On Beauty: Nellie Eden
Nellie Eden is a woman who knows a thing or two about beauty. Whilst her own routine might be simple (a lick of Votary Super Seed Oil and some Surratt eyeliner), she’s spent most of the past decade working with some of the most progressive and boundary-pushing experts in the industry. Appointed Dazed Beauty’s editor in 2017, these days she consults for a variety of industry heavyweights, using the same pioneering vision she brought to the publication to shape the beauty conversation today. Here, she tells us a little more about her beauty journey, and the learnings that went into bringing Browns’ beauty offering to life…
Nellie in the Beauty Studio at Browns East.
Growing up I wanted to be a writer. I think all writers are secretly obsessed with beauty. I also interview lots of people about beauty, and often their first memories are watching glamorous mothers apply lipstick in a satin-filled boudoir. My first beauty experience happened in Lewisham. I was five years old and - in a bid to be more like my dad - I attempted to shave my sideburns off. My second beauty-related memory is painting my eyelids with Tinkerbell nail polish.
Like most women who came of age in the ’90s, makeup was an act of communion and rebellion. Five of us would sit and share one mirror and one set of straighteners, hands greedily rummaging in one anothers’ make-up bags, searching for flavoured lip balms and frosted eyeshadow compacts. Later on, I practised (and poorly imitated) the Amy Winehouse cat eye; dabbled in bad highlights and worse fake tan, and finally got my nose pierced when I arrived at university. By the end of my first term, I had 20 piercings in my right ear and a short bleached bob.
As a graduate and then as an adult, my relationship to self-fashioning lost that experimental edge. I settled into a conformist mould of ‘nice’ haircuts and pretty nail polish colours. I aspired to abs and drew on my not-good-enough eyebrows. In retrospect, I blame this on the bland, stereotypical face of beauty that dominated fashion during those years. Looking back, I was uninspired.
... and then.
During my time as an editor, I wanted to leave behind a visual legacy that was digressive, creative, carnivalesque, grotesque, absurdist and beautiful. People often critiqued the work as ‘ugly’ and that always made me laugh. I thought the beauty standards we’d been living under for so long were ugly. I had been given an opportunity to do something important.
Whenever I’m asked about beauty now, I explain that it’s more than just makeup; it’s artistry, self-expression, creativity, gender, sexuality, wellness, technology, freedom and politics. Whether you want to paint your face like a clown, or wear extensions down to the floor, tattoo yourself, or enhance your breasts, you’re involved in a radical act of self-expression. With social media platforms nowadays, as long as you have access to a kohl eyeliner and a wifi connection, you stand to be more influential than a traditional advertising campaign - I think that’s thrilling.
Perhaps because of this, it seems that a change has finally happened. We’ve moved into a different place, one that’s closer to self-acceptance and celebrating difference. The industry is less toxic, both environmentally and socially. The beauty conversation isn’t being owned by one corporation or magazine - this time round, it’s personal.
Whilst we were interviewing people about what they needed from Browns, I was touched by the simple rituals that provided the scaffolding for people’s days: a hot face cloth, a signature eyeliner, the application of body oil in a sacred moment of ‘me time’. I wanted to explore those simple pleasures in the Big Little Rituals campaign, mixed in with the genius artistry of beauty pioneers such as makeup guru Lucy Bridge (who created the looks for the shoot). Together with the Browns team, we’ve created a curation that reflects a thoroughly modern take on beauty - channelling these values into an offering that celebrates beauty as it exists today.
In terms of my own habits, now that I’m older my routine is much simpler – Votary Seed Oil and some Dr Sebagh Hyalaronic Acid for hydration. If I wear makeup, my default is Gucci Westman. I'm excited to experiment with colour again, particularly lipsticks and coloured mascaras. I also love a clumpy lash if I'm going out, and I always blow dry my fringe. I still sometimes feel like an outsider when it comes to the beauty industry, and I’m happy with that. I think you make the best work when you’re on the outside. I’m especially honoured to have been a part of bringing Browns’ beauty offering to life, and for having the chance to create something so special. I hope you love it as much as we do.
Nellie's experimental style was evident from an early age...
... As was her penchant for witchy black eyeliner.
Nellie’s Top Picks:
1. Votary Super Seed Oil
I spend a lot of time on set with makeup artists, and pretty much all of them will massage models’ faces before applying their makeup. The stimulation and drainage the massage brings on are both good ways to start your day. If I have time, I apply Votary's Super Seed Oil and watch a YouTube face massage tutorial on my phone.
2. Dr Sebagh Hyaluronic Serum
This serum is something I've been dabbling with for the last five years. I love it. I find my skin is sated, firm and bouncier afterwards. I like to apply it almost as soon as I've washed my face to lock in moisture.
3. Westman Atelier Blush
I love blusher. Sometimes I feel like no one else does, but they’re wrong! I like to wear mine in a “fresh off the moors” as opposed to a “I’ve been on the rowing machine” way - blotted, pink and sheeny. My favourite is Westman Atelier’s Baby Cheeks in Couchette.
4. Westman Atelier Highlighter
I'm not into a full beat, and firmly believe that contouring is best left to the pros. I do, however, love to lean on the Westman Atelier highlighter Lit Up highlighter stick. It makes me look like I’ve just had a facial, a work out session and a nap – which is never the case!
5. Surratt Prismic Eyes
I don’t wear makeup during the day, so when I decide to, it’s really a moment to feel the most exaggerated version of whatever mood I’m feeling that day - be it moody, angry or bouncing with energy. Surratt Prismic Eyes is my favourite eyeshadow of all time. It can add a very subtle layer of sparkle when applied in a restrained manner, but when layered, it builds up a full-bodied, deep, glossy midnight black. Worn best with little else.
6. Surratt Autographique Liner
A bit of winged eyeliner makes me feel my most put together. Surratt’s cult ink cartridge-style liner in Indigo Japonais is easy to apply, lasts all day and night, and makes me feel like me.
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