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As Rimmel London unveils its new Kind & Free make-up collection, Stylist speaks to global brand activist Adwoa Aboah about the role beauty plays in her definition of self-care.
Whether its bright blue eyeshadow or shimmering body stickers, model and Gurls Talk founder Adwoa Aboah is no stranger to beauty experimentalism. And in her role as Rimmel London’s global brand activist, she’s keen to encourage more of us to adopt her free approach to beauty. Below, she shares everything from her vision of beauty activism to the one ritual she does everyday, without fail.
Interview by Holly Bullock
As global brand activist for Rimmel London, what does beauty activism mean to you?
It’s a reframing of beauty in itself. I look at beauty activism in an in-depth way that includes different perspectives and stories and is intersectional and inclusive. To me it means challenging stereotypes and ways of doing things that feel very backwards and an industry that’s stuck in its ways. It means work that is not necessarily always selling a product; that will always be important to brands but I think we can do that in such a different way while sending out a great message. It’s about making sure that you’re listening and learning from the people that are part of your community and your long-standing, loyal customers. What do they want to see? What do they want to hear about? What’s not working for them? Do they see themselves in your brand? I want to be part of that.
What’s the one thing you wish you could change about the world of beauty?
I think sometimes the beauty world is too attached to hype words or trendy ways of saying things that sometimes feel very untrue or disingenuous. Take body positivity, for instance. I need to know what that means and what it means to all different types of people. You can’t just throw that word at me. Are you telling me it’s that easy to suddenly wake up and be body positive? Or is it something that has a non-linear trajectory that goes up and down? I think honesty is something that I would like to see more attached to beauty. I just want people to see themselves represented in beauty and we can do that in so many ways. I want that to be something that’s here forever and stays forever.
What’s one thing you love about beauty?
I love that there’s so much self expression attached to it. I love that you can learn so much about people from the way they present themselves, from the clothes they wear to their make-up. Like if they walk out of the house with bright blue eyeshadow on. It’s all got personality attached to it. It has no boundaries and people take what they want from it, leave what they want from it and do it in their own way. I 100% get inspired by the ways other people use beauty. Not necessarily because I want to do the same, but I’m always inspired by it.
What role does beauty play in your own life?
Beauty plays a much more healthy role for me now. My self-care is definitely attached to beauty. Looking after myself is a massive testament to the work that I’ve done on myself, the way I respect my body, my mind and my wellbeing. That wasn’t necessarily always the case. But now, beauty is definitely something I use as self-expression. Not necessarily on a daily basis but I get excited to show people different sides of myself that I haven’t necessarily tapped into yet.
What’s the one beauty ritual you do everyday without fail?
Do you think beauty rituals play a part in your mental health?
Yes. I love the routine, the process, however long it might be sometimes. My definition of self care definitely taps into the process of getting ready in the morning and getting ready for bed. It’s my way of getting ready for the day or winding down at night. It doesn’t have to be the most perfect, proper way, but I do love the routine and process of finding something that really works for me and makes me feel comfortable in my own skin.
You’ve been open about your experiences with acne. How has that affected your relationship with beauty?
I was able to find a community of people that spoke about that, in a way that I could really learn. I’d been to loads of facialists and doctors who would tell me the same thing, but they didn’t have any personal experiences or empathy. I’ve now found people that have tried so much and persevered through so many treatments. I think there’s so much bravery in people who have struggled with their skin for so long.
There are still so many horrible ideas attached to acne, like you don’t wash, don’t look after yourself, don’t eat properly, don’t change your pillowcase often enough. Finding a community working against that was great for me. It’s taught me that you don’t have to necessarily love [your acne], it’s not necessarily about embracing it but you don’t need to hate yourself if you have it. It’s about acceptance.
What has worked for me is looking at my sleep, my digestion, not travelling as much, avoiding stress. If I am burning out, my skin goes out of control but I know my body very well now.
You’re known for being experimental with your make-up looks. Is that important to you?
I love it. I love and appreciate it in other people but I’m not that interested in doing something traditional. I like doing things that aren’t necessarily deemed beautiful or pretty. It’s interesting, but not necessarily what someone would view as attractive. That’s what I’m interested in. Sometimes I look back and think ‘Why did I try that?’ but that’s fine too. It’s trial and error. I love my regrets. I appreciate them. They tell a really great story.
Shop Rimmel London Kind & Free
The barely-there foundation
Super lightweight, this moisturiser tints the skin ever so slightly, creating a more uniform, glowing canvas.
The lash-nourishing mascara
Shop Rimmel London Kind & Free™ Mascara at Boots, £9.99
The glow-inducing concealer
While this isn’t the concealer for you if you prefer heavy duty coverage, it does add a fresh, glowing sheen that lets the natural nuances of the skin shine through.
The soft-focus face powder
This finely-milled powder makes light work of dialling down unwanted shine, without caking or creasing.
The nearly-natural nail polish
Formulating a natural nail polish is nigh-on impossible if you want durability, shine and colour payoff. This formula is the perfect compromise, containing 77% natural ingredients like sugar cane, cassava, corn and cotton.
Images: Adwoa Aboah for Rimmel London Kind & Free™