“I’m from LA—I think most people go there for the beach, not downtown, but I grew up in Koreatown. My dad is from Nigeria, and my mom is from Wisconsin, and both of my parents are in fashion. We were raised to understand dress, and also the body and how the body compliments dress—how fashion is what you wear, and how you wear it. In that way, they instilled a lot of self-confidence [in me]. I think that if I didn’t have the parents I do, I would be a lot more reserved. Because I grew up in predominantly white areas and I was the only black kid, I always struggled to see myself as beautiful or desirable. When none of the boys will look in your direction, and all of the girls are picking at your hair, or putting stuff in your hair, or making comments, you’re like, ‘Something’s wrong with me.’ But then I would go home, and it was very clear there was nothing wrong with me. My parents were all about natural beauty, and there was a pride element to it—like, ‘You are an Enuke, you are beautiful.’
My uncle is in the music industry, and I went on tour with him and his band one summer in Europe. I think just being around him for two months while he was making music and performing for crowds—seeing that lifestyle, I caught a bug. He actually gave me an iPod full of classics that he loved—classic rock, classic blues, R&B, soul—all of the greats, in this one iPod. And that was my formative year, when singing became a little bit more of a tangible path. I got signed when I was 18. The label wanted to pull me out of school, but my dad insisted that I go to college. It ended up being a good thing, because who I was and who [the label] wanted me to be weren’t the same person. Being able to literally escape from LA to Boston, where I was in school, was nice. I went to Tufts University, and I studied Political Science and Fine Arts—you learn by doing in music, so paying to study it in school wasn’t worth it for me. But I still practiced. At school I was figuring out my own sound, working with my friends, doing sets and not making any money—it was just for fun and the love of music. I always wanted to make soul music, and I still do. I think soul music lasts through generations, and I want to make things that people can continue to unravel as time goes on, and find new meaning in. I’m not really interested in doing what’s hip, what’s right now—I’d rather be in the discography for a long time.
I love my skincare regimen. It’s like the only thing in my day that’s close to meditation—I don’t always get to do yoga or sit and think for a second, but I always do my face. So, I wash with Aesop’s In Two Minds Cleanser or Noxzema—I guess it’s for eczema, but it’s a eucalyptus cream that’s a deep cleanser. I use the toner from that same Aesop line. It’s not drying at all, and doesn’t strip the skin. I stay away from physical exfoliants for my face because they damage the skin, but I’ll do a glycolic acid peel once every two weeks, to clarify—The Ordinary toner, because my skin is sensitive and that works just fine, or Herbivore’s Blue Tansy Mask. Then I’ll put The Ordinary Salicylic Acid on my face to tighten my pores, and the Aesop Camellia Nut Lotion, or Embryolisse. I love that as a priming moisturizer, if I’m going to be wearing makeup. The best primer is The Ordinary’s High Fluidity Primer. It’s like seven bucks, it’s not heavy at all, and it doesn’t clog your pores. I’ve used so many primers that say they don’t clog your pores, but then I break out. This one, you just put on a small amount and it spreads all over your face. A little goes a long way, so that’s why I love it.
Daily, I do just concealer and a little bit of highlight. For concealer I like to use the Dior Fix It Stick. It’s really nice—it has the primer in the middle, which is great. I keep it in my bag all the time, just in case somebody messes up my makeup. I also use the Armani Precision Retouch for under my eyes. Because it's a little orange, it gets the dark circles and any hyperpigmentation on my face. If I do use foundation, I’ll use the Nude Air from Dior. Fancy, but it’s so good though. It is invisible. I care about my skin, and my skin is so sensitive that if I use cheap products, I break out. And I don’t wear makeup that often, so when I buy a $60 foundation, it lasts like four years. That’s why I spend on beauty—I don’t mind it. Then I will comb my brows with Glossier Boy Brow, but I’m thinking of switching to the YSL one. It’s like brow hairspray. I’ll put Glossier Balm Dotcom on my lips, lids, and cheekbones for highlight.
