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The $21 Product You Need In Your Beauty Arsenal

Beauty & Fashion

Over the past couple of years, the beauty industry has made tremendous strides in becoming inclusive of all shades and I am totally here for it!


For a long time, the beauty industry has failed women of color when it comes to creating products that suit our deep range of shades and varying undertones. It seems like since Fenty Beauty came into the game in 2017, carrying 40 shades of foundation has become an industry standard. Brands have been putting in work to create foundations and other product categories that represent all shades of beauty, particularly the darker end of the spectrum. Though much work is being done, one product that brands have repeatedly missed the mark on is bronzer.

Prime Beauty

I was super excited when I stumbled upon Brownzers by Prime Beauty. These Brownzers are matte (not glittery) bronzers and made with women of color in mind. This is literally a dream come true to women like myself who love the idea of bronzer but struggle to find bronzer shades that are actually deeper than our skin tones. Most popular bronzers on the market don't come in shades that suit Black women and, quite honestly, it's a bit disappointing.

Thanks to these bronzers that make the beauty needs of women of color "primary, not secondary", I'm no longer mixing the brown shadows in my Juvia's Place Warrior palette to create a bronzer that looks good on me. These chocolate girl-friendly bronzers are offered in 3 shades: 'Glow Coast' (light brown), 'Bronzeville' (medium brown) and 'Chocolate Litty' (deep brown) to enhance your melanin. The clever shades names made me even more excited to try them out.

Writer MIKA/xoNecole

Here’s what my makeup looks like before I added bronzer:

Writer MIKA/xoNecole

My makeup looks good, but I know a touch of bronzer would elevate it. Some people may ask why do women of color need bronzer anyway? Bronzer is a great finishing touch to your makeup to give your face a bit of dimension and an overall sun-kissed look.

Over the years, I've become a huge fan of bronzing as opposed to contouring. Think of bronzing as contouring's much more calm "sister". It takes way less effort and precision, yet it gives your face that little extra "life" that it needs.

Here’s what my makeup looked like after applying the 'Bronzeville' bronzer from Prime Beauty:

MIKA/xoNecole

After applying bronzer, my face looks much more complete and warmed up. I actually look and feel like I have a vacation tan. In reality, I'm in 40 degree weather in NYC. 'Bronzeville' is my preferred shade of the three that Prime Beauty offers. However, I can see myself using 'Glow Coast' and 'Chocolate Litty' in the future as well.

Overall, I think the Brownzer's by Prime Beauty are absolutely worth the $21 price tag. Besides the fact that their bronzers come in shades that are flattering on WOC, these bronzers are ideal for any makeup lover; from novice to professional. They apply super smoothly, which makes blending simple. Also, they are buildable, so you can start with a little bit of bronzer on your brush and add more bronzer as needed. FYI: You don't need a lot at all.

Wearing 'Brownsville'; Pictured 'Chocolate Litty'

MIKA/xoNecole

So, if you're in the market for a new bronzer or are looking to try bronzer for the first time, I would highly recommend trying one of the Brownzer's from Prime Beauty. These bronzers will open you up to a makeup category that hasn't met the needs of WOC in the past.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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