Remi Sade, Founder @booksbabyandback

If I had to give a simple answer I'd just say I'm a student mum.  I study Physical Geography.  I tend to keep motherhood and uni separate; it's been very stressful recently while I go through a process of appeal in connection with last year and Sanaa's birth and my maternity leave.  I've begun writing as well and that balancing act (of uni, motherhood, my writing) is quite a challenge.  I'd say I write non-fiction pieces about my experiences.  I find the process of finding inspiration, turning that nugget into a whole piece, keeping content relevant and regular are all challenges but I'm really enjoying it and I feel that this is something I want to do and pursue professionally, so it's a challenge I'm rising to, and I use @booksbabyandback as that expressive platform.  


I have to say, I do basically nothing.  In the morning I splash my face with warm water if it's cold outside or cool water if it's hot.  I'll usually follow that with Weleda Purifying Lotion, particularly if I'm wearing make-up that day, but sometimes also if I'm not.  It's the best stuff ever.  All natural, really, really nice.  I like to put Lucas' Papaw Ointment on my lips but it's so expensive I won't buy it for myself - this one was a gift!  When Sanaa was born a friend got it like 'you can use it for nipple cream or something!'.  I use it for my lips.  Usually I use shea butter on my lips and any other very dry areas, especially in winter.  [My partner] Ed just brought this one back from Ghana.  Don't buy it here unless you're in Brixton market; it's ridiculously expensive.   

In the evenings, if I'm wearing make-up, I'll take it off with micellar water, I like the Garnier one, or I'll use Sans' WaterWipes, or whatever wipes she's got at the time (usually those).  If I'm wearing heavy eye make-up I use coconut oil to take it off.  

I don't like to be heavy with my skincare.  When I was in secondary school my best friend had severe acne.  She was medicated and everything.  I never had any problems with acne but someone said to me just don't overload your skin with products and I really took it to heart.  When I was about 19 though I started having a bit of a breakout so I took myself down to Brixton Wholefoods and the lady there recommended the Weleda Purifying Lotion and I've been using that since and it's always worked for me.  


So, black girls never really had that much range in shades and then when Rhianna released her make-up I bought all the, sort of, basics.  Before that I was using a lot of Sleek, which is just like, a drugstore brand, but they do a lot of make-up for women of colour.   But now I've got the Fenty Beauty make-up.  I bought foundation in shade 470, which I apply with a foundation brush, primer, concealer/contour and highlighter, a powder highlighter in Trophy Wife, which is super super bright; like wear it if you're goin' ravin' [laughs]. I also have the blush/highlighter duo in Ginger Binge and Moscow Mule (they've got the best names!), a highlighter brush because it's angled, and a universal lip gloss which is supposed to be good for all skin tones.  I like that lipgloss, but don't think I'd buy it again.  I got the blotting powder too, which is amazing.  All of the packaging is beautiful; and some of it's magnetic (!), which is super cool.  It's expensive, but for the shade range it's worth it.  If I could find my shade elsewhere though, for a better price, I'm up for trying it.  I'm definitely curious about The Ordinary colours.  I really like matte skin so I use finishing powder, or that blotting powder.  I used to use banana powder to 'bake' my skin into a really matte finish. You know though, it isn't actually for black girls; it's for white girls and I didn't know it! So now I use another one that's a bit darker.  You load your face up with the powder, and then buff it off and blend it in until you reach the matte look.  

Day-to-day I really don't wear make-up.  I like having clean, clear skin.  I put the Weleda Purifying Lotion on and that's it.  Sometimes I wear some make-up to lift my mood if I'm feeling a bit rubbish.  If I'm going to wear a lot of make-up, like going out and doing a look, I go for a lip.  Always. I only know how to do one look [laughs].  I love to do an ombre lip.  I use a dark purple, like a prune colour, on the outside and fade it in to a pinky nude shade.  Sometimes I'll wear gold or bronze on my eyes, or some highlighter on my lids with some mascara.  I have false eyelashes that I bought and have never used.  I bought them for a pound, and I'm pretty sure they expired in 2005.  


Right now I'm wearing my hair in braids, I've got a lady who does them, and if I've got a wig or a weave, I've got another girl who does those, who is also one of my best friends.  I don't trust many people with my hair; it's easy to make afro hair drop out.  No one is local but I'll travel as far as I need to!  I'm really liking the braids now though.  Every time I get a weave now I get depressed.  Like I'm not being me, and I'm so aware of the political and cultural depth of what means, and it's all just too heavy for me.  I also used to relax my hair but when I fell pregnant I went back to natural hair as it became clear how toxic relaxers are.  I ended up watching a documentary by Chris Rock called "Good Hair" and it really made me think, more than I had before, about the beauty message I was projecting, how I felt about my own standards of beauty, what's natural and easy to maintain, and what I wanted to model and teach my daughter.  You know, I've had burns and scabs on my scalp from all the chemicals and I just don't want that to be what she learns she has to do to be beautiful, or have 'good hair'. 

For maintenance I wash once every 6-8 weeks or so, to clean, not to remove grease or oil. I use Palmers Coconut Oil range.  If I have a natural afro, it's usually once every 10 days or so, washed with co-wash and sprayed with root spray, all from the Palmers range.  I don't use anything with sulphates, parabens, mineral oils etc.  I also use hemp oil, or Jamaican Black Castor Oil, which is great for growth; I use it on Sanaa's hair too.  You put it on your roots.  The only thing is... it smells a bit like roasted peanuts, but it works great!  For edge control I use KeraCare and a little shoe brush style bristle brush, then tie a headscarf on my head for a few hours or overnight to help it all stay down and smooth.  

Body + the Rest

I use the Aveeno Cream oat formula.  It's really for the baby but it's so good.  It helped her eczema and it really helps my dry skin.  I'll also use coconut oil or shea butter depending on the season.  I use a Jimmy Choo perfume every day.  It's called Blossom.  When I take a bath, sometimes I like to use a bath bomb, Lush does great ones.  I'll usually put lavender oil in Sanaa's bath.  


I wait for Ed!  [laughs].  Otherwise I do everything when Sanaa's sleeping; even in the morning, I just do it before she wakes up.  


As told to What Mother Does

Photos by Rachel @Septemberpics