Jenna Ortega on Embracing Her Natural Beauty — and the Products That Keep Her Skin 'Happy'

A makeup artist once made Ortega, 19, "ashamed" of her freckles. Now the Neutrogena ambassador is loving the skin she's in — and wants anyone in a position of influence to help others do the same

Jenna Ortega Neutrogena
Photo: Neutrogena

For Jenna Ortega, becoming a Neutrogena brand ambassador was written in the stars.

"It was the only skincare brand I saw in my house growing up," the actress, 19, tells PEOPLE.

"I remember when I was younger, and I first started getting into makeup, I would take my sister's face wash – she was using [Neutrogena's Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser] at the time. I was obsessed with it," Ortega shares, recalling both the nostalgic fruity scent and the feeling that she was "grown" when she used it.

Since those days, Ortega admits she's been "pretty fortunate" when it comes to skin issues, but the Scream star (who also has new projects Wednesday and X in the works) notes that so much time on set can sometimes be especially harsh on skin. To prevent flare-ups, Ortega says she maintained a "pretty consistent routine."

"I just shot a show for seven, eight months. The set that I was on required a lot of dust, dirt and blood and that was really heavy on my skin. I would start my day off with Neutrogena's Skin Perfecting Exfoliant for normal/combination skin, and it would really give me a clean slate for the day. Then, I would also occasionally use Neutrogena's Hydro Boost hydrating serum because I was in Romania and it was very cold and my skin would dry out."

At night, she'd complete her routine with the brand's Stubborn Marks PM Treatment, "which just soothed whatever it was that I had dealt with earlier in the day." "My skin has had a rough go [of late], but I think that's kept it happy," she explains.

Jenna Ortega Neutrogena

Ortega also opened up about confidence battles largely brought on by her job.

"I think any insecurity that I had with my skin was more in terms of working with makeup artists. I remember [one] once made a comment about not being able to match my skin tone correctly [and] that my freckles made my face look dirty and that they needed to cover things up. For a while, I was really ashamed of my freckles and didn't want to show my face ever."

Ortega says she's moved past the incident and now loves her freckles, but the moment is still something that "sticks in my head... especially hearing it so young." And it's why she hopes anyone with the ability to influence preaches positivity and the beauty of uniqueness.

"Messaging from brands, visibility and diversity among influencers is so important," says Ortega, who praises Neutrogena for spreading "a message that's about embracing natural beauty."

Jenna Ortega
Jeremy Chan/Getty

Ortega is dedicated to helping get that message out, as well as working hard on all her projects.

Speaking to her one of her favorites to date, Ortega says: "I was very excited for X to come out, a movie from A24. I love A24. I'm a fan girl. I feel like I've infiltrated their system."

"Also just story wise and cinematography wise, I think it was really well done and I got to work with people that I'd really wanted to work with for a long time."

X, set in 1979, follows a group of young filmmakers as they set out to make an adult film in rural Texas. However, when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.

"So, I think that's definitely one of my prouder moments. But when it comes to where I'm at in my career, I would like to continue to do more film. I just hope that they're as diverse as possible. As much as I love horror, I don't want to get stuck in that hole. I want to venture out and tell different stories."

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