Shelf Life | Linda Gieskes-Mwamba

Welcome to Shelf Life, a new series where we explore the rituals, products and beauty beliefs of women we admire. To start us off, founder Linda Gieskes-Mwamba shares her simple, functional beauty routine, the beauty practices her mother passed down and her all-time favourite Suki Suki Naturals products.

Answers have been edited for clarity & length.

How would you characterise your approach to beauty?

I would definitely characterise my beauty practice as minimal and quite natural. I’ve tried so many things over the years for both my skincare routine and my hair care routine, that I’ve settled on multi-functional skincare and haircare products.

I really take the time to do quite a bit of research before adopting a new product in my routine or swapping in a new product to replace an old fave. I’ve learned that although I’m not loyal to brands, I am loyal to efficacious products.

Current Morning Routine:

For my body, I love showering with natural artisanal bar soaps, usually found in health stores or farmer’s markets. They’re the one part of my self-care routine that I’m happy to change up as and when I feel like it. As a winter moisturiser, I opt for Mango Butter and I’m a big fan of good moisture while staying away from silicones and petroleums.

I wash my face with Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser. I love jelly/creamier cleanser textures as they don’t strip my skin and compromise my skin barrier. I recently splurged on some Biologique Recherche P50W. I really love it for its light exfoliation and brightening properties – everyone I follow for skincare tips has a bottle in their bathroom 😊.

I’ll then use The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum, followed by the Suki Suki Naturals Rosehip Brightening Facial Oil. To top it off, I’ll wear my Uriage Depiderm anti-brown spots SPF50 that I like to interchange with Black Girl Sunscreen’s SPF 30, depending on how much sun exposure I get.

I don’t wear makeup on most days and when I do, I usually concentrate on having a groomed brow and even-looking skin. I love brands and products that allow for a quick made-up face, so formulations that are easily absorbed by the skin are my favourite. What I love to do is apply either the Ilia Beauty Super Serum Skin Tint or the Chanel Eau de Teint which both provide very light and natural-looking coverage.

I then apply my MAC concealer under my eyes and around my mouth, where I have some discolouration. I groom my eyebrows with a Maybelline eyebrow pencil and then apply Glossier Boy Brow in Black for volume and extra texture. I curl my lashes and use MAC mascara. I highlight with RMS Beauty Living Luminizer and apply the MAC Ambering Rose blush on my cheeks.

Depending on how close or far I am to my wash day, my hair care morning routine will differ. On a day-2 wash-and-go, I’ll sleep with my hair in a pineapple and take it down after my shower. I’ll style it by adding some Whipped Shea Crème for hydration and extra nourishment. On day 3, I’ll add some Miraculous Oil to the length and ends of my hair and repeat until about day 4 or 5, where I’ll slick my hair back into a bun with the Argan Oil Eco Styler Gel until wash day.

Current Evening Routine:

If I have makeup on, I’ll double-cleanse by using the Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water followed by Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. Just like the morning, I follow cleansing with Biologique Recherche P50W and The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Next, I use The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC for eye contour. I follow that with Suki Suki’s Rosehip Brightening Facial Oil, which I replace with The Ordinary’s 0.5% Retinol in Squalane every 3rd night.

Favourite product and how long you’ve been using it:

My all-time favourite product is Suki Suki Naturals Miraculous Oil – the first version of it was released 9 years ago. My current favourite haircare product is our Mongongo and Maracujà Detangling and Nourishing Conditioner duo. My favourite skincare products are our Rosehip Brightening Facial Oil and the Açaí Gentle Exfoliating Mask.

Something you’ve tried and loved:

Favourite technique of the moment is Gua Sha and some micro-needling; favourite product of the moment is Biologique Recherche P50W.

Something you’ve tried and hated:

Facial cupping – I ended up with bruised skin. Not sure if I did it correctly, but I’m kind of put off for now.

Something your mother passed down to you:

So many things – I stole everything from my mother. She had such great tips for being in control of your own beauty routine, from teaching me how to do a proper hair treatment at home to teaching me to do my own roller set and even a full mani-pedi.

Your earliest beauty memory?

I have flashbacks of getting ready in the morning before going to school and always taking too long to tie the perfect ponytail from about 6 years old. My hair was relaxed from the age of 5 and I always loved a slicked-back ponytail.

What role does beauty play in your life?

My beauty routine is part of my wellness routine, they are so intertwined for me. I believe that we feel our most beautiful when we feel great in our skin. That requires making an effort to get comfortable in your skin and your body. You can only find that comfort if you adopt practices that are genuinely good for you, across all your lifestyle choices.

What have you learned about yourself through your beauty practice?

I’ve learned that I’m a very meticulous person and I pay a lot of attention to detail.

Does your practice have a goal? 

10 years ago the goal was looking good on that specific day or for a specific occasion. It was not a very sustainable way to view a beauty routine. My practice today is more focused on supporting my body’s needs, hoping that it will reward that support in my ageing journey.

What would you change about the world of beauty?

Creating more inclusive beauty products – it’s lovely to see that that’s changing.

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