Model Jodie Smith Shares Beauty Wisdom For Girls Of All Races
After her stunning black and white photoshoot with Prince and Jacob, model and actress Jodie Smith sat down and shared some unadulterated beauty wisdom with us. She answered all of our questions about black beauty (chemically relaxing your hair, finding a nude lip color that doesn’t come off ashy) with smiles, laughter, and crazy anecdotes. Most importantly, she told us, “It is so important to honor what’s real and true in yourself, before you can devote yourself to a job or relationship.”
Stephanie Janetos: Have you ever been in a situation on a shoot where they didn’t have makeup for your skintone?
Jodie Smith: All the time. That happens way more than it should. It’s frustrating. I feel like you can’t call yourself a makeup artist if you apply makeup on all complexions and eye shapes. If you can’t do an Asian girl’s face, a black girl’s face, and a white girl’s face, and do them all well, you’re just a makeup person, not an artist. Part of the artistry is understanding that all faces have depth… you gotta blend foundation! That happens to me a lot. They use something that makes my face look all one color and I end up looking like a Jamaican geisha.
SJ: How do you deal with that and make yourself look like you again?
JS: I just tell them not to use foundation at all. Just a little Vaseline on the cheekbones, some mascara, and…. Botox! Just kidding. Seriously, don’t have me looking like a ghost because you don’t know how to color or properly contour. Since that happens all the time, now I bring my own foundation. I’m really into Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Sticks in Mahogony. They make you look really dewey. I highlight with concealer from NARS.
SJ: So you mentioned you were in Puerto Rico….
JS: Yes! I love tanning. Tanning is my number 1. If you look on my Instagram, you see me laying out as soon as the sun comes out. You know, black people do actually tan!
“You can’t call yourself a makeup artist if you can’t apply makeup for all complexions and eye shapes.”
SJ: How do you protect your skin from sun damage, even though you probably won’t burn?
JS: Oh my God, great question. I don’t wear traditional sun cream, but I wear things with natural SPF in them. Shea butter and coconut oil both have it! Since I don’t burn, I go for natural sun protection without the chemicals. Most sun creams are full of chemicals, and they are not really made to go on darker skin. I don’t want to look, once again, like a Jamaican geisha! I don’t want to look ashy or pale, so natural SPF allows me to tan and protect my skin. I also drink a lot of water and stay hydrated all the time. I try to drink a gallon a day.
SJ: My skin is always better when I leave Los Angeles. What else do you use for moisturizing?
JS: I love Kiehl’s. It’s full of chemicals but they’re, like, the good kind of chemicals. I just started using their body lotion and it’s amazing. Other than that I use Shea butter and Aloe gel on my face.
SJ: So you’re into the natural products. What about for hair care, what’s your routine?
JS: Well… [She pushes back the scarf that has been covering her head for our whole interview].
JS: My hair is, uh…. [Laughs]. You didn’t see that coming! But for shampoo and conditioner, my friend David has an amazing company called Mr. Smith. It’s vegan, paraben free, SLS free, smells delicious and makes your hair so soft. That’s all I really use.
SJ: I love all the vegan, organic products that are coming out these days.
JS: If we can minimize the amount of chemicals we are putting on our bodies, why not? You look better, feel better. You never know how many things are making you sick, going into your pores. I just like to take the necessary precautions while enjoying my life. Maybe I’ll even wean myself off of Kiehl’s if Mr. Smith starts making some body products.
SJ: Tell us about your transition from—wait, you used to have hair, right?
JS: Yes! Believe it or not, I used to have really long hair, and people were always asking me, “Is that your hair?! Is that real hair?” I had it natural until I was about 14, but then my mom made me get relaxers, which is just more chemicals. You always want a different texture than you actually have—the one with really straight hair wants curls, and the one with curls wants long and silky hair! When I went away to university, I never had time to get relaxers, so I started to go natural again. I would just straighten my hair. The bottom layers of my hair got really damaged and all broken off, so I cut it all off into a bob.
“The hair was weighing me down. The hair wasn’t letting me be great.”
