“I grew up in Geneva, born and raised, and moved to Paris when I was 19 to study music. I think naturally I was really sensitive to music. Something that my parents told me was that when I was two, three years old, I would watch Disney movies and sing along—with no lyrics, just mumbling. I feel like as a singer, when you’re specifically in an instrumental environment, they tend to consider you as just a singer, and not a musician. That the voice is not an instrument. So I went to [music] school because I wanted to feel a little bit more confident when working with musicians, and be able to say, ‘let’s do this, let’s do that.’ Once I graduated, I decided to stay [in Paris] because I auditioned for The Voice. It worked out pretty well. It’s embarrassing now—I wasn’t happy with what I was doing there. I went from singing in my room to singing in front of ten million people. When I walked outside, people would take pictures. I didn’t feel good in that space. I stayed for seven or eight months, and when the show ended I went back to live with my parents. While I was back home, I met someone—an American TV host. That was in 2014. He told me that I should come to New York because everyone would love me there. So in one week, I was in New York. It ended up not going well. Then I came back here and was pretty depressed.
Around a year later, I ran into a producer from Paris. He asked if I started writing music, and I said I did. Then he told me to come to his studio to show him what I had. So now I’m here! I finished my album a year ago. It was a long journey, and I really didn’t think that it would take me here. I’ll have some periods of super highs, and then super lows, and I'm super busy, and the next week I'm not at all. For now, since I’m pretty much trying to settle and find my footing, it’s really intense. But I’m happy.
Biologique Recherche—everybody has that now. Actually it was a friend from New York who told me about the brand. I use Lait VIP to clean my skin, then I use the Lotion P50, as everyone uses, to exfoliate and prepare my skin for cream. And then I put on the Emulsion Originelle Regenerante. It was recommended to me by my facialist at [Biologique Recherche]. I also got the Masque Vernix—you can use it as a mask or wear it overnight. I really like watery stuff on my skin, to make it so that I feel fresh, and not weighed-down. I usually massage it onto my face with a little roller from The Body Shop. Clinique’s Hydrating Jelly is not as hydrating as the Biologique, but it still makes me feel moisturized. When it dries, it leaves a little bit of a squeaky feeling. Last summer, sometimes I would not wear cream and just wear Invisible Shield. It feels really amazing on the skin. I also have a chamomile serum, but it smells like almond. It’s from Kos Paris. It makes your skin shiny—like a highlight. Sometimes I just use it on my cheeks. That’s usually it for my face.
Usually I use this Santa Maria Novella tonic. I put a little on my décolletage because it’s hydrating, and it smells really good. That Bioderma is a friend’s—she forgot it—but I sometimes use it when I run out of this one, Barnängen Caring Body Lotion. It’s a Swedish brand. I used that this summer because I have super dry skin if I don’t wear cream. During the wintertime, I usually use this pharmacy cream from the Swiss pharmacy. It’s called Excipial, and my mom has used that on my skin since I was a baby. It’s very, very thick—it would be the equivalent of Lipikar by La Roche-Posay. But it feels great in the winter.
Now I have my hair straightened, but usually I have it curly, in an afro. When it’s straight I use the Furterer Huile Seche, and that would be the equivalent of the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. I love the smell. It’s not too strong, and it’s dry, so it doesn’t make your hair super greasy. Just a little bit shiny and hydrated. I straighten my hair myself, and I do it twice or three times a year—not more than that. I used to straighten it all the time—perm and everything. But I damaged my hair really bad, so I had to shave it. Twice. There would be so much hair in my hands every time I washed it. It was the chemicals and the heat. I was in Switzerland two days ago, and my mom straightens it the old fashioned way. You know the way you roll the hair in, and it gets the hair dry and ready to straighten? Then I use the flat iron. I go three, four days max, and then I wash. It’s easier for me to have it straight—curly hair is a lot of work. I mean, it’s a journey, but once you get there… I’m there, and I’m really happy with the result.
