I was 14 and on holiday in Corsica when I first got sunburned. It was a lesson in how to respect the sun and not assume that black skin doesn’t need SPF. It’s true that the higher melanin levels in darker skin offer some protection, but a minimum of SPF30 is non-negotiable to safeguard against UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning), especially in high summer. However, SPF just wasn’t on my radar growing up: my mum didn’t use it, opting instead for the protection of an umbrella in the sun (which I found mortifying as a teenager) and walking on the shady side of the street. SPF formulations were off-putting in the 80s, too, as they looked blue or white and ashy on my darker skin tone. Thankfully, they’ve evolved. I love Avène Very High Protection Anti-Aging Suncare SPF50+, as it’s invisible on my skin. And Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF30* is great for all skin tones. If it’s good enough for RiRi…
For most of my life, I’ve battled my hair. When I was younger, I spent hundreds of pounds getting it chemically straightened and blow-dried. Straight hair was desirable and aspirational – in magazines, ads and movies. I recall my twin daughters telling me, when they were just three, that they could only be maids because of their brown, curly hair. To them, only girls with straight, yellow hair could be princesses. I knew then that I had to learn to love my hair for their sake. Summer can be peak time for parched coils, which need oodles of moisture to stay juicy and bouncy. So, every few weeks, I use a deep-conditioning treatment. My go-to brands are Shea Moisture, Cantu and Bouclème. Protective styles such as Bantu knots, twists-out and box braids are great for when the weather heats up. They give hair a rest, as once they’re done, there’s no need for brushing or combing, which means less breakage.
I’m a recovering workaholic, and I used to think resting was a waste of time. Then my friend and wellness guru, Nahid De Belgeonne, told me: ‘Resting is the most productive thing you can do,’ and it clicked. We associate rest with laziness, but it’s about showing yourself some love, so you can work hard and give to others. In lockdown, there seemed to be no let-up, so now’s the time to stop, rest and reflect. To help me switch off/slow down, I dab essential oils (my fave is Tisserand Aromatherapy The Little Box Of Mindfulness on pulse points, get comfy, take deep breaths… and let the calm wash over me.
Ateh’s book, Coils And Curls: The Ultimate Guide To Loving Your Hair, will be available later this year. For more, check out Ateh’s Instagram: @atehjewel