When it comes to clear skin and enhancing a natural glow, presenter Maya Jama is an expert. If you follow her on Instagram, you'll know that she's an enormous sheet mask advocate, too. From planes to Ubers, she wears them everywhere, and in the unlikeliest places (including once on London's busy Oxford Street). It comes as no surprise, then, that Maya would use her skincare credentials to dream up her very own range of face masks. Enter: her debut skincare brand, MIJ.
MIJ is already taking the skincare world by storm. "It took two years to get this right," Maya told Refinery29. "I wanted something with super high quality ingredients that wasn't as expensive as other masks. We looked at all the best ingredients in the expensive brands and eventually made our own version, which is actually really affordable."
Maya didn't just leave MIJ to the skincare experts, though. "You shouldn’t cut corners anywhere but especially in beauty," she said. "First of all, you don't want to mess up anyone's skin. Secondly, I had to love the product. I didn't want it to be about the packaging or because it came from me in particular. I wanted a sustainable, good quality brand, so I checked everything, from the serums through to the process behind the packaging, which is home-compostable." And just like Pharrell's Humanrace skincare, MIJ is for everyone. "I wanted to get that message across and make it super inclusive," said Maya. "A lot of my guy friends have asked if they can wear it too and I'm like, 'Yeah, you still get tired eyes and knackered skin!'"
Currently, the range boasts two products. First up, a Bio-Cellulose Face Mask, which is derived from coconut water, not plastic. It holds 100 times its dry weight, which means it's packed with more serum and moisture. The star ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which hydrates tight skin, plumps out fine lines and makes skin appear glowy. Then there's buzzy ingredient glycerin, which attracts water and makes skin supple, soft and healthy. There are also Hydrogel Eye Patches formulated specifically for fine lines, wrinkles and puffy, tired eyes. Again, glycerin and hyaluronic acid are the mainstay ingredients, alongside allantoin, which moisturises skin and prevents dryness. Sold? Ahead, Maya delves into her easy, glowing skin routine and the skincare advice she wants everyone to live by.
On the simple routine that makes her skin glow
"When formulating the products, hyaluronic acid stuck out the most," said Maya. "I've tried most face masks, especially in the last year as I've been doing extra market research, and this was the ingredient that I really wanted in both the eye masks and sheet masks. It's so hydrating and I wanted to focus on hydrated, super fresh, glowy skin."
When it comes to the rest of Maya's skincare routine, things are just as simple. "I'm quite basic. What I've found works best for me is the most minimal products ever. In the morning I use Dove Soap just to get everything off and then I'll use Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream or Nivea Moisturising Cream For Face, Body & Hands. In the nighttime, I go the extra mile with face masks and all the added bits and make sure I put thick cream on."
All the super basic, non-expensive products work better for me than when I try and get fancy.
One thing she always does before bed is remove her makeup. "I instantly get spots if I don't wash my makeup off and that's my worst thing, because sometimes I get home and I'm knackered. But I'll otherwise wake up with thick, textured skin. In the night I like to use the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate and a cleanser by Simple. But all the super basic, non-expensive products work better for me than when I try and get fancy."
Her skincare routine may be minimal but Maya hinted that she will be expanding MIJ pretty soon. "I'm really hopeful and I feel super proud and confident about these masks," she said. "After we've mastered the mask world – and I'd like to bring out a tightening version – I really want to go into night creams and eye creams. I want MIJ to be a standalone brand that isn't necessarily connected to me."
On bad skin days...and clever quick fixes
"On set, where we have to film and I can't pose in a certain way to hide my spots, I'll either try and do a hairstyle that covers some of them, or sometimes we pretend a spot is a beauty spot! We put concealer over it and then draw a black dot with eyeliner." Her top tip? Don't pop, no matter how tempted you might be. "Sometimes I try and pop a spot last minute and it's 10 times harder to deal with it because it's so angry. Fight the urge to pop and leave spots to go down on their own. If I do give in and pop, I scar, but I tap Bio-Oil on to the area. I always have that product in my cabinet. When my weight goes up and down and I get new stretch marks, I find that Bio-Oil helps."
On the makeup must-haves she couldn't do without this year
"I've been working throughout the whole of lockdown and I wasn't allowed to have my hair and makeup done, so I had to learn how to do my own at home through Zoom calls," said Maya. "For Save Our Summer, it was all DIY." Her hero makeup product throughout the pandemic has been concealer. "It's a saviour product, because you can pretend you woke up glowing when you didn't. I've used MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer since I first ever started wearing makeup. I also really like eyebrow gel. If I don't have time to do a whole brow look I'll just use that. Plus, a good highlighter. I think you can look glorious with a concealer, highlighter and a brow product."
On the best skincare advice she's ever been given
"The obvious one is to take off your makeup in the evening," said Maya, "but my mum told me that being on aeroplanes draws moisture from your skin. I have oily skin so I wouldn't put any cream on during a flight. I'd land and my skin wouldn't be oily anymore and I’d be like, Great, I've solved oily skin! But actually it does more damage because it sucks out all your moisture. So I always just go extra on all of my creams when I'm travelling. Take a face mask with you, too."
On the skincare products she avoids
"When I was younger and getting into skincare, scrubs were massive. I used to scrape my face, really scratch it. It would make my skin red raw. Only recently, I've heard that they aren't that good for your skin, especially if you aren't using the right one. Peels are better for you than scrubs and I much prefer a light peel, but you have to be careful with both. I really want to try those peels that shed your skin but I've never had enough time off to try one! Other than that, I use a face cream with gentle peeling ingredients."
On her super speedy glossy hair routine
Just like Maya's skincare routine, simple is best when it comes to looking after her ultra glossy hair. "I love Aussie," said Maya, "and I grew up using the deep conditioner, as did my mum. I always have my hair styled and it's heat damaged 24/7, so I try and do the 3 Minute Miracle hair mask at least once a week. I leave the product in throughout the duration of my shower for a deep condition."
The secret to her shampoo ad shine is learning not to wash her hair so much. "Because I was using so many products, I used to wash my hair all the time and it was getting so dry and damaged. Now, I leave it for at least two to three days so that my hair can breathe. Castor oil is also genius and I've been putting it on my edges to make them thicker. A silk pillowcase is a great touch if you aren't going to wrap your hair in a silk scarf at night."
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