In my Brooklyn apartment, there's a dresser top littered with all the products I don't use. There are two more wicker baskets shoved into my bathroom shelves, full of other products I don't use. Tons more stored under the cabinet. I can't explain this. You can't make me.
Actually, I will a little bit. I'm somewhat of a product hoarder, which, as an annoying super-organized person, is sad. I'd call myself an aspiring minimalist if it didn't sound douche-y. While I'd rather keep my routine to the bare minimum, it rarely works out that way. Just when I think a dab of concealer is enough, there's always something extra to add.
So my morning prep begins somewhere around 8 a.m., maybe. Sometimes later—8:06? You'll notice the below list contains a lot of organic products. It's no big deal. I'm not a green person by any means. Natural things just work best for my hair and body. Again, no big deal. Just doing what I can to save the planet. Of the hundred or more products I actually own, here's the stuff I use:
- Dr. Bronner's Castille Bar Soap (Usually lavender or citrus orange)
The real reason for my organic commitment is that I had a life-threatening (to me) acne meltdown about five years ago that resulted from weaning myself off a devil named Proactiv. After watching YouTube videos, I opted to simplify my face-washing process by detoxing with (relatively) natural products. Though I know the difference between USDA-certified organic and other stuff, I must specify that I'm no expert. I go by ingredients and I have a general idea of which ones I'd like to avoid. Being more dedicated about it would require way more research time than I have.
After a lot of trial and error, Aubrey Organics, Alba Botanica and Burt's Bees have become my go-to's. The tea tree wash at Trader Joe's is, hands down, the best cleanser I've ever used. It's essentially soap, water and oils, as opposed to Proactiv's addictive chemicals, so I feel safe putting it on the one part of my body that people see most. The rest of my routine includes a toner that helps get rid of any remaining dirt (?) before I put on moisturizer:
For my face, I switch between oils and moisturizers, but lately I've found that Shea Butter gives me the slight glow I like. That Nubian Heritage tub said "anti-aging, brightening & skin-firming," so I bought it. To combat ash and odor:
- Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion
- Alba Botanica Coconut Milk Hawaiian Body Creme
- Blistex Lip Balm
- Dove Advanced Care Shea Butter antiperspirant
- Zara Woman Champs Elysees perfume
By the way, the above photo is a pretense. This is the sad state of my dresser most times:
Because I'm a black woman with naturally dry, very tightly-curled hair, my hair reaches Tyrese-level thirst very easily. It's always in desperate need of moisture. I can't wash it every day. I do that at most twice a week and that's a whole other beast ("Wash day" is usually on Sunday. I'm not mentioning any of those products here). I've tried dozens of products through my own research—mostly via YouTube and friends, not PR handouts. SheaMoisture and Oyin are a couple of my favs. My hair stuff varies depending on how I style it that day, but one crucial step is sealing in moisture. Lately, I've been wearing a high bun because it's low maintenance, so this is what I use in the morning:
- Oyin Hair Dew Daily Quenching Lotion
- Oyin Burnt Sugar Pomade
- Eco Styler Olive Oil Styling Gel (To slick back my edges)
Oh god, this list is already wildly insane. By this time, the morning rush has burned out my retinas and I'm ready to head into the Gawker Media office to see all my favorite Kinja authors' faces behind the dim, depressing glow of a computer screen. I refresh my face and get to slabbing on makeup. I think my skin tone is even enough and pretty blemish-free, so I don't use foundation on a daily basis, only special occasions. The most I'll do daily is under-eye and spot concealer. Really, I just focus on the eyes.
After a long smoky eye life phase, I've moved onto the cat-eye. This decision was inspired partially by Anna and partially by Nicki Minaj.
That's not me, that's Nicki Minaj.
I still don't know if that product works or what it does, but it sounded cool when I saw it in Whole Foods. My makeup stuff, mostly from Sephora:
- MAC Studio Finish Skin Corrector
- Nars Creamy Concealer, Cacao
- Diorshow Blackout Mascara
- Anastasia Brow Whiz, Dark Brown
- Stila Smudge Stick Eyeliner, Cobalt (Or Smashbox black liner)
- Marc Jacobs Blacquer Precision Pen Eyeliner (For the cat-eye)
- Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil, Sex Machine
If I'm sober enough, my evening takedown involves twisting my hair with a leave-in conditioner, removing the face gunk and exfoliating. For forever (a few years), I've been using coconut oil for my hair and skin. It's great for twists and moisturizing my face. My nightly cast of products:
- SheaMoisture Organic Yucca and Aloe Thickening Growth Milk
- Natural, Unrefined Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil
- 100% Natural Whipped African Shea Butter (hair)
- Burt's Bees Exfoliating Facial Cleansing Towelettes (alternately, I sometimes use avocado oil on a cotton ball)
- Burt's Bees Peach and Willow Bark Deep Pore Scrub
- Trader Joe's Spa Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil
- Thayer's Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe Vera
- Burt's Bees Sensitive Night Cream
- Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream
- Blistex Lip Balm
It is at this point that I think for a second about all the sad, abandoned bottles left on the dresser and everywhere. Maybe I swap out one of the things above the next day but most of the time, no, I just forget about them and start this whole process all over again.