7 Innovative Black Women-Owned Beauty Brands to Shop and Support

Wednesday, June 24, 2020



With the so many worldwide demanding justice for the deaths of innocent black lives and inspired to spark change, many resources contributing to the cause and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement have become available on all platforms. From donating to impactful organizations like the NAACP and the Minnesota Freedom Fund, to signing and sharing vital petitions, another way to continuously support black entrepreneurs is shopping black-owned businesses. 

While many brands are still catching up and creating new ways to be more inclusive and diverse, these 7 black female creators developed unique brands offering innovative beauty and wellness products which not only address the needs of the women in their communities but are suited for all seeking high-quality cosmetics, skincare and wellness solutions. Ahead, the 7 Black women-owned beauty brands I'm loving to shop and support. 

I had the opportunity to meet the wonderful creator of the brand, Janell Stephens at the brand's NYC launch and was excited to hear how the vegan, health-focused mom and successful beauty entrepreneur planed to expand her booming natural hair and body care brand, Camille Rose to skincare. The skincare arm of the brand, face by Camille Rose, is a garden-inspired line which features a 360-concept to skin care. From pore refining and clearing, to hydration and radiance, face by Camille Rose, offers effective botanical-infused (white peony, mallow flower, aloe) products that can be used alone or paired to suit specific skin needs. Impressively, Janell began her wildly successful beauty business from her humble kitchen with a commitment to creating natural, and harsh chemical-free products which delivered real results. With plans to expand into home and beyond, I can't wait to see the greatness to come from the Camille Rose brand.

"This is not multicultural beauty; this is simply beauty, and all are welcome to this beautiful tribe" 
A beauty brand that goes beyond cosmetics, Uoma Beauty emphasizes the community aspect of makeup and invites all beauty-enthusiasts to join their celebration of feeling beautiful through color. Founded by Nigerian-born Sharon Chuter, the LA-based former beauty executive was on a mission to create an innovative beauty range that broke the traditional beauty mold catering to select groups. The final result was Uoma, a stunningly empowering brand that inspires its users to be authentic, vibrant, outspoken, and included, all with the wonderful unifying essence of African culture. From complexion to shadows and every colorful cosmetic in between, it's hard to highlight only one product in the growing brand's vast makeup offerings. Thankfully, Uoma's lively and bright cosmetics help create a multitude of unique looks fitting all moods and personalities. 

When talking about breaking the traditional boundaries of beauty, Oui the People and it's exciting reconstiution of beauty instantly comes to mind. This modern razor company, founded by Karen Young, is rooted in sustainability and creating a feel-good solution to shaving without the fluffy expectations and packaging of the unattainable, perfect standards we're all used to seeing across media. Oui offers luxe, single-blade razors that not only get the closest shave for all but are sure to tackle the sometimes tough thicker hairs that skip on classic multi-blade disposable razors. Upsettingly, those same plastic disposable options end up in landfills by the millions and add to growing environmental concerns. Expanding on their philosophy to help users feel good in their skin, Oui also launched skin enhancing products like oils and masks which work in tandem with their signature steel razors. From soothing sensitive areas post-shave (DEEP V - Bikini Line Sheet Mask) to nourishing and replenishing parched skin (Featherweight - Hydrating Body Gloss), Oui is changing the way we address hair removal and body care. 
In a transition to a more holistic and health-focused lifestyle, Mary-Andree Ardouin-Guerrier found a vacancy of beneficial regrowth and revitalizing needs in the hair care space and was inspired to create an effective, natural hair product which both rejuvenates hair and stimulates hair growth. Interestingly, when researching ingredients to formulate this hero product, she turned to her rich West Indian heritage and vowed to incorporate the aromatic spices of this richly cultural region. Mary soon perfected the blend of her now successful and fan-favorite Revitalizing Organic Hair Oil which has a muti-use quality and suitable for all hair types. 


Addressing beauty from the inside, Nadege Lewis tapped into the beneficial properties of the mighty bamboo plant and developed a wellness brand highlighting this natural treasure. She found that bamboo silica, which lends to the plants rapid growth and strength, is a potent ingredient which contains a vital nutrient needed  for healthy hair, skin and nails. A true superfood, bamboo silica is the foundation of Beautiful Bamboo's wellness products. Coupled with much-needed collagen and antioxidants, the brand helps provide a beauty boost from within. From soothing teas to supplements, Beautiful Bamboo is creating a natural wellness solution packed with beneficial nutrients which supports healthy growth of hair and nails while keeping skin balanced and firm. 

Stubborn acne was the catalyst for Jamika Martin's creation of Rosen Skincare, a clean solution to remedying our worst skin woes. Handling acne with a new approach, Rosen is not only healing acne-prone skin but helping with the skin damage and scarring left behind. A struggle with which many are familiar, Rosen offers a multi-tier fix for various ranges of acne familiar skin that helps users read on ingredients and their efficacy. From taming to treating and overall prevention, Rosen's clean and understandable concept to skincare removes the intimating aspects of healing and helps you target your issues with lasting solutions. Best of all. Rosen's potent products are all modestly priced. 



