The songstress and new MIZANI ambassadress talks beauty, The Bodyguard and the cosmetic industry’s representation of women of colour

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Queen of British Soul, star of The Bodyguard and now the new face of MIZANI: there’s very little that Beverley Knight hasn’t achieved during her 15 years in the business.

Awarded an MBE for her services to music, her energy, musicality and of course THAT VOICE have seen her make the transition seamlessly from studio to centre stage. And all with wonderfully coiffed head of hair on her shoulders. We think she’s the perfect match for MIZANI.

We sat down with the songstress to talks all things beauty, from her backstage secrets to the contents of her makeup bag and finding ‘The One’.

If we were to take a look inside your makeup bag, what would we find?

You’d always find mascara. I do love a lip, but because my eyes are my most prominent feature, I always accentuate them with mascara. I think Lancôme’s Hypnose , £22.50 is brilliant.

You’ll also find a jumble of all kinds of stuff in there! You’ll always find a red lip though. I’ve gone through every beauty range, looking at their reds and then judging them depending on what they’re like! I’ve also always got a lip balm somewhere in there too - I like Kiehl’s Lip Balm , £9.50 in particular. I’m a bit of fan of the brand.

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Sounds like you’ve found ‘The One’ when it comes to your mascara. What’s the one beauty product out there that you’re still on the hunt for?

I’d like to find a really good blush one day. There are some with good consistencies, but I’m looking for one that works for me in terms of depth of colour. I often see things that look great on the palette but are just not deep enough and disappear on my face. Or you get the other problem where there’s so much colour that when you put it on, you look like a painted doll.

In terms of everything else though, to even have a choice now is wonderful. To be able to say, ‘Shall I use this foundation or that one,’ as opposed to, ‘Oh, there’s only that one foundation – it’s about five shades too light but never mind!’ and to have some choice compared to the 80s when there wasn’t, it’s just wonderful.

It is an exciting time because I think there are a lot more brands to follow suit. Again, Lancôme is really smashing it at the moment after launching Miracle Air de Teint , £29.50 which is brilliant and now I see other beauty brands are following too. That’s great, because when you start getting the more established beauty houses doing something like that, you know the industry’s changed and that’s a wonderful thing.

I agree, it’s especially exciting now with Lupita Nyong’o becoming the new face of Lancôme.

Oh my gosh! That has got to be one of the best marriages. It’s so perfect. She’s just gorgeous and her skin is ridiculously flawless!

Do you feel that the beauty industry has a good representation of women of colour and products to cater for them?

Often there’s been a ‘No, there’s not enough’ attitude, but to make it more of a positive statement I would say, it’s wonderful to see more women of colour represented on the catwalks now, but they are lacking in editorial campaigns in magazines. That’s where I’d like to see more women of all colours.

It’ll get there though because things are changing and they’re changing so quickly. It’s just if you’re going to introduce a makeup range for women of darker skin, well guess what, you’re going to need women with darker skin to represent it! There needs to be more women of darker skin and of colour in editorial pieces.

It would be nice to also see more women of colour front campaigns. I’m so proud to be an ambassador for MIZANI and it would be great to see many others fronting more ranges out there as well.

What would you say was your biggest hair do and your biggest hair regret throughout the years?

Speaking from my own experience and how wonderfully it’s worked out for me, my biggest hair do is treatments. Go get a deep conditioning treatment from the hairdresser and your hair will love you forever. It does everything: it makes hair soft and manageable, stimulates hair growth, everything.

Once I got my thick brain (laughs) around making sure I was on top of that in my beauty regime, I never looked back and I ended up with hair that I was really happy with.

My biggest hair don’t is (especially with girls with afro hair), don’t let your hair get too depleted of moisture because it will get damaged, it will break and it will snap - your hair isn’t as strong as you think it is. Afro hair tends to be quite brittle too, it needs moisture, so the more things you do to deplete it of moisture is just creating added work for yourself. Don’t ever let that moisture leave your head!

You’ve starred in The Bodyguard and have your next role in Memphis The Musical coming up shortly. What have you found to be your best backstage beauty tips?

I have to drink water, otherwise the voice is dead. Lots of water and lots of sleep. You can’t sing on a voice that’s dehydrated, it literally won’t work. It’ll crack, it’ll split, or it’ll just shut down.

I also do vocal steaming. I have a thing that looks like a (whispers) bong. It has a tube and is full of hot water – just hot water! Steam rises up through the tube, you suck the tube and it hydrates the vocal chords. It’s simple but effective.

Who are your beauty icons?

I’ve always loved Naomi Campbell. I know she’s an obvious name, but I can’t overstate how important it was when she came along to show the rest of the world that black girls are beautiful. We’d had one or two before her, but they maybe had lighter skin or something like that. However, then came this full-on black girl, bold as brass, strutting down the catwalk and just, glorious.

It was because of her that I did the ‘mono-lip’ that she used to do in the 90s where she wouldn’t do the cupid’s bow, she’d go right across the lip. I copied that for years!

Thanks to her, we’ve got Tyra Banks, we’ve now got Jourdan Dunn and we’ve got so many others too including Chanel Iman, who’s this wonderful mixture. So many women, black women and women of colour have got careers because of Naomi. She’s an icon.