It sounds cliché, but I’ve always been obsessed with beauty. Part of the reason I loved it so much is because there was so little information and knowledge about what suited darker skins back then, that you kind of had to be your own make-up expert. I learned what suited me by trial and error (all the errors, comical ones mainly) but it gave me a great base understanding of make-up and a true love of beauty too. It’s funny too that my mum couldn’t give two craps about beauty, so I really did find it for myself.
I started writing for local magazines, papers and fanzines doing mainly music and arts stuff when I was about 15 and living in South Wales. When I was 16 Melody Maker published a review I’d written and I completely lost my shit – it was the best moment of my life. Sadly, the mag closed a few weeks later, so I never got to do a follow up. But by then I knew I wanted to be a journalist (albeit, a music one) so I did tonnes of work experience locally, wrote for anyone who’d have me, had a brilliant editor who mentored me, started a blog and eventually it all led me to a journalism postgraduate course at Cardiff University.
After that I moved to London and started the serious interning game. I started off on music mags, but they were so male-dominated back then that I felt like I didn’t fit in. So I moved to features, and interned for over a year at places like Vogue, In Style, Sunday Telegraph and Observer Woman. It was really disheartening at times – I just didn’t know if I’d ever get a job, or what I’d do if my dream didn’t work out, but I just kept at it. I can’t lie, during points I was really low and felt pretty bleak about it all. During that time I did bits of freelance work (mainly copywriting, horrible soul-destroying real life stories that paid really well and occasional bits for The Guardian) to save up some cash, but my parents had to bail me out a few times. Finally, I got my first gig at Top Santé, after interning there for months and that was my first real break. I learned tonnes there and had some incredible mentors, and made very close friends who are still a huge part of my life.
It was my time there that made me realise that I wanted to be a beauty journalist. I loved the health and celebrity stuff I was doing at Top Santé, but I was so obsessed with beauty that it was all I could think or talk about. I started my own beauty blog and started to do some freelance beauty writing for websites like the Daily Mail too. Shortly after, I saw an advert for the role of beauty assistant at Stylist. So many jobs in the industry aren’t advertised so I was extremely lucky. The rest, as they say, is history. I was at Stylist for two and a half years working on beauty and features, and then moved to Women’s Health and am now very happily Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire. As you can see it was a bloody hard slog and I took some seriously hard knocks that I can’t even mention or I’ll be sued! But I got made redundant after a month at one point before Top Santé and comfort ate my way through two tubs of Phish Food ice cream – I’m not even joking. It’s been a rollercoaster.
I grew up thinking I had to be thin, blonde and white to be beautiful because that’s all I saw in magazines and on TV. Now I know that beauty is for everyone but it’s taken me 31 years to realise that.
My role at MC is pretty varied – one morning I’m editing, some days I’m writing for print, at other times I’m uploading videos online or at a lecture or launch. It just depends what needs to be done. But I’m at a pretty senior level now so there tends to be a lot of commercial stuff to do in the day as well. One thing I was super excited about recently was a feature called Redefining Beauty, which came out in our September issue. It featured four amazing women who sit outside the ‘usual’ parameters of what’s considered beautiful. They all shared their stories with us, and it’s seriously moving stuff. It was shot by the amazing Perou and we filmed a video online, which is a must-see. I think if anyone asked me what my approach to beauty is, it would be very similar to the sentiments those women bravely verbalised. I grew up thinking I had to be thin, blonde and white to be beautiful because that’s all I saw in magazines and on TV. Now I know that beauty is for everyone but it’s taken me 31 years to realise that.
I try loads of products and treatments – so those always enter my routine. But I’m quite basic, verging on catastrophic with my beauty routine. Totally depends on what I’m testing or feeling that day/week. You have to be dedicated to have great skin, unless your genes are insane, then well, screw you! You need regularity with your skin care and you need to constantly assess your skins.
When it comes to skincare, I do have a little bit of a routine but the products I use change every couple of months. At the moment I cleanse with Prevage Cleanser and use a Nuxe Rose Exfoliating Gel twice a week. I take my make-up off with Grown Alchemist Make-Up Remover or coconut oil. I just use a serum in the day – at the moment it’s Radical Skincare Antioxidant Serum, and then an SPF from either Radical or Prevage. In the night, I cleanse and use a moisturising night cream. Then, each Sunday I use a peel. I swear by RéVive Glycolic Pads and often put on an amazing face mask like Natura Bisse Shock, followed by a soothing face mask like Lancôme Hydra.
Make-up wise, I use anything and everything but have a soft spot for Sleek, Illamasqua, MAC, Tarte, Kat Von D, Bobbi Brown, Stila and Ellis Faas. I only wear matte lipsticks because they look more dramatic but I do really love all of the liquid foundations doing the rounds at the moment. There are so many brands offering incredible ones at right now: Stila, Hourglass and Kat Von D do the best.
My hair is naturally very fine and curly so I have about 40 or so extensions put in at Inanch in Fitzrovia to thicken it up. I also have the occasional keratin blow-dry at Josh Wood in Liberty. But I dye my hair it at home if I need to. I use Pureology Volumising Shampoo and Conditioner as sulphate-free is best on extension bonds. I use Shu Uemura Essence Oil when it’s dry too – it’s my favourite oil of all time. I try and plait my hair overnight and then try and coax it into Goth mermaid waves in the morning.
ON FITNESS AND WELLNESS
Unlike, well, everyone on Instagram, fitness is a real struggle for me. I was Beauty and Health Editor at Women’s Health, so I know pretty much everything there is to know about fitness and health – but I’m intrinsically quite lazy. Give me a spa over a park, or a Netflix night over well, most things. That means that my motivation tends to come in waves – some months I’m on it – and spinning 4-5 times a week. Others I do nothing at all. I tend to steer clear from all of the big classes everyone’s going to. I hate hype and am generally rebellious by nature so I just like a regular body pump or spin class at the gym. The more low key the better – and local boxing gyms are good too. My biggest tip though is to get some smoking gym kit you like wearing – it’s a huge motivational boost.
I try to eat as well as I can, but do have a massive weakness for anything fried. So, it’s a struggle and I think it always will be for me, as will my weight. One thing that’s helped recently was reading Alexandra Jamieson’s, Women Food And Desire book about cravings. It’s such a good read and it really resonated. Now I listen to her podcasts all the time. It takes me an hour to get to work, and after one of her podcasts I just feel way more centered and in control of shit. It’s been the only book I’ve read that’s really impacted my relationship with food. I definitely recommend it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Photographs by David Nyanzi.
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