It’s a sunny afternoon inside the Rouge salon in New York City, where Nina Dobrev perches on an elevated couch by the windowsill. Jealousy-inducing ringlets cascade around her face and she looks perfectly polished in a summer dress. Unlike many others in the public eye, Dobrev requires no “get-to-know-you” time before leaping into a warm and friendly conversation without reserve, a quality that doesn’t go under appreciated in this day and age. Giggling ensues, and selfies follow as we launch into a conversation about her brand new ombre locks, her “tomboy” style, and her unique penchant for skinny dipping.

Tell me about your hair. It’s amazing. You went ombre!

Thank you! It’s fun to change your hair. I’m filming a movie at the moment called The Final Girls, so I changed my hair color for that role. Once you change something about yourself, you just feel a little more excited.

Do you think transforming your hair changes your personality?

Absolutely, yeah. As an actress, that’s one of the things I love the most is playing different characters. What helps me while I’m doing that is to look and feel different because I’m playing a different person.

You’re the new face of these new colored contact lenses, Air Optix Colors (available mid-June). 

I like to keep things as natural as possible in every area of my life. And what I love about them is that they really do look natural, even with the most extreme of the colors. It just enhances the look!

While we’re on the subject of color—what are some of your go-to colors in your wardrobe? 

Red is my go-to! I love it. I’m about to wear gold next week. I like purple too, which is another form of red. A blue-ier red [laughs].

How would you define your style?

When I wake up, I’m normally very much a tomboy. Ilaria [Urbinati, Dobrev's stylist] and I are fashion rebels. We like to take risks and have fun. When it gets too serious, then it’s no fun.

How about off the red carpet, in your casual everyday life? What are your must-haves? 

I like hats. I have a lot of great booties. Leather jackets for sure. I never used to wear much jewelry, but I like subtle jewelry. It’s fun. Last week at the Upfronts, I wore these really cool Eve & Co. arrows that literally goes through your ears. And then I have a safety pin one, too. It’s fun to accessorize. It’s fun to change it up. It’s fun to try different colors. I’ve turned into such a girly-girl. But I’m such a tomboy.

So, like a jeans and a t-shirt kind of girl.

Definitely.

What three things will we see you wearing around town all summer? 

I will always have a bikini in my bag because you never know  when you’re going to want to go skinny dipping, or for a midnight swim. I’m a classy skinny dipper. I dip with minimal skin showing [laughs]. I like flip-flops, all kinds of strappy flip-flops, and my color contacts!

See spring’s sexiest hairstyles in our gallery.