I can be ready in 10 minutes. I am pretty low-maintenance, but if there’s time, I will faff. I’ll put on some music, fix myself a gin and tonic, and then suddenly think it would be a good idea to try something else on.
I like getting ready with friends. I think it stems from having two sisters and getting ready together when we were growing up.
I really enjoy makeup, so will spend the most time on applying it. I love the packaging and the rituals of buying a new lipstick, but I don’t really wear loads. I am into the contouring thing, but not so much that you draw in cheekbones RuPaul style. I’ve worked with some amazing makeup artists and picked up tips along the way, like using lip balm on your cheeks. There’s a really nice rose lip balm pot by Terry, which gives you a subtle, dewy colour and smells great.
We’ve been to lots of events and awards ceremonies, and in America they like to do the whole big hair and makeup thing. If I’ve managed to hold on to my Britishness and kept it young and fresh-faced, then I’m happy.
When I have the day to myself and I am not getting made up for period drama – getting my hair tonged and waved into 1920s style – I keep it quite simple. I like it when my hair dries naturally. I will put a bit of serum in and that’s it. Similarly, working on Downton Abbey influences what I wear on my days off – I am often in jeans and a T-shirt. After working with such incredible costumes, I just go the complete opposite. I often feel as if I am in my pyjamas when I am not in a corset and beads.
• Downton Abbey returns to ITV on 20 September at 9pm.