Beauty and Style Comes Naturally To Model-Writer Yaminah Mayo

Model-writer Yaminah Mayo’s beauty says a lot--and so does the Brooklyn creative’s equally expressive voice.

Contributor: Marjon Carlos

Photographer: Quil Lemons

There is no doubt that model and writer Yaminah Mayo has an expressive kind of beauty. The 25-year-old’s burst of freckles, bouncy spirals, and effusive smile has commanded the attention of such brands and titles like Mansur Gavriel, Shea Moisture, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Colgate, and New York Magazine’s "The Cut" (just to name a few), making her an instant favorite. But talking a mile-a minute on set of her “Beauty of the Week” shoot, cracking sly jokes while effortlessly posing in front of Quil Lemons’ camera, Fashion Fair soon learned Mayo has an equally vivid voice--one in which the gorgeous magpie has been using to connect with her loyal blog readership over the subjects of politics, style, life in New York, and yes, beauty.

And as you can imagine, Mayo has plenty to say on everything--especially the latter. From an early age, the Boston native learned how to look no further than her kitchen cupboards for the perfect holistic elixirs to brew. Her mother’s own interest in homemade beauty aides influenced Mayo to pick up the craft and she has plenty of recipes up her sleeve. Opening up just one drawer alone in her Brooklyn home, Fashion Fair was privy to piles of homemade potions and remedies. But Mayo’s organic slant isn’t to suggest she’s “a no-makeup makeup” kind of girl. No, the model can’t get enough of Fashion Fair’s lip sticks (“Underground” is her new fall fave), Bold Lash Mascara, and Brilliance Lip Lacquer--or the fact that the brand has been servicing the black beauty customer for years.

Here, the latest Beauty of the Week, who counts Tracee Ellis Ross among her beauty muses, talks her career, future plans in writing, and how she fell for her freckles.

Tell us a little about your upbringing. How did it help shape your approach to beauty?

I'm an only child, so my mom was really protective, but she's really supportive of me expressing myself however I feel is right. We used to have spa days and treat ourselves. She really laid the foundation of how important self-care and holistic care was before the two really became a “thing".

Do you have a Fashion Fair memory?

I remember seeing them in an exhibit at Studio Museum a few years back and thinking "Where are they?!" I don't think the brand was on social media at the time but I really know the line for being iconic and being there for Black women at a time when we really didn't have options or representation in the beauty industry. I think it's amazing that Fashion Fair has been around so long. When I use the products, I imagine how the women a generation or two before me felt. I wonder how they utilized the products. Overall, I appreciate feeling seen and I love that the shades are correct for my skin.

Which Fashion Fair products do you love and have you woven into your routine?

I absolutely love the brow powder and their matte lipsticks. The lipsticks are really vibrant and also work as a cute lip stain if you aren’t looking to have a whole lip moment. The Bold Lash Mascara and the Lip Lacquer Brilliance lip gloss is AMAZING, and I love the lipstick in “Underground”—it will be my fall go-to!

You also have a vibrant way with words. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I did! I would always write. My mom had me reading a lot [when I was young]. I used to write stories and poems in notebooks, but I rarely finished them. I have a vivid imagination and use it. As Told By Ginger was my ish!

How did you get your start with your blog and writing?

I wanted to get into the industry but I didn't have the traditional requirements in order to do so. I also didn't want to start in the industry schlepping papers. I wanted to do and learn through my mistakes. I also knew I had a voice and a viewpoint to fashion/beauty that others didn't.

What do you want do next in your career? What are some major career goals?

I want to coordinate events that really rally women of color together and help us build together. I'd love to start freelancing in fashion and beauty writing. I'd also love to get into producing video content and hosting. I want to be a multi-hyphenate.

How did moving to New York change your approach to beauty and style?

When I lived in Boston, I was definitely fashionable and people noticed, but I held back. Now, I wear any and everything, but I need to be able to put it on fast and get out the door. My beauty routine is the same. Fast. Wash. Tone. Sunscreen. Out the door. There are leisure days but the objective is speed.

What's your beauty routine like for day-to-day?

For skin, it’s a hodgepodge of products depending on how my skin is acting. I mostly use Chargrin Valley Shea Rose Soap, Thayers Rose Toner, Trader Joe's Jojoba Oil, and Neutrogena Dry Touch Sunscreen. For my hair, I use Shea Moisture Shea Shampoo, Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle, cold pressed coconut or jojoba oil, Oyin Handmade Hair Dew, Miss Jessie's Leave in Condish, Oyin Handmade Boing or Burnt Sugar Pomade, Bumble and Bumble Anti-Humidity Gel.

We noticed you have a very natural, holistic approach to beauty and skin care--what led you to making your own elixirs and combinations?

My mom would make extracts and such if I broke out or my scalp got irritated, and I picked up on it because I'm super cheap and it feels great to treat ailments or irritations holistically.

We love your curls and that you play with them so much--what's been the journey like with your hair and where do you get your hair inspiration from?

When I was in high school, I was a “Joan Clayton” stan! I wanted my tendrils to look just like Tracee Ellis Ross' and my mom had to break it to me that Tracee is mixed and I am not, so I scrapped that plan and started over. Now, I'm more of a Betty Davis kinda gal. I love a twist out on the 7th or 8th day, and there are only a few delicate curls left.

Your freckles are such an adorable beauty mark, but did you always embrace them?

For the most part, yes. I was teased as a kid but who wasn't? I knew they weren't going anywhere, so my 7-year-old self got to embracing them real quick!

Do you ever play them up in your beauty/makeup routine?

I don't really wear heavy makeup (foundation, concealer). I don't contour. I usually just fill in and enhance with lipstick, so I think I let my freckles flex and show themselves off.

On social media we see so many different makeup trends happening—from contouring to no-makeup makeup. Do you think beauty ideals are changing in a positive way these days?

I do because the people I follow really play up their natural beauty. I’m not saying contouring and “a beat” isn't beautiful, but I, personally, just don't have time for it—especially in a NY summer. I love a glossy eye and a bold eye paint!

When do you feel your most beautiful?

When I have nothing to do and I have the day to myself. I can indulge in a face mask and take care of myself. I think free time is really a beautiful thing and it emits beauty.


Lending her face (and freckles!) to major beauty and fashion campaigns for Opening Ceremony, Refinery29 and more, here's a look at Yaminah's growing modeling portfolio!

Photo credit: Opening Ceremony

Photo credit: The Cut (Photo: Katie Thompson. Photo Editor: Biel Parklee./Katie Thompson)

Photo credit: Refinery29

Photo credit: Urban Outfitters

Shop the look

Lipstick - Underground

Lipstick - Underground

Eyebrow Pencil (Brown/Black)

Eyebrow Pencil (Brown/Black)

Fashion Fair Lip Lacquer Brilliance (Rhapsody Collection)

Fashion Fair Lip Lacquer Brilliance (Rhapsody Collection)

Fashion Fair Lipstick - Felicity Matte (Rhapsody Collection)

Fashion Fair Lipstick - Felicity Matte (Rhapsody Collection)

Brush On Brow - Bronze Onyx

Brush On Brow - Bronze Onyx

Blemish Control Cleansing Foam

Blemish Control Cleansing Foam