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Ijeoma Chimezie

Wellness

3 Ways to Preserve Your Glow

Glowing skin is always in. It transcends all beauty trends. You can never go wrong if you make radiance your beauty look. Three things I’ve found to help me preserve my glow from the inside out and the outside in: having a solid skincare routine, keeping my makeup style simple, and making time for my mind, body, and spirit.

Just like your eyes are the doors to your soul, your skin is the door to your glow. (OK… so I completely made that up- clearly, I like to entertain myself). Back to the real topic at hand… my routine. My morning skincare routine has relatively straightforward steps- cleanse, tone, protect and moisturize. My night time routine varies a bit and has some additional steps. More details of my routine will come in a future post, but for now here are the basics.

CLEANSE AND TONE

Earlier this summer, I started using the BOLDEN Skin Clarifying Cleanser and Skin Brightening Toner, and my skin sings praises to this combo daily. I tend to have combination skin (as I like to call it “T-zone drama”)  and this duo has helped to keep that excitement under control. The cleanser is extremely gentle, and it gives my skin that perfect cleansing and doesn’t leave it feeling dry. The toner has been doing wonders for my skin and is helping to even out my skin tone (again a more detailed product review to come). If you’re looking for a new cleanser and toner, I highly recommended this combination. And of course, it’s always a plus when you can support indie beauty brands offering highly effective products for women of color (double check marks).

PROTECT AND MOISTURIZE

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen-this is the magic step to radiant skin all year round, especially during the summer months (I have an entire post dedicated to sun protection that you should check out). My go-to facial sunscreen products are the MARY-KAY TimeWise Day Solution Sunscreen and the  LA ROCHE-POSAY Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Sunscreen. Although these are two of my favorites, there a lot of other great sunscreen products on the market that provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Of course, it’s always great when you get bonus use from a product like the La-Roche-Posay Anthelios product which doubles as a great skin primer for my foundation.

In the summer months, I often opt for a moisturizer-sunscreen duo to eliminate an extra step especially since I’m constantly on the go (and it’s one less thing for me to forget to put in my gym bag early in the morning).  I’m currently using the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer UV, which I love.  Check out the post where I cover the essentials for selecting a moisturizer.

EXFOLIATE AND REPLENISH

Exfoliation is an important part of any skincare routine. I often alternate between mechanical exfoliation using my Mia 2 or chemical exfoliation with my all time favorite AHA/BHA blend, Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboo Glycolic Night Serum. I also have several different products that I use to “replenish” or “treat” any other concerns. Sunday nights are reserved for my pampering facial mask sessions– I’m currently in love with the SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Masque and the Dr. Jart + brand of sheet masks.

Less is more with makeup

I tend to keep it my entire makeup look light and airy. Foundation wise, I always like to keep it natural, so I will usually use my tinted moisturizer to give me a little bit of coverage. My go-to option for a tinted moisturizer is IMAN COSMETICS Skin Tone Evener BB Crème SPF 15. This product has been a staple in my makeup routine since 2011. Recently, I recently discovered the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Moisturizer while shopping for products for a bridal client this past wedding. Let me tell you it was like love at first sight. It gives me enough coverage with a beautiful sheer, soft-matte finish. No shine. No T-zone drama. 

While I love a full coverage finish, I can get from some of my favorite foundations, as I said my personal preference for the summertime is a light coverage. For my night time looks, I will kick it up a notch by using my Makeup Forever Ultra HD liquid foundation- a staple in my makeup artist kit and my go-to-foundation all year round.

LET YOUR HIGHLIGHTER WORK FOR YOU NOT AGAINST YOU

The purpose of a highlight is to elevate your glow, but it appears people sometimes prefer to bathe in it during the summer months. I guess to each their own. I think your highlight should work for you and not against you. By this I mean it needs to be strategically placed with a soft hand to the high points of the face, such as tops of your cheekbones, across the cupids bow of the lips, inner corners of the eye and eyelids. I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of using highlight down the bridge of the nose but that’s a personal preference. Places to avoid highlighting include areas like the apples of your cheeks otherwise you will be too shiny. Also, you also want to avoid blemishes.

