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words: hannah dunn , photography: india ashmore

Singer-songwriter Mahalia knows beauty. From fronting campaigns to stepping on stage, she’s more than familiar with getting into glam.

Leicester born and bred, the musician signed her first record deal at just 13. Her breakthrough moment came in 2017 and she's been making waves ever since. To date, she has a heap of Grammy and Brit nominations to her name, alongside MOBO awards for best female act and best R&B/soul act – the latter she’s bagged twice.

She’s worked with the likes of Burna Boy, on the 2019 hit ‘Simmer’, and Stormzy and Raye on her most recent album, IRL. She’s opened for Ed Sheeran and Adele, performed at the Commonwealth Games and her current tour is garnering acclaim with each show. 

To celebrate the launch of her exclusive FLANNELS Beauty Edit and acoustic set at FLANNELS X, she took to the glam chair to chat beauty tips, funny mishaps and curating her own look – which you can shop online now.

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What’s your earliest beauty memory?

My earliest beauty memory was probably playing with my mum’s makeup. My mum had this really tiny little purse, like a coin purse, but it had the drawstrings? She didn’t ever have much makeup on her… She never had anything to do with skin, like foundation or concealer. But she had a black pomade liner, a dark red lipstick and a deep purply, red-y blush. And I do remember playing with that stuff when I was a kid. I don’t think I fully knew what it was but my mum was always very minimal with her beauty products, and I think I’m quite similar without even realising that I’ve done that. I do remember the first time I wore lipstick. And it was huge. That was for my school disco in year six. And that was a really, really big moment. And I remember being really excited to be wearing it because I was not allowed to wear makeup.

What’s your signature makeup look?

My go-to, signature makeup look is super super natural, super rosy, and just, kind of, glowy… I love to look really moisturised… I’m a multi-use girl – so, I love a product that I can put on my eyelids, my cheeks, and my lips; and kind of have that do its thing.

Something about makeup, and just feeling done, really allows me to step into any room, and feel super, super confident.

What’s your best beauty tip?

I would say that my best makeup tip, for me, is really all about under [the] eyes and about how to remove creasing. I never knew about that. I did a lot of my learning from YouTube tutorials in school. I remember very specifically the night that I first contoured my face. And I remember sitting at my dressing table, really focussing on these shapes and triangles and lines, and getting it all wrong. I could never figure out why my under eye was creasing. And it’s because I was never removing those creases; I was never taking the time to really make sure that that base was set before powdering.

So, how do we actually do that?

I take a damp beauty blender so that it's nice and fat, and just fluffy, and marshmallowy. First, I apply my concealer, and then I blend it in, and then I do everything else – let that sit for a bit, and then I go back with my beauty blender, and I really take time to press it in. And then I immediately go, with the same blender, and I take a bit of powder, and I set underneath... I think my eyes need powder to be pressed in gently and not so much of it, you know? The second I use too much; I start getting loads of little lines.

What’s been your biggest beauty mishap?

 I think my biggest was super recently at a show. I can’t put on false eyelashes and it’s the reason why for so many years I wore eyelash extensions… I stopped getting extensions to let my lashes have a break and I started playing with falsies again… And to be honest, there was a moment where I was getting good… but it’s too unpredictable - my ability to put them on is unpredictable. The other day I had a show and I put them on, it looked lovely, but it felt like they weren’t all the way on. Anyway, I’m onstage – and luckily, I got to the encore – but as I’m coming off stage, I’m looking at my tour manager, and my tour manager bursts out laughing, and I’m like: “What the hell are you laughing at?” And he’s like: “Just check.” We have a mirror on [the] side stage just so that I can quickly make sure I’m fine before I run back on. And both of my lashes are just hanging down. I think in the excitement of the night, I just hadn’t realised because when I got backstage, I was like, “Oh my god, I can see that, and feel that.”

 What’s your desert island beauty product?

 It’s probably blush. Oh my god, it just makes me so happy. When I was in high school, there was that moment when it was just contour, contour, contour. And nobody used blush, and I still did. So, when it came back, I said: “Girls. I’ve been here. This is my era.”

 What’s your favourite beauty product to play with?

