Beauty / Favourites

Jess Hannah on beauty as the sum of more than appearance


"Beauty should be the sum of more than just the aesthetic or outward appearances and include other more significant merits." For Jess Hannah, founder and designer of jewelry and nail care brand J.Hannah and Co-Founder and Designer of Ceremony, this sentiment has always been her approach to beauty. Raised by her father to make notes on her intellect over her looks, Hannah has always stood firm in her self-worth, a quality that seems to inadvertently permeate her work. With her laid back style and brand offering where consideration comes first, consumerism second, Hannah has been honing in on what makes J.Hannah so special from the beginning, and we aren't the first to notice. Below, we catch up with Hannah on her beauty philosophy, her favourite LA spots, and her recipe of choice to wind down (Column and an edible).

What is your morning beauty routine?

A beauty routine can encompass so many things — skincare, makeup, stretching, vitamins, breakfast, a good playlist. I try and think about this with respect to my routines.

I recently started keeping my yoga mat unrolled next to my bed, which drives me a little crazy because I don't like any extra clutter around but it really helps me start the day with a bit of stretching, breathing, and mindfulness. Even 30 seconds helps so much.

Then I wash my face with water (no cleanser), and apply a prescription clindamycin lotion, followed by Cerave SPF lotion. Occasionally I use The Ordinary Niacinamide serum in between. Until recently I had perfect skin, but added stress or hormonal changes makes me more prone to breakouts now. I suddenly had a lot to learn about skincare, and along the way tried a bunch of very cute and sometimes expensive products that didn't work for me. I finally saw a dermatologist and that simplified things so much. Now I basically only use a few effective products and each only costs around $20! Win-win.

For make up my go-to products are Ilia gel eyeliner in brown, I always do a subtle baby cat eye that I start on the outer third of my eye and wing out and up a bit. Flowfushi Mascara in Clear, and I use this on my brows too. An orange blush, currently using one by Make and have another that's Chanel, on high points of cheekbones and across the middle of the nose bridge; Glossier concealer, no interest in any other concealer, this is THE concealer of all concealers for me. Sunday Riley autocorrect, I use under my eyes and on high points as highlighter; KNC supabalm in mint.


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What is your night beauty routine?

Before going to bed I take off my makeup with Bioderma micellar water. Then I wash my face with Cerave acne cleanser. Every other night I switch off between a prescription tretinoin/clindamycin cream or a retinoid (usually Cerave retinol cream or A313 cream) and finish things off with Cerave moisturizer. I wouldn't say this routine is suitable for everyone — I don't have sensitive skin, and some of these products are prescriptions, but even the over-the-counter ones can be irritating. I think it's always best to ask your dermatologist or ease into something if it's new to your skin.

Something else that I think is super important is good sleep! I do whatever I can to ensure I'm getting enough - magnesium, edibles (usually from Rose Los Angeles), silk eye pillow. I also have playlists for when I'm having trouble falling asleep, recently a prominently featured artist has been Column.


Describe what you do for a living? What does a typical day look like for you?

I am the founder and designer of J. Hannah, which is primarily a jewelry brand but we also have a line of non-toxic and cruelty-free nail polish, as well as some recent forays into home goods, apparel, and accessories. For me a typical day is mostly filled with working at home, punctuated by walks around my neighborhood with my dog Ruby, and excursions to get coffee, run an errand or meet up with a friend or colleague. It became super important for me to get out of the house each day. Favorite spots near me include Eightfold Coffee, Honey Hi, Stories Bookstore and cafe, Elysian hiking trail.

I've started going by the office to do some redecorating, and since I relish a Craigslist hunt I have been really enjoying the process of procuring new furniture.


Is beauty ever an act of resilience for you?

I don't think so. It was important to my dad that as a girl/woman that I would be recognized for assets other than beauty. As soon as I could kind of talk, he taught me that if someone told me "You're so cute," I should reply, "I'm also smart". This has always stuck with me and I think it really had an impact on my self-worth.

Beauty is something I don't often hear discussed in the context of privilege, but I think there are undeniable advantages offered to people perceived as beautiful. I think the power that comes with that privilege can be used as a tool to share that power, or undermine it — so in that sense, I suppose beauty can be an act of resilience. I think, more importantly, beauty should be the sum of more than just the aesthetic or outward appearances and include other more significant merits.


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What are the supermarket/drug store/chemist beauty product(s) that you use and love?

If it's not already obvious, Cerave!!! Also, Vaseline is a great cure-all. Lately, I've been using it on any dry areas around my eyes.

What is your main form of beauty body maintenance? What products do you use on your body?

I use the Necessaire body wash. I also take magnesium every day to help me sleep through the night and help aid digestion. For exercise, I do yoga, pilates, and walk Ruby, my dog.

How do you express yourself through beauty?

I think makeup should be used to enhance your best features, not to hide imperfections. My eyes are my favorite feature, so I usually accentuate them with some eyeliner and mascara. I also love a full brow to balance things out.


What do you do when your body needs to recover?

I'm very cerebral and there can be a lag of communication between mind and body. I could be hungry or in pain and not even realize enough to stop and deal with it, my thoughts just naturally drown it out. Acknowledging that my body needs to recover is something new to me, and it's been a learning process daily. The more I ignore my stressors or avoid my feelings, the more it takes a toll. I try to shut off my mind with a few tried and tested activities - exercise (usually yoga or dancing), crying, sad music, or a massage.


You’re tired/hungover/rundown: what is your beauty hack?

20 min sun nap! Taking a bath with Epsom salts, and drinking loads of water. Not trying to bounce back too quickly is key.


What is the one non-negotiable in your beauty routine?

I wear eyeliner nearly every day. Even when I've been home this past year. My cat Ollie has beautiful eyes and I try to emulate them.


What kind of change would you like to see in the beauty industry?

I think that it's hard to make the words "beauty" and "industry" play well together. For the industry part to be successful, beauty gets touted as somewhat unattainable or aspirational, and it profits off insecurity. I'm not pretending I have a solution to this, and I think the industry has come a long way — more real inclusivity and representation without tokenizing, more play, and less pressure to look a certain way. I think other cultures that consider beauty in terms of recipes and shared rituals, feels more accessible and community-based instead of commercial-based. In a way, I think social media does a lot to transform our ideas about beauty, skincare, and makeup which can be both good and bad.



Do you have a beauty icon? Who are they and why?

Sarah-Linh Tran - I love how she balances masculine sartorial choices with feminine hair and makeup.


What is the best advice on health you’ve received?

I do believe moderation is the key to success.


What is the one product you can’t live without?

I use oil on my hands and nails a lot. I'm a recovering nail biter/picker but also need to disguise this, as my hands should look good in case I need to take photos of our nail polish or rings. I use Noto's Rooted Roller on my cuticles, or one from Fran Miller, I like that they are both rollers that you can toss in your bag for on-the-go cuticle revitalization!


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