Some of my highlighters of choice include MAKEUP FOREVER’s Pro Light Fusion Highlighter (a mix of color 1 and 2) and NARS Multiple sticks in a few different shades. What I love about the Pro Light Fusion is that unlike a lot of highlighters, they are not formulated with reflective pigments that are various sizes which are what usually gives that shimmery, sometimes glitter-like pay off. These highlighters give more of a subtle, radiant glow. With a fan brush, these highlighters glide on like SILK baby!!!

What I love about the NARS Multiple sticks is they’re extremely versatile. You can use it everywhere… eyes, cheeks, lips, AND body. I love to use it alone for reverse contouring or strobing–basically, rather than playing the game of shadows with light and dark colors needed for contouring, I layer my NARS Multiple sticks (in the shades Puerto Vallarta or Maui) both underneath and on top of my foundation to create a radiant glow. I simply glide the stick on cheekbones and browbones and use my fingers to blend it in. It’s a lot more subtle and natural for daily use. If you’ve given up on mastering the “Game of Shadows”, this is less maintenance and definitely worth a try (by the way, can you tell I’m a fan of Game of Thrones?).

STAY ACTIVE

Honestly, my day would not be complete without some level of physical activity to get my heart pumping and blood circulating. Whether it’s going for a long-run or a hip-hop cycling class or doing one of the workouts from my favorite fitness apps, I’m always down to work up a sweat. I’m sure you’ve probably read about the many health benefits of physical activity, if not please start here (but I’m hoping you know the information in this link). In general, exercise helps to improve blood circulation to all of the organs in the body, including the skin, the body’s largest organ. What does this mean for your glow-up? Simply put, more blood flowing through your body means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your skin cells– which can help to elevate your radiance glow. In fact, research shows that exercise may not only keep skin looking younger, but it may also reverse skin aging, and the American Academy of Dermatology agrees as they list exercise as one of the “11 ways to reduce premature skin aging”. So get moving and get glowing.

SHIFT THE STRESS ENERGY TO FAITH ENERGY

And finally, the REAL secret sauce to the glow up. Ever since I  made a conscious decision to turn my stress energy into faith energy, my glow up has been real. It all started with me being intentional about creating time for ONLY myself and my thoughts. I’m a doer and I’m always on the move, so this was a huge challenge for me.

To help me keep myself on track, I added journaling back to my morning routine to help me collect my thoughts and set my pace for the day. After praying and meditating, I open up my Evernote app, and for 5-10 minutes, I write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes it’s just an array of thoughts; other times it’s actually cohesive. I’m still in my beginning stages… like toddler status, but the progress I’ve made so far on this spiritual journey has helped to elevate my presence and continues to be the primary source of my intentional living.

Along the way on this journey, I’ve found what I call my charge up words and my power verses. My charge-up words are inspirational quotes or sayings that remind me to keep moving! My power verses reassure all of the spiritual promises and favors that have already been professed over my life, the ones that help to calm my spirit in moments of stress or when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I try to remind myself to speak those verses out loud. I must admit, sometimes I look a little cray-cray (crazy) in the process, but I don’t mind because it works for me.

There you have it, my three principles for preserving my glow. This is what works for me, but I would love to know what works for you. Share yours in the comment section below.

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Wellness

Looking to Get Snatched? There’s an App For It

In the era of smartphones and apps, whatever you want to achieve in life, one thing is for sure– there’s an app for it. And when it comes to getting snatched (aka getting in shape for those who are not familiar with that vernacular… haha), there are a bunch of apps for that. Fitness apps have made achieving your fitness goals extremely attainable, convenient and affordable. No gym? No trainer? No excuse because these apps provide you with on-the-go workouts that can be done anywhere. For this post, I’m sharing on four of my favorite fitness apps that I regularly use to stay in shape.  As for that #BODYGOALS inspiration photo hanging over your bed, don’t fret you’ll get there soon. Download one or two of these apps and use it regularly, and I guarantee you’ll be looking for a snack on a platter in no time (aka looking fabulous, looking fantastic).

