Not many people can say they grew up with a mom who doubled as their very own dermatologist. That is unless you’re Davlyn Mosley, founder of the skincare brand Namesake, who grew up with clinical and motherly advice, right within the comfort of her home.
Davlyn was introduced to the world of skincare and dermatology — quite literally — from the womb. Her mother, Namesake advisor, and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Lynn McKinley-Grant was pregnant with Davlyn during her residency at New York University. As Davlyn grew older, she continued to visit her mother’s lab and developed an interest in the space
Photos courtesy of Davlyn Mosley
“I spent my youth going with my mom to conferences, working in her practice, and along the way learning the ins and outs of skincare,” Davlyn tells xoNecole. “I was always fascinated by new, innovative products and treatments that would come into her office.”
While the early exposure was initially out of the necessity that comes with balancing motherhood and a full-time career, Dr. McKinley-Grant shares how the influence it left on her daughter was enduring. “Now I know that exposing her to [dermatology] was a great thing. These were experiences that I didn't even know would impact her but now I do,” she says. “[By] creating a skincare product that requires lab work, a good work ethic, and a passion for her work.”
While Davlyn’s career path wasn’t linear, the experience she picked up through marketing and storytelling later served her in a tangible way. “I spent 15 years working specifically at ad agencies and most recently Google, where I was before I launched Namesake,” she shares. “All these years were the building blocks of what I am doing now… and when I look back it, all makes sense.”
Davlyn’s leap of faith landed her in the driver’s seat as a beauty founder with products that prioritize the concerns of women with melanated skin and pay homage to her earliest and most cherished muse. “My mom is the inspiration behind Namesake,” Davlyn says. “In building Namesake, I wanted to pass down all of the knowledge that I’ve learned from my mom and develop products that use some of our favorite ingredients that are amazing for melanin-rich skin.”
Today, Davlyn continues to pass down her mother-daughter skincare do’s and don’ts through viral TikToks. With advice ranging from putting sunscreen on your ears, not eating citrus in the sun, or rubbing your eyes too hard (or at all), Davlyn and her mother Dr. McKinley-Grant are now imparting their expertise to xoNecole.
Dr. Lynn McKinely-Grant
Photo courtesy of Dr. Lynn McKinely-Grant
On Dr. McKinley-Grant’s earliest memories of skincare, from one generation to another:
“My introduction to skincare was very early on from my mother and my grandmother. Back then the two main products for the skin were POND'S Cold Cream and Vaseline,” Dr. McKinley-Grant recalls. “All of the aunties used these their whole lives. We would cleanse our faces with water—we didn’t use a lot of soap on our faces. We didn’t use sunscreen but we were always under umbrellas at the beach protecting ourselves from the sun. I remember as a kid, Vaseline seemed to keep my face warmer in the winter, and after my acne resolved in my teenage years, it seemed to be great to use at night.”
On the formulation behind Namesake’s hero product, the Daily Moisturizer:
“I wanted to create the perfect moisturizer, the one that I had always been searching for. Something that was not only luxurious and hydrating but also brightens and smoothes your skin without irritation, Davlyn explains. “I was constantly cross-checking our ingredient list with the National Eczema Society’s List of Ingredients to Avoid, Sephora and Credo’s Clean standards, and, of course, calling my mom about any new ingredient our lab would suggest. The whole process took two years, which also included extensive irritation testing in a 3rd party lab.
Dr. McKinley-Grant adds, “When creating products for skin of color, it’s really important to use non-irritating and non-comedogenic ingredients. Any inflammation caused by a product can result in hyperpigmentation so we had to be very thoughtful about the formulation. Davlyn’s skin has always been sensitive to certain ingredients so I was able to advise her on ingredients to avoid that I have seen patients react negatively to.”
How Davlyn’s challenges with her “sensitive and reactive” skin became a motivating factor in the creation of Namesake:
“I’ve gone through so many phases when it comes to skincare. My skin has always been sensitive but I always wanted to try the latest and greatest products,” she shares. “As I got older I wanted to use products that were effective for the bright, glowy look that so many of us want but became frustrated when they broke me out or irritated my skin. This was a huge motivator in creating Namesake: finding this balance of effective, clinically-tested ingredients in a non-irritating formulation created with my skin tone in mind.”
Of the many viral do’s/don’ts her mom has imparted, Davlyn shares the one piece of advice you should pay attention to the most:
“I would say rubbing your eyes too hard, which is, I admit, a hard thing not to do,” Davlyn shares. “It’s something my mom used to tell me to stop doing, and still would if she caught me doing it today! Darkness around the eyes is a top concern for women of color, so it's really important to treat the delicate skin around your eyes as gently as you can. If you find that you’re rubbing your eyes frequently, over time that may contribute to some of the darkness and loss of elasticity that we're experiencing.”
