The Vanity Project: Estelle

When Estelle burst onto the music scene with her nostalgic hit ‘1980’ back in 2004, it struck a chord with many as we gleefully reminisced about Connect 4 and LA Gear trainers. It wasn’t until she left UK shores and collaborated with U.S rapper, Kanye West and released ‘American Boy’ in 2008, that her profile soared and she soon became a household name on both sides of the Atlantic.

Currently promoting upcoming single ‘Back To Love’, the Grammy award winning artist, took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few burning beauty questions I had for her.

You always have lovely, glowy skin – what are your fave skincare products? Do you have a routine that you stick to?

Thank you and yes, I do a routine. I I try and get facials regularly and I use Dermologica Calming Skin Face Wash. Because I fly so much, I have to keep my face under control, it gets dry, I break out…it’s a moment, so I try and use that all the time. I also use Creme de La Mer face cream, it costs everything in life, but it’s worth it. It’s heavy, and when you’re travelling a lot like I do, with many late nights, you don’t want your skin to break out. So I wash [my face] and moisturise with it.

A few days a week I use a toner, I found a brand new one by YSL and it’s like a make-up remover and toner at the same time. It’s the truth! I use the Clarasonic face wash too, and then I use the toner.
Black people, especially dark skinned, we get pigments, so I try not to use anything with hydroquinone in it, or as little hydroquinone in it as possible, because it doesn’t help your skin. I get microdermabrasion too, which takes off the top layer of your skin, is which is made up of dead and dry skin.

I’m somewhat of a blush addict, what are your favourite blush shades?

I’m not really a blush girl. I go for contouring more than blush. My cheek bones, as they are, when I smile they pop up anyway. But when I do use it, there’s a really, really dope one by MAC called Gingerly, which works for everyone. It makes you look fresh faced, not like you’re trying to look like your Aunty in the 80’s. No red! Gingerly, and maybe a bit of pink in it too. It works for black girls too – all shades. It’s the best!

Photo Credit: Roxanne Lewit

Which foundation(s) do you use?

I use Make Up For Ever foundations, their HD ones, they’re the best for everyday, as I work a lot. But for general wear I love Georgio Armani in 6 and 7 Face Fabric, just for like running down the street and you don’t feel too peppy or your skin is having a moment. Georgio Armani Face Fabric feels like you have nothing on. Just literally put it in your hand and rub it on and it works!

I use it in number 6 and 7 and mix them together because I’m like 4 shades. We’re all really like about 12 different shades, never stick to one, mix them together. The bottom half of your face tends to be darker than the top half, you always want to highlight your eyes, your nose and your T-zone, so you use your lighter shades in the middles and your darker shades around the sides. Mix them and blend them!


You attend a lot of prestigious award ceremonies, have you ever experienced make-up artists who have found it difficult to work with black skin?

Oh yeah! I have my own make-up artist with me, or I do my own. The first year, when you’re trying to be a nice, agreeable artist, I rock out with what they have, and then you end up looking like a clown, and then everyone’s upset by the entire thing! I found it makes sense to fight for your people so you look good. If we look crazy, then it’s all a waste of money, outfits and trips, because if your face looks crazy, you’re gonna sit there looking stupid. I always fight for the right people to make me look good.

What has been your worst beauty disaster?

When people don’t quite get black skin and they go for the bog-standard. I think a lot of brands are yet to formulate their best foundations for black skin, as many can show up a bit ashy after a while.
You need people you really understand your skin tone and the type of skin you have, and there’s not a lot of make-up artists who have access to the right shades as well, so they just do the best they can. Everyone thinks you want to be lighter than you are or darker than you are and it’s like, “No, I just want to be the colour that I am!” So you have to be really sure and clear with them about the colour.
When you find a really good make-up artist, you realise how much of a fine art it is. You’re matching someone’s skin tone, and trying not to over their look or anything different. You just want to enhance their beauty.

Who is your beauty icon and why?

I think Mary J Blige, she has a great make-up artist. Her skin when she’s beat, always looks flawless, always….like she glows! Iman, as she has her own makeup line, that helps. She always looks beautiful, even when she wears little makeup. Rachel Roy is another who gets it right all the time; she knows what works for her, she sticks to it and rocks it out.
I think the basis of it all is that you take care of your actual skin. A lot of us don’t realise that. I didn’t know, until I really started getting into makeup that I didn’t have to be stuck with acne bumps, if I just stayed away from a certain food, I wouldn’t get spots. Like peanuts do it for me – I get acne spots if I eat a single peanut, one will just pop up! I’m actually allergic to nuts! I didn’t know this until I visited a dermatologist.

What’s the one piece of beauty advice that you’ve always remembered?

Wash your face in the morning. I’m not a big advocate of girls just running out without taking care of what they look like in the morning. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a bit of make-up, even if it’s just mascara…do something every single day that makes you feel better about yourself. Make-up isn’t for special occasions only.
You don’t have to put a full face on…you could do your eyebrows, you can put some concealer on and call it an afternoon. Whatever works to make you feel that bit better, do it…and wash your face in the morning!

