A mere 15 seconds into our Monday morning phone call, and I'm already convinced Ashley Blaine Featherson (who you may fondly know as Joelle on Netflix's hit series Dear White People) knows more about beauty than I do. By now, I'm used to celebrities whipping out impressive product knowledge and grand tidbits pertaining to their at-home skincare, makeup, or hair routines, but Featherson, I have to say, is in a league of her own.
As she camps out in her bathroom and passionately reads me the back of her beloved bottle of Oribe Côte D 'Azur Hair Refresher ($26)—a product "everyone absolutely needs in their life"—Featherson's love for all things beauty is tangible, having served as an integral part of her DNA since she first began "dibble dabble-ing" with makeup in middle school. Since then, her beauty MO has transitioned from what she describes as a more-is-more aesthetic rife with technicolor eye shadows and glitter to a less-is-more bronzed, natural, and glow-y vibe, but her commitment to beauty and the role she specifically plans to play in the industry are unwavering.
Most recently, she collaborated with the founders of Mented Cosmetics KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson to create her own Collection ABF x Mented Bronze and Glow, but she also has her sights on creating her own beauty brand one day.
"It's actually always been a goal of mine," she confirms vehemently. "I would love to do something similar to what Rihanna is doing with Fenty Beauty. I can one million percent see myself doing that—this collaboration with Mented has been so exciting and is such a great first step into doing all these amazing and grand things I plan on doing in my future."
In addition to Rihanna and what she's done with Fenty, Featherson also draws from her appreciation of inclusive, tour de force beauty brands like Nars Cosmetics and MAC as well as women like Queen Latifah, Iman, Michelle Obama, and, most recently, Zendaya, to inspire said future. Because yes, even though strides of a certain measure have been made in terms of beauty industry diversity and inclusivity, there's still room for improvement.
"My collection with Mented wasn't just something my name was slapped on," she explains. "You know, during our calls, KJ and Amanda would be like 'Okay Ashley, what do you want this to be, how do you see yourself, what do you value most when you do your makeup or when you walk out of the door? I specifically created this collection with women of color in mind who feel as though they're not represented in the makeup space—for women who can't find bronzers and highlighters for their complexion or wonderful nudes or beautiful glosses that look stunning on darker lips."
"We have so little in the beauty space," she says. "I know what it feels like to walk into Sephora and realize, okay, there are only 10% of products here I can maybe kind of use—that doesn't feel good, and that's real." Additionally, Featherson wanted her collection with Mented to be user-friendly and easy to use for people who aren't great at doing their own makeup or just simply aren't as well versed in the world of beauty.
"I wanted it to be something women can use even if they're not super-skilled at doing their makeup—not intimidating! I'm very, very proud of it, and just seeing all these beautiful women on Instagram wearing the line and tagging me… You know, we've been developing it for over a year, and it's been a really exciting process. I'm just so grateful, and it's so rewarding and fulfilling to see these women rock these products with such pride and feel so beautiful."
Curious to dive deeper into Featherson's beauty philosophy? Ahead, the actor and beauty devotee is exposing—in detail—her regimen and product must-haves while also offering more insight into how her upbringing and acting roles have shaped her perspective and vision when it comes to beauty and self-care.
Ashley's Makeup Routine
“I’ve always loved beauty. My mom is absolutely beautiful, but growing up, she was never this guiding person who was beauty- or makeup-savvy. So, over time, I just developed a knack—it wasn’t something where my mom took me to the mirror as a young girl and was like okay, this is how you apply lipstick. I think I was just born this way! I've always been naturally attracted and allured by it.
"I love doing my makeup in under 10 minutes—I love a look with no eye shadow. I love mascara, I love my brows to look great, I love to look glowy and bronzed and maybe a lip, but I do appreciate simplicity now. My beauty philosophy has definitely evolved from more is more to less is more."
"I have to say that I do like to prime. I love Caudalíe’s Beauty Elixir—I'm obsessed with it. I’ll use it for the rest of my days."
"I also love Tatcha's Silk Canvas formula—it’s a primer, and I primarily use it just on the places that I get oily."
"It's so funny, because as I’m talking to you, I'm literally looking at all my makeup. I have so much makeup and you know, I probably use about 3% of it. But I'm totally that person who's like, you know, I have to have it all—just in case!
"I really love Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer or Kat Von D's Lock-It Tattoo Foundation. I prefer matte coverage—I don't like to look dewy or anything like that because I tend to get a little bit of an oily T-zone."
"I reallllllyyy like this Radiant Creamy Concealer from Nars. And then I like Mac’s Mineralize Skinfinish, which I kind of use as a setting powder. I do use a kabuki brush to apply my foundation, but I prefer to use a BeautyBlender for my concealer to make sure it's really blended out.
"I don't really bake, because who has the time to bake when you're trying to be quick and look cute? But I do use a lighter color of the Skinfinish under my eyes than I do on the rest of my face. It just helps brighten the under-eye area a bit."
"I love to look bronzed and glowy, so I use the Season 1 or Season 2 shades of my Mented x ABF Compact Duo ($28). It's this great bronzer and highlighting combo, and I'll highlight my cheekbones, and down the bridge of my nose, on my forehead and my chin, and then I use the bronzer as a contour—my cheeks, jawline, and the nose."
"Then comes mascara. I really like Diorshow Blackout because I like dark. Since I have dark features, I need I to have the blackest, blackest color so I make sure my eyes still pop."
"Lips! I’ll use my Mented Lip Gloss—Bombshell as the base and then the Star Studded on top. Bombshell is more of a nude/natural high-shine lip gloss, and Star Studded has a clear base with hints of gold sparkle so it looks really good layered on top."
"Last but not least, I use a spray—I like Kat Von D’s Lock-It Makeup Setting Mist ($27), or I also like Skindinavia—the brand has a makeup finishing spray that's really great. Then I'm out the door! I realize this all sounds like a lot, but I promise, it's really not! It takes me less than 10 minutes."
Ashley's Hair Must-Haves
"Honestly, I’m obsessed with both makeup and hair, but if I had to pick, I would say I'm much better at doing my own makeup. That said, I am a product junkie—it's fun for me to find products that I love and that work best for me and then I really do just stick to those products."
"I love Devacurl—especially its One Condition Decadence Ultra Moisturizing Milk Conditioner ($46). I also love Design Essentials. It has this Almond Butter Express Instant Moisturizing Conditioner ($20), which I kind of use as a deep conditioner. I'm all about deep conditioning—especially with natural hair, conditioning is just the most important part."
I also love Oribe—the Côte D 'Azur Hair Refresher ($26). This is one of those products that not enough people know about, and I just want to shout about it to the masses. It's almost like a dry shampoo—and Oribe actually has a dry conditioner as well which I love, but what I like about this spray is that it's almost like a perfume, but it also cuts static.
"You spray it in your hair before you head out the door and it just makes your hair smell so good, makes your hair have a little more bounce… I'm just obsessed with it. I think everyone needs it."
"Jireh—it’s a wonderful hair line but they make a super-great edge control. Because, let's be honest, you just have to have a great edge control, girls."