Growing up, I thought having curly hair was a bad thing, and you look beautiful when you have straight and blonde hair. That was my idea of beauty. Even my mother—she’s Ethiopian—she and all of my aunts would straighten their hair. It was a Sunday night thing, getting prepared for the week. Everybody was doing that, so for me it was obvious. I wore braids when I was young—I tried again two years ago, but it doesn’t look really great [on me]. I love braids on others. But no, for me, it’s going to be curly hair. In 2015 I cut my hair at the Devachan Salon in New York, and that’s when I decided to take care of my curls. I use the Super Stretch Coconut Curl Elongator, since when you have curly hair it shrinks a lot. It gets big, but it doesn’t go out. I use it in the shower—I split my hair in four, and I put on a pretty solid amount of the cream first. I detangle it with my fingers, because combs are super aggressive and break the hair. Once I put the cream on and hear that noise that it’s moisturized, I’ll do the Design Essentials Almond and Avocado Mousse and create the curls. I use this special towel—it’s a special cotton from Muji, and I just drop it on my head and let the water get in the towel without doing anything. When it’s a little drier, I use a blow dryer with a diffuser. It’s a $20 French one. From shower to finish, it’s 30, 40 minutes. It’s not bad, but I’m not patient. With straight hair, I just wake up. I sleep with a Swiss Edelweiss scarf—it’s super ugly. I put that on my hair so it doesn’t break.
I start with my brows for makeup, and I wear the Glossier Boy Brow in Brown. I saw the makeup artist use it like, how you say? A pencil? And just swipe it on. I’ve been using it from the beginning—it’s my favorite. Then I use the Nars concealer in Caramel, and it’s the best concealer I’ve used. I’ve tried a lot of brands—I like the fact that it blends in really nice with the skin, and it doesn’t do that thing in the lines that a lot of concealers do. It’s pretty subtle—I like the fact that it looks natural, but with coverage. If I take this off, I have really dark circles. Then I use this—it’s amazing. It’s from Naked Skin, and it’s like a skin balm, but tinted. So it’s a little hydrating. It’s matte, and it gives just a little color. My sister actually brought this to me in May, the Lash Slick. I like that I just go one or two times on my eyelashes, without it being too intense. It’s just the perfect amount of making it longer and a little thicker. I don’t know how to explain—it’s really good. OK, so this is also my favorite—Cloud Paint in Beam. I wear it every day, and I didn’t use blush before that. I used this one, and I was like, ‘OK, this is amazing.’ It just makes me look like I’m a little more tanned. I have Storm too, but this one is more intense. If I wear lipstick, I’ll wear the Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in Star Woman. It’s a deep red—between red and Bordeaux, but more red. It stays forever. You can eat, you can drink, whatever, and it will stay. Nighttime I go for the full red, red lip. If I do that, I don’t put anything on my eyes, really light on my skin. Sometimes during the day, I dab the Dior Tattoo gloss on my lips. It’s tinted, and it just feels like water on your lips. Most of the time I use the Weleda balm, so it’s like a balm, but with color. Oh, and Haloscope, but that’s also nighttime. During the day I don’t. Voilà!
The last, last, detail is my perfume. I wear Thé Noir 29 from Le Labo. Before that I wore Santal 33, but I’m pretty sad that a lot of people started wearing it. I used to work at the Acne store in Le Marais, and they would diffuse that scent in the shop. It was my job to buy the refills, and I would spray it and go. The sales manager would always be like, ‘What are you doing?’ [Laughs] But yeah, I fell in love with the smell. When I was in New York a lot of people would wear it, and I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel that special anymore.’ Now I like Thé Noir better, because it’s more unique. But it was hard! I feel like Santal 33 was my thing—like, people would smell it and be like, ‘Ah, it smells like Melissa.’"
—as told to ITG
Melissa Bon photographed by Tom Newton in Paris on October 19, 2018.