Kat Graham talks empowerment, beauty and giving back

Mar 4, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET

She may be super busy shooting The Vampire Diaries and promoting her music, but Kat Graham understands that giving back is always in fashion. The gorgeous star sat down with SheKnows to chat about her new partnership with U by Kotex, her fashion faves and how she keeps her skin looking so flawless.

Kat Graham

SheKnows: Tell us a bit about your partnership with U by Kotex's Generation Know program and why it was important for you to get involved.

Kat Graham: I partnered with U by Kotex to be a part of Generation Know to empower girls about their bodies and empower them about the way they communicate about them, the way they can express themselves and feel like what they’re saying and what they feel is normal and shouldn’t be hidden. It’s about empowerment.

SK: I love it when programs like this incorporate some kind of beauty or fashion item. Tell us a little bit about the Generation Know bracelet!

Generation Know

KG: When you sign up for Generation Know, you get a Generation Know bracelet for free. All you have to do is join this movement and you get a bracelet. I think that’s awesome. You can get a friendship bracelet for your girls, and I think it’s awesome that the bracelets are all the same and there’s something to that.

There are different colors in the bracelet because we’re all a little different, but we’re all kind of the same. I think that it’s a great idea and a great message. Whenever you feel insecure, you can look at your bracelet and know that there are other girls wearing it too and that there’s a whole community of people like you that you can turn to if you ever have questions.

SK: Being in the know and having the proper protection can empower girls, but it can also help you feel beautiful in your skin. So when do you feel most confident?

KG: Sometimes you can have all the makeup on in the world and not feel very beautiful, and sometimes you can have no makeup on and feel absolutely incredible about yourself. I honestly think it comes from within and self-acceptance and self-empowerment. I don’t think confidence comes from anything external. I think that beauty shines from the inside out.

I truly believe that because I’ve seen people that can have the most expensive gowns, the most expensive hairdos, but they’re not happy because there’s something inside themselves they’re not connected to. I think that what makes Generation Know so beautiful is that it’s teaching girls to change the way they look at things and it’s going to open up a new generation of really beautiful girls that are going to feel beautiful about themselves no matter what they’re physically going through.

Kat Graham
Kat Graham
Kat Graham

SK: You've got your budding singing career and travel a lot. How do you keep your skin looking so great while on the road?

KG: I drink a lot of water. I’m supposed to drink five bottles a day, but I probably get to about three or four. I have to have water around me — that’s the key. If I have a bottle around me and I keep holding it in my hand and you keep drinking it, I’ll realize that I just went through three or four bottles. Water really helps. Chapstick really helps, especially in the winter and now we’re slowly getting into the spring. SPF, lotion, stuff like that. Always start with the simple stuff.

SK: What are some of your favorite brands/places to shop?

KG: I have just recently discovered some of the fancier designers and [am] incorporating them into my clothes. I really love vintage clothes. I love finding vintage pieces and making them my own. I love really eccentric shoes.

Some of my favorite designers are Jeremy Scott, Manish Arora. Really kind of eclectic designers — Ashish, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, old school Gaultier — stuff like that. I love archived stuff and vintage stuff. I love stuff that has a theme to it.

SK: You're always switching up your hair and makeup. What are some of your favorite beauty looks?

KG: I really love dramatic makeup but I think one or the other — either dramatic eyes or dramatic lips or dramatic hair. There has to be a focus on one thing so I think that’s what some of my favorites are. Right now I think blonde is my favorite. I’ve been dying to [dye my hair blonde] for a long time. This is my favorite right now.

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Photo credits: Marina Maher Communications, Derrick Salters/WENN.com, FayesVision/WENN.com, FayesVision/WENN.com