Idris and Sabrina Elba have it going on — in more ways than one. The partners in life and business are hosting a podcast, Coupledom, and now, launching a skin-care brand, S’Able Labs. (That’s Elba’s spelled backwards!)
“We’re a partnership, and skin care is something we can share. We are both on the same page about feeling good externally and it helps us approach our day,” Idris Elba tells Allure. There’s no “his” or “her’s” here. Instead, S’Able Labs is all about “us-care,” the idea of looking after yourself, so you can look after others — and intentionally sharing moments with the people around you. “We all have skin we want to nourish and protect and hydrate,” says Sabrina Elba, and, she adds, “when you feel good, you do good.“
Together, the duo has created a line of three products — cleanser, toner, moisturizer — to help with the “feel good” part of that equation. It’s a simple lineup, but each product is formulated with hard-working ingredients, several of which have been thoughtfully sourced from Africa. “There are powerful ingredients on that continent,” says Sabrina Elba. “Some of my fondest memories are of sitting underneath the massive baobab trees in East Africa,” she says.
The superfood baobab, packed with anti-inflammatory properties, is the star ingredient in the aptly named S’Able Labs Baobab Moisturiser, a lightweight formula that goes heavy on hydration with the help of shea butter and squalane.
Each of the products are infused with The Elba’s experiences. “Somali women have been using qasil, [a powder made from the leaves from the gob tree], for centuries,” says Sabrina Elba. “I’ve watched my mom put this green stuff on her face forever. It’s a great natural soap full of antioxidants,” she tells Allure. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King confirms this ingredient is both an effective cleanser and exfoliator.
The S’Able Labs Qasil Cleanser combines the Somalian plant with shea butter and purifying kaolin clay. “We both loved the way the cleanser felt on our skin. It provided immediate smoothness and softness — but unlike some exfoliating cleansers, it wasn’t the least bit irritating,” says Allure associate features director Dianna Mazzone, after testing it with her fiancé Herman.
For editorial assistant Talia Gutierrez and her partner Austin, the S’Able Labs Black Seed Toner added some fun to their multi-step routine. “We enjoyed spritzing each other’s faces — a couple’s thing,” she says. “And we both appreciated the ultra-fine mist that left our skin dewy while feeling clean and hydrated, too.” They both sealed in the hydration with a penny-sized scoop of the S’Able Labs Baobab Moisturiser. “A little goes a long way,” says Austin.
Well, Allure sat down with Idris and Sabrina in a cozy, colorful room at The Whitby Hotel in New York City to chat about their exciting new brand S’Able Labs, how they like to use the products, and their favorite ways to practice “us-care.”
IDRIS: Self-care quickly became “us-care” when we were in lockdown [during the pandemic]. We realized that only when you’re really good with yourself, are you good with someone else.
SABRINA: It’s become such an educational process for me to talk about skin care with my partner who, you know, only used Vaseline until very recently [laughs].
When we created the S’able Labs, we wanted it to be something we could use together.
IDRIS: It’s not man or woman. It’s just human. We are both humans.
SABRINA: Idris will use the [S’able Labs Black Seed] toner as aftershave and I use it to set my makeup. It doesn’t need to be so specific.
IDRIS: I know how our [S’able Labs Baobab] moisturizer feels on my skin, Sabrina knows how it feels on her skin, and we both know that actually makes us feel good.
SABRINA: So much of my beauty routine is [about] being prepared for the day, so I don’t have to spend time in the bathroom, like having lash extensions, or my brows laminated. Even though I never look like I’m wearing heavy makeup, I’m always trying new things. If I’m going to try a color, it’s probably on my lips. And I’ve been trying colorful eyeliner recently, which is so fun. But Idris loves the no-makeup look [on me]. He says, “Oh, you look so great in the morning when you just wake up.”
IDRIS: I just sit in the makeup chair and get whatever done to me if I’m in a film. [And] I do make it a point to brush my teeth, but I’m not a flosser. Sabrina is a flosser.
SABRINA: How do you get away with so many things? I get jealous of how little you have to do [before] you walk out the door.
IDRIS: I will shave! I’m the guy who gets new growth by five o’clock in the afternoon, so I keep on top of it. And I shower every day, sometimes twice a day. I just got a fresh haircut and, honestly, my energy levels feel different. My clothes feel different.
A haircut does that for me. I’ve gotta make sure the hair looks right. Buying new sneakers definitely makes me feel good. There’s something about stepping in fresh shoes. And I started swimming early in the morning. It feels so alien to jump into cold water, but it’s invigorating.
SABRINA: So much of the dream treatment for me is about where I am and who I am with. We went to Iceland recently and we were in the Blue Lagoon getting a massage.
IDRIS: That was incredible.
SABRINA: Yeah, it made it so much more impactful. If I’m in a beautiful setting, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bad massage.
IDRIS: Also, hot yoga in a hot climate is different. It’s not hot yoga, it’s just yoga. Something about the elements being natural rather than having a heater… Everyone’s sweating. But it’s the fact you’re warm and supple, and the environment is great.
SABRINA: Music is [another] form of self-care for us. We sit together, listen to an album… We fell in love listening to an album on a couch. It was A Tribe Called Quest…
IDRIS: The newest one. And Sampha.
SABRINA: We were just listening to music and that was so therapeutic for us and allowed us to bond. And also, if Idris serenades anyone, I’m pretty sure they fall in love pretty quickly.
IDRIS: Don’t put that out there [laughs]. They’ll be like, “You’re good at this! Sing!“
SABRINA: Idris is so passionate about music. And it’s that [same] passion that’s bled into our relationship and anything we approach together.