 I think my favourite beauty product to play with now is eyeshadow palettes. Eyeshadow, I think, is super intimidating when it comes to blending and colour theory and all that stuff. I think I’ve realised I’m not very good at blending, which is fine, but I do enjoy playing with it and I enjoy creating shapes… I like to think about my face as a canvas, and it's less about placing things perfectly, and more about just having fun with it.

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Sum up your FLANNELS Beauty Edit in three words.

If I had to sum up my FLANNELS Beauty edit in three words I would say, “modern.” I would say, “sexy” – which is new for me. And I would say “ethereal’, because I think a lot of what we’ve picked really, really reflects that for me. 

How did you go about curating your FLANNELS Beauty Edit?

For me, it’s always about ease, and it’s always about having products that I can use for anything... I feel like – especially at the minute - my day-to-day life is completely different from one day to the next. I might need to do a show, and then from the show I might need to go and do some promo, so I need to be able to tailor my look accordingly. For me, all these products perfectly allow me to do that. And there’s some playfulness in there, which I feel like I’m trying to do more of, and I wanted to include that because I think that’s also a huge part of who I am and, really, who I’m becoming.

Something about makeup, and just feeling done, really allows me to step into any room, and feel super, super confident.

Let’s delve into some of the products. Why did you pick Pat McGrath Labs Mothership IX Palette?

The Pat McGrath Labs Mothership IX Palette is a favourite of mine. I need to be clearer and say that Pat McGrath is just a favourite of mine. I really, really have always loved any Pat McGrath products that I’ve received, or that I’ve gone out and bought. Her palettes are always exceptional. I’ve started to realise that I really enjoy this sci-fi fantasy world, and I enjoy shine, and I enjoy highlight… And I just think this palette, for me, colour-wise is my perfect… if I could take a bunch of colours, and put them all together, and have them as my own customised palette, it would be this one.

And what do you love about Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter? 

I’ve had the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter in my makeup bag for about a year now. I was totally swayed by online, to be honest; I was seeing a lot of creators using it, a lot of my friends using it. And I wouldn’t say that I like to stick to what I know, because I do think I like to be fun at times, but I definitely don’t change [my] foundation much. There’s something about the foundation that I personally love because it's super light, but you get this shine that I haven’t really seen in other foundations. It’s almost like a shimmer. I think it’s nice to be able to build. I get super scared when I put something on, and it is just immediately there. I like to go little by little, and it’s the perfect foundation for that.

Last, but not least, the MAC Matte Lip in Honey Love?

The MAC Matte Lipstick in Honey Love is a fave. I only wear MAC lipstick, I always have. Again, from my mum. My mum had one, Ruby Woo, when I was a kid, and then I had Ruby Woo and that was my first ever [lipstick]. I’ve just always been obsessed with all of MAC’s lipstick collections. I’ve been playing with a darker line, which I find hard because I’m not very playful on my lips, but it is nice just to have a slightly lighter colour. So, I am very excited about this one.

What’s the best thing about being in glam?

The best bit about getting to be in glam is stepping into another version of yourself. I really feel like— not to sound too cliche or too deep - because of what I do as an artist, I think you have to learn how to wear different hats in different rooms. It’s not the most simple business to exist in. I think trying to be a creative, and then also be able to be on, and be in people’s faces, and be having conversations with people that you admire is a very strange thing to do, especially as an introvert. And something about makeup, and just feeling done, really allows me to step into any room, and feel super, super confident.

What does beauty mean to you?

That is a big question… beauty, to me, means expression. And expression in so many forms. I think you can tap into something that maybe you wouldn’t day-to-day. I think it’s a way to speak to something in yourself that you don’t usually get to do. There’s this thing that I do a lot, which is all about feeling your inner child. And I think maybe, with some of the stuff I’ve been talking about, about having more fun with beauty products, and just playing. I don’t think we do that enough when we get older, and I think life is so serious, and it’s really nice to have something in my world where I can be young, and silly, and try colours and just have a good time. I think it means a few things, but that’s what it means to me, right now.




‘Tis the season for all-out beauty. As created by pro-makeup artist Grace Sinnott.




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