1. Peloton Cycling

As much as I love running, I must say cycling has quickly become my new favorite form of cardio. When I think of cycling I think- PARTY ON A BIKE. This Peloton app is a private cycling studio on-the-go. Although it would be amazing to have the sleek and sexy Peloton bike as a companion, the beauty of it all is you don’t need it. You can ride any bike anywhere.

With a monthly subscription of $12.99, you have the luxury of unlimited classes with access to daily live rides. Prefer to ride on your own time? No problem- you can choose from the on-demand library of 4,000+ high energy, heart-pumping workouts. First time cycling? Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered with beginner rides to ease into the cycling experience. The music playlist NEVER disappoints–I did mention it’s a party on a bike. Need more convincing? You get a 14-day free trial period when you download this app. So go on and give it a try, you’ll surely be in for the ride of your life (pun intended).

2. Nike Training Club

This app is hands-down my favorite fitness app out there. If you’re on a budget and are looking for a personal trainer, the Nike Training Club app is a great alternative. Fully loaded with 150+ workouts, working out with this app is guaranteed to produce results if you put in the work. With a variety of full-body challenges — from strength and endurance to mobility and yoga, the Nike Training Club app creates your ideal workout plan based on your personal body shape goal, fitness level, and overall endurance.

What I love is the audio and video guidance for each workout- so you don’t have to worry about knowing the moves in advance. Another bonus is that you can select an exercise based on equipment requirement– “none,” “basic” or “full.” If all of that wasn’t enough, you have the option of choosing an athlete-inspired workout. When you have Serena Williams telling you to keep going, guess what? You keep going.

So if you’re just getting a start, this app should find its way into your phone. If you’re already moving along pretty well and are looking to spice up your workout routine, you can’t go wrong with this one.

3. Jefit

OK so I don’t shy away from weight lighting at all, in fact, I love it. STRONG IS THE NEW SEXY. And if you’ve got Serena Williams or Teyana Taylor as body goals, you need to get comfortable with a few racks or two. Don’t worry; this app is designed to help you get there.

Jefit is extremely comprehensive, with over 1300+ weight lifting exercises for all body parts. Obviously, you will never have to do all of these exercises, but it gives you plenty of options to select from when creating your customized routine. This app has two features that I absolutely love- it provides detailed exercise instructions and animations feature AND allows the user to log progress photos. So if you’ve been shying away from lifting because you’re afraid of looking like “silly,” Jefit has got you covered.

If you’re willing to shell out some bucks, the app also offers routines created by their master trainers to help you get that lean, sexy muscle tone (yes muscles are sexy on women… I’ve polled all of my male friends). Download this app, prep before your weight-day by selecting your exercises and reviewing the video. Or you can also spark up a convo with your gym crush and ask him how to use the machine as well. Either way, get lifting to get snatched.

4. Sworkit

Another great app, SWORKIT is “simply work it” but shortened. It covers everything from strength to cardio to yoga and even stretching. The app builds randomized circuit training workouts that you can do anywhere (goodbye to the excuse of needing to go to the gym to workout).

The feature I love the most about this app is the ability to select the duration of the workouts, ranging from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. So on the days you only have 30 minutes to spare, you can still fit in a kick-ass workout without sacrificing any pre-set engagements. If you’re struggling with maintaining a consistent exercise routine, this app has got you covered. SWORKIT has a daily reminder that you can set. It also allows you to set a reminder to get you back on track after a period of inactivity (and you enter your frequency). Sounds perfect right? And you can do all of these with the free version.

