Why I Only Wore Latinx-Owned Beauty Products For A Month

Many moons ago, when I first moved to NYC in pursuit of the elusive Dream Job in magazines, I vividly remember my 85-year-old Abuela sending Nina Garcia — the creative director of Marie Claire at the time (now Elle's new EIC) — a hand-written note requesting a job for me. She, along with 4 million other people, had seen Garcia on Project Runway. "Nina is Colombian, she will help you," she said to me, blissfully unaware of how ridiculous that sounded. "Latina women, that's what we do."

And while I didn't get the gig (and still don't know if Garcia ever received that note), it's true: There's a special, unprecedented bond within our community that lifts one another up. That's why I decided to show my support by shouting out my favorite Latinx-owned beauty brands on the market.

For an entire month, I only used beauty products (makeup, skin, and hair) made by Latinx people. And I found a ton of new favorites along the way — which you can check out in the slides ahead. Abuela, this one's for you.

Photographed by Shaliqua Alleyne
I was already familiar with the bright and colorful Reina Rebelde line (which translates to "Rebel Queen" in English). It was created last year by Mexican-American Regina Merson as a nod to her culture, and I've been in love with the brand's pigment-packed lipsticks since first swipe.

"I wanted the [lip] colors to be as strong as our mouths," she recently told me. "These are highly pigmented, so they make a statement. Each of the names were inspired by attitudes I feel every Latina woman can relate with." This fiery-red shade, for example, is called Brava, "which means woman on fire, in a sense," Merson says. It's so good, I didn't want to take it off every time I wore it.

Reina Rebelde Bold Lip Color Stick in Brava, $16, available at Reina Rebelde.
All my life, people have (kindly) compared me to Eva Mendes, calling her my celebrity dopplegänger ever since 2005's Hitch. Whether or not that's true — though, you can guess which narrative I'd like to believe — we are both Cuban-American and have a deep affinity for baby powder as a means of dry shampoo. So, I remember being especially excited in 2015 when she helped launch the affordable, pro-grade drugstore brand Circa Beauty.

I've already used (and loved!) the brand's highly pigmented eyeshadows and blush, but this velvety, hydrating, oil-free BB cream cannot be beat. So I slathered it on all month, which may not have left me looking like Mendes... but my even skin tone certainly didn't hurt.

Circa Beauty Color Balance BB Cream, $14, available at Walgreens.
I'm about 10 years late to the Beautyblender fandom game, but this experiment pushed me to give it a go, since the revolutionary makeup sponge was created by Mexican and Portuguese entrepreneur, Rea Ann Silva. Now I'm fucked, because I'll never go back to using my fingers — and I've stocked up on every color, including this swirly pink egg.

Beautyblender Swirl, $20, available at Sephora.
The one thing every single member on the Hispanic side of my family has in common: dark, deep-set undereye shadows. (The only beauty product request I get at Christmas from my dad, brother, uncle, and sister? Eye brighteners.) So, it's good to know I'll now be recommending this concealer from Honest Beauty. Not only does it come from Mexican-American actress Jessica Alba, but it's also formulated with jojoba oil and includes two lightweight shades you can cocktail to find your perfect match.

Honest Beauty Undereye Concealer Duo, $20, available at Honest Beauty.
As if Argentinian founder Gabriela Hernandez, who happens to be a cosmetics historian, wasn't cool enough, her beauty brand Bésame creates the cutest-ever vintage-looking products. I discovered, though, that the formulation inside each one is even better than the packaging. Take this cheek cream, for example, that's inspired by the late 1930's, comes in the most adorable red tin, and smells like cherry Skittles — sweet and delicious.

Bésame Crimson Cream Rouge, $18, available at Bésame Cosmetics.
I remember first coming across this brand during a holiday press preview for Sephora (where the makeup bags are sometimes sold in limited edition batches) and fell, hard. The products and kitschy quotes are the works of Puerto Rican and Cuban makeup artist Angelique Velez, and each one helps you say everything you can't.

Breakups To Makeup, $24, available at Breakups To Makeup Shop.
Photographed by Shaliqua Alleyne
Eye Makeup
It's hard to believe long, fluttery lashes can come from a tin can (plus a toothbrush-looking applicator and black bar that resembles soap), but it's true. This mascara, another winner from Hernandez, is unlike anything else I've seen or tried on the market — and it's a hell of a lot more fun to use.