SJ: That’s dramatic!
JS: I guess I was more like, “It’s just hair, it grows back”. I just felt really awesome. And I loved wearing my hair in a bob, but I would constantly have to cut it again and again. Then I went to Uganda to shoot a documentary on malaria. We were staying in displacement camps, and in Uganda when the girls are young they cut their hair really short, like boys, until they turn 18. I was hanging out with all these young girls and I had already been thinking about cutting my hair, and they decided they wanted to do it. They did it in this shack, with shears, it was painful. I was terrified, plus there were spiders everywhere in the shack. My hair looked crazy after because I stopped them in the middle, and then the next day I went to Kampala to a barber to get it done properly…it’s such a bizarre experience, because it’s not like getting a bob. When you cut it all off, you ask yourself, “am I still feminine? Am I still beautiful?” It’s only your face. The social mores is that hair is feminine, and a woman should have hair. Especially as a dark skinned black woman trying to work in a commercial environment, it’s a very severe look. I always have people asking me to make myself look more approachable, and to smile in pictures. But I loved it. At the time, it was very Grace Jones, higher on the top. The first time I actually shaved my head was because of a bet with my boyfriend.
“I love women who stand up for who and what they are. It’s not necessarily about having a squeaky clean message, just women who are like ‘I’m here, I’m doing me, and I don’t need your approval or validation.'”
SJ: It looks so good like this.
JS: I love it! Believe it or not, it was long again, I had like a long piece on the top, but then my modeling agents called me and told me I had an opportunity, but the client really wanted me to cut my hair. I was like “Okay, how much”? He sent me a picture of me from when I was just back from London, basically bald, so I did it. Then I started getting hired all the time and I decided “This is it!” The hair was weighing me down. The hair wasn’t letting me be great.
SJ: You’re liberated! Do people ever ask you to wear wigs on shoots?
JS: You would think that that would happen all the time, but people tend to be very unimaginative. Unless I’m actually working with someone who specifically wants to shoot wigs or costumes it doesn’t really happen. But I have loads of wigs at home! Sometimes I just want to be somebody else and throw an effing wig on. My favorite is this huge Afro wig, it’s like Diana Ross meets Tiana Taylor, and it’s the one big hair wig I think I look fabulous in [snaps].
SJ: When you first cut your hair, what beauty looks would you rock to amp up your feminitity?
JS: I went very extreme with it. It was always black lipstick, black eyeliner.
SJ: Full on goth?
JS: I think it’s different when a dark skinned black girl does “goth” because it’s not a big contrast, but it’s still a very interesting look. When I wear lighter lipsticks I feel that it makes my lips look even bigger. I’m not trying to minimize my lips but when I wear light lipstick it looks a bit Kylie Jenner. Now, I usually wear a fresh face with some type of red lip– NARs Fire Down Below is my favorite. But have you guys heard of Color Pop Cosmetics? I’m so into them. They have eye colors, cheek colors, lip colors, and everything is very heavily pigmented. On a dark skin color like mine that’s essential, otherwise it comes out ashy.
SJ: So you never wear nude lips?
JS: With Color Pop I do! Since their colors come out creamy I’m down for a nude lip… as long as I have cheeks on. It’s a nice little addition because you have on a lip color but it’s still neutral. But it’s hard to find a nude for my skin color. NARs and Smashbox also have great lip colors for brown girls. MAC is okay, but you need to search.
SJ: I love the hot pink lipstick Miley Cyrus designed for MAC.
JS: I love Miley Cyrus! My little sister came to visit me and we were listening to Miley together. I was like, “This is Miley’s message?” I love Miley’s message for my 19-year-old sister.
SJ: Who else are some good role models (especially for black girls) on the scene right now?
JS: When I was growing up there really weren’t any role models for black girls. Except Naomi Campbell, so fierce! I love women who stand up for who and what they are. It’s not necessarily about having a squeaky clean message, just women who are like “I’m here, I’m doing me, and I don’t need your approval or validation.” I always have a special place in my heart for my fellow Caribbean women, Rihanna and Miss Nicki Minaj.