fashion

Mabel on beauty crushes, break-up anthems and the hairstyle she’s most proud of mastering



Mabel may have scored a Brit Award for Best Female Solo Artist 2020 and a notched up a whole squad of top 10 singles (from Don’t Call Me Up to Tick Tock with Clean Bandit), but behind the hit tunes and red carpet looks, the singer’s life is a little more low-key these days.

Today, as Mabel chats over Zoom from her home, she’s joined by two excitable dogs who bark for her attention in the background. “Imani, I beg you, it’s not about you!” she tells one pup as it clatters around her feet. “Where did you get this sock from? Honestly, what is going on?”

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But, Mabel concedes that the time at home has been a cleansing experience for her, both mentally and physically. Album circuits, promos and tours have become her life since smashing onto the music scene with her song, Finders Keepers, in 2018, so “slowing down the pace a little bit has helped,” she says. “It’s been good for me to have time to reflect and spend more time with my family than I would have been able to,” the singer nods.

As for what Mabel’s been doing to fill her time, “I’ve still been making music and doing things that I love, but there’s been a lot of self-care, too.” Beauty, in particular has been a refuge and a place to experiment. Below, Mabel answers GLAMOUR’s questions on girl crushes, beauty fails, hair hacks and how she unwinds.

Do you have any getting-ready playlists that puts you in the best mood?

Mabel: “When I’m getting ready I find it very therapeutic to listen to proper divas like Whitney Houston, Britney, Beyonce – they’re the women that I grew up idolising, so that always makes me feel powerful.”

Music is a way for you to unwind, but how much of what you write do you share, and how much do you keep for yourself?

“To be a really good artist and songwriter you have to dare to share all the things. Even stuff that’s scary. So I definitely bare it all. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my most successful music has all been songs that are deeply personal. Don’t Call Me Up was an anthem for myself, to help me get over someone. It was scary at the time because I was like “this person’s going to know it’s about them.” It felt terrifying – but obviously the song did really well and it definitely helped me get over the situation. I still get messages from girls saying it’s helped them too, which is massive for me.”

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Do you have any wellness rituals to help you stay grounded and happy?


“Exercise is really important to me, more for my mental health than anything. I’ve also been doing a lot of skincare and haircare. Being able to be home and not having to get as glam has been so good. I use a hair mask twice a week, I sleep with it in.”

How do you take care of your hair?


“When I do style it now, I’m conscious of not using too much heat. I’m blonde now so I’m taking even better care of my hair and trying not to damage it because the bleach has been wild for it. That’s why I’ve loved using the L’Oreal Steampod 3.0. It’s not the same as when I’m using normal straighteners because it uses steam, rather than intense heat on my hair.”

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What’s your number one best beauty hack and who did you learn it from?


“I’m actually so proud of learning how to do a wave in my hair with straighteners because it takes so much less effort. It’s OK if you do it a little rough, whereas if I straighten my hair, I feel like I need to get every piece with a comb and make sure that it’s all straightened. I learnt how to do a wave by just bending the Steampod right to left. That’s my favourite beauty hack at the moment. My hairstylist, Rio, taught me that. It took a little bit of finesse, but now I know how to do it, it’s so easy.

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You’ve experimented with lots of different hair looks, is there a trend you still want to try?


“I’m always doing crazy creative things. Usually I would use wigs but now I’ve bleached my hair, I might experiment with new colours as I go back into the album cycle – you’ll have to see, but I have an idea of what I want to do.”

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Which women are inspiring you right now and why?


Cardi, Meg Thee Stallion and Kehlani. They all play a lot with their looks. I love the fact that I’m always like ‘ooh, what hair is she going to do next?’ I feel like my fans are like that with me now. So I’m definitely always looking at them for colour inspo.”

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Where do you get inspiration for your beauty looks from?


“I’m a Pinterest girl. I love a Pinterest board! Usually ’90s icons inspire me – lots of ’90s supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. I love those simple but really chic kind of styles.”

Which beauty memory reminds you of fun times or nostalgic times?


I remember starting to crimp my hair when I was fourteen or fifteen. I was obsessed with it. Now I look at those pictures and I’m like it’s kind of a vibe, I might bring it back.”

What’s been your biggest #beautyfail or disaster?

“My parents were never really strict with anything, but when I was a teen, I had really beautiful long, dark shiny hair and my mum was like don’t dye it. Then my parents went away and me and my friend bleached my hair by ourselves at home. It basically all broke off. I had to cut this improvised fringe. Also my hair went orange rather than – it was completely scarring. So that was my biggest beauty fail. I remember my mum coming home and being in tears like “what have you done?!“. That was a hard lesson to learn, but it was good because now I’m so adamant about taking care of my hair.”

Do you feel pressured to look a certain way?

“Maybe when I first started out. Now, as fun as it is to play with colours and super glamorous wigs and ponytails and whatever, I’m really comfortable with being natural, too. Having some products and some tools that help that natural look to be a little more refined is great, but I’m totally fine with going out looking natural. It’s important as well. I have a lot of young, female fans and I don’t want to set the precedent of ‘you have to go out the house with a thirty inch wig and all this makeup on.’ It’s important for them to know that I’m just a normal twenty-something-year-old girl.”

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What’s your go-to beauty look?


“Im terms of my makeup, I like a lash. Today, I’m going to the studio so I’ve done a very simple beat, but I’ve put a nice lash on. That always makes me feel good, it doesn’t take me longer than two minutes. For hair, naturally, my hair is quite frizzy and big and crazy, but I have a couple of go-to looks. If I want to look more glamorous then I’ll probably do something completely sleek, or if I want to look like I just woke up chic, I’ll do a little wave.”

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How have you used beauty to explore your identity?


Beauty and fashion gives me the power to decide how other people are going to perceive me. I’ve been tapped into that since I was super young, like when I was five and styling my uniform for school. I’m always 100% me as an artist, but also, it is a little bit about creating a character. For instance, when I put out Boyfriend last year, I was like OK cool, this character is this blue wig, so I wore that blue wig for a while. And for the Mad Love era I had pink straight hair for a while. It definitely helps strengthen the story that I’m telling by creating a character to go with it. It’s like armour. It makes me feel strong going out into the world.”

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How would you say your approach to beauty has evolved?


“I feel like I’m not afraid to experiment, or to make some mistakes. Me and my hairstylist, Rio, will send pictures to each other like let’s try this. Sometimes they’re incredible and sometimes they don’t work, but that’s OK. It’s important to be playful. I’ve gained more confidence in myself to do things on my own, too. I have a small repertoire of things that I can do really well.”

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For more from GLAMOUR’s Deputy Beauty Editor, Elle Turner follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk.





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