5 Lit AF Beauty Brands To Add To Your Black History Month Shopping List
I've been a fan of black-owned beauty brands since the days when Ebony Fashion Fair was the only cosmetics company that truly catered to us (shout-out to my Granny) and when shea butter concoctions were sold on fold-out tables or in narrow shops on the streets of Harlem (1990s B.G. or Before Gentrification). Although several of the major black beauty-product pioneers have either passed away (S.I.P) or sold their shares to larger corporations, there are hundreds of independent black-owned or black-founded beauty lines and brands on the market today.
I have a thing for trying new beauty products, especially cosmetics and haircare lines launched by black women. The larger the beauty supply store or product section, the wider the selection---and the more euphoric the feeling of buying something just to see if it's better than the last 10 products I bought last month. I'd always follow all the "top" or "best" beauty product lists and clutter my bathroom and bedroom with dozens of products I probably didn't need or didn't really like. The market is super-saturated to the point where I've had to force myself to purge cabinet-fulls of half-used jars and bottles and bring an accountability partner with me on shopping trips for grooming necessities.
If you find yourself pacing the aisles of your local beauty supply this month, or you've gotten tired of falling down the rabbit-hole of YouTube reviews and "best" lists, here are a select few of my fave black-owned beauty brands you might want to consider spending your hard-earned coins on for Black History Month:
Image via True Hair Care
Launched by hair extension vet and serial entrepreneur Karen Mitchell, this line features a product collection with the central ingredient being moisture-inducing keratin. Mitchell has more than a decade of experience in the hair industry---both as a licensed cosmetologist and entrepreneur--- with an extension line worn by celebs including Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Winnie Harlow, and Lizzo, to name a few.
TV star Angela Simmons posted a video last year swooning about the True Hair Care detangling spray being a go-to product she uses to keep her hair in top shape under her weaves. My favorite is the Argan Oil Hair Mask, which has revived my tresses after years of color-abuse. I've used it while my TWA grows out after my 6th---yes 6th---big chop. My mom, who has a relaxed taper cut, and Granny (same) even use the products--having swiped them from my beauty cabinet, and I ain't even mad.
Image via The Shana Cole Collection
Jamaican-born and Bronx-bred Sushana Cole launched this line to provide a diversity of hues for black women in the U.S., Caribbean, and beyond. Getting the entrepreneurial bug as a child growing up in Kingston, Cole expanded her brand into a successful retail shop and used her products on the likes of celebrities including entertainment host Khadine "Miss Kitty" Hylton and dancehall artist Ce'cile.
What I love about this collection is that you can buy her beauty products---along with other beauty staples including lashes---via her company's app, a convenient and innovative way to purchase and keep up-to-date with new offerings. My fave--the Boss Chick Liquid Matte Lipstick--is smudge-proof and actually lives up to the brand's 15-hour wear time guarantee, lasting through a day of Sunday brunching and Monday lunching. I've even replaced the queen of reds, MAC's Ruby Woo, with this lipstick on several occasions. It goes on creamy but then dries matte but not crusty and it gives that precision hue to a pout that's sure to be noticed.
Image via BLK + GRN
OK, technically this isn't a product line but it's literally a modern mecca of black-owned product lines that include non-toxic and natural ingredients. Founded by Dr. Kristian Henderson, this marketplace features product lines made by artisans and carefully curated by black female health experts. You can shop by category and find goodies for your hair, nails, skin, and body that are plant-based and free of toxic additives. You can shop products formulated for children, and if you're a new mommy, there's something for you as well. Brands including Movita, founded by Tonya Lewis Lee---the wife of my favorite director, Spike--- and Kreyol Essence (a product fave that is great not only for your hair but for a few drops in a hot bath) founded by a proud Haitian woman named Yve-Car Momperousse.
The founder actually bootstrapped this platform on her own and has a vested interest in providing a responsible and vetted space for black female entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their green products. And she has receipts: She's worked as a health administrator and professor and her company runs with the adage, "We're Black, yes, but we live green." The company's Website goes beyond just selling products and invests in their customers' overall well-being, providing blog content on topics including how to "detox your skincare routine" and a podcast that includes interviews with beauty artisans.
Image via The Form Collection
Tristan Walker, the mastermind behind this company, is an intriguingly smart innovator. I interviewed him in 2015 about his transition from working for tech powerhouse Foursquare to launching products that solved problems and "delivered the best product experience," and I've been following them ever since. I loved how invested, informed, and passionate he was about his vision and how that would manifest in the products he'd launch via Walker & Co. Many might be familiar with Bevel, a men's grooming system that combines products and tools that have been used by celebrities including Steve Harvey, Shaquille O'Neal, Nas, and T.D. Jakes.
But the company also has something for the ladies by way of The Form Collection, which includes serums, creams, conditioners, shampoos, a polisher, a pomade, and a gel. It even has a 3-in-1 leave-in lotion called the Multitask. The latter has a "coconut-derived silicon replacement," coconut, argan, avocado and grapeseed oils. Their products are also free of preservatives including alcohol, mineral oil, and parabens. The products have been used by stars including Yara Shahidi, and I like that the brand offers a 30-day, money-back trial.
If you like the products, you can also set up Auto-Ship and re-up. (So sis, you can forgo that umpteenth time of getting in the shower, ready to get your co-wash on, and forgetting you used the last dollop of conditioner a week ago.) The nozzle on the Clarify Detoxing Shampoo is a nice touch and saves me the added cost of something I've been doing for years: buying separate bottles to dispense my fave products in because I wanted to really get the product into the nooks and crannies.
Image via Mielle Organics
This brand offers hair and skin products, but beyond that, I especially love the glow-up of its founder Monique Rodriguez. She was a registered nurse when she decided to step into the haircare game and, since 2015, her products have been available in more than 80 countries. Early enthusiasts included reality TV stars Rasheeda Frost, Draya, and Yandy Smith, and today, singer Sammie raves about it as a unisex product he's added to his regimen. The brand was inspired by Rodriguez's own journey to restore her natural hair after years of color and heat damage, and she used her background in science to experiment with formulas in order to come up with just the right mix.
Her brand is another I've followed since its inception---both from a business and product standpoint---and I fell in love with Mielle's Honey & Ginger Styling Gel which has helped ween me---somewhat---off of the usual brown or "green" (won't drop the names here, but you know what I'm talking about) gels. I'd gotten tired of mixing oil with the usuals that would dry out my 3c/4a curls. (I don't care how much they say those popularly-talked-about gels are non-flaking and moisturizing. I can never go without adding some sort of oil to those gels.) This alternative definitely fits the bill for days when I want to slick my thick curls up into a sleek ponytail or, when my hair is short, create waves for a short chic 'do.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy