My name is Ondrea Lee and I’m the Social Media Manager at Cocotique. I’m Black. But if you want to go deep, my mother’s side of the family is Cherokee and white and Black, and my dad’s side is Black. I’m not engaged with my [Cherokee] culture, unfortunately, because most of my family members who were Cherokee, passed away. My mom’s side of the family is spread out across the Midwest and they don’t normally stay in contact. So it kind of sucks because I would like to learn more about the culture and the history with our family.
My top five beauty products right now starts with Becca’s Ultimate Coverage Complexion Crème. It’s my favorite foundation right now. I went to Vivrant Beauty, and Desiree (the owner) matched it to me. It’s really good. I also like the Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting concealer. I also like Wet n Wild’s liquid lipsticks right now. Their liquid lipsticks are really good. If you go in Duane Reade you’ll see it’s like a baby Sephora now. They’ve got full ranges of all the drugstore brands. That’s where I found the Wet ‘N’ Wild liquid lipsticks. Jordana is also a really good drugstore brand too.
As far as skin care, I really like Clinique’s Acne Solution system. I use the foam wash and the toner. You really don’t have to use it every single day. I would suggest to just use it like two to three times a week. The salicylic acid is very strong, so you don’t want your skin to start peeling. I had bad acne as a teenager, and I started using that and it changed my skin. I still break out, but not as much. For my acne scars I like to use Murad’s Lightening Serum.
I was going to school for fashion and journalism at Montclair State University. Unfortunately, I had to stop attending for a while because the tuition had gone up, and it was just ridiculous. I couldn’t afford it. So I took a break for a little bit to go work full time, make some money and pay down my student loans and then go back. While working full time in fashion retail I decided to still do activities related to my major. I started blogging for my friend’s website called Fashionista 101. Then I decided to go to New York to try to blog for an actual magazine or online magazine. I soon began blogging for Right On magazine. I was writing about music, fashion, and beauty for a little bit, and then I started interning for Style Blazer.
They had me writing about celebrities, celebrity fashion news, and beauty. One day, my boss said to me, “I like the way you write about beauty.” And she was like, “I think you should do that.” I was like, “Okay!”
From there, I was writing for Kontrol magazine and even Pynk magazine, just like bouncing all around getting a feel of it all. After a while, though, I think got a little bit bored from just sitting behind the computer. So I was like, “let me try to get into beauty and maybe work for a cosmetic or makeup company.” I started reaching out to people, sending my resume, etc. Then I started interning for Gold Label Cosmetics. After about two months, I was hired as the Operations Manager. Now I’m doing the social media at Cocotique.
I think there are still a lot of discrepancies in the beauty industry for Black and brown women, but I do think it’s getting better. But I will honestly say, and I’m going to be really critical: I think they need to do a better job. It’s 2017. You know who your clients are because you have people in charge watching the market.
No one should be able to walk inside of a Duane Reade or CVS and feel disappointed because she can’t find her foundation shade. It’s 2017, there should be a wider range of shades available by now. Sometimes you will find a massive selection of lighter foundation and then they may have some random darker shades. I don’t think most mainstream companies have really put a sincere effort into [diversifying the makeup world]. I feel like some of the companies are still trying not to include us. And it doesn’t make sense because we spend a lot of money on makeup and other cosmetic products.
I like that some of their campaigns are changing. They’re including more black women, but I’m still not impressed because then I’ll be like, “Okay you got a black girl. Where’s the Asian girl? Where’s the Middle Eastern girl? Where the Indian girl? Where’s the Muslim girl?”
That’s why I really like seeing people like AJ Crimson having his own line and building his own brand in his own name. I feel like he can be the first real high-end Black woman beauty brand. Because I feel like we still haven’t seen that yet. IMAN is trying to do it, too. She’s not high-end since she’s in drugstores, but her products are still amazing. But I can see AJ as the person to create the best, wide range of foundations.
You know, I like working for smaller [beauty] companies because it allows me to have more access to things. It allows me to actually be really hands on and see how things work from the ground up. It’s a different work environment; it’s not so corporate. I used to work in corporate, and I felt like I couldn’t even laugh.
I like it, though. It’s fun, and I like working for Black owners. That is a big deal to me, you know? Because I believe we need to own more of our own things, especially in beauty. I’ve heard people say, “Black women don’t wear makeup… they don’t care.” I’m like, “That’s bullshit.”
When you see the dollars, when it comes to beauty, we are the prototypes. We’re trendsetters. A lot of the stuff that becomes “trends” is jacked from us. The baby hair, the wave caps, the corn rolls, oh sorry, “boxer braids”, came from us.