Malaysian actress and style icon, Neelofa Noor was in the throes of a stressful day during lockdown when she received word that she was appointed as Lancôme’s Southeast Asia’s regional ambassador. “That immediately made my day. I honestly couldn’t believe it at first but after hours of digesting it, I was over the moon!”
Neelofa’s roots with the French beauty brand run deep. Aside from being a bonafide devotee of Lancôme’s Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate Serum, she shares that she’s always loved her name (which means ‘lotus flower’), and was “named after a Lancôme beauty advisor back in my hometown that my mum used to frequent! I thought that was really lovely.”
In addition to her entertainment and entrepreneurial endeavours, Neelofa was, up until COVID-19, a staple at Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks. “I loved reading fashion magazines growing up, but I didn’t have a lot of role models that looked or dressed like me represented in the international media, so [my mother] has always been the epitome of modern elegance to me and continues to inspire me until today. Besides her, I absolutely adore Halima, she really broke a lot of barriers and put modest fashion on the map. Models like her have inspired hijabis like me to embrace our true styles and not be afraid to make moves some people would consider as risky, in fashion terms of course.”
Reflecting on the impact COVID-19 has had on all of us, Neelofa shares, “The global pandemic hit everyone with the same level of anxiety and stress, and on some days it wasn’t easy to see the light at the end. It very much impacted me too, with my businesses and work, but I kept my positivity levels up as much as I could.”
“Being in the public eye you are always subject to scrutiny and vicious keyboard warriors and rumour mongers, so it is important to build on that inner strength so that it doesn’t get to you.”
“In those times, the quote, ‘Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not’ always comes to mind as a reminder to make the best of each day and focus on what you can control. I always fall back on my faith and the people around me that love and care for me. Then, I feel like I can do anything.”
“I see us coming into the new normal as an opportunity to strengthen our resolve to be better. And what better way to start this next chapter than with great-looking skin that’s being strengthened from within,” says Neelofa, who has used this time to care for her skin and family.
“What I love about Lancôme is that they have always celebrated the pursuit of happiness as their vision of beauty and femininity. It’s such a modern way of thinking despite having been around for 85 years! That’s what I love about it, it’s so fluid—what would have made women happy 30 years ago might be very different by today’s standards, and we are all complex and unique enough to have different goals and drives. To me, Lancôme is a reminder to always follow your heart.”
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ON BEAUTY AND STRENGTH
“To me, beauty comes inherently from the inside—whether it’s confidence, passion, or the strength of a woman who is still able to smile at the end of a long day,” Neelofa shares. “I believe that inner beauty will always shine through, and enhance the God-given beauty that is already there no matter what age or ethnicity you may be. Beauty is a gift to all women, it is our strength.
“Strength to me is more than just physical. In this day and age specifically, I think having mental strength is so incredibly important for the modern woman especially when there’s so much unpredictability around us.
“As much as I love creativity, some structure and routine is important to have as a compass, so no matter what life throws at you, you’re guided through your true north. It can be as simple as ending each day with some quiet meditation to connect with yourself, to see what you’re grateful for or even scheduling some self-care time daily—and sticking to it—with a beauty ritual. As women, we spend so much time putting others first and looking after the people around us but it’s important to make time for ourselves. I believe that when you feel good, you look good… and vice versa.”
A front row regular at these shows, Neelofa gets a thrill “when an outfit—the shoes, the clothes, the hijab, the makeup, the bag, all come together to create magic. I love to take risks when it comes to fashion… sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t but as long as you’re having fun with it, who cares! Fashion should make you happy, it tells a story and helps set a mood so as an actress, I enjoy that very much. My recent favourite fashion moment was taking over the Vogue Italia Instagram account for spring/summer 2020.”
“It also goes without saying that travelling fuels my soul: visiting museums, trying amazing new food, learning about new cultures and seeing new sights is really where I get inspired. For now it’s going to be a lot of domestic travelling, but I hope that we get to travel around the region soon: Jakarta for the amazing designers, Phuket for the beautiful beaches, and Singapore for the culinary experiences. I am a beach girl and will always prefer to visit beaches when I have the time, so Maldives will always be my favourite island getaway. The scenery, the ambience is to die for.”
ON HER BEAUTY REGIME
“Keep it simple. I try not to complicate things. Make-up looks great on healthy skin, so that’s where my priority is—my one bottle of Advanced Génifique is a must to tackle all seven skin concerns from firmness to radiance.
“I’m very disciplined when it comes to skincare and make sure to never miss my day and night routine. I follow the usual steps and make sure to include my Clarifique Dual Essence and Advanced Génifique to achieve that healthy, radiant skin. My other obsession is the Teint Idole which does wonders to my skin even on busy days when I photoshoots or if I’m out all day. Also, I carry the L’Absolu Rouge lipstick in Rose to brighten the day and mainly because it’s such a fun shade that goes with almost every look.
“Skin confidence works in the same way. When you choose to lay the right foundations for radiant skin, you look better, and feel great.”
What truly makes a woman radiant? “It is her ability to always see the positive no matter how dark it gets and to be the ray of sunshine in everyone’s lives. Her energetic, bright soul that’s so powerful, it projects onto others.”
ON CAREER AND PHILANTHROPY
“Growing my charity, Pertubuhan Kasih Neelofa. It is my way of reaching out to the less privileged and aiding them in any way we can, whether it’s conducting religious programs or community outreach to be closer to them. On the entertainment front, Next to Neelofa, is a talk show I’ve been envisioning from five years ago, which I am producing and hosting now. And finally, there’s a new TV series I’m working on in Indonesia at the moment, so watch this space.
“I just feel like there’s so much that I want to do and so little time to do it, so the only way is to keep on accomplishing in order to do more. I like ticking boxes on my list.”