Azza Yousif, Fashion Editor, Vogue Hommes International

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"I was born in Cairo, Egypt, but my parents are Sudanese. We moved to Paris when I was very young, and then to Jordan, and then Cyprus for a year, and we came back to Paris when I was twelve. We moved around a lot, so I speak four languages: Arabic is my mother tongue and then English, French, and Italian. It’s useful in the fashion industry—I assisted [French Vogue editor and stylist] Anastasia Barbieri for around four-and-a-half years and now I’m a fashion editor at Vogue Hommes International, which is a men’s fashion magazine. It’s great, because I wear a lot of menswear, and I did when I was younger; I always like to mix a men’s shirt or sweater in my wardrobe.

In terms of my skin, I think it really comes down to genetics—my mother. I was really lucky because my father had bad skin when he was younger, and one of my brothers and I got my mom’s genes, and then my sister and my other brother got my dad’s genes. But basically, I just try to hydrate it. I use the RéVive Cellular Repair Cream SPF 15 on my face every morning. The texture is really thick, but it penetrates really fast. What I’ve noticed with RéVive is if you use two of their products with each other, it doesn’t work. I have their serum that you’re supposed to put on before the cream and when I do that, the cream doesn’t stay on your skin anymore. So, what I've learned to do is use the Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector first as a base and then I put on the RéVive. I also have the RéVive cream for the neck: the Fermitif Neck Renewal Cream SPF 15… I know, it’s ridiculous and I’m thirty-one, but the thing is you have to start early. You can’t go back in time.

Before going to bed, I clean my face with an oil and I put on the RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream. I've tried all these creams for eyes, because my under-eyes are so dark, but I feel like nothing really works for dark circles. If I feel like they’re really puffy and dark, I'll use sliced cucumbers from the freezer—they take the puffiness away. I keep them on until the slices start to melt.

I don't have a shower in my apartment; I can only take baths. But I like that, it makes you relax, even for five minutes. Kiehl’s Washable Cleansing Milk is my favorite body wash. I think it’s supposed to be for your face, but when I bought it, it felt really dry and horrible to use on my face, so I kept it for my body and it works. And this is something that my chiropractor told me: I was really tense and she said that you run a bath and put two caps full of Weleda Arnica Massage Oil and stay in for twenty minutes and it relaxes you. Also, when you come out, the oil stays on your skin so you’re already hydrated. For more moisture, I use this amazing cream, TopiCrem Ultra-Moisturizing Body Milk. It’s thick and it doesn’t really have a scent. If I do want to smell, I mix it with a little bit with Dr. Hauschka Rose Body Milk. I do two pumps of TopiCrem for one pump of the Dr. Hauschka.

For makeup, I prefer an everyday, easy look. Sometimes, I don’t want to wear anything—I don’t feel like it—but at the same time, if you don’t wear any makeup at all, people feel like you’re not really ready or awake… Just curling your lashes with the MAC Full Lash Curler helps a lot. And I put on MAC Smolder Eye Kohl as well, every day. Other kohls I’ve tried will smudge, and lately, I’ve only been putting it on the top lash line, not on the bottom; I just felt like changing. They all smudge a little bit, but this one stays controlled and gives that sexy-eye kind of thing. I put a little bit more on the outside and I smudge it bit, so it’s not a hard, hard line.

When I go out, I usually do my eyes, and once in a while, I do my lips, though for a long time I never did my lips because I thought they were too big and I thought that it made my mustache show. You know, we all have these weird things, ‘cause now I’m totally into lipstick. But anyway, I also use the Sisley Phyto-Ombre Eye Shadow in Black. I’m really into shadow—I picked it up from a Stevie Nicks interview I saw. They did an interview with her right before a Fleetwood Mac concert and she was doing her makeup in a mirror during the interview, and she does this thing where she puts the black on the crease and then smudges it. After I’ve done the black with the Sisley shadow, I add some of the MAC Cream Color Base in Dusk Rose in the middle of the eyelid, right above my pupil and smudge. Also, the mascara I’m using right now, Lancôme Hypnôse, is really, really good. I used to use it a long time ago, but I switched to something else because, you know, you get samples to try, but I came back to it.

