Whether in Britain or on Broadway, Leona Lewis is no stranger to the pressures of performing live in front of packed audiences night after night. Her latest role sees her joining the cast of hit musical Cats as Grizabella (the perfect part for the former X Factor winner), with her Broadway debut set for just a few weeks’ time. “It’s a completely different experience for me,” she told me, but one that she seems more than prepared for.
It’ll be exciting what the future brings for the Bleeding Love bestseller. A Tony Award perhaps? We’ll have to wait and see.
AM: What’s the best backstage makeup tip you’ve ever learned?
LL: There are so many, but a great little trick I learned recently is to put concealer underneath my brows when filling them in as it makes them look really clean. It also works with red lipstick too - I just put a tiny bit of concealer around my lips and it just looks much sharper.
AM: If we were to look inside your makeup bag, what would we find?
LL: I love a good bronzer, especially for during the day. If I don’t want to wear foundation, I’ll just put a lick of bronzer on so I still get a bit of coverage. I love KISS Blooming Lash , £5.99 - you’ll definitely find that in there - and my Beautyblender , £16, too, for if I wear foundation in the evening. Foundation-wise, Too Faced and Laura Mercier do really nice ones.
AM: When it comes to haircare - which products really deliver in your opinion?
LL: My hair is curly so I need products that give it a little bit of shine and a bit of moisture too as it’s coloured. I look for hydrating products that aren’t too heavy – Unite does a really good shampoo and conditioner and if I’m leaving my hair out and natural, I’ll sometimes water down a tiny bit of conditioner and leave it on my ends. Oribe does this amazing blowdry cream as well which is so good and smells amazing - the scent was created by Tom Ford. It’s quite pricey but definitely worth it.
AM: Your late night skincare saviours?
LL: I like to keep it very simple. I love oils and drench my skin with Josie Maran Argan Oil and leave it overnight. I also have a shea butter lotion that I use. My nan was always into oils and natural moisturising products like cocoa butter, so I’ve just followed her regime.
AM: What’s the best piece of beauty advice you’ve ever been given and from whom?
LL: It was from my makeup artist in London, Jane Bradley, to accentuate your features instead of covering them up.
The lighting in studios can be really harsh and very bright, so you almost don’t look like yourself - you have to use makeup to bring out your features to look more like yourself in a way! The other side of that though is then wearing so much makeup that you also don’t look like yourself. When I come off tour, I sometimes forget that I’m not on stage anymore and have to remind myself not to wear my makeup so heavily during the day.
AM: Who’s your beauty inspiration?
LL: I like Lupita [Nyong’o] - her makeup is always flawless. She’s very natural and whoever does her makeup is accentuating what she already has. She’s also got a great red carpet style too.
AM: You’re set to join the cast of ‘Cats’- what are you looking forward to most about it?
LL: I’ve never done Broadway before, so I’m really excited about that and being part of such an iconic show. It’s something different - a new challenge - taking on a character. It’s good to change things up and keep things new and fresh and it’ll definitely do that for me.
AM: Everyone has an embarrassing beauty memory they’d rather forget, what would you say is yours?
LL: There are so many! I was performing on a live show once and was getting my hair curled and the stylist burned my forehead. I had a huge burn mark so I had to have a side fringe cut in to cover it up. It was really painful - you know when it feels so hot that it almost feels frozen? I ended up keeping the fringe for a while though...
AM: What are your favourite ways to stay fit?
LL: I like doing classes mostly. I like changing it up and doing different types of exercises – Power Yoga sometimes, then Barry’s Bootcamp and also boxing at KOBOX.
AM: How would you say the beauty industry has improved over the years to accommodate a wider range of skin tones? Do you think that it’s in a good place or do you think there’s more to be done?
LL: Finding products for my hair type when I was younger was really hard as there wasn’t a lot available. I remember using mousse, gel and so many other products that just didn’t work for me. I’m mixed-race, so my hair type isn’t European but not completely Afro either - somewhere in between - so it was really difficult to find what worked for me.
It was the same when I started wearing makeup; I found it hard to find a shade that suited my skin tone - Boots and Superdrug didn’t have anything really. But now things have changed; there’s a much broader choice. I do still wish though that there were more specific brands for brown and darker skin tones with a wider shade range. There were so many years where I looked like a grey person because I wasn’t wearing the right toned foundation, so that would be amazing.
To see my tried and tested edit of the best foundations around, download my new e-guide - 'The Ultimate Guide to Foundation for Darker Skin Tones' here .
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