Gabrielle Union: How 'Selfies' Can Work to Your Beauty Advantage

07/22/2013 at 12:16 PM ET

Gabrielle Union makeupPaul Archuleta/FilmMagic

PEOPLE StyleWatch editors were uniformly obsessed with Gabrielle Union’s stunning glow at a pre-ESPYs event last week. So imagine our delight when the Being Mary Jane actress told us she achieved it completely on her own.

“I can do my own hair and makeup and not look completely crazy!” she told PEOPLE. “[But] you just don’t have that same confidence as if a professional did it. My friends were on watch all night.”

She also relies on her friends for makeup advice before she gets to the event. “Sanaa Lathan is one of my best friends, and she believes there’s no such thing as too much blush,” Union shared, so that night, “I used a Sanaa trick where I used a ton of blush. Provided it’s not too deep for your skin tone, your face can generally hold more [color] in a well-lit area, like a red carpet.”

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So how does she know how much is too much? She uses a trick beloved by Instagram addicts everywhere: the selfie. “This is when selfies go right,” she said. “You can experiment with your phone for a family event or something like that. Another good reason to take pictures with your phone in bright lighting is because when you add a flash or lights, you realize your clothing is see through. You can save yourself a lot of embarrassment!”

Union has been a Neutrogena spokeswoman long enough to know that she loves the line’s MoistureSmooth Color Stick in “Rich Raisin,” its Healthy Skin Primer for her face and the Healthy Skin Blends in “Pure” for cheeks. But in the hot L.A. or Miami weather (where love Dwyane Wade plays for the Heat), she keeps things even more simple.

“If I want my eyes to pop, it’s waterproof mascara — it’s kind of essential in the summer months,” she said. “A tinted lip balm so your lips are moisturized. It’s working its magic, healing and giving you swag.” Also on her must-have list: a good hat and SPF, which is why she loves Neutrogena’s Buy 1 + Donate 1 program.

“Any time you buy a Neutrogena product with SPF through July they donate one to a needy family,” she said. “We tend to think that you can price yourself out of certain issues. What I love that Neutrogena’s doing, for people who can afford to buy one, you help a disadvantaged family to be able to protect themselves.”

To participate, simply pick up any Neutrogena SPF while out shopping until July 31. Tell us: Do you employ Union’s selfie trick before going out?

–Alex Apatoff

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