She continues, “My mom always told me that it’s important to figure out why your eyes are so itchy. Are they dry? Are you sensitive to the mascara that you’re wearing? Do you have allergies in general? Try to figure out what the issue is and that’s the first step.”
Photo courtesy of Davlyn Mosely
On how to tackle a common dermatological concern, traction alopecia, affecting Black women:
“Prevention is key,” Dr. McKinley-Grant explains. “Avoid tight ponytails, braids, and other styles that pull on your scalp. Brushing the hair causes more breakage; gently smoothing down your edges with a light oil is a good way to go. If you wear a weave, the cornrows shouldn’t be too tight and the weight of the hair is also something to consider. Glues and other adhesives can also pull out your hair. Traction alopecia can become scarring hair loss. Once you get the scarring the hair doesn’t come back. There are procedures to resolve this like scalp reduction surgery.”
Their current skincare must-haves:
“I’m a fan of Clinical’s ProHeal Serum. It’s a great anti-aging, vitamin C serum that absorbs nicely and adds a bit of a glow to the skin,” Dr. McKinley-Grant shares.
For Davlyn, “I’ve been loving this mineral sunscreen from Koa Skin. It’s hydrating but not greasy and it doesn’t break me out or leave a white cast on my skin. The packaging is super cute and I actually love using it every day.”
On how to upgrade your skincare routine from winter into spring:
Dr. McKinley-Grant says, “Our skin needs extra moisture during the winter months but as we head into spring you’ll likely find that your skin doesn’t need as much. You may benefit from using lighter sunscreen than you would have used in the winter.”
How keeping a simple, consistent skincare regime has been the key to Davlyn’s timeless, youthful skin:
“People are always shocked when I tell them I’m 37. My audience on TikTok is younger anyway and assumed I was their age,” Davlyn shares amusingly. “My whole life I’ve used skincare with ingredients that are highly researched and clinically tested. I’ve always tried to be very gentle with my skin and always keep it moisturized. I think consistency is really important. Having this simple, consistent routine most of my life has paid off, thanks to my mom.”
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Feature image courtesy of Davlyn Mosley and Dr. McKinley-Grant
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
Fantasia Barrino And Phylicia Pearl Mpasi On Whoopi Goldberg’s Reaction To Them Playing Celie In 'The Color Purple'
The Color Purple is the gift that keeps on giving, and the reimagining of the beloved film has made us fall in love with the characters all over again. Whoopi Goldberg played Celie in the original film and passed the torch to Grammy award-winning singer Fantasia Barrino and TV writer turned actress Phylicia Pearl Mpasi. The Color Purplemarks Phylicia’s big screen debut, and she plays young Celie. In a xoNecole exclusive, the actress shared what it was like meeting Whoopi and their shared connection from another iconic project.
“When she walked into the makeup trailer, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Whoopi Goldberg, don't say anything. Don't say anything,’” she said. “And she looks at me, and she goes, ‘Ugh, you're adorable. You must be young Celie,’ and I don't think I've ever heard the word adorable, you know, said about Celie. So that was really powerful.”
While the two have a shared connection, as Celie in The Color Purple, it turns out that they both have The Lion King in common as well. She continued, “She was Shenzi in The Lion King, the cartoon version. I did Shenzi for a couple of years on Broadway and on tour. And we connected on just being artists and just being honest in the work, and she was like, ‘You were chosen for a reason. It's yours. You've already got it. You're doing fantastic. Just keep going.’”
Not only did Whoopi come on the set of the film, but the EGOT winner also appeared in the film, birthing the next Celie’s baby. Fantasia revealed that she didn’t have the chance to meet Whoopi during filming, but they were able to share a moment afterward.
“I did not talk to her while we were filming, before we were filming. It was after. And I was able to speak with her when we all did The View, and she finally said, ‘You know, if I would have passed it to anybody, it would of been you,’ she recalled.
The “Free Yourself” singer admitted that she wanted to speak with the comedian prior to filming but suggested that their meeting during The View was meant to be. “I wanted to so bad, but maybe there was a reason why. But the fact that you just said, I just thought about that she comes back in the movie, and she delivers the next gen–. That's a generational–That's really, really, really good, but I don't think I was supposed to talk to her until then.”
Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia Barrino & Danielle Brooks On Whoopi Goldberg's 'Color Purple' Appearance
Feature image by Michael Rowe/Getty Images for IMDb