Nelly Moudime On Aging: Her Must-Have Beauty Products, Wellness Hacks & More
The beauty space mirrors the food space in a lot of ways. Not just in terms of innovation—biotechnology, upcycled ingredients, and the like—but the way we talk about food and beauty tends to parallel. Rich. Buttery. Pillowy. Glazed. I could be describing a hydrating night cream or a frosted pound cake.
The sensorial experience (read: texture and scent) is an integral component in both beauty and food. Both categories are also intimately tied to emotion, culture, and identity. We could even bring up the gut-skin connection and the skin microbiome…but I digress.
So it makes perfect sense that for Nelly Moudime, beauty and food memories go hand in hand. "Food is the language of love," the head maître d' at The Polo Bar and former model tells me over the phone.
It's the people she loves most who have fueled her relationship with the restaurant world: She recounts going to the market with her grandmother, taking in all the smells and textures, and watching her cook various dishes at home. In the same breath, Moudime reveals how her grandmother would frequently massage natural oils into her skin. "It was just so full of love," she notes.
Love, you'll see, is a consistent thread in Moudime's beauty journey. She's always down for a fun experiment—from thick, bold eyeliner to DIY avocado masks—but her core value remains the same throughout the decades. Here's how she infuses it into every step.
On her current beauty philosophy
"Now, I'm in a stage of life where less is more. When I was younger, I was modeling, so I wanted to replicate a lot of makeup on my face, contouring and all that.
"As I'm getting older, I'm more accepting of who I am. I appreciate more of what I have. I'm blessed to have pretty good skin, so I just want products that make my skin feel happy and shiny.
"I see all my aunts, and they're just aging so gracefully and accepting every change… We just have to be more accepting of all the stages of our lives. Growing old is such a blessing—so many people I came to this Earth with are not here anymore."
On her earliest beauty memories
"I'm from Cameroon in Africa, so moisturizer. I think African kids can relate, especially the ones who grew up in Africa. It's just. We have different oils from different trees, nuts, and you have to moisturize your skin.
"The way [my grandmother] would use oil to moisturize our skin and touch our skin… It was just so full of love. That would be one of my first [beauty] memories, spending a lot of time with her because my mother was working a lot. I can see myself and smell it.
"It's a special oil [called Black Manyanga]. I just went back home after 12 years, and I brought some back with me. It's just the best moisturizing oil, and it makes your skin shine. I tend to have dry skin, and that really nurtures my skin… It doesn't have the best smell, but it really is the best thing for your skin."
On her most memorable beauty experiment
"Growing up, one of my best friends was Lebanese, and I tried to use sugar wax [which dates back to ancient Egypt and other areas in the Middle East]. Don't try it on your own!
On her best beauty hacks
"I've been experimenting for a long time with ice—that's one of my hacks. I never put hot water on my face. I massage my skin with ice cubes; I read about it maybe 15 or 20 years ago, and I never stopped doing it. Something about it just makes my face feel alive. I also finish my showers with one minute of extremely cold water.
"I'm a big fan of trying to find whatever I can [around me]. I was raised in nature, so that is my biggest thing. I'll do avocado masks or use yogurt and honey… I try to be as natural as possible."
Growing old is such a blessing—so many people I came to this Earth with are not here anymore.
On her evolving relationship with beauty
"I'm very much into natural beauty, but at the same time, I'm super excited about all the findings with biohacking. I feel like we haven't tapped as much into the possibilities of our bodies. I'm going to have my first NAD infusion soon, and I can see myself experimenting with that [technology] and see how that will blend in with beauty in the future.
"I cannot say who I'm going to be in 10 years, but I think one consistent theme is going back to the basics and really appreciating who I am. I hope that [mindset] will stay, but I will definitely be happy to experiment with all the new, exciting things that are coming."
On her wellness habits
"Cold showers are definitely something that are good. Sweating, getting rid of all the toxins are so important and easy to do with summer coming up. Take some long walks; that's very important. Through my gym, I'm able to go to the sauna.
"And then definitely lots of water. Less french fries, which is my Kryptonite. Less sweets. It's very difficult at The Polo Bar…
"I also like to start my morning with a little dance party on my own. I just want to see Janet Jackson, so I blasted Janet in the morning and had a dance party. Last week was Beyoncé. Have fun—put your favorite song on and dance or sing, or do something that will make you happy. I think my neighbors might think I'm a little crazy. My boyfriend definitely thinks I'm crazy, [but] it feels good."
On her must-have beauty products
"I love ILIA's Super Serum Skin Tint. It's very hard for me to find anything that matches my skin tone. I don't know how they did it, but they found something that really is perfect for my skin tone. Their mascaras—I'm obsessed with mascara. I think I should have a mascara degree. Both the Limitless Lash Mascara and the Fullest Volumizing Mascara from ILIA are incredible. I don't know what they did, but they have the best formulas.
"I love Sunday Riley. I love their Sleeping Night Oil. The Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Hydrating Cream I also love. But right now, I've been using more of the oil I brought from back home. I moisturize with that, but I do use Sunday Riley quite often at night."
ILIA Limitless Lash Mascara
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Oil
ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Facial Hydrating Cream
On what she would tell her younger self
"Experiment until you find what works for you—and don't forget to work out.
"Maybe I should say, 'Accept yourself' but no. Have fun and experiment. See, we all have different phases. I had very thin eyebrows, huge black eyeliner… We all have those moments, and I think they're fun. They make us who we are, and they brought me to who I am today."
On what makes her feel most beautiful
"What makes me feel beautiful? It's so tricky. I'm going to start by saying that the past few years have been a little on the rough side for me when it comes to loving myself. I went through IVF, and it hasn't been the most positive journey.
"I was just so focused on that and forgot about myself, and I didn't even feel like I was beautiful anymore. I went back home, made peace with that side of the journey, then came back and decided that I would love myself. And I think that I feel the most beautiful when I decide to really care for and love myself.
"I'm very lucky that I have the best partner on this journey, but [for anyone struggling with fertility], just be kind to yourself and really give yourself TLC. There are so many ways of being a mother, but there's only one you, so I would say to really take care of yourself.
"When we were doing [hormone] shots, we were having a dance party as we were doing them. Music is therapy for me. Um, you know, I was taking walks in the park, reading positive things. Be accepting of your journey, but music definitely helped me a lot."
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.