If you decide to get the premium version ($7.99/month), you get guided workout plans, unlimited workouts meaning you get more variety in your selections, and you can customize the workouts to fit your need. The free version does pretty well if I may say, but an upgrade isn’t a bad idea if it’s in your budget. There you have it, an app that helps you get snatched and also checks your entire life.

There you have it, four of my favorite fitness apps that I regularly use to stay healthy and stay snatched. Let me know some of your favorites below. 

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Skincare

3 Things To Consider When Selecting a Moisturizer

I’m always shocked whenever I hear people (clients, friends, coworkers, strangers, anyone) say, “I don’t use a moisturizer” or well, I have oily skin so I don’t need a moisturizer, or even better, I only wear moisturizer during the winter”. It’s almost like a little part of me dies each time. So for this post, I’m going to highlight the importance of moisturizers (specifically, what it does for the skin),  how to select the right formulation based on your skin type, and several ingredients you should be looking for in your product labels.

What moisturizers do for the skin

Whether it’s the dead of winter or scorching mid-summer days, a moisturizer is a MUST. Our skin’s barrier function naturally prevents moisture from escaping the body, by way of natural oils, proteins and ceramides (fats). However, with time our skin’s natural moisturizing abilities begin to diminish. This is what often leads to imbalances, which can then cause of over production of oils, dehydration, or dryness.

 Moisturizers increase water content in the skin and help retain the skin’s natural moisture, thereby keeping your skin smooth and supple. A well-formulated moisturizer should have both HYDRATING (provide water to the skin) and HUMECTANT properties (prevent further moisture loss by attracting moisture from the air). All in all, the right moisturizers should have a rejuvenating and reparative effect on the skin. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin or even sensitive skin, there’s a moisturizer that meets your needs.

Whether it’s the dead of winter or scorching mid-summer, a moisturizer is  a MUST. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin or even sensitive skin, there’s a moisturizer that meets your needs

Now that we are all on the same page, the question then becomes how do you choose the RIGHT facial moisturizer for your skin type and/or concerns? What types of ingredients should look for in the product label?

Keep it simple and start with these 3 things:

DRY SKIN: Since dry skin lacks lipids such as fats and ceramides, the skin is unable to maintain normal moisture levels. Creams and moisturizing lotions are ideal for those with dry skin. More importantly, you want to be sure the moisturizer has both hydrating and humectant properties. So, if you see mix of any of these ingredients (to name a few), you’re in good company:  hyaluronic acid (often listed as sodium hyaluronate), ceramides, glycerin, linoleum acid, algae, and most obviously, WATER!

OIL SKIN: Despite what most think, oily skin doesn’t equate to hydrated or moist skin. Keep in mind— oil and hydration are two very important but different things. In fact, it’s very possible to have oily, dehydrated skin. The ideal moisturizers for oily skin are oil-free with water-like texture, such as gels. Gel moisturizers are weightless to the touch and contain the lowest concentrations of emulsifiers, waxes and oils—this is particularly important since oily skin tends to be a bit more prone to breakouts. Moisturizers for oily skin should also contain ingredients that help control sebum secretion throughout the day, such as dimethicone for example. And of course, hydrating and humectants properties are a MUST-have.

COMBINATION SKIN: The hallmark sign of combination skin is an oily T-zone—that is the center of your face from you forehead to your chin tends to be oily while other areas are dry. Light lotions that are emollient but quick-absorbing work great for this skin type. Some people with combination skin may benefit from using different products on the face. For example, you can use a gel based moisturizer for the T-zone area and a light lotion or serum for rest of your face. I often do this during the summer time, and so far so good.

Antioxidants protect our skin from the damage that results from sun exposure and environmental toxins. They help to stabilize chemicals called free radicals, which can cause skin damage and aging, which ultimately prevent our skin from looking its very best. While antioxidants can been found in certain foods and fruits as well as taken as supplements, topical application is KEY for the skin benefits to render true. Antioxidants are essential to preserving and maintaining a radiant, youthful glow. They help to improve skin healing and collagen production. 

