Makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench is known for dreaming up dramatic transformations on herself and others. She turned herself into a siren at Byredo, where she led the brand’s foray into beauty, before creating her own makeup line ISAMAYA Beauty. She turned Zendaya into a cast of characters for CR Fashion Book and Rita Ora into a mermaid for the British Fashion Awards. Ffrench gave Rihanna skinny Marlene Dietrich brows on the cover of Vogue and Irina Shayk a pair of elf ears on Instagram.
But after years of beating up her skin with avant garde makeup and prosthetics, her tough-as-leather skin finally decided to draw the line when she developed a terrible rash.
“I could do anything to it and put anything on it,” the British beauty exec recalls. “Makeup was coming on and off, and I was using glues and that kind of thing. I had this really resilient skin and I never had breakouts. And almost overnight it just decided that enough was enough, to the point where sometimes I can’t even do more than two eye makeup looks without my eyes becoming quite irritated.”
Ffrench visited three dermatologists in five months before posting a desperate plea for help on Instagram. Her prayers were answered when London-based dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting got in touch. “She prescribed me azelaic acid and she changed my life,” Ffrench says.
Of the many faces Ffrench has painted, a few stand out as skin care goals. “I have to say Cher is undeniably what everybody should aim for as a true hardworking artist,” Ffrench says. “Her skin is impeccable. She is incredible. She looks amazing. I worked with Rita Ora recently, and her skin is immaculate as well. I know she really takes really good care of herself. Irina Shayk is probably my all-time girl crush. She has the most beautiful skin, and she is so natural and so beautiful. And I know she has her own million-step skincare routine as well, but it pays off.”
Ahead, Ffrench shares the skin products she uses to heal and balance her skin for Glamour‘s Drop the Routine.
I only wash my face at night. I never wash it in the morning, and I just rinse it with water. Eve Lom is the best. It’s for makeup removal and it’s a little mild exfoliator. It’s really oily and smells incredible. It’s a big pot of it. That’s definitely a really good one. I feel like it doesn’t strip your skin, and I’m into things that keep the pH levels of your skin nice and balanced.
Eve Lom Cleanser
I’ll use a bit of toner around my nose, just because there is an accumulation of grease overnight. So I’ll just use a light toner on my nose. The Biologique Recherche is a really good toner.
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
I love SkinCeuticals, so I use their vitamin C serums every single day. It’s my first step after just rinsing my face in the morning. I also love the SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective serum. It’s a green liquid and it contains hyaluronic acid, and it helps to rebalance your skin. It focuses on redness and controlling overactive skin problems and inflammation.
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel
I use a retinol and azelaic acid. Azelaic acid has totally changed my life. [Finacea] is prescription, but you can also get products that contain azelaic acid, and basically it totally gets rid of bacteria and encourages cell turnover. It’s a little bit like maybe a retinol. I prefer it to a retinol because I put it on my nose and wake up in the morning and my pores are half the size. So, azelaic acid is probably my favorite thing. It’s really good.
Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 Serum
My eye cream
111SKIN under eye patches are incredible for reducing lines before you go out. Whether that’s a long term or temporary fix, I don’t know, but I do think the Black Diamond Eye Patches are amazing. Under my eyes, I just go hard on the old heavy lip lanolin-based thing, like Dr. Lipp or Laneige.
Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm
$14.59.00, Dr. Lipp
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Eye Mask
In the morning, I really love U Beauty Barrier BioActive Repair Cream. I feel like oils and creams often react in a funky way. if I want to look glowy, I’ll use my Skinlacq [instead of a face oil]. Because that has the triple hyaluronic acid in and it’s essentially a skincare product as much as a makeup product. If I’m going to do an oily thing, I’ll just stick to the oils. But if I’m every day doing my skincare thing, I’ll use the Skinlacq. You can mix it with your foundation because it has the different weights of hyaluronic acid. Everything is more hydrated and lubricated, if you know what I mean.
U Beauty The Barrier Bioactive Treatment
Skinlacq Triple Hyaluronic Glow Serum
$78.00, ISAMAYA Beauty
The SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask is great. It’s like a gel, and it feels really refreshing. Every now and again I’ll do a clay mask like Tatcha. They have a Clarifying Clay Mask, so every now and again I’ll do that in the problematic areas.
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask
Tatcha The Clarifying Clay Mask Exfoliating Pore Treatment
I’m pretty loyal to two people for facials. I go to Jasmina Vico and I go to Dr. Brian Fu in London, and they do laser treatments and I get micro-needling. What else? I had Morpheus 8 in a couple of sessions recently. But I am more into the hardcore stuff. I think being a beauty person, actually, I can kind of do it myself. So I’m more invested in the tools that I don’t have.
Sunscreen? God, I go through so much of it. It’s called UV, Ultra Violette—I love that brand. And I love their body sun cream as well because it has really minute shimmering particles in it, so you look really glowy. And it smells amazing. It’s so nice. Also Barbara Sturm, the Sun Drops I use as well.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF50
$150.00, Dr Barbara Sturm
Extreme Screen SPF 50+ Hydrating Body & Hand Skinscreen
$35.00, Ultra Violette
It’s the most basic cream that you can get for eczema or very, very dry skin conditions. It almost just acts as a barrier. But if you use it long enough, hopefully your skin will just begin to restore its own natural balance. At least that’s what happened to me, and I used it for months. I didn’t put anything else on my skin. And you can wash with it. So I would use it in the shower instead of body wash, and I’d use it to wash my face with. It’s great for taking makeup off because it’s a little bit greasy, and I still actually use that quite frequently as my main moisturizer if I feel like I have been overdoing it.
Doublebase Dry Skin Emollient
One thing I do use is the Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser. That’s quite good.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Enzyme Cleanser
My body care
The Wild Star collection Dazzle Up Highlighter because that does have skincare benefits in it. The idea behind it was to have ingredients that mimic the effects of retinol, like reducing the appearance of lines. It has shea and the oils in it. And especially around like décolletage and your neck, where women classically do have wrinkly skin from sun damage, you want a product that helps to support skin softness and hide any evidence of that. And that’s what this product does.
Obviously your face is important, but so is your neck and décolletage. Because that’s often the real giveaway, when we spend so much time putting stuff on our faces and then forgetting about our necks. You know what I mean? It smells good and it’s just an all-over body product. I use it as lip balm a lot because it so lovely and oily and shimmery. It just goes anywhere.
Dazzle Up Hilighter
$42.00, ISAMAYA Beauty
My makeup remover
Micellar water is a total staple.
Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water
Ooh, there’s a brand called Urania’s Children. I don’t know too much about them, but it’s like a gender fluid, young brand, really interesting smells. I wear one called Queer Magic, which is really unique and unusual, quite strong, and sweet, and rich. And Byredo Gypsy Water has always been a favorite of mine. It’s a classic.
Urania’s Children Queer Magic Eau de Parfum
$111.00, Urania’s Children
Byredo Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum
I actually do use an infrared lamp. I got one by a brand called Déesse, which is like an LED mask. And I use a spot therapy infrared lamp on my face every now and then as well.
Déesse PRO LED Light Mask
$1987.2.00, Cult Beauty
Hanna Lustig is a staff writer at Glamour. You can follow her on Instagram @han.worldwide.
Originally Appeared on Glamour