Sabrina Elba Talks Us Through Her Skincare Routine

S'ABLE Labs | Space NK
Sabrina Elba has phenomenal skin. It’s seriously smooth, it’s radiant, it’s the kind of skin that makes you want to know exactly what the person uses. In Sabrina’s case, it is exclusively S’ABLE Labs, her debut skincare brand that’s genderless, sustainable and inclusive of all skin types, created with her husband Idris Elba.

Despite wearing a striking red dress and channelling soft, mermaid waves (both inspired by the new The Little Mermaid that she saw recently), when we sat down with Sabrina two weeks before the exclusive launch of S’ABLE Labs at Space NK, it was her skin that grabbed our attention.

Before we get into her routine, Sabrina wants to be clear that S’ABLE Labs isn’t just another white label, celebrity skincare brand. It’s very much a family affair that’s been driven by the couples shared skincare needs, their busy lifestyle and their appreciation of Africa. “We just want to make skincare that we want to us, that works for us,” Sabrina tells us. It’s been personally funded by the couple without private investors and eagle-eyed wordsmiths will appreciate that S’ABLE is Elba’s backwards.

We discussed the inspiration behind the brand, the S’ABLE Labs product that always runs out the quickest in the Elba household and why they want us to rethink ‘selfcare’, as well as the formulas Sabrina uses every day.

How It Began

It all started during Covid. “We both had it, we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico feeling really sh*t about ourselves because we were some of the first people we knew who had it. Idris did this video which was on CNN and then we did this Oprah interview and everything kind of blew up,” Sabrina tells us.

At the same time, her skin started breaking out. “I was messaging Dr. Barbara Sturm all the time with questions. It started a whole conversation with Idris because he wanted to know why I had so many products. He noticed all his products were dumbed down for him,” Sabrina explains. “We started talking about what skincare would look like if we made it and how could we make it melanin inclusive. We wanted to make it accessible and available to everyone.”

Building The S’ABLE Range

“It was Idris’ efficiency and his ‘I want three things and if I only use these three things they will work’ that drove S’ABLE Labs’ cleanse, tone and moisturise mindset. You can add more products in if you want to, but you’ve got the essentials,” explains Sabrina. The range is comprised of a cleanser, Micellar water, toner, moisturiser and mask. All of the products are available as refill and the packaging is recyclable. “If it was up to me the packaging would probably be pink, but we wanted to go with the most sustainable option,” says Sabrina.

Don’t expect any single ingredient formulas from S’ABLE Labs. Having tried her hand at mixing glycolic and various ingredient-based serums together over the years, Sabrina appreciates an expert blended formula. “I felt like a chemist, but I was probably using too much and doing things that were damaging my skin barrier. Now I’m all about one formula that does as much as possible, as naturally as possible.”

The moisturiser is the S’ABLE Labs product that runs out fastest in the Elba household. “Idris uses it on his feet,” she giggles. “I keep telling him it’s not for his feet, it’s a very expensive moisturiser for your feet. We’re both quite generous with moisturiser. However, I think most people will use up the toner or cleanser quicker because they think they need to use way more. You only really need a drop and then you just have to really work it in.”

Idris and Sabrina Elba | Space NK

The Personal Touch

Creating results-driven skincare that is melanin inclusive was essential for both Sabrina and Idris. The couple have put a lot of themselves into each of the formulas. “All of the hero ingredients, whether its rooibos or qasil, they all have a personal anecdote or a story, something from our childhood,” says Sabrina. “There’s was a bit of it that ‘mum’s always right’, but there was also a desire to reclaim ownership over ingredients that felt a little appropriated now.”

“Things like baobab, I’ve been taking since I was a kid as my mum put it in my yoghurt, but you see it as a buzzy trend word and the amazing benefits great lost,” she explains. “We want to educate people on the amazing ingredients from the continent. Baobab has incredible antioxidant benefits and that’s why we wanted to champion it in our skincare. When we set about creating skin, we wanted it to have great antioxidants and be melanin inclusive in that it helps prevents hyperpigmentation.”

Sabrina Elba’s Skincare Routine

“I’m just three steps in the morning, I want to be as efficient as possible, so I cleanse, tone and moisturise. I’m so lazy in the morning and even cleansing my skin can feel like a burden so sometimes I will just use the micellar water,” Sabrina says. “I also love cleansing in the shower, which I usually do in the evening, so it’s annoying to put my hairband on and wet my face.”

While there is no 8-step K-beauty regimen, Sabrina does admit, “at night, I’ll go the rounds. The S'ABLE LABS Qasil Exfoliating Mask, € 36,01 is my favourite product. I grew watching my mum make her own mask, she’d use qasil, turmeric and dehydrated goat’s milk. All our formulas are vegan, so we’ve updated this one slightly.” Together with qasil, which helps to cleanse, brighten and smooth, and turmeric, which calms calm inflammation, this face mask also contains a blend of AHA, BHA and PHAs to provide a thorough exfoliation.

“My mum will wear this mask all day while she’s doing the dishes and cleaning the house,” Sabrina laughs. “I’ve told her ‘Mum, you can only wear this for 10 minutes because of the actives’ and she’s like ‘no, I’m going to wear it all day’. Fortunately, the formulas have been created with all skin types in mind because Idris has sensitive skin. Although Sabrina recommends using it for 10 minutes, as instructed on the label.

Selfless Selfcare

Idris and Sabrina knew they wanted to create a skincare brand, but they also felt passionate about incorporating their refreshing take on wellness into it. “I was never into wellbeing. Wellness as a whole felt like a very niche thing for a woman of colour and I didn’t really feel like I fit into any of it. So starting this journey we thought what is wellness for us?” Sabrina says. “At the time Covid started, I felt so isolated from my mum, from my friends and wellness for me was the people around us, the community. We started this corny Instagram Live called Together Tuesdays where we would interview couples – not just romantic but best friends and business partnerships to find out what makes them work.” Fans of Sabrina and Idris Elba will be au fait with their Coupledom podcast.

“The common thread for all those conversations with couples was that you have to have a good relationship with yourself first.” While S’ABLE Labs is a skincare, it promotes the idea of selfless self-care. The products provide a streamlined regimen that you can do together, sharing the products and enjoying a bit of selfcare together, ‘us-care’ if you will.

A couple of years on from Covid, what does Sabrina consider an act of wellness? “I’ll call my friend or my mum. I might put on a mask before I do it, but for me community is still the biggest part of my wellness journey. We don’t think of it as a part of wellness, but it always makes me feel so much better.”

Posted: Monday, 29 May 2023

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