"I had a skincare routine from about 10 years old, which was quite unnecessary, but I was just copying my mum," laughs Maya Jama. It's clear that the TV and radio presenter has always had a soft spot for skincare, but she has no qualms about its role in her life: "I've always been a bit of a party girl, and I've never really eaten that well, so in my mind, I make up for all of my sins with skincare."
It's this refreshingly honest attitude that sets Jama's skincare brand, MIJ Masks, apart from other celebrity beauty lines and the overarching trend towards skincare therapy that we've seen this year. That's not to say that MIJ Masks can't be used therapeutically—Jama swears by them on mornings when she hasn't had much sleep or is feeling a bit rough. At its heart, this is skincare that feels fun.
Photo:Courtesy of MIJ Masks
As for creating the products themselves, I'm interested to know where Jama gets her inspiration. "The team is mostly women, and I think that we all have the same kind of struggles with tiredness and eyes in general," Jama explains. "If you've had a long day or late night, you're a bit run down or you just want to have a bit of a pamper, then the masks are perfect."
There's no denying that Jama's skin is seriously good. Her Instagram really doesn't lie. So as far as the effectiveness of her own product, the proof is in the pudding. But I'm interested to hear about what other skincare products Jama swears by and to get the inside scoop on what really goes into creating a skincare brand.
Ahead, keep scrolling as I chat all things skincare and beauty with Maya Jama herself.
What does your daily skincare routine look like?
In the morning, I try and use only a couple of products. I feel like when I use toners and everything else it doesn't really agree with me, so I'm more of a cleanser, cream, face mask kind of girl. So I use the Medik8 foaming cleanser as my daily wash at the moment, and then, most days, I'll do MIJ eye masks while I'm having my coffee. Then because it's so bloody hot in London at the moment, I'm using an SPF. I know that I need to use it every day, but I'm new to the SPF life. I had a struggle with them for years because sun cream would always just make me look really white, but now, I know they're getting better.
Is there one piece of skincare advice that's made the biggest difference to your skin?
A lot of it is the stuff that you put in yourself, I think. Of course, you have to do your skincare, but I realised that when I cut down a lot on sugar, my skin got way less spotty. I used to be eating ice cream pretty much every day and then I stopped doing that, and I stopped getting forehead spots! And just not touching your face as much… making sure your phone screen is clean and your pillowcases and stuff. I didn't even realise that was a thing, but I take more notice of what I'm putting up to my face now.
So let's talk about MIJ. Was it always your intention to have a skincare brand that focused on masks?
Yeah! I always used to wear sheet masks on planes and in cabs and walking places, and I was just constantly recommending products to people, and I realised I was promoting loads of other people's brands. So after looking at some of the ingredients from the super-expensive ones that I like and doing some digging, I realised that the ingredients themselves aren't so expensive to make. You're paying for the branding and all this other stuff that the expensive brands sell you. So I wanted the super-high-quality ingredients—exactly the same as the expensive ones if not better—but just not for £200 a pop.
And what's going on at MIJ this year?
We're releasing new eye masks right now, as the first ones did so, so well. I have quite a lot of dark circles more than I have bags, so I feel like this new launch is more for people who like me who get darker eyes when they're tired. There's vitamin C this time, so it's more of a brightening under-eye mask rather than a de-puffing one.
Do you often take inspiration from your own skincare concerns when coming up with ideas for new products?
I think we just all want refreshed eyes, don't we? Every time I think, "Would I buy this, and do I need this?" If so, then let's have a go! I make sure they look pretty as well because I personally like to use an eye mask as a last-minute cover-up if you're going somewhere super early like the airport, or if going to the corner shop and you want to look a bit cute, then they're a great accessory.
How has anything about your skincare routine changed over the last year since we've been spending more time inside?
Everything! I just don't do anything when I'm on my own inside. Because I work so bloody much and I'm covered in makeup most days, when I'm off work, I just want to lie there. Face mask on, pyjamas on, hair up in a bun and just do nothing basically. I've had more of those days this year, but actually, I worked pretty much the whole of the pandemic, so it's not been the same experience as I know a lot of people have had. I feel like I actually need a break now. I'm knackered [laughs]. But I'm not complaining.
I know we're talking about skincare, but I have to ask you about your makeup, too. What products do you always grab before you leave the house?
I'm quite basic with my own makeup when I do it on my face. If I've got my team, then they can do wonders, but when it's just me, I'm just concealer, bronzer and eyebrow pencil pretty much most of the time. I double up with two MAC concealers to blend—NC42 and NC45—and I also really like the Nars Creamy Concealer (£25) to brighten if I'm doing more of a glam look. But other than that, the no-makeup makeup look is really my vibe when I'm on my own.
If you had the help of your team, are there any makeup trends that you'd like to try right now?
Just before the pandemic, I was saying that when we do red carpet stuff I want to do some really colourful, glam looks. I tend to go quite safe with my looks most of the time, and while we've been locked down, I've really wanted to do all of the bright colours and the bold lips, so hopefully, in the near future, I'll try it. I love the colour-pop eyes and even coloured liners.
Finally, is there a beauty philosophy that you live by?
You're only as beautiful as you feel inside. And if all else fails, fling a face mask on [laughs].
Photo:Courtesy of MIJ Masks