Courtesy of Simedar Jackson

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

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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