We Asked An Expert How To Glow Up, Here’s What She Recommended

Introducing the summer products we're adding to cart this summer.

Beauty & Fashion

As I age, my interest in clean and effective skincare products continues to grow as I'm becoming more aware of my health and appearance. A few years ago, I finally discovered super affordable and easy products that would solve my overly oily skin, changing my skincare routine forever. Now that I have the basics down, my quest for radiant skin continues as I'm determined to achieve the perfect summer glow. While I love my current cocktail, I'm interested in new products that can do more to enhance my natural complexion during warmer weather.

Due to the advancements of skincare, there are countless products and tools on the market specified to help certain skin types. Not only is it important to know which products are made for you but it's also important to know the products to wear during seasonal weather changes. With so many formulas promising to revitalize and rejuvenate our skin, it can be difficult navigating which are actually worth our time and money. On the hunt for inclusive products for melanated women of all skin types, I enlisted the help of skincare expert Simedar Jackson for advice on her favorite must-haves this summer.

Simedar Jackson, NYC Aesthetician/Founder of Skinfolks

Courtesy of Simedar

An NYC-based esthetician, Simedar is the founder of Skinfolks, a service to help people of color feel seen within the world of skincare by sharing new and award-winning products while dispelling common myths within the black community.

Check out Simedar's suggested products as well as a few that I stumbled upon on my own that are lightweight and perfect for women with darker skin tones this season.

1. Sunscreen

It's true the more melanin within our skin, the less likely we are to experience sunburn. But one of the biggests myths is that black people don't need sunscreen. The darker the skin, the more it protects us from sunburn, but our melanin shield doesn't protect against harmful UV rays. If enduring continuous long-term exposure to the harmful rays, then damaged skin will surely follow.

"We don't need a special sunscreen," Semidar explains, "What we need are sunscreens that cater to our skin. Bad sunscreens will leave you looking like a ghost, leaving a white cast. SPF products that include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are for people with oily/sensitive skin by controlling oil."

Black Girl Sunscreen is gaining popularity because of its sheer application perfect for enhancing melanin. With a strong SPF 30, BGS was created for everyday use and filled with natural ingredients that will protect skin from the sun while doubling as a moisturizing lotion.

Shahirah Ahmed/xoNecole

​Product Recommendations for Sunscreen:

Black Girl Sunscreen

For a dewy look, everyday application.

Super Goop

Unseen sunscreen, Super Goop for oily skin acts like a primer.

Bondi Sands

For a cheap yet effective quality sunscreen, found at any drugstore.

2. Self-Tanner

As a black woman, the thought of paying for a tan seemed counterproductive until recently. As the idea became less far-fetched, I began to speak with more Black women who don't shy away from the experience of tanning or using self-tanner.

"For black women, we think tanning is only white women. A sunless tan leaves us with no burn and irritation from the sun. Black people get sun burned too, so this product creates sunkissed skin without the sun which damages the skin," Simedar explains about the Dr. Dennis Grossman Alpha Beta Glow Pad. "The self-tanning glow pads build a natural looking tan over time blending perfectly into your natural complexion. Another one of my favorite benefits is the natural, makeup free foundation or concealer acting as a replacement. I'll use gradually once a week for a smoother, glowier look."

She continues, "For a hydrating moment with a no makeup/no filter effect apply pads to head and neck applying with full coverage like foundation just below the jaw." She advises this however is not a treatment for hyperpigmentation.

Shahirah Ahmed/xoNecole

Product Recommendation for Self-Tanner:

Dr. Dennis Grossman Alpha Beta® Glow Pad® Gradual Glow

3. Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel

The basis of every facial routine is the perfect cleanser. When it comes to removing excess oil, I prefer cleansers that are created to be soft and gentle on the skin, getting rid of dirt with ease. After applying the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta® Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel for the first time, I instantly knew this product was a gem.

Soft and moisturizing, the gentle gel is like no other. Simedar seconds that thought as she adds, "Pore Perfecting Cleanser is one of my favorites for everyday use and is gentle enough for sensitive skin."

Shahirah Ahmed/xoNecole

4. Alcohol-free Toner

This cool and calming alcohol-free toner by Revision Skincare is made with ingredients that hydrates and refreshes after cleansing. A blend of plant and algae extracts, this is a toner that won't leave your skin feeling dry or tight. Soft and gentle yet strong enough to remove excess makeup and dirt, this is one of the best toners I've tried for those with all skin types. I'll be ditching my old toner for this new favorite.

Shahirah Ahmed/xoNecole

Product Recommendation for Alcohol-free Toner:

Revision Skincare Soothing Facial Rinse Toner

5. Moisturizing Body Bar

A soft peachy souffle, this moisturizing bar by The Body Butters was more lustrous than expected. The handmade nature of the bar adds a specialized touch to the incredible moisturizing experience. Described as a spa at your fingertips, I can attest to the sweet yet relaxing aroma instantly boosting my mood in the process. Don't forget the exfoliant glove as it completes this magical skincare treatment.

6. Body Exfoliator 

Natural Radiant Life's Body Exfoliator is made of a captivatingly sweet aroma, taking body therapy to a whole new level. Activated when the combined ingredients are rubbed all over your body, dead skin and toxins are gently removed while adding moisture and much-needed oxygen to your skin helping the skin look bright and plump. I can tell with consistent use, I will have healthier, softer and more radiant skin.

Shahirah Ahmed/xoNecole

Product Recommendation for Body Exfoliator: 

Natural Radiant Life Body Exfoliator

Featured image courtesy of Simedar Jackson

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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