Sharmadean Reid, Founder of WAH Nails, has achieved more in 10 years than most have in their entire career.
Her journey started as a brand consultant and fashion stylist for Nicola Formichetti. With all the sprinklings of millennial feminism, WAH Nails, an acronym for ‘We Ain’t Hoes,’ set up shop in Dalston in 2008. Its ethos was to act a space for women to get super cool nails done, gossip and party. This same ethos has catapulted the brand into somewhat of a cult-like force representing women worldwide living life on their terms.
Reid was awarded an MBE in 2015 for her visionary contribution to the beauty industry. If this wasn’t enough, she’s got her own Nike trainer, authored two books, Wikipedia-certified, a clothing line with ASOS, spearheads a community of budding female entrepreneurs, has her own international girl crew and still manages to turn up to investor meetings decked out in chunky braids.
If it wasn’t obvious, Sharmadean is kind of a big deal.
You can get a slice of the movement, at her tech-kaleidoscope of a salon on Peter Street, Soho; or in Boots stores nationwide offering WAH nail products.
What time do you wake up?
I wake up at 6.30-7ish when I have my son. When I don’t, I’ll have a little lie in till 8 am.
Do you have any morning rituals before leaving the house?
Do you have any bedside beauty essentials?
I can not go to sleep without putting something on my face. Like I’ve been so tired, or drunk – but I will pull myself to the bathroom to put something on my face before bed.
What I use before bed varies, it’s like a merry-go-round. So it might be Vitamin C, Coconut Oil or Dr. Roebuck’s serum. I don’t really like serums at night; I prefer oils at night. I find oils have much more of an impact.
But, if I go to bed early I will actually do 2 because I always wake up during the middle of the night to go to the toilet. So what I’ll do is, say if I go to bed at 11 pm, I will put on a serum on knowing that I’m going to wake up again at 3 am – then I can put something else on.
What products do you use on your face and body in the morning?
I’ll wake up in the morning, have a shower. In the shower, I use Nubian Heritage Shower Gel – it’s my favourite…I’ve always used it. I prefer the African Black Soap (by Nubian Heritage) — but I can’t manage to get a hold of it in Paks. It’s got sandalwood in it, so it smells really expensive. The smell of the Nubian Heritage Black Soap is the nicest thing I’ve ever smelt in a Black product. It’s a really good smell.
Then, I use a body brush to scrub in the shower gel. I used to do dry body bushing, but I always would forget. So now, I just brush my whole body in the bath with the shower gel.
I use a back brush as well because I recently started to get ‘back spots,’ which is crazy! I haven’t had them since I was a teenager. I think it’s because I’ve just neglected my back, and I’ve forgotten about it. Then my son said, ‘You’ve got loads of spots on your back’ and I was like ‘What?!’
Before then, I never even properly looked at my back. So now I use a Botanics Brush on my back and wash that with shampoo. I think its just more of a stripper, like a clarifying shampoo.
I wash my face with Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser because it’s basically nothing. I bought Skinceuticals Gentle Cleanser – but I actually don’t like milky cleansers, because they don’t remove product. They just don’t. It’s more so soothing, and it puts moisture back into my face.
I had a lot of eye makeup done the other day, and I was trying to wash my face with that Skinceuticals Gentle Cleanser – but the eye makeup just wouldn’t come off. I thought ‘Oh my God’, every time I wash my face, nothing is coming off.
Then, I get out the bath, and I use a mix of Kiehl’s Creme de Corp and Elengé Body Butter, especially because we’re going into winter now. Kiehl’s Creme de Corp and Elengé Body Butter, both do the same thing, which is heavy duty moisturising with a sheen finish.
In the summer I use Mountain Ocean Skin Trip Coconut Moisturizer. It doesn’t leave any grease whatsoever. The smell is insane…like it’s a smell to drive boys nuts! Because it is imported, it’s so expensive. I use it more as a scent now, then as a moisturiser – because it’s such an amazing smell.
Then I use my perfume which is Cuir 28 by Le Labo. I use a natural deodorant that I found in a Whole Foods in New York. The smell is perfect, and it contains Vetiver. Again, it’s a smell people don’t use very much in natural products.
For my face, I use the Biologique Recherche P50 lotion. To be honest, I sometimes use the P50 before I moisturise, to let it soak in. Then I’ve got an issue. I don’t know which moisturiser to put on top of the P50. So sometimes, I don’t moisturise. This is a new thing for me.
“I’ve been so tired, or drunk – but I will pull myself to the bathroom to put something on my face before bed ”
What’s your morning make-up routine?
I’ve been using Fenty Beauty Foundation, which has changed my life. It’s the best foundation I’ve used in my entire life. The finish looks like skin. It’s a bit like putty or play dough, where it’s wet but then when you put it on it dries to a perfect finish ever. It’s like the exact same colour of my skin. It’s amazing!