While there are dozens of effective antioxidants, here are a few to keep your eyes out for when you are shopping for skin care products: niacinamide, vitamin E, retinol, vitamin C. Theses antioxidants can truly take your skin’s health to the next level. Specifically, the benefits of these antioxidants in particular includes reducing fine lines and wrinkles, stimulating natural collagen production, improving uneven skin tone, brightening dull skin, resurfacing the skin’s texture to give it a smoother appearance—ultimately improving the skin’s luminosity.

One thing that’s important to remember about antioxidants is that they tend to break down with exposure to light and air. You definitely don’t want to overlook the package or container used for your products. So, don’t spend all of your money on the product with the fancy packaging–for example, if it’s in a jar and if you have to open it everyday, chances are the antioxidant properties they won’t be lasting for long.

When it comes to protecting your skin from sun damage and preventing early signs of aging, sunscreen and antioxidants are your best friends. The reality is sun exposure causes most of the skin changes we often attribute to normal aging. One of the best ways to protect your skin and help maintain its youthfulness is to invest in a moisturizer that well-formulated with sunscreen. For adequate protection, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least SPF 30 with broad-spectrum activity. This means the moisturizer offers protection from both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (sunburn rays). The active ingredients for sunscreens that you see on the label can be put into two categories: physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens

While you can opt for a moisturizer with sunscreen combined, you can also apply each separately to achieve the same protection.  If you’re like me and prefer to have one less step in my skincare routine, you will probably opt for the combination product.

One last tidbit for those with sensitive, reactive skin, ideally you may want to stick to sunscreens whose only active ingredients are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.

WHAT MOISTURIZERS DO I RECOMMEND?

To make shopping for skin care easy for you, here are some great products that offer a good mix of antioxidants, hydrating/humectant properties, and provides reliable broad spectrum protection. I’ve also listed the ingredient list- I think it’s important to train your eyes to looking at the product label.

Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Pa++

This moisturizer is a great option for those with normal to dry skin and is also suitable for those prone to breakouts (Sephora: $63)

 

Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Homosalate 6.5%, Octisalate 5%, Avobenzone 3%, Oxybenzone 2%.

Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Cocoglycerides, Lauryl Lactate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl Phosphate, Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Trehalose, Inositol, Taurine, Betaine, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Pelvetia Canaliculata Extract, Ectoin, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Tripleurospermum Maritimum Extract, Zinc Gluconate, Ethyl Linoleate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Linalool, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6 (CI 15985), Red 33 (CI 17200).

Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM Sunscreen SPF 30: 

This is one of my go-to moisturizers during the winter months. I absolutely love this moisturizer– it’s super affordable, well-formulated and loaded with other great skin ingredients that will have skin looking amazing. It’s great option for those with normal to slightly dry or slightly oily skin (Target: $14.99).

Active Ingredients:
Homosalate, Meradimate, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, Zinc Oxide

Inactive Ingredients:
Water, Niacinamide, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-II, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Methylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

PAULA’S CHOICE SKIN RECOVERY Daily Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30 & Antioxidants:

Paula’s Choice has a line of great skin care products. This particular moisturizer is by far one of the best in her line of moisturizers. It’s particularly great for those who have dry to very dry skin and is also suitable for sensitive skin (Paula’s Choice: $29.00).

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 3.85%, Zinc Oxide 3.12% (mineral sunscreens).

Other Ingredients: visit the website (the list is really long but they do an excellent job detailing what each ingredient in the formulation is for)

EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46:

This is another great moisturizer that works best for normal to oily skin. What I also love about this moisturizer is that it’s formulated with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, both of which will surely elevate the suppleness of your skin. For those with oily skin, you will appreciate that it is light in text and has a slightly matte finish. If you are prone to acne, this moisturizer is also an great option (Dermstore: $32.00)

Active Ingredients: 9.0% Zinc oxide, 7.5% Octinoxate

EltaMD UV Clear Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Niacinamide, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyisobutene, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.

