Reclaim Your Skin Health With Skinfolks Founder Simedar Jackson

There's a lot more that goes into skincare than just a pretty face.

Beauty & Fashion

There's a lot more that goes into skincare than just a pretty face. If you're a Black woman, the overall care and maintenance of your skin embodies a journey to heal scars and feel fully empowered to reclaim agency over the complexities of your complexion.

For most Black women, our skincare journeys trace back to toothpaste spot treatments for active breakouts and Vaseline rub downs first thing in the morning before heading off to school. Traditionally, access to proper skincare products has been a space exclusive to the white, wealthy, and those with the disposable income to spend on high-end, department store creams and serums. As times evolve, folks with melanated skin have reclaimed their overall wellness and are advocating for skincare that caters to our needs and represents us in every hue.

That's how Simedar Jackson, a New York-based licensed esthetician, discovered her work in the space. Back when she was a beauty writer, it became clear that many of the products she would review were still missing the mark when it came to Black consumers explaining, "There were no options for me. I was side-eyeing the skincare industry like, 'How am I supposed to know what's good for me or not?'" When she realized that the ashy sunscreens and anti-afro dry shampoos were "very much so geared towards white women," she knew it was time for a change.

These discrepancies pushed her to create her own space to correct this problem called, Skinfolks, a community skincare platform that seeks to create a space for Black and POC in the skincare industry. As she shares, "Skincare is very personal; there's a link to wellness that makeup doesn't necessarily have. Skincare is more related to your overall wellness because your skin is an organ; it's the largest organ in your body."

As the mantra for her platform, Skinfolks, describes: "Skincare is more than beauty. It's healthcare that we all deserve access to and something that everyone can do for themself. Black people and POC should feel like they have a stake in the industry." Our skincare needs and overall wellness is deeply personal and sacred. And having the proper tools and education to reshape this space to our needs is a revolutionary act in itself.

That's why in this article, Simedar Jackson will guide us how to curate a skincare routine tailored to our needs and how Black folks can reimagine the cultural significance of our beauty experience.

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When it comes to building your curated skincare routine, here are some important tips to keep in mind: 

For starters, decide on what your skincare concerns are and what your needs actually are. Simedar says, "If you're dealing with hyperpigmentation as your main concern, you want to have your bases covered. Everyone needs a cleanser, a moisturizer, and an SPF that they can use everyday; day and night - and have your SPF separate. The price goes up when you start to introduce products with more active ingredients like treatment products. In this case, you want to look for products with a blend of ingredients because it allows you to have a more comprehensive approach."

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Heritage Store Rosewater Spray

Next on your list, you want to find an exfoliant that's suited to your unique skin type. For melanated skin, exfoliants with mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid are gold. Avoid over-exfoliating the skin because it could lead to further irritation. Simedar's rule of thumb is: "irritation + inflammation = hyperpigmentation." So only exfoliate a couple of times a week.

KLUR Immersion Serum Concentration

ROSEN Skincare Charcoal Mask

ROSEN Skincare Bright Citrus Serum

Then you're going to need a brightening serum. Simedar suggests that you look for these key ingredients: "Vitamin C, Arbutin, Kojic acid, Mulberry, Licorice. These ingredients won't bleach or damage the melanin-producing cells, but they're going to help control the overproduction of melanin where there's been damage."

Base Butter Radiate Face Jelly

Essentials by Temi Soothing Elixir Oil

Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30

For serums, this is where it's OK to splurge a bit! On the low end, most quality serums tend to fall in the $40-$65 price range, but that's because your serums are supposed to do most of the heavy lifting. "Go for brands that have authority in the science space. If you're working on hyperpigmentation or acne, a clay mask isn't going to change your life. You need a well-formulated serum with AHA, Vitamin C, or Koji acid." Don't be alarmed by the price tags because the more formulation that goes into the serum, the more expensive it'll be. That's good for your skin because products with high concentrations of these active ingredients get the job done.

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment

Biossance Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum

As we heal and take ownership of our skin health, we’re reshaping our collective experience in the beauty and skincare space, here’s why: 

Overall, it's important that Black folks feel empowered to seek out the guidance of an esthetician who they can trust. Although they don't have to be a person of color, they do have to have the best interest of your overall skin health in mind so that you address your needs and put you in the right direction. Historically, Black folks have had to overcome internalized trauma from the medical industry, so an inherent distrust when seeking out professional help and even overcoming a lack of access is a plight that should be acknowledged and tended to.

Thankfully, we are in a time where this space is looking more like us and as Simedar explains, "We have more Black people [on the production side] who are creating skincare brands and services so you can go to a Black esthetician and buy your products from a Black skincare brand. We have variety among these Black-owned brands to choose."

For online skincare consultations and to connect with Simedar Jackson's work, follow her at personal page and Skinfolks platform.

All recommendations listed in this article vary based on skin type, needs, and budget.

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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