Singer Mahalia Just Shared Her Favourite Beauty Products With Me—They're So Good
Singer Mahalia Just Shared Her Favourite Beauty Products With Me—They're So Good

Singer Mahalia Just Shared Her Favourite Beauty Products With Me—They're So Good

Say hello to Unfiltered, a fresh, new beauty series where you’ll get an exclusive glimpse into the dressed-down beauty routines of our favourite celebrities. They’ll reveal their guilty-pleasure beauty practises, the five-minute-routine product lineup they can’t live without, the one good-skin tip they’ll be forever thankful for and so much more. To bring every conversation full circle, we ask each celebrity to send us a selection of self-shot, filter-free photos of their choosing to capture the essence of their Unfiltered beauty philosophy. 

Up next, we're talking to the incredible Mahalia, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. Ahead, she's answering all of our skincare questions and sharing her beauty journey with us. Enjoy!



How would you describe your relationship with beauty?

If I'm being honest, I haven’t always loved it. My beauty journey was quite strange because of where I grew up I think. I love where I grew up, in a tiny little town in Leicester called Syston, and it’s a huge part of who I am now. It's actually much different now—I went back recently, and it’s changed a lot—but when I was a kid, I went to school with a lot of white girls, and it took me a really long time to be able to look at my skin and my hair and see it as beautiful. I guess I never had a hard time, but it just took me a while to understand it. I would be looking at other girls and working out what the boys liked, and I was always trying to copy that.

I remember being about 13 and all my girlfriends started wearing that bloody [Maybelline] Dream Matte Mousse foundation, and I could never find it in my shade. When I was at home, my mum and dad would always tell me I was beautiful, but I think all kids feel like parents are supposed to say that, and when I was at school, I didn’t necessarily feel that. So I think my real, fun beauty journey started when I got to 17 or 18—when I started going out and I started getting really good at doing my makeup, which I think was a massive help with my confidence. But it definitely still feels like a journey. It’s interesting that some days I might feel really beautiful when I have my hair done and my makeup on, and then some days I feel most beautiful how I am now—just relaxed with nothing on. It’s a nice place to be in.

Do you think there have been genuine developments in the beauty industry since your teenage years to be more inclusive?

Absolutely. I think it’s definitely changed. I think the fact that as I got older, I was seeing so many more Black models in skincare campaigns and makeup campaigns really helped. It was just about being able to see how Black women did their makeup because I was only ever used to seeing my friends do theirs, so I would copy what they would do, but it wasn’t necessarily right for my complexion. I think just seeing how beauty brands’ shade ranges have expanded and actually being able to find my shade is an improvement. When the Fenty Beauty campaign came out and we saw that huge range of shades, I think that was actually a massive change, and I really felt that. I definitely saw a lot of other beauty brands follow suit. I know that it was happening already, but I really think that the Rihanna and Fenty campaign started a large pathway for that.

If you had to leave the house in five minutes, what products would you use?

God, five minutes?! [Laughing] Okay, I’d definitely have an eyebrow brush, which I suppose is a tool, but I’d brush my eyebrows. I think if I only had five minutes, I probably wouldn’t do much to my skin. I’d moisturise. I’d have a lip balm. My fave lip balm ever is from Estée Lauder, and it’s called Pure Color Envy (£26). It’s super plain but just adds a little pop of colour, which I love. Glossier does this little product called Cloud Paint (£15), and it comes in loads of different colours, so if I haven’t got time to do much with my base, then I'd bring that out with me and put a little bit on the back of my hand and then put it on my cheeks, my eyelids and my lips. There’s one called Dawn, which is an orangey-red which I really like, as it’s quite bright. I think that’s my favourite.

Let’s talk about skincare. Do you have a routine, and are you religious with the products that you use?

I’m definitely not religious. I quite like to change it up. To be fair, I’ve got quite good skin, which definitely means that I can switch between products and I can try new stuff out without being scared that I’m going to get a break out, which is lucky. God, touch wood, anyway [laughing].

But to be honest, my go-to at the minute is actually the Fenty Skin range. I’ve been using it for a little while. I bought the stuff on a whim just to try it and have been loving it. And I use all the bits. There's a cleanser (£20), which is lovely and I use morning and night, and there’s a toner called Fat Water (£25), which is really nice. I don’t use a Fenty moisturiser for my daytime routine, but I do use its night moisturiser (£36), which is beautiful. It’s really moisturising. I definitely enjoy when my skin feels and looks moisturised. Weleda Skin Food (£13) is another one of my favourites. I use the rich one because I really like that kind of oily, moisturised look. Oh, I love a facial spray, too! A spritz, which I kind of do morning and night but also throughout the day if I’m feeling a bit dry. The one I use is from Aēsop. I found it in the shop, and it just smelt really good!



