With such a busy week to contend with, brand founder, salon owner and three times winner of Afro Hairdresser of the Year, Charlotte Mensah‘s Sundays are sacred. From lazy mornings spent cooking to evenings that include a serious hair and hydration regimen, read on to find out how she likes to unwind…
The Wind Down
From early evening, around 5pm I start to wind down. I do lots of cooking from scratch on a Sunday morning and cook in batches to make all my food for the week. I’m very particular about what I eat so I like to prepare everything myself. I make a lot of sauces and I bake a lot of chicken and fish. I have lots of Tupperware and make up one for each day and every morning I take one out the fridge for the day. I usually finish cooking around lunchtime. After that, I love to wander around my area, I live right by some great shops on Westbourne Grove so if there’s anything I want to have a look at, I’ll pop out. I love going to Matches, most of the girls in there are friends of mine and they’ll always let me know if they have something in that I might like. I love their label Raey, it’s great for smart casual pieces and uses great quality fabrics.
My new favourite candle is Shimmering Spice, the Christmas one from Space NK. I know it’s Christmassy but I love the smell all throughout the year; to me it suits every kind of month and it reminds me of holidays too. I have a stack of those and always have one burning, I even had one on in the salon yesterday! In terms of music I like lounge-y, house beats and I also like listening to jazz and Barry White. My dad used to be in a band in Ghana when he was in a young man, they used to sing Highlife music, which sounds a bit like Cuban music mixed with African beats, it’s amazing. I always have that on because it reminds me of my youth and growing up in Ghana. It just sets the vibe. My weeks are so different week to week. I might travel to do one of my footballer client’s hair, I might work on a music artist at Sony, or I might be in the salon for a bit, every week is different. My manager Robbie sorts out where I need to be.
Sunday is the one day I don’t wear makeup, not even any eyeliner or mascara, I call it my ‘clean skin’ day, it’s just bare, raw skin. If I have makeup still on from Saturday I’ll remove anything in the morning with lukewarm water and cotton wool, which it takes everything off. Then I’ll use a good cleanser, I love the Chantecaille Rice and Geranium Foaming Cleanser. I use that to really clean and exfoliate my face and then I splash my face with cold, cold water or a mist just to tighten everything up. Next I use the Chantecaille Rose de Mai Face Oil. I think of oil as a sealant, it’s amazing how it just makes your skin so soft, and at the same time you get this amazing glow the more you use it. I think oils actually help your own natural oils to come out, I feel like using them has made a big difference. I’m really into facial massage too; I just shut my eyes and really concentrate on the cheeks and my T-zone and just focus on really working the oil in. If I eat too many peanuts then I start to see spots come out, but other than that my skin is usually pretty good. After the oil I might use a mask and then I use a moisturiser, which I make up myself; it’s mix of the Chantecaille oil and raw shea butter that I get from Ghana. I put that on and literally keep it on all day so come night time I don’t really need to do much else because my face is still so clean and moisturised from the morning.
I love the relaxation of bath but I like the feeling of clean clean clean from a shower. I body brush and I also have a loofah that I bring home from Ghana, it’s like a big cotton net sheet and you exfoliate with it on damp skin in the shower. If I’m not using that I love to do a scrub, it’s just great to get the blood circulating, and it helps me feel really fresh and awake. I like using the Laura Mercier Crème Brulee Honey Bath, and I also use the Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oils. I get through so may of those so I always buy a few at once. They are amazing and just the perfect consistency. I’m really diligent about my body routine. I love moisturising my body, and use my own hair oil on my skin because it’s just so moisturising. I love body butters too, anything really creamy. I’ve been using the moisturiser from Byredo, La Tulipe, it’s so good. I use that but I add in some raw shea butter as well, just to give it something extra. I get through so much of the stuff, I bring a big chunk home whenever I go. The raw stuff is totally different to any other shea butter you get here, it works better because it’s so pure and it hasn’t been processed at all. You really have to warm it up though, I actually whisk it in the blender so it’s really fluffy like a whipped cream.
When I first developed my hair range I did it for myself. I always had a problem when I worked for other brands, I would think, why am I always having to use other three or four products to get what I want? So then I started mixing my own products and that’s how my range came about. It uses oil from the Manketti nut which has been around for about 6000 years but no one seems to know about it. I went to a wedding in the Serengeti in Kenya in 2010 and the massage therapists used this oil during a head massage treatment and I couldn’t believe how good it was; it was so nourishing but didn’t leave any residue. I just loved it so much and decided that would be the hero ingredient in my range. So on a Sunday I mix conditioner with the oil and leave it on for hours to give myself a deep treatment. When I rinse it out and blow dry it my hair is so soft and fluffy.
I hardly ever watch TV, I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched it. So my Sunday night is about reading, I like to read anything inspirational; I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘The Energy of Money’ which is all about positive thinking. I always take a book to bed with me and sometimes I’ll take the Sunday supplements too and make my way through those. I try and catch any ‘day in the life’ type of features, I find them inspiring. I try and get into bed around 9.30pm but I usually spend a while chatting to my daughter. During the week it’s so busy so we make sure we have a proper chat together on a Sunday.
I always have a massive bottle of water by my bed because I feel my most dehydrated when I’m trying to fall asleep. I also have a couple of nice room sprays there too, and a lip balm which I make myself. I use it on patches of dry skin like my elbows, too. I always keep a head scarf by my bed which I wrap my hair in it every night. I run a drop of oil through it first, then put my hair up and wrap a 100% silk scarf over the top to retain the moisture overnight. You lose a lot of heat from your head when you’re asleep so this really helps with that, plus if you move around at night and sweat a little bit too, it can affect the frizziness of hair and can also make the hairline really brittle; this stops the friction of your hair against the pillow too so keeps it smooth. It has to be silk but it really does work for all hair types, it’s so good. I keep a book called The Word for Today by my bed, so I’ll read that before I turn out the lights. It usually gives a reference to The Bible so if I want to find out more I’ll have a quick look through that before I turn in. It’s really important for me to affirm my mind with words of encouragement, it helps set me up for the week. I always say a prayer before bed which I find sends me on a very peaceful sleep. My grandmother was a staunch Christian who drilled it into me so I’ve always done it. I sleep well, unless I have something on, that will it tend to keep me up for a bit.
I don’t set an alarm because my body naturally wakes me up. My room is in the roof and we have windows in the ceiling so the natural light wakes me up. I’ll stay awake unless it’s really early but I don’t need to be at work until 10am or 11am on a Monday so I sometimes just laze around, I might organise my books. I am a coffee girl, oh my god yes. I love Ily coffee, I think they make the best beans. If I don’t have my morning coffee my body knows it. My partner is Muslim and is fasting at the moment and I said I would fast to try and support him, but I still have to have my coffee! I don’t know what I would do without that, I wouldn’t have a normal day that’s for sure. I’m always high in my outlook, on a Monday morning I think, new week, let’s start this! I ‘m excited to see what a new week brings. Quite often I’ll bake on a Monday morning if I don’t have much else on. I make my grandma’s Pound Cake recipe, I use lots of nutmeg in it. It’s so good and I find the process so relaxing.