NOW YOUR TURN:

take a look at your current moisturizers to see if they have the 3 things discussed in on this post. 

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Beauty

TBS’s Top Picks: Favorite Foundations for Women of Color

The process of selecting the right foundation, especially for women of color with darker skin tones is never a walk in the park. For a while, many beauty companies only offered a limited number of shades for darker skin tones and almost certainly missed the mark.  So when I see marketing ads from MAKEUP FOREVER and others with an array of melanin beauties, it brings me so much joy. I’m elated to see this shift with many brands (about time damn time lol), as they are FINALLY elevating their beauty lines to be more inclusive of the different shades of black beauty. For this post, I’ve detailed 8 of my tried and true foundations (and in no particular order regarding preference) for my fellow melanin beauties that I carry in professional makeup kit as well as my personal beauty bag.

 

RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: NORMAL TO COMBINATION SKIN

A  personal favorite, this foundation is a great option if you’re looking for a medium to full coverage product that still offers a natural finish. The bonus is the SPF 30 coverage, which makes it a great option all-year around.

If you’re prone to oily skin, this may not be the best choice for you- it’s formulated with emollients that will leave you shining bright like a diamond (and not in a pleasant way). For the best results, be sure to moisturize the face before applying the foundation and set with a loose powder afterward.

PRICE: $49.00 (SEPHORA)


Recommended skin type: ALL

In my opinion, NARS stepped up the game with this one. Well-formulated, this product is truly versatile and can be used for all skin types. This foundation is a great option if you’re looking for a natural-looking medium to full coverage or a long-wear product. If those with dry skin, the best results are achieved by adequately moisturizing the skin before use.

As far as the use of “luminous” in the name, if you’re concerned about it finishing a bit shiny or shimmery, let me put your mind at ease… the real finish of this product is slightly matte with a beautiful glow of radiance.

PRICE: $49 (Sephora)


RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: ALL 

With its light-weight, build-able coverage, this foundation lives up to its name. Celebrity makeup artist, Kim Baker and her team at Glamazon Beauty definitely had women of color in mind when creating this formula. The color pay off is great and has a natural soft, beautiful finish.

What I love most is that it’s perfect for all skin types– this has easily become my go-to recommendation for clients looking for a foundation with excellent coverage at a super affordable price.

PRICE: $24 (GLAMAZON BEAUTY)


RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: NORMAL TO COMBINATION SKIN

A stable in my professional kit, the formula for AJ CRIMSON’s creme foundation is like pure gold. With its lightweight and buildable coverage, this creme foundation goes on smooth and creamy, making it a cult favorite for makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts. Another thing I love that the undertones are correct- which is where many brands fall very short when it comes to creating foundations for women of color.

Skin prep is crucial to achieving the best results for this foundation- so be sure to have on the right moisturizer for your skin type (check out the post where I cover all of that).

PRICE: $35.00 (AJ CRIMSON WEBSITE)


RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: DRY TO NORMAL SKIN

By far one of the best drugstore beauty products, this stick foundation offers truly caters to women of color with its varied ranges in deep skin tones. If you’re looking for a full coverage foundation and you’re on a budget, this is a great option. At its exceptional price, you can get your hands on a shade that matches your skin tone, a lighter shade for highlighting or concealing, and a deeper shade for contouring.

With this creme foundation,  a little goes a long way to achieving the best coverage. However, if you’re prone to oily skin, this may not be the best option for you.

PRICE: $9.99 (BLACK OPAL WEBSITE)


RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: ALL SKIN TYPES

If you’re looking for a foundation that offers medium to full coverage while looking flawless and natural, this is definitely a great option. A stable for many makeup artists, this foundation is still perfect for the everyday woman. With its creamy texture, this foundation stick is ideal for beauty-on-the-go because blends into the skin so seamlessly and feels like second skin.

