How I'm Empowered By My Skin-Care Routine

Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh.
Since first making an appearance in the digital world, #BlackGirlMagic has taken on a life of its own. Anything and everything that positively relates to Black women has been called #BlackGirlMagic. A meme of Beyoncé and Solange, my younger sister graduating from college, a selfie with a beat face in good lighting: all #BlackGirlMagic. What started as a simple hashtag has grown into an uncontainable force of positivity that celebrates the beauty, power, and resilience of Black women.

I can’t remember when I first heard #BlackGirlMagic, but I’m certain it was followed by an audible "yaaass" and an immediate group text (the name of which was promptly changed to #BlackGirlMagic) to my high school BFFs letting them know what was up — Black women. While Black women have always been nothing short of amazing, having a shared name for our awesomeness is empowering and has connected us to each other in a new way. More importantly, it has enabled us to proudly do whatever it is that makes us feel our most beautiful and authentic selves, unapologetically. And for me, that’s my skin-care routine.

Like so many of my fellow Black-girl magicians, I grew up having a complicated relationship with beauty. When I was a child, my mom constantly told my sisters and I how beautiful we were, both inside and out. But not seeing my image reflected in the ads of my favorite beauty brands made it difficult to truly believe her words. It was disheartening not to see my complexion, hair type, or features acknowledged by the beauty industry. I spent my teenage years experimenting with makeup, but was never quite able to find the exact shade or product to complement my skin tone. Finally, I gave up on the effort altogether — that is, until I found the skin-care aisle.

Unlike my peers, I no longer headed straight for the MAC counter when we hit the mall, but instead beelined to Clinique. I quickly began spending my time (and money) on skin-care products and became adamant about washing my face at night and moisturizing. I even started using the Garnier Ultra Lift, in the bright-green bottle, at age 18 (crazy, I know). For me, it was a way to experiment with my beauty routine without getting discouraged about my looks. It allowed me to feel beautiful. What I didn't know as a teenager, or even as a young adult, was that my skin-care routine was me tapping into my #BlackGirlMagic.

#BlackGirlMagic is about proudly embracing whatever positive thing it is that we love to do.

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Over the years my interest in skin care has grown, both personally and professionally, and my two-step routine of cleansing and moisturizing has morphed into an involved process of meticulously applying lotions, creams, serums, and more. Taking care of my skin has become my thing; it’s how I show myself love. Knowing that I am taking care of my skin makes me feel good.

#BlackGirlMagic is about proudly embracing whatever positive thing it is that we love to do. I now proudly refer to my daily regimen as the #BlackGirlMagic skin-care routine. It’s a combination of six to eight steps that I’ve perfected over the past year, undeniably rooted in the multistep skin-care practices of Korean beauty. One of the best parts about #BlackGirlMagic is the constant sharing of information among the community on social media.

So here, I'm sharing my daily routine with you: I first double-cleanse using an oil-based cleanser, like this one, to remove makeup and oil-based impurities such as sunscreen, followed by a creamy water-based cleanser. Right now, I’m loving this lemon cleanser from Andalou Naturals. Next up is toning to help restore moisture and balance my skin’s pH level. Derma E has one that not only hydrates but also brightens. I then use Andalou Naturals' Luminous Eye Cream as a preventative measure. I apply serums, in multiple forms (this one is the TRUTH), and treatments, such as vitamin C, to my skin followed by my favorite moisturizer from Caudalíe. In the morning, I make sure to apply a separate broad spectrum SPF on top of my moisturizer, and at night I use a heavier cream to lock in the moisture while I sleep. Yes, following this routine is time-consuming, but there’s nothing better than starting and ending my day with a ritual that makes me feel beautiful.

I’m sure CaShawn Thompson, the originator of #BlackGirlMagic, had no idea it would become such a big movement (or that it would be the name of my skin routine), but the great thing about social movements is that they can end up having unintended positive consequences far bigger than their creators' wildest dreams. She’s enabled me to fully embrace my love of skin care, share that love with everyone I know, and find the true beauty in #BlackGirlMagic — living my most beautiful and authentic life, unapologetically.
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