And are there any treatment steps that you like to do, like face masks or exfoliators?

Oh, I love exfoliating. I just got this new one from Drunk Elephant—it was just a little trial one that you mix in with the face wash, and it’s really lovely. Face masks I really, really love too. I have one from Ren—the Glycol Lactic Radiance treatment (£36)—and that’s kind of my guilty pleasure because it kind of hurts when I put it on [laughing]. It has a bit of a burn to it, and my face always goes really red, but in the morning, I feel really glowy.

What’s the best piece of skincare advice that you’ve ever received?

I think SPF was the first one that I didn’t really know about. I got a moisturiser from Kiehl’s—its Ultra Facial moisturiser (£48)—and it’s got SPF in, and I really like that.

When I was a kid, whenever my mum would see me taking off my eye makeup and my mascara, she would always be on me about not dragging my eyes or dragging my skin too much, and that advice has really stuck with me too. I’m really wary of pulling my skin in ways that I shouldn’t. Oh, and hot water and cold water! Opening pores and closing pores. I don’t totally know the benefits of all of it [laughing] but I love the feeling of splashing with cold water after I’ve washed my face.

A quick scroll of your Instagram reveals plenty of vibrant makeup looks. It looks like you have a lot of fun with makeup and enjoy wearing it, but what products are always in your makeup bag?

I would have to go back again to the Glossier Cloud Paint because they have such a wide colour range. Dawn is my favourite, but they have so many, which is nice. I like to do the trio of the cheeks, lips and lids, so it’s quite nice because it means that I can create a slightly different colour palette on my face every day. I’ve also been playing a lot with eye shadows at the moment and just seeing what colours I like to see on my face. I have a couple of the Morphe palettes, which are really gorgeous, and the pigment is really beautiful.

I feel like your eyeliner always looks really good. Is there one that you swear by?

I tend to use more of a crayon eyeliner, and then I go over it with a liquid liner. My liquid liner, I want to say, is Urban Decay, and my crayon liner is gorgeous—it’s Pat McGrath (£23), and it’s really beautiful. But I also have this gorgeous Bobbi Brown black gel pot (£22). Because I slightly struggle with liquid liner, I tend to let my makeup artist use liquid, and I’ll stick to crayons.

And how about hair—are there certain products that you swear by in your routine? How has your journey been with finding products that work for you?

Similar to makeup and skin, hair was a massive grey area for me growing up. I used to straighten my hair a lot when I was younger—I guess just to fit in and to have hair that looked like everybody else’s. I remember the first day that I wore my afro out, and I don’t know if I loved the attention that it got, which is really funny because now I’m older I love when I have my afro out. Everybody complements it and says how amazing it looks, but I think when you’re a kid, you just want to hide in the background or be in the fold as much as possible. 

When I was a kid, you couldn’t really buy products for Black hair on the high street, so I always remember going to specific Black hair shops with my mum, which were like a 20-minute drive from the house. Again, it’s much different now. I can go into Boots, and I can pick up some of my favourite products. They stock all of the Shea Moisture collection, which is really good. I love the argan oil shampoos and conditioners. Black hair is definitely a huge journey, I think because all of our hair is different. For me, because I’m mixed—my mum is Jamaican and my dad is British-Irish—I think having that middle texture meant that I couldn’t use my mum’s products, and I couldn’t use my dad’s products, so I was always trying to find things that would help.

KeraCare is one of my favourites ever. I found it through my hairstylist, and it has this product called Glossifier (£6), which is quite gorgeous. It’s bright pink, and it has a kind of greasy feel to it. I put that on my roots to make sure that my hair is hydrated at all times. I just love when my hair feels moisturised. I love coconut oil, too, which I get from anywhere. Mine’s from Aldi. Sometimes at night if my face is feeling a little bit dry, I’ll pop that on my hair and on my skin. I’ve definitely turned towards more natural products as I’ve gotten older, but it’s definitely been a struggle to find out what’s good and what’s best.



So, on to music! How have the last 18 months been for you in terms of writing and creating new music? 

God, first of all, it’s been a really long 18 months. I think the first part of the pandemic, I was quite grateful to just be told to sit down and rest for a little bit. I’d been on the road for about two years, and I was making my debut album in the middle of it, so I definitely felt quite burnt out by the time I’d come back to London. So I felt like the first part of lockdown was a real gift, and then I think we were all a bit like what the fuck is going on? [Laughs.] It all just got a little bit messy. Then at the end of [last] summer, I started writing again, and I just felt so calm. I wasn’t travelling, and I was just in my house all the time, so I had all of this newfound open space in my brain that I hadn’t had for a long time, and it meant that I was able to think about what I wanted to write and think about the next part of my journey.