If I’m going out, I’ll use the Glossier Haloscope highlighter in Topaz—that’s my favorite. I’ve gone through like five since they came out. I have this one Urban Decay blush that I love, and I’ll do a Kawaii blush style, so right under my eyes and into my cheeks. It’s like a really pink fuchsia. I do that with the Glossier Cloud Paint, too. I’ll put on some brown Smashbox waterproof eyeliner and Milk Makeup Kush Mascara, which is lovely because it doesn’t get all crusty. Sometimes I’ll do a clean face with just balm on my lips, and then a really bold eyeshadow. I use this Sephora eyeliner-to-eyeshadow pencil—it’s like a jumbo stick—or I’ll use the Make Up For Ever pigment in red, and I’ll smear that on my lid. I have one in yellow, too. Then I’ll put on some Fenty Gloss Bomb—I love it! It’s the best going out lip gloss, it lasts forever. I wear lipstick occasionally, but I’m a very fidgety person and I like to eat, so whenever I have lipstick on it messes up immediately. I like the Bobbi Brown Lip Crush Lipstick in a berry, and the Dior Lip Stain in a coral. And the Fenty red—if I want to slay something, I just put that on, red dress, out the door.
I’ve had my hair shaved for the past year, and I just started growing it out in February. I might shave it again, because honestly it just feels like a clean palette. When I have hair, my mood and disposition changes depending on what hairstyle I’m wearing. With these Bantu knots I feel super fun and cute, but when I had my Fulani braids I was very ethereal, and when I had my long, blonde braids, it was very early-2000s Ciara. It was a little weird [growing up with a white mother]—my mom did my hair, but only up to a certain age. When I turned 11, we decided to relax my hair. My dad relaxed it—he always did it—because I think the chemicals stressed my mom a little. When my hair was relaxed, it was kind of like, ‘You can handle it now.’ But the reason I shaved my head was because I didn’t want to keep relaxing it. My roots were super kinky and my ends were straight—it was a mess. I missed out a lot on black hair[care], and the last two years I’ve been going through a rapid education. When I shaved my hair, I had just learned how to French braid, and I was 20 years old. I never had braids, I never had cornrows, I had never been to a hair salon—I didn’t know anything about that world. As soon as I shaved my head, suddenly I was learning about all these things you could do with black hair, and all the things you can do with curls. Since then, I’ve experimented with different types of braids, and extensions, and wigs—this whole world of creativity that I didn’t know about. It’s a self-taught journey, and the internet helps a lot.
I co-wash my hair every three days, and condition it as well—I learned about co-washing from some beauty blog, and I haven’t shampooed since. I use As I Am Co-Wash, and I use the Pantene Gold Series for Textured Hair conditioner. The As I Am Co-Wash is clarifying, but not drying. I’ve used a lot of co-washes that just condition your hair twice, but this one cleans your scalp and doesn’t leave your hair feeling squeaky. That’s very rare in co-washes, actually. I use their Double Butter religiously for my hair, so I just explored the rest of their line. I don’t have to detangle because my hair is so short—I just run my fingers through it, and I put Multicultural Curls Soft Curls Gel in it. That makes the curls form and keeps them there, and they’re not hard or sticky. Then I’ll put the Double Butter all over my hands, and just run it through. Lastly I’ll do a shine serum, like the Silk Elements Shine Serum, or the Biosilk Shine Serum. I’ll put that through my hair, scrunch it, bring it forward, and I’ll pick the roots up so it dries in a round fro. That’s about it. I bleach it myself—I’ve always done it myself. I use Blonde Brilliance—their powders and developers are amazing, and they're made with mango oil essence, so they don’t take all the life out of your hair. Or I use a high lift color from L’Oreal with the Blonde Brilliance bleach. Before this grew out, I did my roots with the high lift color, and then I lightened the tips with the Blonde Brilliance to get a balayage effect. It added depth to my curls.
I love a good bar soap. Right now I am using the Shea Moisture Black African Soap Bar, which has been my favorite. My favorite body wash is the Aesop Resurrection Body Wash. I moisturize every day with this thing called Very Emollient Lotion. You know it—it’s just blue and white letters, from Whole Foods, with the pink flowers. That, or Trader Joe’s Midsummer's Night Cream—it’s one of the best lotions ever. It’s so rich, and it really takes care of your body. That is one of the few lotions I’ve found that has a very low alcohol content. What I love to do with that lotion in particular, because it’s unscented, is I’ll take my essential oils and put them in the bottle and stir it up, so then I have a scented lotion. I like geranium and frankincense. And you should know that the best deodorant in the world is Aesop’s spray deodorant. I don’t sweat that much so I can’t speak to how it works as an antiperspirant, but it definitely works as a deodorant. And as a body spray—the scent is very androgynous.”
—as told to ITG
Annahstasia Enuke photographed by Tom Newton in New York on August 8, 2018.