TV cook Nadiya Hussain has spoken passionately about her years of feeling excluded from beauty, and seeing her skin tone altered in photos. The Bake Off star has just embarked on her first-ever beauty ambassador role, for IT Cosmetics, but vividly recalls a time when she felt she “didn’t fit” into the beauty world at all.
“I didn’t get into makeup until my late twenties because I couldn’t ever find the right shade of foundation,” says Nadiya, 37. “That might seem really small for lots of people but for those of us who cannot find a foundation colour, you feel really excluded. You feel like there's an entire beauty industry that isn't thinking about you, and that you almost don’t exist.”
After years of being sold unsuitable makeup that left her skin looking “almost grey”, she says she nearly cried when she finally found a foundation the right colour for her skin. “I’d spent my whole life feeling like I didn’t fit. So it was a big moment to be able to go to a shop, just swipe a foundation on and say, ‘YES! That’s what it’s supposed to feel like.’”
Back in 2015, Nadiya won the hearts of the nation as we watched her grow in confidence, week by week, to take the Great British Bake Off Crown. Yet despite being elevated to national treasure status, she’s still had occasions when she’s been left feeling like an outsider.
“Early on, I’ve had magazine shoots and felt my skin was lighter [afterwards],” she says. “I’ve also had instances where I’ve sat in a makeup artist’s chair and they’ve visibly made my skin lighter. Early on, I remember hearing a lot of tutting, like ‘oh I can’t get the right shade’ and then my skin being lighter in the pictures. If somebody did that to me now, I would say, ‘Absolutely no way. That’s not OK.’ But back then I was scared to rock the boat. It would never happen with my makeup artist, who really knows my skin.”
Nadiya is now proud to work with IT Cosmetics and shout about the confidence-boosting powers of makeup for women of all skin tones. “You’re beautiful without [makeup], you’re beautiful with it. Makeup is a confidence booster, not a mask,” she says.
Along with the aptly-named Confidence In A Cream (“ it’s so nourishing and hydrating”) £44 here, she swears by the brand’s multi-purpose Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream With SPF 50, £33 here. “As a brown woman, finding an SPF that doesn’t make me look silver is something I still struggle with. So a product that does that for me and also gives me a bit of coverage has got to be a winner.”
If her own makeup artist isn’t on hand, Nadiya’s got somebody else she can trust to give her a flawless look – her 12 year old daughter Maryam. “She loves makeup tutorials, she's always like, ‘Mum have you seen this new look?’ and she tries out on me. She knows every technique. She can do an evening glam look, she can do a dewy natural look. I’ll let her do my makeup when I’m going out. She can do a winged eyeliner like you wouldn’t believe!”
While harmless YouTube tutorials get the thumbs up, Nadiya says she filters her daughter’s social media carefully, and talks to her about the things she can’t screen out. “We are living in the Kardashian era and it scares me as I don’t want my daughter to grow up with this unrealistic idea of beauty. I think it’s really important to talk to her about what is real and what isn’t.”
Amen to that, Nadiya.
Nadiya is a brand ambassador for confidence for IT Cosmetics’ ‘Beautiful Without IT, Beautiful With IT’ campaign, and wears IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF50 in Rich
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