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Her Secret Use for a Toothbrush, Signature Fragrance & Why She Showers with Turmeric: IRL Beauty with Aamito Lagum

Aamito Lagum Interview with Nordstrom.

We’re highlighting the women behind the faces in our fall beauty campaign, which is all about beauty in real life. This week: Aamito Lagum–who left her native Uganda almost two years ago to pursue her passions here in the U.S. She gets honest about her thoughts on what makes someone beautiful, her tricks for keeping her eyes on fleek and more.

What makes you feel beautiful?

Confidence in who I am as a person and knowing my true self. Yeah, I think that makes me feel beautiful.

What do you do to feel confident? Does that come out when you do or put on something in particular?

Not really. I think it comes from within and being true to myself and being exactly who I am. Not trying to be somebody else or be somebody that society wants me to be. I gain confidence in truly being who I am and not changing anything about me.

What’s your first memory of makeup?

When I was a child, my mom used to wear a lot of red lipstick. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but there’s a lipstick in Uganda that looked green, but when you put it on, it changed to red on your lips. On Sundays we used to go to church and she would put this lipstick on and she would put a tiny little bit on my lips as well, and I would go to Sunday school with red lipstick on.

Did she teach you about makeup?

Actually, she did not teach me a lot. She would only wear that lipstick and a lot of moisturizer and maybe a little powder, but I didn’t start wearing proper makeup until I was about 20. I’m still learning how to properly apply my makeup even up to now.

There’s a lot to learn! Is there anything you feel like you’re really good at? What’s your everyday look?

Oh, I can do my eyeliner really well, like, in a straight line and proper. My eyeliner is usually on fleek, as they say. [Laughs.]

Normally I just use baby cream, or sometimes I mix foundation and moisturizer, and then I do my brows. I put on my liner and comb my lashes or dab on a little bit of mascara and that’s it. Just glowing and simple. Pretty natural, but enhanced.

How do you change it up for a statement or a big night out?

I usually put on a little bit of an eye, like some shimmer, and I usually wear color on my lip. I love color on my lip, especially purple.

Also, a purple eyeliner looks really nice on my skin tone, so I wear that a lot. I think that’s about it. I just make sure my brows are properly kempt.

Aamito Lagum Interview with Nordstrom.

Okay. So you wake up and have five minutes to get out the door. How do you spend them?

Moisturize the eyebrows. Fill them in, comb them and make sure they are properly straight, so they give a great form to the eyes. Yeah. And then curl my lashes so they open up my eyes a little bit.

What’s always in your bag?

I have a tiny purse that has literally everything I need. It has my lip balm (my lips have to be moisturized all the time), my lip tint, my eyebrow kit and it has a liner. That’s it. I also never leave home without a positive attitude.

Let’s get a little philosophical. What do you want or expect from makeup?

I think makeup shouldn’t change you at all. It’s just to enhance what you already have a little bit, you know? Just throw in a few touches. Some people wear makeup, and then they are totally a different person. Like, sometimes so much you would not recognize them without it on.

So I just think it’s to enhance what you have already. If you have nice brows, just enhance them: make them a little more defined or make your eyes a little more defined with some liner. A little bit of stuff like that makes you feel more confident and more beautiful, if that’s what you go for. But it’s not to change you totally. Or create things that aren’t there.

What about your day-to-day skincare? Do you have a regimen?

I’m pretty much a one-product girl. I use coconut oil for pretty much everything—to take off my makeup and moisturize–because I just feel like it’s chemical-free and it has all those things that promote anti-aging. It takes out the toxins in your body, and it doesn’t dry your skin. I’m careful not to apply a lot to give me an oily skin. I also use it after I steam my face, or after a show when I’ve had product applied to my skin, to bring back my face to a more relaxed form. I’m a big fan of coconut oil.

Let’s talk fragrance. Do you have a signature?

Yes, I’m obsessed with smell. I like experimenting and trying to find something that works with my body chemistry. All these perfumes can smell really amazing, but when you put it on your body, it’s a different smell altogether because your body sort of changes it.

But each time I try to buy a different perfume, I only end up going back to one perfume in particular, and it works very well with my body chemistry. And every time I wear it, everyone’s like, “Oh, my god. You smell amazing.” It’s Tom Ford Black Orchid, and I never change it. I’ve used it for years. When I wear Black Orchid, it smells different on me than straight out of the bottle, but it smells really good.

Aamito Lagum Interview with Nordstrom.

What comes to mind when I say favorite fragrance memory?

My favorite smell is when it rains. Not in America; this is back in Africa. It’s usually when there’s a lot of red dust and then it starts drizzling and the rain hits the dust. There’s a smell that comes out of that red dust that is just flawless and so beautiful. It’s sort of therapeutic and calming at the same time. It’s my favorite smell in the whole world.

Speaking of Africa, have you noticed any difference between the concept of beauty here and back in Uganda?

Not really. I think everything is pretty much the same, just the way it’s done is different. The concept is the same, hair and nails and skin. I guess there we have more focus on glowing skin. We just love glowing skin–like not shiny, but healthy and beautiful. And it’s season in, season out. It doesn’t change. Glowing is always in season.

Any beauty tips or secrets?

I use a toothbrush for my eyebrows, because I think it’s very effective. I know there’s lots of brow brushes, but they don’t do it for me. A toothbrush—especially if it’s damp–really gets in there and makes them really perfect and gives me a nice line and arch, and they lay really well. A toothbrush is the best thing!

Also, I use turmeric and yogurt sometimes in the shower—especially after a sunburn. For sure your bathtub is going to turn yellow, but when you scrub and wash your body or face with turmeric and yogurt, it sort of turns you back to your natural glowing color.

Aamito Lagum Interview with Nordstrom.

Check back soon for more interviews with the women behind our fall beauty campaign; it’s beauty in real life.

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—Jeff Powell