Images Courtesy of Brand Instagram


National Nail Polish Day with JINsoon

Monday, June 1, 2020

A sweet, sunny summer yellow
JINsoon Nail Lacquer in Tweety


As the weather warms up, I feel the need to lighten up my manicure shades and opt for brighter, more poppy polishes. What better way to celebrate a fresh, summer-inspired manicure than on National Nail Polish Day. A full day reserved for the simple pleasure that is nail polish, National Nail Polish Day was a celebratory day founded in 2017 by Essie, a popular polish brand loved by both professionals and nail enthusiasts alike. 

During the spring and summer seasons, I tend to lean towards lively pink shades and thought it was time to venture outside of my manicure comfort zone. Now is the time to boldly sport some new (to my hands) tones like soft yellows and flattering oranges. To get started, I turned to nail authority Jin Soon Choi for some summer nail inspiration and was welcomed by her beautiful, richly-hued polish collection which features vibrant colors perfect for any season. 

When creating her own lacquer range, Jin Soon, a professional nail powerhouse, wanted her brand to exemplify the essence of an exceptional polish line. One that was equally eco-friendly, toxin-free (10-free) and formulated with high-performance elements which ensure a lasting wear with a lustrous finish. The result is a vastly-colored collection of vegan-friendly, chip-resistant, and chemical-free lacquer that sets beautifully on nails. 

JINsoon Hope | JINsoon Pop Orange


Best of all, Jin Soon's unique polish formulation features a UV filter which protects the polish from frustrated fading or yellowing of the actual color. Nothing upsets more than a fresh manicure chipping quickly or fading in color. Thankfully, with these chic nail lacquers, I get a lasting, shiny application which isn't prone to the usual chipping or peeling I experiences at the tips with usual polish. 

Excitingly, Jin Soon's nail range has grown beyond their award-winning vivid array of shades. From intricate nail art decals to beneficial nail tools, Jin Soon is committed to evolving her nail brand and continuing to offer the best in every aspect of nail care. Most recently, she's launched her HyperCare collection which concentrates on not only speeding up the polish process in a professional fashion but provides care for the nail itself through HyperRepair, a unique, double-patented nail product which works towards restoring the nail to a healthy state. 

Whether your natural nails need a rest from polish or you're looking to provide additional nourishment to your nails, the vitamin-heavy and AHA-infused HyperRepair treatment is a one which tackles the nails in an effective three-sided approach - hydrate, nourish and strengthen. A unique revival product that is recommended to be used on its own, HyperRepair is a quick remedy to replenish stressed and over-polished nails. 

JINsoon HyperRepair











Images Courtesy of JINsoon

ATB Quarantine Book List

Friday, May 22, 2020


With all of us stuck in quarantine, there's no better way to escape the stressors of this difficult time than getting lost in a good book. Whether its riveting, heart-racing thrillers, memorable memoirs, or incredible stories, spending a few hours reading seems to melt away any anxiety I may be experiencing at that time. This unexpected time shut in is a bit of a blessing in disguise as it's provided so much extra distraction-free time to dive into my ever-growing list of tomes I've been compiling since the past year. With a mix of old titles and new, here are some lovely books to explore during your days in.

A wonderfully written jaw-dropping thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat, The Woman in the Window feels very Hitchcoakian with a tense beat that keeps you excited till the very end. This story centers around Anna Fox, an agoraphobic who is bound to her beautiful New York City home. Without the option of venturing beyond her front door, she fills her days watching old mystery films and drinking a little too much. Her only thread to the outside word is peeking into her neighbors homes through the windows. Now a little spying is not a crime until she witnesses the murder of the woman across the street. But the real question is, did this heinous crime actually happen? This murder becomes the very incident that begins her painful unraveling but with classic thrillers constantly on  loop, a detrimental diet of alcohol and an intense case of paranoia, what did Anna actually see that night?

2. The Silent Patient | Alex Michaelides
There's always a story behind a murder, but what happen's when the killer isn't saying a word?
Alicia Berenson has a seemingly perfect life, a fabulous career (famous painter), married to a successful (fashion designer) man and residing in a dreamy property in one of London's most prime neighborhoods. With such a picture-esque existence, the calm waters are soon to become muddy, or rather bloody. One late evening, Alicia's husband returns home after a fashion shoot and welcomes his arrival by shooting him 5-times in the face. She falls into a stark silence immediately after, never speaking a word of the crime or its motive. Her refusal to speak of this horrific crime draws the curiosity of the both the public and experts alike which leaves her hid away for protection. Alicia is kept in a forensic unit in a secure London facility where a criminal psychotherapsit finally gets the long-awaited opportunity to speak to her. Will his effort get her talking and  finally reveal the gritty details to this gruesome mystery?

