Drop the Routine

Sabrina Dhowre Elba Drops Her Skin-Care Routine

The actor opens up about creating S'able Labs with husband Idris Elba and the face oil that changed her life.
A man and a woman looking at each other
Courtesy of brand

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When Sabrina Dhowre Elba and husband Idris Elba set out to create their new skin-care line, S’able Labs, they kept one thing in mind: coupledom. The brand defines this term as “the realm of shared experiences between two partners in life or business, creating extraordinary outcomes.” 

Of course, the Elbas know that sharing is an essential part of marriage—and their skin-care routines are no exception. However, for Dhowre Elba, a curated and shareable routine is a departure from her once-maximalist mindset.

“I had everything and anything,” she tells Glamour. “I’ve evolved a bit in my own personal philosophies around skin care when it comes to climate. I try to use so much less, and we’ve created formulations that have minimum impacts on the planet, and it’s completely changed my way of thinking about skin care. So I can use my three core step program and not have anything else on my shelf and travel lighter and just do less.” 

With products ranging from $30 to $56, the brand is dedicated to “simple and effective skin care” made with eco-friendly ingredients and packaging. It’s also genderless, a quality for which Dhowre Elba credits her husband. “The brand would not be what it is today without Idris because he was so key and instrumental in changing the way we think about product as a team,” she says. “When we were formulating, he would ask the simplest questions like, ‘Why are products for men not marketed in the same way women get clean beauty?’ We wanted the products to be genuinely genderless down to the packaging and to have multi-uses for whatever your needs are.”

Below, Sabrina Dhowre Elba shares her favorite skin-care products for Glamour’s Drop the Routine.

My cleanser

Selfishly, I made a cleanser that I’m going to love. It’s got qasil in it, which is like a Somali staple; it comes from the gob tree, so it’s a natural soap. It’s got acne-fighting abilities, but it’s also anti-inflammatory. We also put no sulfates, and then it’s got vitamins B and E to calm.

S’able Labs Qasil Cleanser

My toner

So the S’able Labs toner is a black seed toner. Toner was one of those steps I didn’t get it. I was like, Why am I putting rose water on my face right now? I don’t have time for this. But now we’ve packed it with AHA actives and all these calming ingredients. I wanted it to really fight inflammation and exfoliate, but also be calming at the same time. Idris uses it as an aftershave because it’s really helpful with bumps because of the actives. I set my makeup with it.

S’able Labs Black Seed Toner

My serum

I love the Vitamin C Serum from SKN by Lori Harvey. I obviously wanted to buy anything that she makes, but it’s actually so great. I love the bottle because I put it in my skin-care fridge. It gets so cold. It feels so nice. Then my second favorite serum is the Glow Serum from Charlotte Tilbury. That one works really well for me just because it’s got that instant satisfaction.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir

My moisturizer

Our moisturizer absorbs fast, and that’s what I love about it. I can get really oily, and I don’t like moisturizers with a greasy or oily feeling. It gets the job done and then disappears. It’s got licorice, so all the stuff that fights hyperpigmentation. It fights all that dark pigmentation and is anti-inflammatory.

S’able Labs Baobab Moisturizer

My eye cream

I’m using Augustinus Bader at the moment. I’m just trying it out, and it feels luxe. That’s the luxe category that I go into. And then I also love the Banana Bright Eye Cream from Ole Henriksen.

Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème

My face mask

I love Charlotte’s reusable face mask because I feel guilty when I’m throwing face masks out all the time. It feels good, and you can keep reusing it. Masking for me is a calming moment. I’ll put on any mask because it just feels like I can chill. We’re also developing a mask which I feel really excited about, because who doesn’t need more masks?

Charlotte Tilbury Cryo-Recovery Lifting Face Mask

My spot treatment

I’m not big on spot treatment. I have a prescription retinol Epiduo which has retinol and benzo. I don’t use it as an all-over. I use it more as a spot treatment if I feel there's a breakout or a flare coming. I try not to use too much retinol. I prefer bakuchiol, which we put in the moisturizer because it’s a bit friendlier to the skin. It’s more of a natural alternative to retinol. If I were going to use a spot treatment, it would be my Epiduo.

My face oil

I’m obsessed with face oil. The Sunday Riley U.F.O. face oil changed my life. I get so congested, and this is like a magic oil. Idris hates the smell of it, though. He is like, Why did you smell like this every night? I’m so sorry. I have gotten really addicted to it. It’s one of my favorite products.

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil

My face mist

I use my toner as my face mist over my makeup, but I still use face mist because I love an instant glow. I also use Aleavia face mist, which feels really good.

Aleavia Clear Facial Mist | Prebiotic Acne Remedy

My sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Invisible Fluid. If I’m not wearing makeup, I keep reapplying with the intense sun, and I feel really protective of my skin. I will sometimes use the Kate Summerville UncompliKated spray because I can use that again and again on top of my makeup. If I feel like there’s too much UV outside, I’ll use the Chantecaille spray.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Invisible Fluid Fragrance-Free SPF50+ 50ml

Chantecaille SeaScreen 30 Mineral Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen