Maya Jama shares her ultimate beauty hacks and dreams of becoming a bartender as she unveils her new skincare range

With Swedish and Somali origins, Jama also proudly reps her Bristolian roots and you can often find her hosting and participating in the hottest shows on British television such as Don’t Hate the Playaz, Celebrity Juice and Peter Crouch: Save Our Summer on BBC iPlayer.

She has even started dabbling with some acting in the hit Netflix series The Duchess.

In true celebration of the launch of her latest venture, MIJ Masks, GLAMOUR sat down virtually for a chit chat with Maya, talking all things skincare, coping during Corona times, leaking while wearing a white dress *whew*, comparing herself to others and many more juicy bits…

If winning an E! People’s Choice Award, hosting a BAFTA’s red carpet and being called for by Drake on a song all before the age of 26 is not a real flex, than we don’t know what is. With a 1.9 million (and growing) Instagram following, Maya Jama is that woman: UK social media sweetheart, British TV and Radio royalty, newly-appointed beauty entrepreneur, agony aunt, and just all round bad gyal.

I have to remind myself from time to time: comparison is the thief of joy

Sometimes it’s fine to remind yourself that your only USP is that you, are YOU. That is your unique ability, and there’s nobody in the world that is exactly the same as you. So rather than looking at somebody else and feeling like ‘I want this’, just focus on your good points and enhance those, which of course is easier said than done, trust me I know.

I could give all the quotes and all the advice in the world but it’s an internal battle, that both you and I have to navigate around. Gratitude is the best way to combat that. I find it useful to remind myself that when you envy someone’s situation, there’ll be someone that’s looking at you at the same time wanting something that you have. Whenever you find yourself concerned with other people’s blessings, regroup and start counting your own.

My secret is tricking my brain into feeling good about myself

Realistically, you’re never going to be 100% happy with every single thing, 100% of the time. What has helped me, is talking myself through each step, focusing on what I do like, rather than what I don’t. So if my skin is being bad, I’ll think, ‘Okay, but my hair is healthy and looks cute today.’ I change up my thoughts, to take the focus off things that don’t make me feel good and onto things that do.

Who you see on social media, is really me! I would only want to influence others to stay true to their most authentic self, anything else is unsustainable in the long run

For a long time I felt a severe underlying and perhaps irrational pressure and responsibility to only influence others “positively” on social media. At the same time I feel like, I just need to be exactly who I am in real life. Hopefully, if people do want to look up to me, then at least they can just see that, and think ‘She’s been consistent in how she is and she’s just true to herself’, rather than me trying to promote a clean cut perfect image, which I’m so far from.

I would never want to put a narrative out there that I’m perfect, that’s fraudulent behaviour. Nor do I want to dictate how people should navigate their lives because that’s how I choose to do it. Mistakes will be made along the way, but it’s more how you learn from them and how you evolve after your mess ups. That’s ultimately the message that I’d want to push.

In my teenage years, I too, did the whole technique of cutting myself a fringe to hide my spots, which incidentally led to even more spots..

In my adult years, I’d say my skin has behaved (not that I’m looking to get jinxed). But throughout school, I definitely had a lot of spots, like most teenagers. My T-Zone in general was chaotic at times, but the forehead was my problem area. I definitely cut myself a fringe to hide spots. Then I’d end up getting worse, from the natural oils in the hair. I was trapped in a vicious cycle of constantly putting toothpaste on my forehead the night before bed, then proceeding to apply this massive greasy fringe over it the next day to cover up my wounds. Was I the only person that would google “How to get rid of a spot in 24 hours”, day before an event? Asking for a friend?

I really can picture myself as a Coyote Ugly bartender

If I wasn’t on TV or on my beauty entrepreneur bag, I would love to be a Bartender. I always just thought that it would be mad fun. Traveling the world, i.e. do a year in one country and then a year in another, learning new languages, new skills and meeting new people, throwing drinks in the air and working at all these like incredible massive bars… If all else fails and you see me in a cocktail flaring course, mind your business!

As effortlessly as it may seem on a screen, falling in love with my hair, skin and body was a process…

I don’t think I know anyone in life that’s consistently been happy with their body, skin, hair, or whatever else. So for me, it’s definitely been up and down. I think this part of my life is probably the most confident I’ve felt in my body. I think you just learn to accept things more. I know as a teenager, it’s super hard because your body’s changing really fast and you’re starting to find flaws. Naturally, you’re just the most awkward being ever. So I think now at 26, with a tiny bit more life experience, I’ve learnt to get comfortable and confident with myself and realise that it’s not so much about the outside anyway.