3. Pretty Things | Janelle Brown
A juicy thriller for the modern age, this story details the intertwined lives of two women who are complete opposites of one another and are brought together by one epic scam. Nina, a grifter, holds a useless fancy liberal arts degree and turns to a life of crime with her boyfriend by her side. Her expert con artist skills are handed down from her mother and leads her down a risky path of stealing from the rich in L.A. to survive. However, her on-the-run criminal lifestyle comes to halt when her mother becomes ill. In an effort to help her, she devises a grand scam, her most dangerous yet, even if it means putting her own life on the line.

Unlike Nina, Vanessa is the picture of privilege, an heiress-turned-Instagram Influencer, her seemingly ideal and envious lifestyle is portrayed perfectly on the digital platform. Behind the fancy facade, Vanessa is anything but picture-perfect and is suffering her own personal tragedy. She escapes to her family's luxe mountain estate, an extravagant mansion which holds a dark set of secrets of its own, some of which involve both Vanessa and Nina's unknown past. It's here that begins the intermingling of their stories and with so many brilliant twists and details, you'll be left wondering who was the real con artist.

4. Rules of Civility | Amor Towles
As a NYC girl, I love a beautiful story set in my incredible city. Much like a moving film set in New York City, the city itself becomes a character in this book. Rules of Civility follows the story of Kate Kontent, a young woman in post-Depression era New York who finds her simple city life suddenly upgraded in every sense. Weaving in and out of a glamorous social culture of the elite in this era while remaining authentic to her true self, this vividly descriptive and stunningly written journey grabs the reader and has you falling in and out of love with the complex characters in her life.

5. A Gentleman in Moscow | Amor Towles
A densely detailed and wonderfully woven story of a Count who is sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life in one of the grandest hotels in 1922 Russia. Nestled across the street from the Kremlin, Metropol, the hotel where Count Alexander Rostov has taken residence in its attic room becomes the setting of the various interesting encounters within its walls. There Rostov learns the lessons of existence and purpose from the bold characters around the lofty hotel while witnessing the dramatic developments of the state just outside his window - a lovely transporting novel you won't want to end.

6. Save Me The Plums | Ruth Reichl
One of the most buzzed about memoirs of 2019, my book list would not be complete without Ruth Reichl's exciting memoir, Save Me the Plums. This exciting memoir details Reichl's incredible journey from food critic to editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and how she transformed the once sleepy magazine into a contemporary and innovative publication. It's a fascinating peek inside the golden age of magazine making with plenty of charm, captivating storytelling and of course, delectable recipes.


Perfecting the At-Home Manicure with Côte

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


With all of us limited to our homes during this uncertain and tricky time, simple beauty treatments, like manicures, can give us a sense of normalcy and relief from the added stress. Manicures are an ideal at-home beauty task as it requires a few tools and polishes you may already have in your beauty arsenals.

For some, an at-home manicure may seem like an intimidating effort better left to the professionals. Luckily, Mary Lennon and Leah Yari, the founders of clean polish brand côte, have shared their top tips on achieving the perfect nails right from your own home. Mary and Leah's expert, no-fuss tricks  will soon have any nail novice polishing their tips like a true professional.

Côte founders Mary Lennon and Leah Yari 


Grab your favorite bottle of polish and read on to get your nails in tip-top shape:

Prime Space
1. To create your own at home spa oasis, Mary and Leah encourage finding a tidy, airy space where you can neatly set your nail tools and items. This is not a time to rush but rather a moment to enjoy a bit of personal pampering. It's all about recreating a clean and spa-like setting in your unique space.

Clean Nails
2. For a proper professional polish application, clean nails are must. Use a cotton ball or round and remove any bits of old polish or dirt. They recommend a non-acetone remover as it is less harsh on natural nail. To ensure a completely clean nail plate, "follow up with a quick wipe of rubbing alcohol," says Mary and Leah.

Prime Before Color
3. Before we jump to color, priming the nails with a base polish is essential. The founders emphasize the benefits explaining "the base coat is important if you want your color to last". Before color polish, a single, thin layer of basecoat is all you need on each nail.



Color!
4. Once the basecoat has dried, it's time for color. While some polishes feature brushes that are more accommodating to the nature shape of nails, Mary and Leah's expert technique helps achieve a professional application every time. They recommend beginning with a single swipe down the middle of the nail, continuing with a follow up swipe along the sides of the nail, coating the surface fully.

Waiting Game 
5. As highlighted at the start, now is not the time to rush. Waiting a solid 5 minutes before applying the second coat of color polish will help not only ensure a complete drying of the initial coat but "avoids pressure dings later," says Mary and Leah.

Non-Dominate Hands
6. With one hand down, we've all run into troubles when polishing with the non-dominate hand. Its all about polishing smart. "Make sure you anchor your hand against something like the table," says Mary and Leah. Securing your hand against something sturdy not only helps a shaky application but helps give you greater command of the brush.

Finishing Touch
7. After waiting for final coat to dry, seal the color with a top coat. While many opt for a glossy, try a fun alternative. "Consider a matte finish just to mix it up," says Mary and Leah.






Images courtesy of côte

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