Photo: Maiysha Kai

Against my better instincts, am I inadvertently having a “hot girl summer”?

I kid, I kid...all my seasons are hot—and haute—but despite the trend-chasing I do daily for The Glow Up, I’m usually not one to chase them off the clock, generally relying on my tried-and-true routine. I mean, if it ain’t broke...

But of course, life has a funny way of disrupting your routines; like, say...when you spend a long weekend in the sweltering heat of New Orleans (thanks to Essence Fest), only to return to the equally sweltering heat of Chicago. These are the times I find myself reaching for some new refreshments; something easy, breezy and low-maintenance—kind of like a summer fling.

First thing I’ve been dying to try? The new two-layer bronzer and blush duos from The Lip Bar ($20; $37 bundled with a coordinating lipstick). Having had the lip game on lock for a minute, the prospect of the cult-favorite brand (founded by Melissa Butler) venturing into face products with a perfectly paired highlighting blush and luminous bronzing combo had me pretty excited. Plus, one of the new offering’s taglines is “the glow up is real,” meaning we were pretty much meant to be together, no?

Advertisement

But alas, while I’m always happy to buzz new products, I’ve yet to try these out. I had high hopes of hitting The Lip Bar’s kiosk at Essence Fest’s Beauty Carnival, but the lines were too long for my already-packed schedule to bear (good for them; not great for me). And since this vegan, cruelty-free product has yet to hit Target’s shelves, it looks like I’m out of luck unless I’m brave enough to guesstimate my shade and place an order, which may very well happen. (And if you read that as a shameless plea for their PR team to send me samples along with their new product alerts, you’re right; I’m not accustomed to having to beg.)

Advertisement

But what I did get my hands on at Essence Fest was the aptly named “The Glow Up” highlighter palette from Bee Cosmetics Pro ($28). Founded by working mom Brooke Burns, this “causemetics” brand is another cruelty-free, black woman-owned venture that also provides mentoring services and programming to at-risk adolescents through their Bee a Mentor program, a cause this former schoolteacher absolutely loves.

Photo: Maiysha Kai

Advertisement

And the pigments don’t disappoint. The Glow Up palette may not include the bronzing action I’m craving, but with four flattering shades of highlighters to work with, there was still plenty of multidimensional, shimmering fun to be had. Next on deck? I’ll have to try their Busy Bee palette ($22) and perhaps their “Slay” Velvet Lip Paint ($14.50—and who can resist that name?)

Speaking of irresistible products, here’s where I take a minor detour from our usual all-black-everything programming because there’s a new product line on the market too good to go unmentioned. If you’ve bought black beauty and haircare products, like, ever, you’re no doubt familiar with Procter & Gamble’s popular “My Black Is Beautiful” campaigns, which highlight all of the products the personal-care company makes for our demographic. Now, they’ve launched their own MBIB-branded line with an inaugural seven-product Golden Milk collection, complete with a healthy endorsement from celebrity natural hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood (and available exclusively at Sally Beauty).

Advertisement

While I’ve been pretty proud of my predominantly black-owned beauty routine, I was also not going to miss an opportunity to try out products consulted on and recommended by Leatherwood, who styles and cares for Issa Rae’s perpetually gorgeous tresses. So when I had a chance to attend their Essence Fest launch party, I was there like a shot.

Advertisement

Not only was the event one of my favorite activations of Essence Festival weekend (they even had a cupcake bar featuring golden milk-inspired ingredients), but I was able to grab a few minutes beforehand with Leatherwood, the lady of the hour, to talk about her involvement with the line.

First off, for those unfamiliar with “golden milk,” it’s typically a dairy-free Ayurvedic drink traditionally made with warm coconut milk, turmeric (the golden part), honey, coconut oil, ginger, cinnamon and a pinch of black pepper. In short, it’s delicious...but I digress. Apparently, the ingredients in this therapeutic brew can also do great things for your hair—at least, according to Leatherwood, who gave the line an extensive trial run before giving it her stamp of approval.

Advertisement

“The big deal is the ingredients...one of the things that caught me was the turmeric—I’ve never seen a product that has turmeric in it, so I was really intrigued by that,” she said, admitting that she’d never considered using turmeric on hair before. “And I started using it on my clients, and what I realized is that the shine of their hair came up so beautifully; the softness was amazing...I didn’t have any heavy buildup, it didn’t leave a mask on the hair...I was like, ‘Okay, I see you!’”

Felicia Leatherwood poses at the Golden Milk launch
Photo: Maiysha Kai

Advertisement

Real talk? I had the same exact response when I tried My Black Is Beautiful’s Golden Milk Hydrating Shampoo ($11.99), Fortifying Conditioner ($12.99), Intense Recovery Treatment ($12.99) and Tangle Slayer Conditioning Cream ($12.99; available in formulations for Types 3 and 4), all sent to me by the brand following the event. No sulfates or parabens in these formulas, but the slippage! The shine! The smell! The silkiness!

But again, I digress; because as Leatherwood reminded me, another benefit of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties, which can be especially beneficial to those of us on #TeamNatural—especially those like me, who are growing into it.

Advertisement

“One of the problems naturalistas—and women, in general—have is hair growth,” Leatherwood explained. “Some of that is because the pores are blocked...So, turmeric, being an anti-inflammatory, actually gives an exfoliation to the scalp as well as the cuticle of the hair, and that exfoliation unblocks the scalp, and that’s what makes the hair stronger at the scalp level, for the hair to grow.”

Add to that the fact that coconut oil is antibacterial—which explains why some of us experience drying as a result of using it. “If coconut oil identifies something on the hair or the scalp that’s not supposed to be there, it’ll zap it out,” said Leatherwood, explaining how dryness can happen when just using the oil alone. “But when you mix coconut oil with other products, it softens it, and so, if the coconut oil is going in to zap out what it doesn’t like, it’s being replaced by what’s good for the hair—the turmeric, the ginger, the honey—and that’s what hydrates the hair.”

Advertisement

It’s only been a couple of wash days, but so far, my hair loves these products, and Golden Milk may be more than a summer fling, becoming the caveat in my otherwise black-owned beauty routine. Of course, if you’re going to try out My Black Is Beautiful’s Golden Milk collection (and for the price and results, I can’t help but recommend it), we also recommend pairing it with Felicia Leatherwood’s acclaimed detangling brush ($14), to give your hair the full luxury treatment—all for less than $100!

How’s that for getting your glow up?