More than likely, it was my blessed career as an associate beauty and style editor for EBONY.com that opened my black girl beauty world to premium or prestige skincare. The access to the Le Prairie, La Mer, Naturopahtica, SK-II and many more, made me squint at the current drugstore led skincare routine I had been following. I’ve always been a skincare snob. Every Friday in high school, I’d let my friends leave me while I stayed home and applied my face masks and watched Lizzie McGuire or Lifetime movies. I’ll holla at y’all tomorrow when my skin is basically liquid gold.
Yet, premium skincare was never a world I inquired about, even with my makeup and beauty obsession beginning around 6 years old. I don’t think I knew it existed. It could have been because mommy had, and still has great skin. Her routine was extremely minimal; cocoa butter or vitamin-e cream and a mild cleanser. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother use a cleanser. However, the idea of fabulous skincare never made it across my mind, even though I’ve always loved beautifully packaged makeup.
Luxury makeup? Sure, I would obsess over the famed brands while eyeing them at the Nordstrom beauty counters in Annapolis mall. But skincare, not so much. So when I arrived at EBONY.com circa 2012, my first real job in beauty and media, I was schooled by the opportunities to attend press events and receive samples from brands I’d never heard of before. Testing and learning what worked, what was for us, and eventually what was missing for us, too. I began to notice this world of premium skincare bubbling, but of course no advertisement of it to women like myself. Shocker.
At this point, socially, we’ve witnessed Black and brown women diligently make it clear to the beauty and makeup industry that we want inclusivity. Nuanced, well-thought-out and honest inclusivity. While we’ve been seeing a major shift of that representation in makeup, skincare has been a market that I’ve been keeping on my radar, because that demand in this particular market hasn’t seemed to occur as intently as it has for makeup. I can understand this from a point-of-view that many Black women may not feel as though they need the most extravagant skincare routine, because, well “Black don’t crack” (it does, sometimes, though). So I wouldn’t expect marketers to move the needle in regards to advertising to us. But, they should. Brands like BaseButter, CLEANSE by Lauren Napier and others are proving that there is a market for premium skincare that hasn’t fully been tapped.
Skincare sometimes equals self-care
The self-care/self-love movement has now become a hailed lifestyle. Black women, in particular, have been creating our own social media and in-real-life tribes where we share our tips, videos, quotes, etc, on how we are self-loving on the daily. From our morning meditative routines to our beauty routines, we’re crafting new ways to live fully and to internally feel beautiful.
Skincare has been apart of that conversation, with more Black women interested in products and treatments that will safely care for their skin. I’ve also witnessed, in a few skin and health-focused Facebook groups, people hailing their skincare regimen as therapeutic methods to cope or heal from depression.
All of that to say, skincare is not just another ignored step in our beauty routine. Now, it’s deeper and more connected to how we’re actually loving and taking care of ourselves, and not just externally.
Beautifully upgrading my products
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more interested in the ingredients being put in the products I use on my face and body. One of the things I’ve been learning is that at times, paying a bit more will afford you better, premium ingredients. Other times, you’re just paying for a name or impeccable marketing. As a working young woman, I like to treat myself from time to time. Lately, my obsession has been premium skincare products that really work on my skin texture. As a Black woman with dark skin, I know that many products aren’t usually created for me. But, I’ve been serious about researching some of the best premium brands that have been effective and blend in beautifully with my beauty arsenal.
CLEANSE by Lauren Napier, $10-40
What: Clean makeup wipes infused with cucumber, chamomile, and aloe.
Pros: This chic line is owned by a fabulous Black woman and is just so pretty amongst your beauty arsenal.
Cons: The only con about this brand is that it isn’t in every beauty store possible.
What: a powder to light foam enzyme cleanser formulated with vitamin-c.
Pros: I feel it really gives me the most thorough cleanse without drying out my combo skin. It’s also a great follow-up to oil cleanse when removing a good amount of makeup or buildup.
Cons: The Angela Bassett collaboration will be returning soon, in case you wanted the Queen’s name on your bottle as well.
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, $99 (limited edition packaging shown above)
What: An essence made up of a “miracle water” called PITERA, that is known to intensely moisturize your skin.
Pros: A tiny bit goes a long way, and it smells amazing. I always feel as though after a deep cleanse, this essence restores my skin.
Cons: Traveling with the bottle is annoying. And of course many may say the price, but this article is about premium brands!
What: A heavier, slightly oily lotion that offers amazing SPF coverage (at least for me).
Pros: This bottle has lasted me forever and the white glare that most SPFs leave isn’t really that bad. It’s also a great substitute for an overnight moisturizer.
Cons: Your skin can feel greasy, so beware oily women. A little goes a long way.
Notes: I’ve been testing newer SPF moisturizers that are made for Black women. I can’t wait to share. But I will say that I have loved this SPF moisturizer and whenever I feel like there is a bit of white glare, I cover it with Glossier’s Skin Tint and I’m good.
What: An extremely intense hydrating oil treatment that’s compromised of various nourishing oils.
Pros: I instantly see how taught my skin is when I apply this oil.
Cons: It takes a while to really set into your skin, and isn’t ideal for heavy makeup, obviously.
What: A rich, oil cleansing treatment that, for me, removes about 80% of my makeup when I use it alone.
Pros: This cleanser lasts a very, very long time.
Cons: It has a distinct smell, not bad or good, just distinct.
Fur* Stubble Cream, $38
What: Ha! This isn’t used for my face, but I use it every day when I’m out of the shower and maybe after I’ve done a little “touch up”.
Pros: I like the smell and the fact that it intensely moisturizes my area. It’s also soothing after a Brazilian wax.
Cons: Couldn’t think of one.
Notes: This cream is dermatologically tested.