Another thing I always use is the MAC Strobe Cream, which is a pearly cream you put on and it brings out the highlights and attracts light; it’s incredible. You put little drops wherever you want to highlight—and if you’re not wearing eye shadow, you could put a little bit in the middle of your lid and then let it sink in and it just gives a tiny bit of shine. It makes you glow. If I’m going out and my shirt is open, I even put it on my collarbone. I don’t wear foundation or concealer—I feel like that opens up a whole new window. I’d rather live with these bags than hide them. And I know that even if I did wear concealer, you can still see them, so I just don’t care about it.

When I put lipstick on, I have two that I really like: the red Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte in Fatale and then a dark brown YSL Rouge Pur Couture The Mats 205. The Chanel, I usually wear if I’m going out when I’m really strict and my hair is pulled back and I just have this red mouth… I tried for a while to wear it just with regular clothes, but it’s just not really my thing—also, you have to be careful with what you eat and all of that. And then the YSL one was my new discovery; it’s kind of gothic. For a moment, I started wearing it with these silver hoop earrings, for a kind of ‘Nineties-goth-Sade’ look.

Lately, I’m feeling more matte [makeup], in general, which is why the matte YSL and the Chanel are my favorite lipsticks of the moment. Also, I had been looking for a nude for a long time—they’re either too pale or too dark—and I recently found the Clinique Chubby Stick in Whole Lotta Honey. It’s really good. And when I’m feeling glossier, I like Lanolips Lip Ointment in Dark Honey. It’s an Australian brand and they make the best glosses—it’s just so rich and thick, it’s amazing. It goes with the stash of standby things that I use sometimes, or that I get as a gift but am not sure I like it. In my secret stash there is also this Chanel lacquer gloss, Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in 60 Excés, that I love but it’s just so full-on. I actually bought it for Carine Roitfeld’s first Bal. It’s like paint. I still haven’t found an occasion to wear it again, but I love it.

I keep my nail polishes in the refrigerator because someone told me they last longer... I don’t know if I believe them. It is a little bit thick when you take it out, but I still think it lasts longer, and I have more space in my fridge than I do in my bathroom! [Laughs] Lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s more chic to not wear nail polish. I’ve also wanted to feel healthier, so that may have something to do with it—I feel like it’s more chic to be able to take care of your nails and for them to be clean and not hide them behind something. But that said, the polishes I gravitate towards are Essie Little Brown Dress or the Chanel Diabolic color. When I do my nails, I tend to stay in this gray-neutral range.

I don’t really like strong perfumes. It really bothers me, so I feel like I don’t want to do that to other people. I feel like perfume’s an intimate thing. So instead of sprays, I do oils. I mix Kiehl’s Original Musk Oil with this Love Perfume Oil from MCMC, which is like a musky-rose made by a small company in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I put a little but behind my ears and on my neck—the mix of the two just works.

For hair…I think hair is difficult for black people—we’re always trying different products. Now, I have a Dominican hairdresser in Paris who is amazing. I always tried to go to a fancy hairdresser, but the ones I would go to would freak out when a black person would come in, probably because they were scared because they didn't know how to do my hair…but you just don’t feel so good going in there and trying to come out beautiful when you actually feel like crap because they didn’t know how to handle your hair. My new hairdresser’s place is called Maria Dolores Institute and she’s Maria Dolores and she is fantastic. She will make your day because she puts Latino radio on all day, so she’s dancing and singing to Dominican hits. I go there as often as I can, at least every three months to do a mild relaxing. Otherwise, I wash wash my hair once a week with Klorane Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, ‘cause with all the chemicals I use, my scalp gets really dry. For conditioner, I use the Lovea Nourishing Mask with Shea Butter—I leave it in for a long time, brush it, and then wash it out. And then occasionally, I’ll spray Chanel No. 5 in my hair. Not everyday, but sometimes. I just like the smell of it in my hair."

—as told to ITG

Azza Yousif photographed by Emily Weiss in Paris on January 27th, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • http://www.vintageobserver.com/ Couteau

    What a Frenchy!

