If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked actor and director Adjoa Andoh, who plays Lady Danbury in season two of Bridgerton (out March 25), about the uni-ball pen, MAC eyeliner, and fair-trade coffee that she can’t live without.
You know how companies are always discontinuing things that you love? This has gone through many iterations of formula. But basically, the colour and the consistency hold brilliantly on my skin. I don’t have to keep touching up my foundation throughout the day, which I hate. After a while, it’s like, how much concrete can you lay on this face? Then it gets crinkly and cracked, but this has got quite a smooth effect. And the colour — it seems to have a sort of chameleon effect. It’s closest to my skin tone; quite often they’re either too yellow or too red, but Golden seems to just hit me right. And if I’m a bit darker or a bit lighter, depending on the time of year, it seems to move with me really well. Also, I don’t have a reaction to it. It doesn’t bring me up in lumps and bumps, and you need something to be kind to you when you’re wearing it every day for months.
I only use these pens because I’m dyspraxic. I’ve got pretty shocking fine motor skills, which means that my handwriting is crap. When I was a kid. I was always being held back after lessons because my handwriting was so bad. But I didn’t know I was dyspraxic, because when I was growing up, there wasn’t a word for it. You were just rubbish at sport, couldn’t ride a bike, couldn’t catch a ball, and had terrible handwriting. As an adult, I’ve found these pens, and I really like them. There’s something about them that makes me have to slow down to write properly. It’s got a nice wide line. It makes my handwriting look better than it actually is. That’s the long and short of it.
I really like writing things by hand. You might suddenly hear something during a conversation, or you see an item on the news or notice an incident in the street, or something, and go: That is juice. I can use that juice. Or you hear a tune on the radio by an artist you’ve never heard of and think I want to put that in a show or I’m going to write about that. Whatever it might be, having a notebook to scribble it all down in is great because then you can go back, fiddle about a bit (make little mind maps, little arrows), and do all that noodly stuff that you don’t really do on an electronic device. It’s that physical ruminating that you can do in a notebook, slip it in your back pocket or your bag, and you can just whip it out and make a note. I then love sitting down with the artefact and going, Right, so, let’s have a little whizz through here.
[When it comes to skin care], I’m actually pretty much soap, water, and moisturiser. But my youngest daughter put me onto Kiehl’s — so Daisy gets the props. It’s a really great oil when you’ve got makeup going on and off all the time when you’re filming. It keeps your skin flexible. I’ve always moisturised — if you don’t moisturise, you get thrown out of the Black people club: It’s just the law. I look at photographs of my grandmother in her 80s, or aunties who are now in their 70s, their skin is fabulous! High cheekbones, smooth, barely a wrinkle — and it’s all about moisturising. For them, it would be shea butter, which is the don. But for faces that have had relentless makeup, on and off, day after day, getting up super early, and you’re tired anyway, it lifts your skin and gives it a glow and a softness. A healthier, vital look. I might be completely fooling myself! But I think my face looks better and less wretched when I’ve been using it.
I’m all about fair trade. I really love the Machu Picchu coffee, which is from Peru. They say it’s got dark, chocolate overtones. It’s full-bodied. It’s a No. 4 in strength. It’s a good, flavoursome coffee. I like the fact that it’s made righteously. People that work the coffee plantations get paid a proper wage. They don’t use terrible pesticides on their crops. The ground isn’t being poisoned. The people aren’t being poisoned. They put money into health care, education, women’s rights. They don’t use child labour. When I’m drinking it, I’m not drinking anything that’s been made with misery for my pleasure. Doing long days, I’m a terrible coffee hound. At work it’s like, “Do you want an Adjoa special?” And that will be rocket fuel at five o’clock with lots of hot milk.
If I’m on tour, I’ll have to take a cafetiere with me because I never know when I’m going to get coffee or what it’s going to be like. So I take mine with me like a little neurotic freak. I can’t be doing with any of the freeze-dried coffee, nope. Wherever I go, I just have to make sure there’s a kettle. And some places, they’re sometimes too posh for a kettle, and I’m just like … no. So I’ve even been known to go with a travel kettle if need be as well.
I live in Brixton, and there is an amazing shop run by a couple of Black women called Diverse. As much as I can, I like to support local businesses. Black soap is from Ghana — which is where my dad’s from — and it’s made from ash. It’s also got shea butter in it from shea trees; they are all over Northern Ghana, and they are the reason that my aunts still have the skin of 35-year-olds. Shea butter is just fantastic. So the Monshea is just a combination of that black soap made from ash, which I remember from my childhood, and then the softening shea butter. It’s not sucking all the moisture out of your skin. It’s quite sudsy as well, and I like a froth. And it’s quite gentle. So it’s a win-win. But it sells like billy-o, so when it’s in stock, you just have to get it because it will be gone.
It’s deeply black. Some of them are not very black, and, I can’t even describe it, there’s a depth to this black. Also, I remember one of my uncles, one of my dad’s siblings; in the north of Ghana, you will quite often see men wearing kohl around their eyes. You see it in North Africa as well. It’s a sort of anti-reflection thing from the bright lights of the bright African day. So when I was a kid with my uncle who used to wear kohl, he would say, “I’m keeping in solidarity with my brothers from the North,” and I just thought it was fabulous. So whenever I wear a deep black eyeliner, I’m thinking of him, and I’m thinking of the kohl of the north of Ghana. But also I’m thinking of the ’60s, and I love that look, the Dusty Springfield or Faye Dunaway.
It’s the strongest naturally occurring form of vitamin C you can take. It’s a great immune-system booster. I’d give it to the kids if they had a heavy cold or they were run down or they were recovering from chicken pox or something. I remember giving it to an actor friend just before we went on, and he drank it and promptly threw up in the toilet. He said, “I can’t drink that. That’s disgusting!” And I was like, “Sorry, I was just trying to make you feel better!” They’ve recently reformulated it so it doesn’t taste terrible anymore — it tastes quite pleasant. And I’m convinced that it’s not as effective as it used to be, because for me, if it tastes disgusting, you know it’s doing good.
You can gargle with it if you’ve got a sore throat, you can rinse your skin with it if you’ve got sore patches. Every handbag I own has got a bottle of citricidal in there, there’s several in the cupboard, there’s citricidal at my parent’s — they’re everywhere. The only thing is, if you have a heart condition, you mustn’t take it. Although I’m being free and easy dishing it out, that is something to bear in mind.
So, I’m the child of an African World Service–listening father, and my mum is the same. When I was growing up, we had Radio Four on in every room of the house. If you go to either of my parents’ homes to this day, there’s still a transistor radio. We listen to Radio Four all day long (also Radio Three or Four Extra). AirPods mean that I can potter around my house when there are other people here without driving everyone mad by bellowing Radio Four at them all day long. If I’m walking the dog in the park, I’m probably listening to a play or the news or a documentary or a mixtape that I’ve made myself. I love them for the intimacy and privacy of listening. Wired ones are always getting caught on something: They’re just annoying. I’m throwing the stick to the dog, and I’ve managed to yank the headphones out. Generally, I’m pretty good at not losing them individually, but I’m always putting the case down with them somewhere and going, “Ah, where’ve I left it?”
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