But I would say that it wasn’t until the start of this year that I really got into my writing. Being able to look ahead to this summer when we were hoping that there were going to be shows—and now we know that there were shows—it just sparked a new drive in me. And it’s been amazing. I’ve really enjoyed writing my stories down and talking about all of the things that I’ve been going through and releasing “Whenever You’re Ready” was definitely one of those moments for me. It was so nice to put it out in a time when I felt like people needed it and I needed it! I needed to put some music out and say hello again.

What has the experience of returning to live performance been like post-pandemic, and how have you found playing your music in front of an audience again?

First and foremost, it’s gorgeous! Being able to be in that space again, I’ve definitely realised how long that break [from it] was—so that feels amazing. It still feels really strange to see thousands of people all in a place together. I remember in the first lockdown just sitting on my windowsill and looking out the window and seeing no one, so seeing people in a field together is strange but also really beautiful. It’s really cool from the stage because you get to really see it and see everybody dancing and laughing and joking. I think one of the joys of playing festivals for me is watching people just be in that space and have a lot of fun. Another thing it’s been is a fucking workout [laughs]. I completely forgot what it feels like to run around the stage and be jumping and dancing, so I’m excited to get my stamina back. Yeah, it’s a wave of different emotions, but it’s really special. I think we’re all just really happy to be there.

What do you have in store for the rest of 2021?

I’m definitely going to put some more music out. I think the rest of this year feels quite focused. I’m just trying to wrap up my second album, if that’s what I can call it. I’ve basically spent most of this year writing music and getting all my thoughts on paper, so I think that an album is what I’m looking forward to, and the next three months are just real focused time to pull that all together and make it make sense, which I’m excited about! I think after the year and a half that we just had and not really having much purpose, I suppose is the right word, it’s nice to have time where I know what I’m doing and I know what I’m thinking about. This part of the process is always super fun.



Are there any other people whose beauty looks particularly inspire you, and where do you look for personal beauty and fashion inspiration?

One of my favourite makeup artists is Nikki Makeup. I love her. She’s someone that I would just love to sit in a chair with and let her do whatever she wanted. I think that her makeup looks are really inspiring, and I have a lot of her pictures as refs. With all inspo for stage, makeup, hair and styling, I definitely look to Pinterest. For styling, Rihanna has always been at the top of my list. I just think she’s great. I think she’s quite daring, and she is definitely somebody who never lets clothes wear her. Rhianna is a massive style inspiration to me, and so is SZA—I think she’s really cool. One minute she’ll be in a tiny little dress looking like an absolute sex goddess, and then the next minute she’ll be in a tracksuit and T-shirt looking preppy. I just love that versatility in styling. But on Pinterest, sometimes it will be people I don’t even know—models or influencers that are just posting fashion stuff, and I think that’s the really cool thing about Pinterest. Sometimes the people you’re looking at are unknown, but they’ve done something really special with their makeup or hair. I think it's kind of a whole world in itself.

Wellness and beauty are so intertwined. Do you have any wellness practices or supplements that help to give you a boost both mentally and physically?

I do this thing called stream of consciousness. I’ve done it already this morning, and it’s about three pages of writing. When I first heard about it, I found it quite confusing because I thought that writing was going to be more of a journal, but this approach actually clears space in your mind. I really love it—it helps me start my day, and it’s quite interesting reading it back too because it really gets your feelings onto paper.

Meditation was also a huge one for me in the first lockdown. I downloaded the Calm app, and I’ve not let it go since. Whenever I want to meditate in the day, I put it on, and then I have it on most nights. If I’m not with my boyfriend, who cannot stand any sound at night [laughing], then I’ll put on a sleep story or a sleep meditation, which I really love, and I think it has helped me to stay quite calm in this time.

Oh, and incense. Smells are a massive thing for me because I think smell and space and feng shui all kind of add in to how you feel, and I’ve really realised that. I definitely feel like I’m adulting now, which is nice [laughs].

Finally, what’s your Unfiltered beauty philosophy?

God, that’s hard! [Laughing.] I’m going to try and condense this, but I think maybe as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that—and I don’t want this to sound too cliché—but I’ve realised that the better I feel inside, the more it shines. And I kind of realise that the happier I am, the more that people will come up to me and say you look lovely. And I don’t know how to put that into a few words, but beauty definitely shines from within. That’s how I feel for sure.

Shop Mahalia's Unfiltered Beauty Edit

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