“Have you seen my first album cover? I used my makeup and my hair as an armor to feel less normal and to feel like I was entering the world as a pop star. I pulled from Whitney, Mariah, Barbara Streisand, Chaka, Sade, Annie Lennox—those were kind of my divas. When I’m performing, I like to have a really strong outline. I’ve always kind of worn tailored suits, and I used to show my midriff quite a bit in the first [album]—but maybe I don’t want to do that anymore now that I’ve got a baby. [Laughs] I wear a lot suits, and I never get tired of them. I’ve got like the biggest collection of blazers—I live in an Acne one. However, one of my favorite recent looks was me wearing this amazing Ganni silk pajama set. I felt like Barbara Streisand—I felt like Hollywood. It felt really fabulous and I wore them with amazing heels and a really dramatic cat eye. I felt the sexiest on that night, in the pajamas.
Stripping back, I felt more comfortable in my skin and so I felt like I didn’t have to hide so much anymore. Looking back, maybe, it felt like too much makeup. I’ve been in editorial shoots and they’d been doing the opposite [of the made-up look] that I’d always had. I thought, 'Maybe they’re all having the same conversation about me wearing too much makeup.' [Laughs] But I also had so much fun wearing makeup too, it was like first chances of being in photoshoots and performances—it was fun and gave me confidence.
Since I had the baby a year ago, I have less time and I give less of a shit about how I look. The focus is always to look less tired. That’s really changed my whole skincare routine. I’m pretty strict with it. I have quite combination skin—I love the whole range of Kate Somerville. I really like a foaming wash, I feel like it cleans my skin better. I go between the Fresh Soy Cleanser and the Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash. I’ll start with them in the morning, and then I like to spritz my face and walk into it—and then I’ll use a serum depending on how tired I am or what my skin needs. I really love the Dr. Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum. That’s really good for during the day. It makes the skin quite bright. I like day creams—the Avène one I love. It’s small [which is great because] when I’m traveling, I hate to think about dispensing it into bloody things, which always get lost or whatever. Next week, I’ll be in Paris and Berlin, which means I have to minimize my skin range because it’s mad. I can’t bring the whole bloody thing.
I’m low maintenance but I do always care about my skin and always looking glow-y. Glow-y skin and a red lip can make it look like you’re ready to go out. That said, I’ve also been working with Celia Burton and we’ve been having fun with more looks. Smokey eyes, which I always thought I couldn’t do, we’ve been trying out. I had rejected the cat eye after the second album, but I’m bringing it back. Since the baby, I think I’m just having more fun. Laura Mercier is always the base if I’m going out in the evening. And I actually just started using concealer, so I’ll use Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage combined with a Nars Creamy Concealer and just do affected areas to make sure there’s no redness. My foundation is always a mix of things because my skintone changes. I’ll do By Terry Densiliss mixed with a Chantecaille Future Skin—it really depends. I also really like a Burberry Fresh Glow at the moment as well. And Chanel obviously is a brilliant go-to. I’m a bit of whore with foundations.
Always highlighter—I’m obsessed with Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector. You have to be really careful about wearing too much. My husband’s always like, ‘You need to blend that a bit more.’ I never fail to take that away with me. I do like the RMS Living Luminizer, but that’s coconut-based, and it’s not good for stage. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette is really versatile and good for different situations. I love a bit of peach in there. I feel like my skin is yellow-based, so I need quite warmer colors. Some colors look too silvery. I did learn the Pat McGrath secret—it's the Madina Chic & Shine. Those are really good, and I’ve never been to Milan, so I’ve never been able to get it.
My brows are always done, usually with a pencil and some gel. The Eyeko Tinted Brow Gel is so clever—it’s like a pencil and a powder and you can do the definition, but I always feel like I need a gel with it, or else it looks too done. I like to brush my eyebrows the other way to give them some fullness. And maybe I’ll do a cream blush. The Chantecaille Cheek Gelée is a good day one. And the Smashbox LA Lights Palette is good because the colors stay on.
I always have MAC Glam Gold [ed note: discontinued] for my eyes because I think it’s a really easy way to make them pop a bit. I put it on my brow bones and around because I have small eyes—so anything to open them up. I’m really having fun with a smudged-out liner, really soft. I’ll do it heavier than this. I don’t know—I’m really going for this hot woman from The Heat, Al Pacino’s wife—I really want to be her. I like taupe-y colors and I like a bit of gold on my eyes—sort of bronzy, sunkissed. I’ll even wear that with a red lip from Lipstick Queen. They have a good sheen to them and they’re really amazing because they set like a stain. For mascara, I was obsessed with the CK One mascara for a while [ed note: discontinued], it was so freaking good. Celia uses Maybelline on me or Eyeko. I do one coat on top and bottom.
I feel like hair has become this really important thing for me too. Cutting it off made me feel far more chic and it felt like a stronger identity for me actually. Salt spray is my favorite but Bumble and bumble’s Brilliantine is really versatile, too. When I don’t know what I’m doing or I’m scared that I’ve put too much product in or not enough—it just really is an easy thing to work with for a hairstyling novice. It smooths things out and helps with the styling. I get lot of frizz because I dry my hair naturally, so I’ll just twist it and it just helps, along with the salt spray.
I actually don’t put perfume on before I perform because I’m scared that it’s going to mess with my lungs. I used to be obsessed with the rose Le Labo fragrance, hence when I found it in a hotel, I took it. Thé Noir I love too. There’s the Los Angeles special that smells like beautiful laundry, but it’s one of those exclusives, and I can’t part with $400 for a perfume. [Laughs] But every time I go in, I’m like, ‘Ugh, it smells so good!’ I also like Chanel Beige, it’s a really easy scent to wear all the time.
For a pre-show ritual, I use a vocal steamer—it looks like a bong. And I like a good candle in the dressing room, I love Le Labo candles, and if you’re going to get me a gift, Tom Dixon and Diptyque I obviously love. I’m also obsessed with Japanese incense that my friend Betty Blanco got me into recently. I’ll have coils of incense for my house. I got to Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake. I got obsessed and I bought 12, but now I’m near the end. That’s what I do—if I like something I’ll buy multiple.
If I have a night off and I have babysitter, my night’s going to involve good food because I really miss going out for that. Last week we went to Som Saa, which is this amazing Thai place in Shoreditch. They have really good cocktails, like rosewater vodka, and it was just incredible food. I had duck mushroom soup, which I thought was going to be so boring but it was the best thing on the menu. We ended up at the Sam Smith concert which was really lovely. There’s a really good cocktail place up the road called Highwater—I like to still be near the baby. I love a tasting menu, but you can’t really do them anymore unless you start at 5:00PM and someone’s definitely babysitting.”
—as told to ITG
Jessie Ware photographed by Tom Newton in London on September 20, 2017.