By Lauren Ash. Photos courtesy The Afro Hair & Skin Co., Vee + CO, HanaHana Beauty, Scratch Goods and Onya'e Naturals.
If you listen to the Black Girl In Om podcast, you know that I've been falling deep in love. With nontoxic skincare products. This love affair began last year during W.E.L.L. Summit, when I heard women like Brandie Gilliam, founder of Thoughtfully Mag, discuss the disturbing reality of the beauty and skincare industry. Two quick facts, in case you're new to this conversation:
- While the United States has banned just a couple dozen ingredients, the European Union has banned over one thousand. Many toxic ingredients are completely legal in the U.S. and companies are making GUAP selling us these products that we put on our own bodies and the bodies of our children. IDK about you, but I'm not cool with that.
- Many carcinogenic ingredients aren't legally required to be listed on ingredients labels. You read that correctly: cancer-causing chemicals are a-okay for manufacturers creating products for the United States cosmetics industry. As the daughter of a cancer-survivor, I don't wish cancer on anyone, and cancer caused by something within my control is something I want to avoid by all means possible.
I'm increasingly invested in energizing more women of color to feel empowered to make conscious decisions when choosing skincare and beauty products. Why? A few reasons. One, we live in an age where information is readily available to us. We can use Google to search the ingredients that we see on the labels of the products we use, and we can talk with each other and share our wisdom. I think that we we have options to not be lazy, we shouldn't be lazy. (Easier said than done, I know.) Especially when not being lazy can impact our lives and the lives of those we love for the better. When this information is available to us, when we have the privilege and time to investigate it, and when our health depends on it, I believe that it's our responsibility to do what we can to learn and apply. Two, there are SO many amazing black and brown women makers creating incredible nontoxic beauty and skincare. I am blessed to know a lot of them and have them as my support network. Not only do I want to support them, but they deserve and need our support. Black Girl In Om includes all black and brown women who are creating, advocating, and cultivating healthy, mindful lifestyles, communities, and options.
I'm so excited to take my passion for clean beauty and skincare to the next level and join Project Beauty Expo on August 13th in New York City! Project Beauty Expo's goal is to change the standard of how multicultural women are represented in the beauty industry through an intimate experience. They connect indie brand founders, bloggers, beauty enthusiasts, and makers to do the important work of educating in all things beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. Interested in joining me along with my panelists Selma of the Brown Crayon Project, Lauren of Cleanse by Lauren Napier, and Vic Styles. Learn more and sign-up here (use code BGIO for a discount): http://www.projectbeautyexpo.com/bgio.
Now, let me get to the really juicy part. What I've been teasing ya'll with for a couple months now. Here's my first BGIO Beauty Rundown: a round-up of some of my personal favorites in skincare and beauty. All of these are woman-owned and created, and all but one of these is woman of color owned! Enjoy, and special thanks to all the brands listed for offering a special BGIO-discount or incentive to our readers:
1. The Afro Hair & Skin Co.'s FLOW Perfectly Balanced Facial Oil
You may have caught The Afro Hair & Skin Co. featured in BGIO sisterbrand Lifestyle with Ivory + Ash's recent What's Black in my Bag project, or listed as number three in Vogue's latest roundup of best skincare products for, and by, people of color.
The Afro Hair & Skin Co. is an independent afro beauty and wellness business located along the beautiful English coast. Founder Ibi, and her team, are dedicated to creating truly organic and natural products carefully crafted by hand, using fresh natural, and locally sourced ingredients that will feed your skin and hair with all the goodness necessary to blossom and be truly healthy.
I'm a huge fan of all of the products that I have tried from their current collection, however FLOW has especially won my affection. This is currently my go-to light daytime oil. It contains a few juicy products that my skin adores. For example, blackcurrant seed oil repairs and protects skin with antioxidants and helps to slow the effects of hyper-pigmentation (something we discussed in our skincare focused podcast episode with skincare and beauty enthusiast Siraad Dirshe). And, organic frankincense not only adds a gorgeous scent to this oil, but also helps regulate sebum production (translation: the oily substance that naturally occurs in your skin) thereby balancing your skin. Try FLOW, or any of their products, and use code BGIOglow15 for a 15% discount through August 17th, 2017.
2. VEE + CO Apothecary's Rice Wash
VEE+CO is a cruelty free, plant and earth based apothecary line dedicated to what founder LaVita calls the "triangle of life" which includes the nourishment of the spirit, soul, and body. What a beautiful way to approach skincare! Okay, so I was literally obsessed with VEE + CO's aromatherapy rollers a couple of years ago when I first tried them because of the attention to the spiritual: aromatherapy is SUCH a boost. But today, I'd like to highlight VEE + CO's foaming cleansers.