    And how pleasant that she blames genes for her lovely skin, rather than caviar-based serums.

  • Passant Adel

    first of all my mom's name Azza (coincidence?), me from Egypt Cairo (yea right,Masr :D), dreaming of being editor too! love the article, maybe we'll meet soon!

  • Guest

    She's lovely and her skin is just gorgeous.

    I think she looks great with lipstick. I used to worry about my mouth being "too big," too, until I realized that people were paying surgeons to get lips like mine! Now I wear bright lipstick every day. I solve the mustache problem by having it waxed off every two weeks.

    About that nail polish: you don't need to keep in in the fridge. Nail polish does not go bad. It may get thick over time, but some nail polish thinner (NOT nail polish remover and NOT acetone based) will bring it back to life.

    It's so great to see a woman of color here. I wish you'd also profile Karen Blanchard of "Where Did U Get That." She has such fantastic style. I'd love to see her top shelf.

    PS: Does anyone have any suggestions for a mineral based sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher that does not leave white residue on brown skin? I think I've tried them all, but I keep hoping to hear about something new. I can't use chemical sunscreens on my face.

    • Tea

      Moogoo and Vivesana both make very great sunscreens!

    • Sylvie

      Have you tried Devita? Or John Masters? I hear those work well. Also, Coola, but even the mineral one has silicones.

      • Guest

        I've never heard of these. I'll google them right now. Also @3ba622b793e105fc8427785e6e32dbc5:disqus, thanks for your suggestions, too.

    • http://twitter.com/Alouette_Jolly Ada

      EXACTLY. Full lips are something we should be thankful for rather than try and hide them or be ashamed. I am a huuuuge bright lip fan too!

      Tarte BB cream in Tan will work well for you I think!

      • Guest

        Thank you! I'll get over to Sephora and have a look at it.

        • http://twitter.com/Alouette_Jolly Ada

          No problem!

    • rachel

      alba botanica emolient sunblock works for me. its spf30

    • http://twitter.com/strawbeemochi Catherine

      Same here! I'm still a little insecure about my lips (they were always suuuuuper dry growing up so the liplines are deep but I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who notices) but love brights now. :D

      As for mineral-based sunblock, I really liked the Alba Botanica too, but I think the Dermalogica one is even better!

    • Danielle

      Try Supergoop! or Neutrogena Try Touch. I also love Sunday Riley's Cashmere SPF 30 :)

  • Kelly

    She's so beautiful!

  • http://twitter.com/shushina Susana

    Lovely to meet and get to know Azza!

  • muj

    been waiting patiently for this top shelf so thank you very much!

  • mel

    taking note of dominixan hair stylist in paris!! love this interview

  • jennifer

    She is so smart and chic! This is my favorite Top Shelf in a really long time.

  • ElaineR

    I love that she has regular coke in her fridge! Show's she's a real person :)

  • Riley

    One of my favorite top shelfs! So many things in common, and I love the paragraph about her Dominican hairstylists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.monforton.79 Jennifer Monforton

    Oooh, Chanel polishes in the fridge!? Can't think of anything more chic to be hanging out with my fruits and veggies. Great interview! :)

    -Jen

    http://www.vibrantbeautyblog.com

  • Paulina

    Very nice top shelf! I really like it!

    http://restlessblonde.blogspot.com/

  • Local & Opulent

    What a wonderful Top Shelf! She seems so down to Earth and cool!

    A new outfit post is up on Local & Opulent and I am heading to World MasterCard Fashion Week!

    http://localandopulent.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/top-o-the-mornin-to-ya/

  • http://teawithtran.tumblr.com/ Tran Ta

    So effortless, natural and gorgeous! http://teawithtran.tumblr.com

  • adrienn

    I loved the fact she was brave enough to talk about that moustache

  • Ali

    What a beautiful lady! She has the perfect routine.

  • Sylvie

    Work those eye circles! I'm slowly starting to embrace mine. I think they actually might make my eyes look bigger.

  • Belle

    Top Shelf is what got me hooked on ITG. Keep them coming!

