I’m thrilled to have Ateh Jewel guesting in our Q & A feature. Ateh has been a mainstay of the beauty business for almost twenty years. She writes for titles such as Vogue, Glamour and the Telegraph and is also an award winning director and producer. She’s about to launch her own range of natural, clean foundations for darker skin tones called Ateh Jewel Beauty (check out her insta for more details). She’s also mum to eight year old twins, so she knows all about busy juggling. Ateh’s take on skincare, make-up and beauty is one of the best. Enjoy …
Ateh, how would you sum up your approach to beauty?
Playful, empowering, soulful and fun.
You’re a brilliant ambassador for the needs of WOC in the beauty industry. Do you think things are changing with regard to product range and representation?
Things are so much better. When I was a teenager, most make-up ranges had 4-6 shades of foundation. Make-up was ashy with no pigment. I felt very marginalised and it impacted upon my self esteem. My skin was also oily. The assumption was that darker, oily skin should be stripped with alcohol-based products. I never understood this as it makes the problem worse. People understand now that combination skin needs hydration too. Using oils on oily skin was seen as a big taboo and so many products were oil free. Now, better and clearer information and education means people know how to use oil on oily and combination skin for balance and radiance.
How do you think your advocacy, and the trail you’ve blazed, has helped the beauty industry be more mindful?
I just don’t want other people to feel the way I felt growing up. I felt wrong, like I didn’t fit in and I was merely an add on to a range. Having more melanin doesn’t make me a special category. I’m a woman who wants to feel powerful, playful and express myself. Treat me how you would want to be treated. I don’t want to feel other. I am a minority in the UK but I’m half Nigerian and there are over 190 million of us there. I’m not a minority or stat.
What do you look for in skincare and how have your needs changed over time?
I’ve always read labels but when I was pregnant eight years ago with my twin girls, I really got into what I was putting on and into my body. Artificial colours and fragrances have always left me with irritation. Silicones have always left my skin feeling congested and I just avoid them. Now, as a working mum, my time is precious. In particular, my night-time skin regime is a moment I savour and enjoy to unwind and mentally relax.
What’s your go-to daily skincare routine?
Because I’m so busy I take time to look after my skin. It’s a calming hobby, like looking after a bonsai tree! In the morning I use Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel to wash my face and then Jurlique’s Rosewater Balancing Mist, followed by a serum, facial oil, eye serum and then a moisturiser. At night, it’s a double cleanse with Votary Rose Geranium and Apricot Cleansing Oil and amazing flannel, and then a balm. I do a mask a couple of times a week for brightness or hydration and then spritz with rosewater and finish with Votary Neroli and Myrrh Facial Oil.
Why do you think plant oil based skin care is so good for your skin?
Like food, the less processed and the less you mess around with things the better. The power of nature, and all the gifts she gives us with plant oils, makes me feel evangelical. Like attracts like, it’s the law of the universe. So if you have oily skin, balance your excess oil with the right oils. If you have sensitive skin, avoid artificial colours and fragrances because they’ll just freak your skin out.
Which Votary product wouldn’t you be without?
Where do I start? I’m a huge fan. I love the Rose Geranium and Apricot Cleansing Oil. It has great slip and is not greasy for my skin – there’s no residue. The Intense Night Oil – which contains rosehip and retinoid – is great now I’m 41. I use it a couple of times a week, alternating with the Neroli and Myrrh Facial Oil. This keeps my combination skin glowing and balanced. The Natural Lip Oil is a new handbag favourite.
What skincare golden rules do you hope your two beautiful young daughters will follow?
Respect your skin. Like everything in life the more you love, nourish and respect something the better results you will get. Never crash into bed with your make up on. Double cleanse. Drink lots of water. Listen to your body and skin…..it will let you know what’s up.
Which skincare or beauty item would you never scrimp on?
Everything! I’m very lucky to be a beauty journalist but even as a poor student I would rather have great skincare than clothes. I think great cleansing is everything, I would invest in that and in moisturiser.
Now for some quickfire questions:
Best nail varnish ever?
Chanel. The pigments pop on my skin and the colours are so rich and interesting. One all time favourite is a green-laced gold called Peridot. Rouge Noir is the first nail colour I lost my mind over. It was 1994. I travelled to at least 4 counters to try and buy it. It was sold out everywhere and when I scored a bottle my heart did back flips. I’m a beauty girl through and through.
Lipstick Queen, Frog Prince Lipstick for a day time nude. It’s balmy and natural and changes with the ph in your lips. For a stronger, more lipsticked look, I like Nars Fast Ride and Tanganayka. They are super sheer and look great on darker skin tones.
What makes you laugh?
Slap stick……I’m not proud to admit it but I howl if someone is trying to be cool and trips.
Anywhere where my family are. We had an amazing holiday in Antigua, at Blue Waters Resort, www.bluewaters.net. It’s literally paradise with the warmest staff. It’s like staying with family but Downton Abbey style!
Best box set?
Game of Thrones, Vikings, Ray Donavon, The Handmaiden’s Tale. I like it dark and dangerous.
My Chanel flats. The best buy ever. They are the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever bought. Eight years on, they are as fresh as a daisy, and the cost per wear is cheaper than the high street.
Lemon and garlic roast chicken and all the trimmings.
Rupaul, Pat McGrath, Ruby Hammer, Keanu Reeves.
Let’s do this…….
Your friends would describe you as…?
Loyal, chatty, loyal. Call me at 3am – I’m ready!
Thank you Ateh. I’m sure #Votarists will have loved all your insights, and anyone who buys some Chanel flats will have you to blame.
We’re so delighted you’re a Votary fan, and applaud you as a brilliant ambassador for the beauty industry.
Love, Arabella x