Photo credit: Roxanne Levit

If you don’t get to wash your face at night, wash it in the morning ‘cos it builds up and a lot of skin discolouration and all that stuff is from a build up of not washing your face properly.  Wash it, get a scrub and scrub it. If you don’t have the money for all those lotions and potions use Dove and put some olive oil on after that, keep it simple. Cleanse your skin and your skin will love you for it.

Do you ever go to bed without taking your make-up off?

I do, but I wash it in the morning. [LOL] There are some days where I just can’t because of tiredness so I get the baby wipes out. I try to take my lipstick off all the time though because waking up in the morning with red, smudged lipstick is horrible.

What has been your best luxury beauty treat or purchase?

My face cream. That’s my most expensive, my best, my life or death product when I’m on a plane. I used to get on airplanes and think “Why’s my face so dry?” and then realised I never ever had any face cream. I would always put olive oil on, but when you get on a plane, that’s like pouring water on your hands, it dries up.

You have to have a real heavy moisturiser when you’re on airplanes. My face cream, La Mer, I love that! You can put Vaseline in your regular cream and that gives it a nice coat. The point of a rich face cream is to protect your natural skin. So even if it’s night time, I always tell my girls, “Even if you’re tired as hell and don’t get to wash your face, put something on it, so when you wake up in the morning, it’ll all slide off when you do wash it. You don’t want your make-up settling into your pores.”

Best beauty buy for under a tenner?

Vaseline! Vaseline and cotton buds, cotton wool, cotton pads, all day!

If you only have five (okay ten!) minutes to get ready for a night out, what would your makeup routine be?

A bit of concealer, some mascara, lipstick and eye liner.  I’ve learnt that my eyes really work for me so I go out of my way to really accentuate them without  making them feel loaded.  I don’t put a lot of eye shadow on any more, I make it more about my lips, but I’ll line my eyes, just so you can see them, and mascara.

And finally…

Who is your favourite  ‘American Boy’? 😉

Nowadays it’s Ryan Gosling. Did you see him in ‘Crazy Stupid Love?’ You have to see this film…he takes off his top and I cried. There’s a couple: Ryan Gosling, Tank, who’s an RnB singer, the guy that was in my video for ‘Break My Heart’. Omari Hardwick. He’s actually my boy so that makes it worse and I know his girl, so it’s even worse! He’s good looking, smart, charismatic and a poet. Omari Hardwick, he’s my favourite American Boy.

Estelle’s new single ‘Back To Love’ is out now on iTunes and her forthcoming album ‘All Of Me’ will be released on 28 February 2012.



  1. 18th December 2011 / 11:01 am

    This was a greta interview, I really like Estelle, I know people give her a lot of stick because they think she's not 'traditionally beautiful' but i think she's amazing, she comes off as really comfortable in her own skin in the way she acts and dresses herself.

  2. 18th December 2011 / 11:16 am

    I love Estelle – what a fun interview. It's good to know that celebs have the same skin issues as the rest of us – very comforting! Lucky that she can use creme de la mer though. It broke me out something shocking!

  3. 18th December 2011 / 11:17 am

    This was very interesting to read, love Estelle and its nice to know what dark skin celebs use on their skin and what their beauty faves are.

    My sis also uses that creme de lamer since she always on e plane*air hostess*, I have had raves abt that creme I want it so bad. I also think that Mary J's and Iman's makeup always look fly never cakey or ashy.

    Lmao *i do slp with my make up on*well she is human after all

    Enjoyed reading this,thanks for sharing hun Estelle is Amazing x

  4. 18th December 2011 / 11:24 am

    What an amazing interview.

    Read it beginning to end and really enjoyed it.

    X x x

  5. 18th December 2011 / 11:33 am

    I love Estelle,she is Uh-mazing and knows how to carry herself. Its great knowing celebs of our skintone skincare regime&beauty faves and I couldn't agree less that Iman and Mary J always have flawless makeup no ashy or cakey business

    That creme de la mer is fantastic, I helped myself to the sister's jar for a week and loved it. Being an air hostess she is always travelling around the world and she swears by that creme it keeps her skin so soft&glowing. Need2buy 1 for meself lol

    Great post hun,really enjoyed reading it x

  6. 18th December 2011 / 11:42 am

    Great interview and really good tips from Estelle! I've always loved Estelle and she's one of the best artists to have come out of the UK.

    I agree with her about Mary J; her make-up game is on POINT, her skin tone, her glow.. girl crush!

  7. 18th December 2011 / 12:02 pm

    She always looks so stunning! Great Interview Yinka! (I'm tempted to check out the Foundations she mentioned!) 😀 xo

  8. 19th December 2011 / 10:31 am

    Great interview, she as amazing skin x

  9. 19th December 2011 / 11:17 am

    Great read! I love Estelle and her style

  10. 19th December 2011 / 6:52 pm

    I loved reading this interview, she is so beautiful and it was great to read about how she takes care of that fantastic skin. Her son 'wont you come over love' is one of my all time favourites.

  11. 22nd December 2011 / 12:38 am

    I enjoyed reading this interview so much, her personality really comes through and it's so refreshing to read an extended beauty interview rather than three product-placement sentences.

    I like her makeup and agree with you her skin is beautiful, so it was good (if a bit sad) to read her secrets!

    I totally agree about the foundation shades too, my chin is a totally different colour to my cheeks, and I look so weird if I even them out!

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