I was on a straight hair ban for a while by my mum. As soon as I was allowed to experiment you could find me rocking crispy curls with an unmatched straight fringe lewk

My hair has a wavy texture naturally. My mom had similar hair to me, but thicker. So she was quite precious with my hair and wouldn’t let me straighten it very often when I was younger. All I wanted to do was have straight hair. For a while, she wouldn’t let me dye it either, so I wouldn’t ruin it. As soon as I was allowed, I went straight for the boldest, blondest highlights. Then I went for the red, which didn’t work out but that was my way of rebelling, I guess. I went through different hair journeys. I was the teenager that would opt for a cocktail of a million hair products (the more the better) for that noughties schoolgirl crispy curls with a slightly sizzled, ironed down, side fringe lewk and let me tell you, it looked like something!

I feel like I started my own little facemask movement online so launching a face and eye mask brand was the obvious next step

My mask fascination dates back to when I was like 12 years old. I remember watching my mum being really into her face masks. In the last four years, I also found myself wearing sheet masks on planes, or while doing my daily errands, because I’m always in a rush. I would put it on my Insta stories, then people would send me pictures of them doing the same. It became like a little thing with me and my followers: “Oh, look, I’m wearing a face mask in the back of this taxi…” and I’d repost them.

It got to the point people would ask me for recommendations and I just thought, why don’t I just mash up all my favourite ingredients, best packaging styles etc. and make one of my own? From all the market research I’d been doing throughout the years, plus the expertise of the team working with me on the brand, we created what I think is the ultimate face mask and eye patches at a very user friendly price, all in under two years.

I wanted to create the brand with the intention of being as sustainable as possible without compromising on price point

The team and I really fought to make the sheet masks and packaging as recyclable as possible. They’re made of carbon-positive bio-cellulose fibre and they’re also biodegradable. The mailing packaging is compostable. The box is ethically sourced and environmentally friendly. I’d say our superpower is that we managed to create a high quality product with it’s super high quality ingredients, without the super high-end price that other competitors are sitting at. I truly believe that you could put it toe-to-toe with all the expensive ones and it would have equal, if not better, results but without setting your pocket in flames.

You really are what you eat! *_*

I’m convinced that my diet has cursed me with oily skin, it must just come straight through my pores. I do keep my skincare routine quite basic, focusing on hydration. My best skin hacks have to be cleansing skin day and night, although I can be quite lazy on that part and wake-up with panda eyes (do as I say, not as I do!), and of course MIJ Masks.

Using hair masks and a silk pillowcase has changed my hair game

I’m a compulsive hair mask user. Want glossy hair – hair mask. Works for me anyway. I annoyingly use a lot of heat on my hair, so I’ll treat my hair and scalp to an Aussie hair mask like once a week. On the off-days, I’ll make sure that when I’m in the shower, I’ll deep condition after cleansing it and leave it on for like 5 minutes before I rinse it out. The heat from the steam will also help lock-in moisture.

I also like protective hairstyles. I only recently started using a silk pillowcase as I noticed my hair was breaking off a bit at the ends. My friends have been doing it for ages, but I thought because my hair has a straighter texture, that I didn’t need to, but actually I think all hair types should wrap, if you can.

Lockdown 1.0 was not good for my physical health, it just turned me into a sloth

The first initial lockdown I basically turned into a sloth while everyone else was going on their journeys, jogs and home workouts. If anything you would be able to find me dancing around the house with really loud music. That is like my mood boosting home workout.

One thing I realised about myself is that if I’m not working, then all I want to do is drink, which is not great! I just though.. ‘Oh! No work? Have a glass of wine!’ Which would turn to three, to five. So I think working is actually good for my physical health. However, it was a nice chance for me to actually have proper catch ups with my loved ones, like over the phone and zoom. It sort of allows us to bond rather than me going a million miles an hour and only focusing on the bag!

Nothing will humble you more than leaking while wearing a white dress…

This is quite graphic, but there has been an incident where my period had come early and I was wearing a white dress. By the grace of God, it’s only come once I’ve got in the hotel, but I’d essentially just spent the whole night playing with fire, without a tampon in sight. When it reached, I just thought, ‘Dear God, thank you for looking over me on this one, you’re a real one!’

When starting a business my advice is: don’t cut corners

Don’t cut corners to make things cheaper because long-term it might bite you in the bum. For me personally, if you want to have a long, sustainable brand, then the product has to be the most important thing, everything else is optics.

If my bathroom cabinet was on fire I’d save…

Number one my MIJ Masks. I’d save my MAC Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer, it’s the little thick creamy pots. That’s been my product since I’ve been wearing makeup basically. They can make you look like you’re fresh, when you’re not. A deep conditioner from Aussie and a…sorry I’m saving four because not leaving without my toothbrush, you never know who will come to put that fire out…

In 10 years time I..

I dream of having a prime time Saturday night on British TV that everyone knows and loves. Well maybe it doesn’t have to be Saturday. It could be Sunday or Friday, but yes, something that people will know: ‘that’s her show’. Then also have MIJ Masks become a major beauty enterprise that everybody goes to, loves and trusts. Like a quarter of what Rihanna is doing, but with TV instead of music… you guys don’t want me singing!

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