Studio Spotlight: Producers Behind Our Favorite Songs
Music has the power to take you back to a particular place in time. I remember when Estelle hit the scene in 2008, mushroom cut on deck and smooth, soulful velvety voice peppered with a posh British accent. At the time, no one looked (or sounded) like her, which is why Estelle has been a beauty crush of mine for almost a decade.
Admittedly, in the first few minutes of our phone call Estelle shares that her iconic short haircut hasn’t been around for at least seven years. Instead, she’s channeling a more mature but still carefree vibe for “Love Like Ours,” her latest single shot in the easy, breezy Caribbean.
“The video was free, I wanted it to feel free,” she explained. “The whole point of the song was when you find love and you find out on your own terms and you live it. You live it in your terms and just feeling good and free in that moment and so, you know, I kind of wanted to keep the same vibe for it: free, natural, not really thinking too hard about any particular look — it’s beautiful.”
Turns out her vacation beauty mantra is pretty similar. The songstress often tries to “forget” her makeup when she’s unwinding — a sentiment I totally understand.
“I bring, like, the bare essentials for dinner or something, but other than that I definitely don’t. I just don’t do too much, I’m not a get dressed up for the gram take a million pictures while I’m on vacation girl. And it happens quite rarely so I get excited about that."
At 37, Estelle barely needs makeup, her cocoa complexion is nearly flawless — but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a routine. “I have a great facialist who helps me stay on top of everything. Her name is Shani Darden and she has this one thing I love — it’s her cult-favorite, Retinol Reform,” she reveals.
“The earlier you start using it, the better it is. It’s just a great, gradual resurfacer, so it keeps your skin smooth and tight. Other than that, I’m just obsessive about my routine at night. The things I put on my face, it’s a serum, it’s an eye cream, just because I feel like, you know, if you do it younger you won’t have to worry about it so much when you’re older.”
Speaking of aging, I wanted to know if living in California has made her more receptive to going under the knife. “I don’t need any, so I don’t do them just yet, but I mean if it ever came a point where I needed it, sure. I love all my features. I don’t need a nose job, I don’t want any of that stuff.”
Her advice to those feeling the pressure of Hollywood (or honestly even Instagram) is “do the best you can naturally before you [opt for surgery], but do whatever feels good for you, whether it's chemically or cosmetically, you know?”
One not-so secret beauty secret of Estelle’s is shea butter. “My mom is from Africa, so we were definitely onto all the shea butter, coconut oil and black soap since I was a child. The resurgence is kind of like, ‘What? That? I’ve been using that my whole childhood.’ My mom would have it sent over raw from Africa too.
“We got on it super early, black soap has been in our family. We use it obsessively. As kids we were into how to keep it simple and what to do for your [specific] skin type. I had eczema as well, so my mom was very obsessive about that with me. She would make sure that my skin was moisturized — and black soap is what helped when I was younger.”
Not surprisingly, Estelle is also pretty fashion savvy — she recently splurged on a pair of Brother Vellies Elevator OTK boots, which she plans on rocking on NYE.
When she’s not in the studio or volunteering with Meals on Wheels, she runs an e-commerce site, Elle Vie, with stylist Genelle Brooks. Described as a "lifestyle shopping destination," Estelle handpicks all the designers and products that appear on the site: think everything from beauty (like AJ Crimson) to shoes (Barry Smith) to streetwear (Sammy B) to home decor (LIT Brooklyn).
"I wanted to create something for the people who were just going out of their way to send me some beautiful items, you know, some really good, great items," she explains. "I kind of wanted to create a portal for young designers and influencers" who have a smaller inventory.
As for the album? It's coming soon — first quarter to be exact. She describes the sound as "the music of my youth," a blend of African beats, reggae, soul and dancehall.
"It’s kind of like a reintroduction, you know, like, 'Hey guys, it’s coming again,' you know. ["Love Like Ours"] cracked a million views, which is wonderful. I’ve been working, I take my time with my albums I’m definitely not the rusher. I’m definitely not the 'Oh, I got something to say this week' kind of girl. There’s at least two or three records that’s really touching, you know? I want to make people’s lives different, and that’s what takes me so long. I’m just not content with doing just less, per se."
Believe us, Estelle, if your other records are any hint of what's to come, you are 100 percent worth the wait!
(Photo: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)
For the past 10 years, Yusef has been dictating all of the beauty trends we emulate via his most famous client, none other than Rihanna. He started out his career as a performer, but he ended up behind the scenes. In Hairstory, he details his rise in the industry from aspiring singer to creative directing the hair for Fenty x Puma.