Gemma Chan explains why L'Oréal Paris's 50-year-old tagline "Because You're Worth It" still resonates with her today — and shares the self-care practices and products that help her feel her best

By Jackie Fields
May 12, 2021 01:00 PM
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Gemma Chan; Courtesy of L’Oréal Paris
Credit: Courtesy L’Oréal Paris

Gemma Chan is making a statement both in front of and behind the camera. The actress and activist just finished filming movie Don't Worry Darling, directed by Olivia Wilde, and partnering with production company A-Major Media and others to create a podcast about Asian American civil rights.

The L'Oréal Paris spokeswoman is also helping the brand commemorate 50 years since the creation of its iconic tagline: "Because You're Worth It". Speaking to PEOPLE exclusively, Chan opened up about what those four words mean to her, and the importance of self-care amid these trying times.

Since Ilon Specht, then a 23-year-old copywriter, coined the slogan in 1971, L'Oréal Paris has translated it into more than 40 languages in order to reach women around the world. Chan still remembers the first time she heard it.

"It was a the TV commercial in the 1990s [fronted by spokeswoman] Andie MacDowell," she says. "It's such an iconic line, with an interesting history: working in a male-dominated advertising industry, [Specht] came up with this line that absolutely refocused everything back on to a woman wanting to do something for herself – not for a man, or for anyone else. And I think that it's so powerful for that reason."

The actress explains that the phrase remains so "relevant and resonant" today, because it not only "gives people permission" to prioritize self-care, it's "also an affirmation that, if you're living your own truth, wherever you are in your journey, you're enough."

And, Chen adds, even movie star with a major beauty contract has to remind herself of the message "on a fairly regular basis."

"I think many women, and particularly women of color, will often find themselves in situations where no one else may look like them or have their background," she says. "You do have to remind yourself that you have a voice and you have the right to be there."

Gemma Chan; Courtesy of L’Oréal Paris
Credit: Courtesy L’Oréal Paris

While achieving inner confidence is a work in progress, Chan says actions are as important as words.

"I think over the past year, with the upheaval in the world and the anxiety that so many people have been feeling, having time in your day that's for you to slow down and really prioritize what your needs might be is incredibly important," says Chan, who tries to start every morning with some stretches and salutations. She adds that putting on a bold lip can help her mood, too. (Her favorite: L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Matte Lipstick in Matte-Vocate.)

During moments of self-doubt, Chan also gets a boost of confidence from those closest to her.

"One of my first inspirations is my mom. She's an incredibly strong woman, very brave and also very loving. She instilled a very strong work ethic in me, and she's still who I would call up if I need advice. She's very brave and loving. And, both of my grandmothers were my first examples of women who really knew what it meant to sacrifice, but also to uplift others."

Chan's a big believer in spreading that positivity: "Be kind to yourself, and others," she says.