Photo: Maiysha Kai

Are we ready to call a do-over on Black History Month yet? Because honestly, I can’t remember a month more plagued with shenanigans, false starts, bait-and-switches and outright WTF-ery since about ... November of 2016.

Case-in-point: Yesterday, I was all excited to brief you on my progress with Black-Owned Beauty Month, but technology wouldn’t let me be great (still won’t, tbh). So here I am, with two days’ worth of updates on all that’s new, black and beautiful in our world—and all I can say is, take notes.

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As you may know by now, our focus this week has been skincare—which means a lot less makeup and a lot more moisturization. That said, you know I had to give you at least one lewk. To go with my super-jaded mood, on Tuesday I chose a green eye look using the shades “Snow Queen” and “Poppy Seed” from Beauty Bakerie’s Game of Cones eyeshadow palette ($38), contrasting the color with a peachy lip color from Danessa Myricks’ multipurpose “The Nudist” Luxe Cream Palette ($42). It was a fun moment in an increasingly sketchy, edge-of-your-seat month, and I highly recommend it for a pick-me-up.

Makeup aside, as promised, my focus has been on skin this week, meaning the past few days have been filled with a variety of black-owned products, from soap to serum. I received some new treats to help, including a fun gift box full of bestsellers from Tropic Isle Living (more on that to come) and a fantastic chemist-led brand that may help replace my current nighttime routine (not a small concern after age 40).

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But first, I got clean—using the gorgeous soaps from Champ de Fleurs I talked about last weekend. While I’ve only tried two out of three so far, I’m thrilled to say they were as good as they looked; the Cacao and Cocoa Butter bar was as moisturizing as I’d hoped, and the Pineapples in the Night scent was, in a word, delicious. Bar soaps still aren’t my go-to, but these were definitely worth the departure from my usual routine, and I’d revisit.

Equally satisfying? The deodorants I was sent by “for us, by Mom” brand Play Pits. Admittedly, we got off to a slightly rough start—literally. As can happen with shea butter-based products, the “Empress” scent, while yummy-smelling and long-lasting, was gritty upon application, which did not bode well for my review of the brand. Thankfully, for the most part, this dissipated after the second wear.

By contrast, I immediately fell in love with the “Suga” scent, which was creamy and stayed super-fresh, even as I sweated it out packing and moving boxes this weekend. (It’s also worth noting that mompreneur Chantel Powell is really hands-on about her brand, so I’m fairly sure I could’ve gotten a non-gritty replacement for the first stick, had I felt the need.) And since I’d freshly shaved before applying, I can also vouch for the fact that this deodorant was quite soothing to my sensitive underarms. In short? Play Pits is a winner, and I’ve already been consistently using it.

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Another winner during my focus on skincare was Alaffia’s line of build-your-own regimen components—particularly their Baobab Rooibos line, which helped combat the dry skin I’ve been plagued with this month. My faves? The Dry Skin Cooling Gel Hydration Mask ($18.99), and the Dry Skin Oil Concentrate, which at $28.99 for one ounce may feel like a splurge, but truly is concentrated. A faithful facial oil-user, I added 2-3 drops to the mask, various moisturizers, and even straight on my face, and was really pleased with the extra emollience.

And I was so impressed with the tightening action of Alaffia’s Gel Hydration Mask that I bravely skipped makeup today just to make you a real-time video, au naturel. By the way, we go together now. (*wink*)

But my winner of the week so far? Skincare brand Nuekie (pronounced “nue-whe-key”), which won my heart on several levels—the first of which is that Nuekie, the middle name of founder and chief chemist (and former Girl Scout) Eunice N. Cofie, means “first daughter in the family and hardworking one.” *bods in eldest child* Second? This brand was created exclusively for darker skin tones.

GirlScoutsForGirls

But most importantly (to me, at least), Nuekie was the first of the many brands I’ve tried that provided obvious replacements for my current skincare routine with similar potency and texture. Their oil-based pre-cleanser ($38 for 2 oz.) did a solid job dissolving a full face of heavy green eye makeup in one pass, while the Moisture Therapy Crème ($55 for 4 oz.) was exactly the level of non-greasy hydration I prefer to wear to bed. (Bonus points: it mixed well with a few drops of Alaffia’s Dry Skin Oil on the second night I tested it; I woke with a definite glow and zero greasiness.)

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While some may pause at Nuekie’s price-point, I honestly can’t say it’s more intense than my years-long Kiehl’s habit (I love you Kiehl’s—but real talk). And really, finding out what black-owned products are comparable or better to those we’re already using is really the main point of this month’s challenge, isn’t it? How can we boost entrepreneurship in our communities without sacrificing quality? It’s here—if we just know where to look.

The Glow Up tip: If you’re a black beauty entrepreneur with a story and product to share, let us know. Email me at tips@theroot.com.