Photo: Maiysha Kai

I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way that shot of you above is ‘natural,’ Maiysha.” You would be correct, if impossible to please. In the aftermath of moving, my immune system decided to melt down, so I’m in no way ready for primetime right now—which is why you’re unfortunately not getting a video this week. (I’ll make it up to you, I promise.)

As for the picture above, thankfully, I thought ahead (for once), and took a selfie last week, while playing with shades from Crayon Case’s Matte Book ($25) and the nine-color Juvia’s Place’s nine-color Warrior eyeshadow palette ($20). The longer days have me anticipating warmer temps, so the theme was “copper-toned,” as I selected shades of warm peach, henna, bronze and molten gold to play with—a perfect match for The Lip Bar’s “Conceited” lipstick ($13).

But for the most part, this past week was primarily makeup-free, as I attempted to settle into my new digs while fighting off illness. Accordingly, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with a couple of super-natural products sent to me by some up-and-coming beauty entrepreneurs.

The first? Brooklyn-based brand From Mother’s Garden, which sent me a sampling of their Organic Lip Cremes ($5.99-$17.99 for a collection). Truthfully, I’d started experimenting with these mid-move—and kept backing off, afraid of the tingle I was feeling from these herb-rich formulas (I’ve had some vicious reactions to Carmex, so I’m understandably leery). Looking back, I can likely blame it on my dry, close-to-cracking lips—which, ironically, is what eventually led me back to these lip cremes.

Advertisement

I quickly gravitated toward “The Hempest” (for reasons) which, once the tingle subsided, was a substantially moisturizing shea butter-based formula with no strange side effects, whatsoever. But one of the side effects of moving is that you go through extended periods without being able to locate your go-tos, which is why I found a tube of From Mother’s Garden’s Herbal Touch while looking for my new fave, Hue Noir’s Perfect Moisture Lip Butter ($5). I figured it an adequate substitution. I was not disappointed; a tube of Herbal Touch now resides by my bedside—and the tingle (as well as my super-smooth lips) tells me it’s working.

Notably, lip cremes are just the tip of the iceberg for From Mother’s Garden’s all-natural marketplace, which plays host to a range of products, including skin and hair care, housewares, jewelry, and even journals. Not a bad place to browse—if you’re not already unpacking boxes.

On that note, I’d failed to unpack most of my skincare by last week, so it was a prime opportunity to work with the aptly named “Glow Kit” ($89) sent to me by Elements of Aliel founder and mompreneur LaKeisha Entsuah. The brand is currently conducting a “10 Minute Glow Up Challenge,” which runs from March 11-24 (there’s even a guide to assist). Given that the combination of stress, cardboard and dust left me with roughness on the left half of my face and a sudden, aggressive zit on the bridge of my nose, I started a little early, dipping into these products mid-last week.

Advertisement

One major disclaimer on Elements of Aliel: I cannot iterate enough that this is an all-natural brand; if you’re looking for heavily fragranced, silky-textured, and superficially pretty formulas, this ain’t it. In fact, I was deeply dubious when I first opened the brand’s African Black Soap-based Love Cleanser ($24), which has a somewhat sludge-like look, consistency and smell, in large part due to the fact that it’s made with ingredients like plantain skins and cocoa powder (all organic, of course).

As a bit of a fragrance junkie, that introduction may have been off-putting, but when interacting with water, the formula transformed into a lather not unlike a charcoal mask. Wiping it off, my skin felt tighter and thoroughly clean—surprisingly so, given the texture of the product.

Advertisement

Elements of Aliel’s Love Cleanser
Photo: Maiysha Kai

Following the prescribed procedure, I moved on to Elements of Aliel’s aloe-based Glow Facial Serum ($26). Frankly, I found the texture more tonic-like than serum-like—I actually wish it came in spray form rather than a dropper bottle, as it would’ve been easier to distribute on my face. It also has a tonic-like scent—most reminiscent of a blend of witch hazel and apple cider vinegar (which it also resembles), though they aren’t listed as ingredients.

Those observations aside, after two days of using the serum, I noticed a refining of the rough patch and—most important to me—that the previously angry zit was beginning to resolve itself and flatten a bit. This isn’t surprising, since one of the serum’s main ingredients is Willow Bark, which is a source of the anti-inflammatory Salicylic acid (found in most anti-acne treatments). We’re still not all the way there, but I’m willing to credit this regimen with the swift improvement.

Advertisement

More immediate hits with me were the kit’s Love Elixir roll-on facial oil ($24) and multipurpose Indulge Moisturizing Stick ($24), both of which instantly rebalanced my skin after cleansing and toning, and assisted in smoothing out the rough spots, especially around thinner-skinned areas like the eyes and mouth. Not a hard sell, at all.

Will I stick with Elements of Aliel? I’m going to give it the full two weeks of the challenge before making a final assessment—and of course, there are so many more black-owned brands yet to try. But as noted, I’ve already seen definite improvements with zero irritation, and there are a few other products in the line I’m genuinely curious about—particularly their multipurpose Rose Balm (on sale for $22) and I’m Beet Face Mask ($22). The site even provides a consultation component.

Advertisement

That’s my story this Big Beauty Tuesday, and I’m sticking to it. Right now, I’m going to go curl up with a big jar of Vicks, but if you’re curious about these brands, I highly suggest checking them out on Instagram; links above.

Until next Tuesday!