PRICE: $43.00 (SEPHORA)


RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: normal, dry, and combination skin

There’s a reason why this fantastic product made my top 8 list–it’s truly the perfect everyday foundation and gives you a flawless finish every single time. What’s more is the expanded variations (both in color and undertone) for deeper skin tones- a major win for women of color.

PRICE: $43 (SEPHORA)


RECOMMENDED SKIN TYPE: ALL SKIN TYPES

Lancome nailed it on the formulation for this product. An oil-free foundation with long wear durability, this foundation delivers medium-to-full coverage that’s weightless, flawless and natural. The bonus- it’s formulated to be transfer-resistant, which I can attest to from personal experience. When I’m feeling like splurging on foundation, this is my splurge-of-choice.

PRICE: $47.00 (SEPHORA)

What are some your favs? Let me know some of your tried and true foundations. Leave your comments below.

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Skincare

The Basics about Sun Protection

Everyone needs sun protection DAILY because sun damage doesn’t discriminate. Sun protection is a must-have in any skincare regimenOur black girl magic makes us invisible in many ways but this is definitely not one of them.

For starters, this is a genuine plea to abandon this misperception about not needing sunscreen. So to my beautiful black sistahs who haven’t hopped on the sunscreen bandwagon (the ONE bandwagon you actually should be on), this post is dedicated to you. Yes, you may have heard that melanin provide some natural sun protection. It’s true and proven by medical research; however, this protection is nearly not enough to shield us from getting sunburned, aging prematurely or worse, developing skin cancer from ultraviolet (UV) damage. You may not see the damage now, but rest assured that if you don’t practice sun-safe habits in your 20s, 30s and 40s, it will surely show on your skin down the line. So buckle in.. this is a bit of a long one, but it’s important to establish some of the basics.

what is UVA and UVB?

I love a bronzy summer glow, but never at the expense of damaging my skin. Unfortunately, many of us women of color neglect to use sunscreen regularly (whether its a daily facial sunscreen or body sunscreen for when we are outside for a long period of time). While we love the depth of your skin tone after basking in the sun on a beautiful summer day, but the reality is the darkening of your normal skin tone is the outcome of your skin naturally shielding against UV damage and attempting to prevent further damage. Let’s not forget the sun rays are relentless, especially with being in it for a long period time. So, let me break down the basics about the different UV rays we encounter daily.

  • UVA rays have a longer wavelength and penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin. These are the rays that are responsible for a good amount of the damage associated with photo-aging, which occurs as a result of long-term sun exposure. Studies show these rays can cause damage to the skin cells on the top layer of skin; as a result can lead to certain types of skin cancers.
  • UVB rays are the main culprit behind sunburn. They have a shorter wavelength than UVB and tends to damage the skin’s more superficial layers of the epidermis. UVB often leads to some of the other short-effects of sun exposure like free radical formation, skin pigmentation (aka sun spots) and photosensitivity.

are all sunscreens the same?

Ok first let’s start with the role of sunscreen– which is to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UVA and UVB radiation. Sunscreen is truly one of the secrets to preserving your beautiful healthy skin.

Now to answer the question– No, not all sunscreens are the same. In fact, there are two types of sunscreens.

Physical sunscreens:  include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and they work by sitting on top of the skin and forming a barrier. This barrier deflects and scatters damaging UV rays, preventing them from being absorbed by the skin. Zinc oxide is known to offer excellent protection from the different UVA rays (UVA1 and UVA2) plus UBA rays. Physical sunscreens are preferred for those with sensitive sun as they are less likely to cause skin irritation than chemical sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens: works absorbing UV radiation, changing UV rays into heat then releasing that heat from the skin. The most common ingredients include oxybenzone, octyl salicylate, octisalate, and avobenzone.

what does SPF mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. Essentially it’s a measure for how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays. The number tell you how long it will take for UVB rays to redden skin when using a sunscreen, compared to how long skin would take to redden without the product. For example, if it takes 20 minutes for you to turn red after sun exposure, using an SPF 15 sunscreen should in theory allow you to tolerate the same exposure 15 times longer to turn red—so that’s 300 minutes vs 20 minutes. A little math… but pretty straightforward, right?

how much and how often?

