Illustration by Mithsuca Berry.

Illustration by Mithsuca Berry.

Seinabo Sey possesses a mighty, soulful voice, reminiscent of the pop-powerhouses of the late ’80s and early ’90s. You can’t help but get chills when you hear the 25-year-old, who hails from Sweden, belt on her debut album Pretend. “The songs [on Pretend] are little notes to myself, to remember the lessons that you learn from hardships,” she says.

Besides music, Seinabo also is obsessed with makeup and skincare, which happen to be two of my favorite things to talk about, too! I chatted with Seinabo over the phone about zits, her favorite beauty brands, and her refreshing philosophy on makeup.

CHANEL PARKS: I have to ask about one of my favorite songs on Pretend, “Poetic.” What was the inspiration behind it?

SEINABO SEY: “Poetic” is one of the lessons I learned about love, how love can be easy if you let it…and it can be hard as well. It’s about giving yourself up and seeing the beauty in loving someone, even though that person might not love you the same way back.

OK, now let’s talk about beauty! What’s your philosophy on makeup?

Makeup is art. Makeup is like looking at a painting. I think it’s important to understand what you’re doing when wearing makeup—are you wearing makeup to hide yourself or to emphasize yourself? When you get to a point where your makeup is an expression of who you are, and it’s something that makes you feel better, then wear makeup!

People have their opinions about looking “natural” versus not looking natural, but I say f– that. If you like purple lipstick, wear purple lipstick! There are too many things in the world that are hard enough as it is for a woman. If you feel better with your makeup on, wear your makeup.

What are some beauty products that you love?

I definitely use a lot of MAC products, maybe because my makeup artist uses them. I love this [Sephora] mascara called Better Than Sex. It’s the best mascara I’ve found in a long time. I love MAC’s Ruby Woo [lipstick]. I’m starting to try lip glosses, so I use Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes in pink. I have a LUSH lip balm called Honey Trap.

Do you have any drugstore favorites?

H&M has come out with some pretty good new makeup that is really highly pigmented. I’m not sure of their foundations, but the lipsticks are really good. My favorite blush is from Forever 21. I love any kind of NYX product—they have a really good finishing spray at Target, in the States, that’s inexpensive.

Which makeup product do you like to experiment with most?

I’m really into finding out how to get the perfect base, so I love different highlighters and I have a couple from MAC. At this point, I just walk into MAC and see whatever I can find! [Laughs] But, I love the golden tones. I know Sephora has some good highlighters as well, like their own brand. Anything that’s golden, a little pink, or pearly, I love.

What’s your experience like shopping in Sweden for cosmetics as a woman of color?

It’s actually a very big problem, and it’s on the news nowadays. I have a lot of friends who work with makeup, and that subject is being raised. [Drugstore brands] don’t have our color here [in Sweden]—that’s why we have to go out and buy these crazy expensive products. It’s difficult, and it’s not easy to find.

How does your beauty routine, and the way you present yourself, align with your artistry?

I wear a lot more makeup on stage because of the lights. You can be more dramatic, like contouring your face more, which will make you look like you have great cheekbones–that’s fun. With everyday life, as of the last maybe six months, I’m getting into putting on a lot of makeup. Well, not a lot of makeup, but looking fresh. In the summer, you want to be free, you don’t want to have stuff in your face, and you’re sweaty. But, now that the winter is coming, and my skin is super pale and I need some glow, I started putting on makeup again. My everyday regimen is mascara. I’m working on getting the perfect foundation.

How do you take care of your skin?

That’s my number-one stress in life, beauty wise. [Laughs] I remember having bad skin when I was younger. I used Proactiv, and that was what I found worked. Now I use Dermalogica, but they’re pretty pricey. There’s this brand called Simple, which has a really nice moisturizer. I use it to moisturize without getting all greasy. Putting toothpaste on pimples helps me. You have to find what works for you. Another thing I like using is coconut oil, but if you have breakouts that may not be the best idea.

Do you have any other tricks?

If you have a pimple, don’t touch it! And if I do, I use tweezers, otherwise bacteria may get into my pores, and I make sure to always clean my face afterward. I don’t wear that much makeup if I have a breakout. I live with it for a day or two and wear as little makeup as I can. Because then, you’re piling stuff on, and that can be detrimental. Stay courageous for two days, and let it calm down! ♦