Bésame Black Cake Mascara, $25, available at Bésame Cosmetics.
You may have heard of Mexican-American makeup artist Lora Arellano because she's responsible for creating some of Rihanna’s most memorable looks to date (including what she wore to the 2017 Met Gala). But she's also the co-founder of Melt Cosmetics, a line of bold, dreamy makeup products that'll make you feel inspired yourself. This four-pan "stack" of eyeshadows? I wore 'em out every single weekend during this challenge — and don't plan to stop anytime soon.

Melt Cosmetics Gun Metal Stack, $48, available at Melt Cosmetics.
Beauty entrepreneur Kat Von D is of German, Italian, and Spanish descent, but the tattoo artist and owner of her namesake cosmetics line was born in Mexico and immigrated from there — and she credits much of her work to her upbringing. "[It] plays a huge role in everything I do — the music I write, the way I draw, the Spanish shade names and themes for my makeup collection," she told Popsugar.

She's also used her background as a tattoo artist to create her line of long-wearing beauty products, like this liquid liner that's a regular in my makeup rotation.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, $20, available at Sephora.
Photographed by Shaliqua Alleyne
Hair Products
Cuban native Orlando Pita is one of the biggest names in the beauty world, and I can attest that every product in his eponymous hair-care line lives up to the hype. My favorite, though, has to be his volumizing shampoo, which lends a little lift to my flat hair and has a great scent that lasts long after you rinse.

Orlando Pita Foam Full Volumizing Shampoo, $28, available at Ulta.
One of my favorite things about Jessica Alba's beauty line (which expanded to include hair products last year) is that they're all formulated without sulfates, parabens, or harsh chemicals. So, when I'm spritzing on this hydrating leave-in conditioner, I can feel good about what I'm putting on my hair.

Honest Beauty Beyond Hydrated Moisture Milk Leave-In Conditioner, $20, available at Ulta.
For years, I've waxed poetic about Cuban-born hairstylist Oribe's Texturizing Spray. It adds texture, smells like heaven and luxury in a bottle, and takes a lot to build up on my hair. But I may have just found its new replacement. This dry shampoo features everything mentioned above, but requires me to shower less often — for which I am disgustingly thankful.

Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, $44, available at Oribe.
Photographed by Shaliqua Alleyne
I've long been a fan of Colombian native Tata Harper's natural, toxin-free skin-care line (as is pretty much every beauty editor I know), but her newest moisturizer might be my favorite yet. Not only does the formula feel silky and lightweight going on, but it's also loaded with hyaluronic acid and humectants that made my feel skin dewy for a full day.

Tata Harper Repairative Moisturizer, $105, Tata Harper Skincare.
I would like to thank facialist-to-the-stars and Mexican-American beauty entrepreneur Joanna Vargas for turning me on to oils. (Yes, I realize this is marketed as a "serum," but the consistency and finish is near-identical to an oil, so I'm running with it.) Within two weeks of using it, my skin looked brighter, smoother, and more toned — so I'm calling this vitamin C-packed elixir my new fountain of youth potion.

Joanna Vargas Rescue Serum, $150, available at Dermstore.
I have a really hard time finding a good cleanser (they're either too slimy, too watery, or too... bleh) but this one is a best-seller for a reason. It's loaded with essential oils and tiny beads that gently exfoliate the gunk off my skin without leaving my face with that dreaded tight feel.

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser, $78, available at Tata Harper Skincare.
Like I mentioned before, I live for dark circle-fighting products, so I was excited to try this one from Angelica Fuentas, who was named one of Mexico's most influential business women by Forbes. It has a bit of a soapy smell (which took some getting used to), but the texture is velvety soft and instantly sinks into skin — and, yes, it made me look more bright-eyed by morning.

A Complete Youth Preserve Eye Contour Cream, $46, available at A Complete.
Being the world's laziest beauty editor on the planet, I always forget to do a weekly face mask, so I only used this exfoliator once during the challenge. I will say, though, that it was a lot more satisfying to apply than most others I've tried: You're supposed to massage on the gritty paste for 30 seconds before leaving it on for 20 minutes, so you really feel like you're putting in the work. And my skin looked so much brighter after just one use.

Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask, $75, available at Dermstore.
Catch Vida when it premieres Sunday, May 6 — only on STARZ.
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