"I studied French and Italian in college, but after I graduated, I didn't really know what I wanted to do with it. I was in my early 20s and it felt like everybody had it all figured out, except for me. One day, I was taking this day-long wax carving class—you get a block of wax and you can carve anything into it to make a mould. So I'd make one, fill it with bronze, and then gold-plate it. All my friends were off practicing law while I was playing with wax. [Laughs] The wax was so malleable that these shapes would kind of appear, and it reminded me of the Divine Comedy, so I decided that I would make a piece of jewelry for each of Dante [Alighieri]'s poems. His work is all about being lost and not really knowing who you are, and I kind of related to that. Why can’t we just admit that we're all still a bit of a mess? We're all figuring it out—that’s beautiful in and of itself.
In my own life, I'm a creature of habit. I wash my hair every two and a half days with Aussie Miracle Moist. It’s weird, because I’ve tried really expensive shampoos in the past, but I don’t like them. The Aussie is so good and it makes my hair smell nice and look shiny. I always go out with wet hair, and I always get told off for it. I have to wash it and go. It just looks better if I don't touch it. When I was a teenager, I spent a month at a sailing camp in the Caribbean and lived on a boat, and I'd never loved my hair more. Sometimes, if I have a bad hair day, I'll throw some salt in and just see what happens.
As for skincare, I'm a massive purist. My mother only ever used Pond's Cold Cream, but I think that was because we lived in Africa for awhile and other things were less accessible. My father is from Zambia, so we lived there for eight years. We would make a lot [of skincare], and it was a good incentive to drink a lot of water and take care of your skin from the inside. Now, I wash my face with Kiehl’s Rare Earth Daily Cleanser, because I love to feel clean but it doesn't dry out my skin. It was the first product I used that completely got rid of my blemishes, so I’ve been sticking with it. Then I use their Ultra Facial Cream, too—it's sticky, without getting too oily.
I swear by Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Almond. It's the one product that when I run out, I need a replacement immediately. I really love how light it is. Sometimes what I love to do—and I'm not sure if you're supposed to do this—is put a little pink Vaseline on my cheeks. I'll do a glossy highlight, with a little bit of a tint. Recently, though, I've been getting into really deep, dark red lips. Sometimes I leave really early in the morning and don't get to go home, so in case I'm going out, I always have Nars Audacious Bette on me. It's a deep red stain, but it goes on full coverage. I wear simple things, so it's nice to have something to elevate it all. And I like that it's a little mysterious, too."
—as told to ITG
Rosh Mahtani photographed by Tom Newton on March 9, 2017.