Apparently most of us don’t apply enough. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends applying an amount that equals to one teaspoon to the face/neck area, one to each arm, two teaspoons to your turso area as well as your legs. For maximum benefit, AAD recommends applying the sunscreen at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours during high sun exposure.

what is considered sun-safe habits?

As such we long for that glorious tan, it’s actually not considered a sun-safe habit. This a bit of a hard one because it’s the ONE thing most of us love to do in summer.  AAD recommendations are to avoid excessive sun exposure between 10 AM and 4 PM which is when the sun’s rays are the strongest (sorry to rain on your parade). As you probably guessed, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses are also recommended. I have no complaints about this one– after all, who doesn’t love a stylish wide-brimmed hat and funky sunglasses?

why do I need sunscreen in the winter months?

As I mentioned before, the sun rays are relentless. UVA rays are equally intense during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass. This means we still need sunscreen on cloudy days AND the times we know we’ll be driving during the day for a long period of time. UVB rays can burn and damage your skin all year-round. So to answer the question; yes, sunscreen is still very important during the winter months.

why is this particularly important to me as a woman of color?

For starters: hyperpigmentation and skin cancer

I recently came across an Instagram post asking women of color about their skin concerns, and the overwhelming response was hyperpigmentation or dark spots. If this is also one of your concerns, then this is another solid reason to hop on the daily-sunscreen-bandwagon because sun protection is essential to making those dark spots disappear. Regardless what led to the hyperpigmentation, sun exposure can surely worsen it, thereby make it harder to treat. Remember, when you expose a hyperpigmented area to UV light, the skin cells responds by producing more melanin at a cellular level (aka a level that not visible to the naked eyes) to protect you from skin damage.

Did I convince you yet? Ok…last point to make and probably the most important one.

Skin cancer. So yes, as people of color we are less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancers than our counterparts. However, here’s a flip side to that statement: even though we have a lower risk profile, when skin cancer does occur in people of color, it is often identified and diagnosed in the late stages of the disease. For instance, about 52% of African Americans are likely to be diagnosed with late-stage melanoma compared to 16% of whites.  As a result, we have a worse prognosis of survival (likelihood of surviving) compared to whites. Here another some shocking statistic:

  • Squamous cell carcinomas (a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells of the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin), which the most common in people of color, tends to be more aggressive and are associated with a 20-40% risk of spreading

Ok, so maybe this is a bit more than the basics but a little extra information, but knowledge is power. All of this to say, there are so many reasons why we as women of color should not be overlooking sun protection or daily sunscreen use. It can be as simple as using a daily moisturizer that also contains sunscreens– I cover a few options in another post.

I hope this information has helped you to better understand why adequate sun protection is important. It’s also important to make time to see a dermatologist regularly to address your skin care needs, assess your skin health, as well as conduct full-body skin examinations. You know how the saying goes, PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.

The follow-up of this post will be recommendations on sunscreens for brown girls– you’ll have to come for the details on that.

In the mean time, the organizations below provide great educational resources on the importance of sun protection. I recommend you check them out if you haven’t before– KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

Sources

  1. Gallagher RP. Ultraviolet radiation. Chronic Dis Can. 2010;29 Suppl 1:51-68.
  2. Aghai ON et al. Skin cancer and photoprotection in people of color: a review and recommendations for physicians and the public. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Apr;70(4):748-62.
  3. Gloster HM, Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Amer Acad Dermatol 2006; 55:741-60.
  4. Hu S, Soza-Vento RM, Parker DF, Kirsner RS. Comparison of stage at diagnosis of melanoma among Hispanic, black, and white patients in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Arch Dermatol 2006; 142(6):704-708.
  5. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/types-of-skin-cancer.
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