  • http://twitter.com/Alouette_Jolly Ada

    I love her.
    The comments she made about hair are exactly why I don't bother with hair dressers anymore. And I'd tried relaxers - in fact I had done them for years- but they only ever made my hair not as thick as it is naturally...it was never right for me, not sure why I kept on with it for so long, And I've never seen a hair dresser who does a good mild relaxing but oh we're on opposite ends of the world!
    My hair is natural now, and I look after it all by myself. She has such an interesting philosophy on everything...truly it was so lovely to see a successful woman of colour explaining her beauty philosophy on ITG.

  • Ona_in_Barcelona

    WOW, that second photo. She is gorgeous.

  • Angela_E

    Great Top Shelf. Ms. Yousif comes across as both professional and completely relatable. The Top Shelf articles are best when, like here, the interviewee is willing to talk openly and frankly about their insecurities as well as personal beauty preferences.

    (Please do a Top Shelf on Daisy Lowe and Asia Argento.)

    • kneelbeforetigers

      OMG, yes! Both of those ladies (esp Asia!) would be cuckoo bananas good!

  • chicnoir

    *looks at name & photo*
    *does sharp inhale*
    *grabs up Emily,Nick, and the rest of the ITTG family for a big hug.

    A few years ago I brought a copy of Vogue Paris. Azza was featured in the small contributors section. With just three sentences and a very chic looking denim shirt, I was captivated. Have been wanting to know more about Azza ever since.

    Every time I think you guys have outdone yourselves with the Topshelf feature, you do it again.

  • Lena

    One of the most gorgeous women on here! She's obviously super smart, talented, frank and funny too. Love her!

  • jaywhy

    She is gorgeous! It's a shame that fancy salons in the West still can't cope with different hair textures. I've wasted so much money on them and I keep going back to a Korean ahjumma for haircuts that will grow out nicely.

  • Sabah A

    Love this! Nice to see someone whose culture I can relate to. x

  • Natasha

    She's great and I love all her insights.

  • Mks

    Love ITG... And love you even more when you portray chic, smart and talented black women. Thank you!

  • georgina

    Azza is the most beautiful woman ever. I love her. She is one of my best friends so I am biased but she is beautiful inside and out. xxxx

  • Jody

    Dark circles and puffiness can be largely due to sugar and salt in your diet. Also, sleeping on your back with your head elevated reduces puffiness DRAMATICALLY. I fold up a blanket and put it under the head end of my mattress. It raises the whole top end of the bed, rather than using extra pillows which inevitably get pushed aside in your sleep. I introduced the elevation in stages, it takes a little getting used to, but I now prefer to sleep that way. Sleeping on your back as opposed to your side also stops those vertical cleavage lines/wrinkles from forming, as well as lines forming from smushing your face into the pillow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002985385288 Melissa Princcess

    I think she summed up the whole experience for black girls. like can we just get a nice blowout?! home girls gotta go all the way to the dominicanos in PAris.

  • juel

    oh god she reminds me of my mom

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

essie
Essie Nail Polish
MAC
MAC Strobe Cream
Lancôme
Lancome Hypnose Custom Volume Mascara
Dr.Hauschka Skin Care
Dr. Hauschka Rose Body Moisturizer
Klorane
Klorane Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Weleda
Weleda Arnica Massage Oil
Kiehl's Since 1851
Kiehl's Washable Cleansing Milk
YSL
YSL Rouge Pur Couture The Mats
Clinique
Clinique Chubby Stick
ReVive
RéVive Sensitif Cellular Repair Cream
MAC
MAC Full Lash Curler
MAC
MAC Cream Color Base
Sisley
Sisley Phyto-Ombre Eclat Eye Shadow in Black
MCMC Fragrances
MCMC Fragrances Love Perfume Oil
Kiehl's Since 1851
Kiehl's Original Musk Oil
ReVive
RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream
ReVive
RéVive Fermitif Neck Renewal Cream
CHANEL
CHANEL ROUGE ALLURE EXTRAIT DE GLOSS
CHANEL
CHANEL No. 5 PARFUM
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