really refreshing and leaves my skin feeling smooth. I then follow with Chanel Hydra Beauty Serum ($124). Once that’s absorbed a little, I finish with a Sisley moisturiser or one from Aspect Dr ($33). 

At night, it's largely the same, although twice a week I'll use EmerginC Scientific Organics At-Home Facial Peel + Clarifying Kit ($125) as a strong exfoliant. Also once or twice a week in the mornings—especially if I have a shoot—I'll use Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask ($180) which instantly smooths, brightens and plumps. 

B: How has your Chinese-Italian and Australian background played into your beauty habits?

NLB: My Chinese mum literally cuts up fruit and sticks it to her face—mostly berries. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. [Laughs.] My Italian dad uses a heap of sunscreen as that side of my family is more sensitive to the light. 

B: You mentioned during shoot that it’s been difficult in the past to find beauty icons you can relate to, who do you look to now?

NLB: I now look to women with beautiful vibrant skin and healthy hair for inspiration, as opposed to finding examples of people who actually resemble me. That's quite hard though. Although, I do get told I look like Jessica Gomes a lot!

B: How do you keep your skin looking so flawless? (Seriously, tell us your secrets.)

NLB: My secret is visiting Melanie Grant in her Double Bay clinic for regular facials and rejuvenating Omnilux. Especially before and after flights. You don't realise how dull your skin has been looking until you’ve had a treatment there.

B: What’s your go-to makeup look for everyday?

NLB: If my skin's good, it’s as minimal as possible. A bit of Ken Goh Doh Maifanshi Moisture Foundation ($91) which I love—it’s moisturising and gives really lovely natural coverage. Then I do a little eyebrow filler (eyebrows are my life) with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($38). Some days I'll throw on some Nars Orgasm Blush ($44) (everyone's favourite), and a little mascara. For mascara, I generally buy any cheap drugstore brand. I’m using L'Oreal right now. I'll finish with a little illuminator beneath my brows. 

B: How do you style your hair on the daily?

NLB: I use almost nothing to style it, I got lucky with natural Italian waves! I throw in a little Kiehl Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream ($32) and some Moroccanoil ($60) just to calm it down. 


B: What would we currently find in your handbag beauty-wise?

NLB: On the go, I only bring lip balm, a Ken Goh Do concealer ($80) and my Chantecaille HD Perfecting Powder ($107) for touch-ups. 

B: What’s the best tip you’ve learned from a hairstylist or makeup artist?

NLB: That for me and my look, less is more. 

B: Are there any Australian beauty secrets you swear by?

NLB: Salt water fixes most things! It also re-alkalises your skin.

B: If you could give your 16-year-old self beauty advice, what would you say?

NLB: Stop straightening your hair every day! You're ruining it, and your natural curls are prettier anyway.

B: Does your love for film play into the beauty looks you love?

NLB: Very much! It's so fun slipping into different characters for shoots and red carpet events. 

B: What’s does a day in your diet look like?

NLB: I don't label myself as anything—the amount of different diets out there overwhelms me these days! I'm "accidentally" vegetarian most of the week though. For breakfast I'll usually have muesli with coconut milk or eggs and avocado (the Aussie classic). For lunch I'll eat at a cafe as I'm always out and about. For dinner, it's a simple stir-fry with veggies, tofu and a heap of tamari. Or a prawn pasta with a tomato base.

B: What do you always have in your fridge? 

NLB: Eggs, broccoli and almond milk. 

B: What’s your workout of choice?

NLB: I've been doing martial arts for most of my life and normal cardio workouts really bore me. I love martial arts because you're so concentrated on the art form and the self-defence element that you often forget you're working out. That said, there are some really fun and creative workouts in L.A. which is where I'm based now. My favourite is Rise Nation, a climbing machine class done in a pitch black room with crazy loud music and a lit-up disco ceiling. (I'm not making this up!)

Creative Direction: Lisa Patulny; Photographer: Tāne Coffin; Makeup: Elsa Morgan; Hair: Luke Davis; Styling: Amanda Stavropoulos.

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