Leighton Meester

Leighton Meester and her bright red pout. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

She may play a privileged and flawlessly lip-glossed Queen B on TV, but "Gossip Girl's" Leighton Meester says she's actually a drugstore diva.

We caught up with the 24-year-old actress and her personal stylist Charles Baker Strahan at New York's Eventi Hotel, where we asked the new Herbal Essences spokesmodel if she really shops bargain when it comes to beauty.

After all, she has access to everything, right?

"Look, I'm a South Florida girl -- if you need mascara, you go to Walgreens," Meester told StyleList. "One of the joys of my job is being able to try all different products, but if I can spend a lot less on something, I'd rather do that."

That's right, folks. Be on the lookout the next time you pick up a gallon of milk, because Blair Waldorf might be cruising down the makeup aisle.

"I'm currently loving those CoverGirl lip stains. The L'Oréal Naturale Mascara is great. And I always pick up cocoa butter. It's 99 cents! I love it!" said Meester.

With that kind of unbridled enthusiasm, it's no surprise Herbal Essences scooped the star up to flaunt her shiny chocolate-colored tresses -- which stylist Baker Strahan says he has treated with the line of shampoos and conditioners for years. Yet, it's the newly reformulated line that he says gives his client elasticity, shine and the ability to combat heat with its more hydrating formula.

Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf

Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf on the set of "Gossip Girl." Photo: DAVID KRIEGER/bauergriffinonline.com

With the all-out primping perfection it takes to play Blair Waldorf, Meester says it's essential she take special care of her hair to prevent styling damage. On days when she's not working, she doesn't style it, and deep conditioners and heat protectant sprays are a fact of life.

Meester adds that part of her strategy is to refrain from forcing her hair into shapes it resists.

"My personal style is conducive to healthier hair. I don't want it to be flawlessly done all the time, I like a more natural look. If we do tousled waves, I like it undone. I don't want a perfectly molded coif," said Meester.

Strahan Baker adds that hairstyles work best when you make them your own.

"Find your style identity, and learn how to celebrate what's there, whether it's your natural hair texture, or heightening it with curl, or moving it with wave. Every look that I go for on Leighton, I always make sure she's accessible in it," said Strahan Baker.

The pair cite one of their favorite collaborations as the 2009 Met Costume Institute Gala appearance, where Meester arrived in a whimsical Louis Vuitton puff sleeved tunic with bejeweled leggings, and a doll-like bob of curls, flushed cheeks and strikingly lacquered lips.

Leighton Meester 2009 Costume Institute Gala

Leighton Meester dons doll-like curls at the 2009 Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

The fashion police cried foul, but Meester says they missed the point.

"If you're walking the red carpet, it's a heightened reality. You wouldn't necessarily look like that if you're walking down the street, or even going to a nice dinner. It's all about creating a look," Meester told StyleList.

And so we weren't surprised, when asked who her beauty icon of inspiration is, Meester named a Hollywood legend who was known for her brash sense of style and striking air of composure.

"Oh, Bette Davis. Those lips. You know how you're supposed to choose between playing up your eyes or your lips? I always choose lips. I love the drama."

And, finally -- a bubble of Blair Waldorf comes to the surface.

If you're a lover of beauty drama too, check out the 411 behind RiRi's crazy big wigs.