Yara Shahidi: The voice of Gen Z and global ambassador for Bobbi Brown talks beauty and the power of saying ‘no’
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Considering Yara Shahidi only just celebrated her 20th birthday, her clout on a global scale is nothing short of impressive.
Yes the US actress found fame as the star of hit series Black-ish and its spinoff, Grown-ish, and yes, she has an uber engaged Instagram following (4.8 million at the last count), her influence goes way beyond the screen and the grid.
Her work as a politically engaged activist – be it launching a creative platform to encourage the youth to vote or promoting a girls education programme with Michelle Obama (the ex FLOTUS wrote Yara’s recommendation letter to Harvard) – has many calling her the voice of Gen-Z and Oprah Winfrey tipping her as a future president.
Her influence, however, is not limited to politics. Yara is also passionate about other issues – from feminism to inclusivity – hence the news that she has been appointed global ambassador for Bobbi Brown, a beauty brand known for championing female empowerment, is unsurprising. Speaking to Glamour, Yara explained why the decision to collaborate with the brand was easy and authentic, ‘They’ve always believed in using their platform as a platform of empowerment. And, beyond that they have held themselves accountable to having a full range of shades and colours – this speaks exactly to my own values’. Read further to hear more on Yara talk about the importance of being ‘’intentional’, her skincare tips and tricks, how not to do the ultimate eyeliner flick and why there is power in a woman saying NO.
You have the most incredible skin, what are your skincare secrets?
I’ve learnt that the two best things you can do for your face are to wash your face, and stop touching your face. I’m still working on the latter one! When it comes to my daily beauty ethos, I do like to take my time – but I haven’t found 12 steps yet!
I once posted an Instagram post about my routine and I found it so funny because when we were filming, I realised how much of my skincare routine is just about making sure I moisturise. I probably have around 5 steps of moisture from eye creams to overall moisture and hydrating masks. I love the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base; my family also live by it – you’ll see all the empty containers all around our house, we go through it so quickly. I love it because it is thick without feeling like it is clogging your pores. With all the travel I do, I am so hydration focused that I use the wonderful Bobbi Brown Skin Nourish Mask on the plane – the flight attendants probably wonder what on earth I am doing – and sometimes I even wear it under makeup. I also love to use a facial steamer; I use the portable one from Dr Dennis Gross. It really helps to get my pores clean.
What is your trick to getting the ultimate eyeliner trick?
Well, I actually haven’t mastered the eyeliner flick, but Emily Cheng, my makeup artist, has (laughs). It’s funny – you should see me in my free time trying to mimic it. I was trying to get close to my inline and I made my whole eyeball black. It’s so difficult to do. Also I’ve grown up watching all those ‘How To…’ You Tube videos, trying absolutely everything and I now realise that everything is actually so face dependent and very individual.
Emily and I always work together and even on deciding on the colours of the lip gloss, we looked at past red carpet looks and our favourite colours to use. Just finding/choosing colours took a few months. It was not simply to ensure it was authentic to what people see as ‘me’ but the other thing that was crucial to both of us (and of course Bobbi Brown) was that the colours were complementary to all skin tones. So even our pink that we developed has more of a brown undertone… Those decisions were very intentional. We had a lot of fun testing.
What’s the best piece of beauty advice you’ve been given?
My mum and my nana have always prioritised beauty as not really being about ‘What products will make me feel pretty’ but as a form of self care. And so the first beauty ‘routine’ I learnt before even learning how to put on makeup was about what it means to take care of myself. Every year I feel myself coming into my own whether it’s the moment that I stopped pruning between my eyebrows and just embracing my unibrow or just being able to look at the evolution within myself as to where I started and where I am now.
You once said that ‘to be a woman is to be an abolitionist and say no’, how does one put that into practise and how are you saying no?
On an esoteric level, saying no is about the decisions about, what we choose to participate in, who we choose to work with , saying no to systems of hierarchy, patriarchy and oppression by making intentional decisions to be in relationships with companies and people who are making decisions to make industries more inclusive. It is that thing where action is a form of ‘no’. It has been demonstrated to me by my parents to embrace the power of no. I think being in an industry where you are being made to feel unstable or that you don’t belong or that your presence there is reliant on you getting along with other people or people liking you… none of that should stop you from saying no or feeling you have to compromise just to continue to function.
How do you balance your sense of self in an industry that is so image-centric?
It really is about being intentional. For instance, when I am shooting or filming Grown-ish, I start the day by spending two hours looking at myself in the mirror. So I use the time I’m spending in front of the mirror learning a new ‘skill’. I think ‘oh well, if I’m going to be here I may as well learn something’. So recently I’ve been learning to raise my eyebrows (laughs) much to some people’s dismay! Just things like that make the experience feel fun and makes me feel like I am preserving my sense of self. I love to experiment with makeup and stuff but it has to feel joy filled rather than a ‘covering up process’. Of course I can’t say that when I see a bump or a stress breakout that it doesn’t bother me but I think having a team re-affirm the importance of health rather than what’s happening at surfacing is so helpful.