I just do two pumps in my hands, and I rub it all over my face like a moisturiser because I’m very unsophisticated like that. I do my make-up in front of my sink because I wash my hands between each step. All my spots come from dirt, apart from the one I get on my chin every single month on my period. I’ll get an under the skin spot every month, without fail. So have to mitigate that by using the P50.
I got my eyebrows microbladed by Rachel Pitman. Changed my life! I never really had eyebrows before. I looked like a crack-head with no make-up on. Before, I used to use the brow pencil from Rimmel, which I’ve used since I was 15 years old. Now, I just use a brow brush to comb through. I just bought a MAC brow gel
Then if I haven’t managed to get a neat line with the brow gel, I still use my trusty Rimmel, just to tidy the line underneath.
I then take the Bobby Brown Foundation Stick in Warm Almond and put it under my eyes, as if it’s concealer, but it’s not. I’ll then get a MAC Mineralize Powder and I use it on my lid area. Then I use a thin line of Eyeko Liner in Black Magic.
Then a bit of Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Highlighter down my nose and on my cheek. I use a Sleek Matte Me Lipstick in Bittersweet. Sometimes, I might rub my lipstick onto my cheeks a little bit. I get lash extensions all the time, but I haven’t had the time recently, so I’m wearing a mascara by Eyeko.
What’s your hair situation in the morning?
At the moment I’m trying to not wear weaves as much as possible. I’ve had my hair in extensions for the last eight years. I have them bonded and not sewn in, which isn’t healthy at all for my scalp. I know it’s not healthy but a) I prefer the speed and b) I prefer the finished look and c) I hate not washing my hair.
I would get this bonded weave done every ten days – two weeks. So it’s quite high maintenance. So then I was like, my hair is not healthy, it’s dry.
When I was younger, I always had long hair. When I was 13 years old, my cousin relaxed my hair. My hair just got fucked from there on.
Products wise, I find Jim & Henry – Eight, really good. It’s actually amazing. I use it on mine and my son’s hair. It just makes my hair so soft and manageable. So then after I use that, I slick my hair back. If I want it to stay for the day, I use the Bleach Hard AF Hairspray. I really like the smell; it doesn’t have a clinical smell..it smells like perfume.
What perfume do you usually reach for?
I only have one. Le Labo – Cuir 28. I know that some people have perfume wardrobes – I find that weird.
(I tell Sharmadean that I currently have five perfumes and counting in my collection).
It’s insane to me. When I walk into the room, people should know that’s Sharma.
“When I walk into the room, people should know that’s Sharma”
What’s your routine after a long day at work?
I always have a bath every night. I like to get into my bedsheets clean.
I use Dr. Teals Lavender and Eucluplyuts Epsom Salt. Dr. Teals has the best Epsom salts – I’ve used so many. You can get a giant bag for £7.99 from Boots. I’ll then a put a few drops of lavender essence, vetiver or sage – just some essential oil.
I wash my face with Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water. Then, I put on whatever my skin needs – like oil or serum or whatever. To be honest, out of all of them, Coconut oil is just the best.
Do you add anything else to your make-up look at night?
Pretty much nothing. I might put a bit more eyeshadow. I just like to look like me.
Sometimes, I might do a coloured eyeliner like aubergine. I love coloured eyeliners, and sometimes I use eyeshadow as an eyeliner. I’m not very experimental with my makeup. Sometimes I wish I was.
Do you have a routine to make you feel sexy?
There are two songs when I put my makeup on they make me feel sexy.
I’ll always play Jennifer Lopez – I’m Real and Machine Gun Kelly – Bad Things
Describe Sharmadean in 3 words?
Curious. Persistent. Magnetic.
What do you have on your nails currently?
I’m wearing a nude gel by Nail Harmony because I didn’t have time to get nail art. I love this colour. It’s like rose brown colour. Number 52 in the salon (WAH), if you wanna go and get it.
Do you feel pressure as a beauty professional to always look on point?
Not really, because my nails before this were shitty for two weeks. But I think everyone kinda knows I’m busy. For me, If I’m trying to get people to buy into what I’m doing, they should see that I have an understanding of their industry and that understanding should come from consumption.
How do you balance motherhood and looking beautiful?
Well, this is where it’s a bit shit…because it means I get loads of beauty treatments in the middle of the working day and I can’t do that. It just takes up too much time. I wish you’d seen yesterday. I got my braid girl to come to the office. I sat at a little desk, and I was working, and she braided my whole hair in 2 and a half hours, and I didn’t even notice. Literally. It was fully quite sick you know.
“One night if alcohol can make your skin look good the next day. Several more in a row and it doesn’t”
How much do you spend on beauty a month?
I’d say on average £500. 75% of that is (beauty) services. Even though I get a lot of products for free, I’ll still buy stuff. It makes me feel nice.
Beauty brands you are currently obsessing over?
Favourite beauty products under £20?