Rice Wash is bae because a) it foams. And foam is fun. Sound trivial? It's not. I believe that finding joy with my healthy skincare practices is so useful in actually turning them into just that: a practice. Rice Wash is also bae because b) when I look at the ingredients, I find them easy to understand and a delightfully short list: rice water, aloe, rose water, rice bran oil, castile soap, and essential oils. Rice Wash is gentle, rich in Vitamin E, and the right price for my wallet. Want to try the rice wash and a few more VEE + CO products? If you order over $40 of VEE + CO product between now and July 19th, 2017, use code BGIOVIBES for free U.S. shipping.
3. HanaHana Beauty's Shea Exfoliating Bar
Founder Abena Boamah is currently in Ghana, where her family is originally from, spending time with women making shea butter, learning about that process, and getting even more in touch with her phenomenal ethos: smooth and confident. I applaud her for going directly to the source! HanaHana Beauty is a skincare brand committed to empowering women of color. handcrafting all products using 100% natural products. When Abena first gifted me some of her whipped shea butter several months ago, I asked her why she wasn't charging people for it. I was ready to pay. Happy to pay. It was bomb! After the encouragement of several early enthusiasts, Abena created HanaHana Beauty and now serves a growing community of smooth skincare enthusiasts.
I love the Shea Body Butter, but know what I love even more? HanaHana Beauty's Shea Exfoliating Bar. Ya'll. Don't. Even. KNOW. This lil' guy exfoliates your skin AND moisturizes you so that when you step out of the shower you can dry off and get changed. It's a spa-like treat without the usual high body scrub cost. And it's handmade. Get into it. Use code BGIOBEAUTY for 10% off your HanaHana Beauty purchase. Please tweet me what you think about the bar when you try it!
4. Scratch Goods' Matcha Mask.
You've heard Deun and I rave about Scratch Goods on our podcast. You may have read my shout-out to Scratch Goods in the July issue of Glamour Mag. It was challenging for me to select just one of Elizabeth and Maureen's food-grade based products (featuring only ingredients that are safe enough to eat)! Because I'm limiting this blog post to just five products (don't worry: more soon come), let me tell you about their matcha mask. FYI for anyone late to the matcha craze, it is super rich in antioxidants. Matcha is ground green tea leaves, unique to Japan (learn how to make it and enjoy it the traditional way—sipping it—yourself from one of my wellness faves Candice Kumai). Putting this on your face tightens your pores, protects your skin as you age, and lightens dark spots. I like mixing it with a green juice, or coffee, just like Scratch Goods offers in their mask bar, but water is a fine option, too. Masking is so fun! I do it either while meditating as it takes about 20 minutes to dry, the same length of time as my meditation practice. Or, I do it while cleaning my room (KonMari method style; Japanese-rooted practice double whammy.) Pros include: surprising/scaring your partner or roommate with a mask and feeling like you've deep cleaned your pores (because you have). You may have seen me masking on my Instagram story. FYI that all of Scratch Goods' fragrances originate from pure essential oils only, too, which is great for those of us questioning what is really in the fragrances of the beauty products we put on our skin.
P.S. Their mask-bar re-opens soon in Chicago! You should book an appointment for this all-natural, self-love experience. Use discount code "BGIO" on their website which is good for 20% off through the end of July 2017. And yes you can use this code toward your mask appointment (yas)!
5. Onya'e Naturals' Hydrating Face & Body Spray
Jassy Onya'e, founder of Onya'e Naturals, is probably the first all-natural skincare maker that I became friends with. In the early days of Black Girl In Om, I think we connected thanks to the 'gram and the rest was history. Her line of natural, vegan, small-batch products aren't just amazing for your skin, but packaged so beautifully. One of my favorite products of hers? Onya'e Naturals Hydrating Face & Body Spray. Especially during the summer, whenever I'm in need of a spritz and refreshment, I happily reach for this pink-hued perfection. Among its other natural ingredients, it contains rose water, which makes me feel fancy, but also cared for as it removes dirt and oil from clogged pores and reduces inflammation.
That's all. For now. Expect more clean beauty rundowns from me related to skincare, hair, and body products! And I can't wait to talk about it in-person at Project Beauty Expo in August. Don't forget to use code BGIO for a discount, ok? Have a non-toxic, clean beauty brand you'd like me to try? Get in touch. Or share it below! P.S. What else do you want to hear my thoughts about?