Do you wanna know something really fucked? I really don’t look at the price of stuff. It’s really bad, isn’t it? I tend to only go shopping unless I’ve got a lot of money. Like, if I have to look at my bank account – I don’t go to Liberty.
I guess it would have to be a product from the drug store like Thayers Lavender Witch Hazel. I feel like it’s well underrated. It just provides this clean freshness.
One night of alcohol can make your skin look good the next day. Several more in a row and it doesn’t.
Ride or Die beauty product?
I’m not really loyal to anything. If anything, probably Coconut Oil. If I could only have one thing that would make me look good forever, and I’d have to never wear makeup again – I’d put coconut oil on my face every day. Guaranteed within two weeks, I’d look amazing.
Any beauty regrets?
Chemically straightening my hair and plucking my eyebrows as a teenager.
One thing you learnt from your mother about skincare?
Nothing. My mum wasn’t into beauty. All my other aunties were. The only thing my mum would wear every single day is this dark lipstick. Her hair was always in braids.
Even now, I feel it’s so important for mums to pass on black hair care to black girls to make them love their hair. The only reason I chemically straightened my hair, was because my hair was so unmanageable.
The reason it was unmanageable was because my mum didn’t even use conditioner on my hair. Can you imagine using a cheap, own brand shampoo and no conditioner? When I discovered that conditioner was the secret to black hair, which was only as recent as five years ago, I was like ‘why does no-one know this?‘ , ‘how am I an educated person and I don’t have the basic knowledge that your natural hair should be completely drenched in conditioner before you comb it!’.
Mum never taught me this; it’s all been from magazines and the internet.
Lipstick or Lipgloss? Lipgloss
Natural Lashes or Lash Extensions? Lash Extensions
Matte or Dewy Skin? Dewy Skin
Contour or not to Contour? Not to contour
Eyeshadow or eyeliner? Eyeliner
Highlighter or Bronzer? Highlighter
Bare Skin or Foundation? Foundation
La Mer or Chanel? Neither. La Mer if I was gonna use one.
London or Wolverhampton? London
Magazines or Books? Books
Dinner or Rave? Dinner
Tesla or BMW? Tesla
Lil’ Kim or Foxy Brown? Lil’ Kim
What are you currently reading?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Books that changed your life?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Most played song at the moment?
I get obsessed with songs; then I play them to death. I haven’t got one right now. But my last one was Machine Gun Kelly – Bad Things. If I need to put on a song at work, I’ll always start with Beyonce – Sorry. It’s just such a good song.
Who would your dream dinner be with and why?
With my future husband.
Where did you last eat?
I had a really great meal at Yuzu on Artillery Passage, Spitalfields London.
Favourite place to eat in London?
Depends on what for… It’s so hard because food is my weakness. Every day is exciting for me when it comes to food. I spend all my money on food and beauty.
Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
Beautystack. It will be a networked platform that allows beauty pros to build a site and get bookings directly from their social style images.
What is the future of the beauty industry?
Well, this is obviously biased to what I’m currently working on. I feel like the future of the beauty industry is respecting beauticians, the trends and the community that they create – which is the foundation of the beauty industry. It’s the foundation, and it gets left out.
What is your view on the ‘self-confessed beauty influencer’?
I believe strongly in peer-to-peer influence with beauty.
Pretty much every product I have, has been a direct recommendation face-to-face or I’m at someone’s house, and I look in their cupboard …or we’re both doing our makeup together, and I’m like ‘what is that?’
What you’re essentially going to a beauty blogger or influencer for, is the latest up-to-date news but I don’t weight that recommendation with the same weight if I read a business magazine. I’m not quite sure why.
If they don’t look similar to me or have my taste…that’s why my friends are more important. I know my friends are on my level. I know that they aren’t using crap products. I know that we have the same ethos of product selection.
“I know my friends are on my level… I know that we have the same ethos of product selection”
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
I’m not there yet. I’m just not.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
43 years old. Married. Doing a lot of philanthropic work. I would have sold my company. Using my money for good.
How do you stay inspired?
Reading. Reading always inspires me. Talking to people that are outside of my industry – I find that the most inspiring. Documentaries are my number one, if I’m feeling unmotivated, I’ll watch a documentary about someone amazing in history, and it will be like..’I’ve gotta do something!’.
What keeps you motivated?
The freedom that money brings.
High of the week? Low of the week?
High – Getting a term in contract changed, that I really wasn’t sure about – I just stuck to my guns, and it came through.
Low – Starting the week realising that I can’t be vegan. I was so depressed on Monday that I had no reason for the sadness because I love Monday’s. The only thing that had only changed was that I hadn’t eaten meat for two weeks. It affected my mood so greatly. I’ve tried to go vegan or vegetarian several times in my life, and every time it doesn’t work for me. Then I had a bowl of pho and a glass of prosecco, in the middle of the day, and then I was fine! So insane!
How can we join your International Girl Crew?
Just by being fly, working and loving travel as much as we do. That’s it! It’s not membership club!