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The Rise of Twitter’s Black Aestheticians

For as long as I can remember, make-up has been at the center of the beauty world. Understandably so, as it’s pretty much fool-proof. Want longer lashes? Make-up. Want thicker brows? Make-up. Want Naomi Campbell’s cheekbones? Make-up. On a budget? Drugstore make-up. Feeling bougie? Luxury make-up. Want to wear make-up that makes it look like you’re not wearing makeup at all? They got that too. However, for many, myself included, makeup has recently been pushed to the back burner. Just when I thought my bank account was at its absolute limit, skincare has entered the chat.

The skincare regimen of my earlier days consisted of whatever Neutrogena product the fresh-face, generic blonde girl was pushing in their latest commercials. Everyone and their dog was using that damn pink grapefruit face wash, plus anything with those multi-colored micro-beads. To fourteen-year-old me, “micro-bead technology” sounded too scientific not to get the job done. I never had extremely difficult skin, or blemish-free, “perfect” skin. My skin has always been average, with the occasional huge zit or little breakout. When I did get those breakouts, all I could do was pray no one would point it out at school, and maybe cover it with some concealer stolen from my mother’s vanity. Friends would tell me I should put ice on a zit, or toothpaste on a zit, and of course, I’d try it out because throughout high-school I had no real understanding of what caused acne, the different types of acne, and the other skin issues that can arise on your face. When those suggestions didn’t work, all I could do was watch those Proactiv infomercials and dream about a day when I could buy their overpriced, celebrity-endorsed kits, thinking it was the key to clear skin.


Like it’s beauty counterpart, North American skincare spent its early years catering to a select few. Skincare products, and perhaps more importantly, skincare information hasn’t been easily accessible for people of color. Research conducted on the skin concerns of POC has been sparse, as brands either assumed that there simply wasn’t a market for products catered to POC, didn’t think to consider that POC may have different skincare needs, or simply didn’t care. However, with “inclusivity” being the buzzword of the year, brands have finally started to take notice of purchasers of color. But, similarly to the make-up industry, the progress has been slow. Many POC have gone the route of monthly visits with aestheticians or dermatologists for personalized regimens to combat their skin concerns. And while some have the means to do so, others may not, or may not even know where to begin. So the question is: where can POC go to find not only products for our skin concerns but information to better understand our own skin? 
Enter: Twitter’s Black Aestheticians.

Black aestheticians and their twitter accounts are some of the unsung heroes of the POC skincare movement, giving those of us ballin’ on a budget, or completely lost in the lingo, the tips and tricks we need to get our skin right, without a pricey, 1-on-1 consultation (although they do offer that!).

Tiara Willis

I first started following @MakeUpforWOC, aka Tiara Willis, for exactly what you’d think, make-up tips, looks, and products for WOC. In addition to being a licensed aesthetician, she’s also a make-up artist and an advocate for diversity in the beauty industry. I’m sure we can all recall the earlier days of the internet’s beauty obsession, which were very… monochromatic. Tiara has always been vocal about the inequality in the beauty industry and that’s what first drew me in.

Nai Roberts-Smith

@LABeautyologist, Nai Roberts-Smith, is a Los Angeles-based aesthetician, and the creator of the “60-Second Rule”, that recommends you wash your face for 60 seconds to get it truly clean. She is youtube skin-guru who’s been featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan and is the only aesthetician followed by Barack Obama, as necessarily stated in her Twitter bio.

Through following those two amazing women, I soon fell down the rabbit hole of the POC skincare community, full of wandering sheep like myself and the knowledgeable skincare shepherds to guide us. Here are a few other I follow:

Sean Garrette

@SGarretteSkin, Sean Garrette, aka The Skin Bitch, is one of the few male aestheticians I’ve seen in the community, but I’m sure, thanks to him, that’s soon to change. Men need skincare too! Take care of that skin the way you take care of those waves.

Ashley White

@Skinclasshero, Ashley White, featured in Teen Vogue and Refinery29, is another great addition to your timeline, with a ton of threads to help you pick things from a gentle cleanser to the best Vitamin C products for sensitive skin. 

Honorable mention: Chanel Tyler

Chanel Tyler is not an aesthetician, and she’s not on Twitter. She is a Beauty Strategist who’s worked with companies like La Mer and Estée Lauder, often in consumer engagement or multiethnic strategy. She brings a much needed, POC-perspective to these companies. Because of her work, as well as her obsession with skincare, I like to think of her as an aesthetician-sponge. Her Instagram account, @BuyMeChanel, has some of the most informative, and easy to understand skin information, recommendations, and testimonies I’ve come across since starting my deep-dive into POC skincare.

One of the greatest things about this squad of professionals is that their goal is to make sure people actually understand their skin. While they do make recommendations, do giveaways, each of them keeps it 100% real on brands, products, and the science behind both skin issues and solutions. There’s a heavy emphasis on the “why” when it comes to how things work, allowing people to truly understand the products they’re using for their skin, enabling people to informatively try new products, instead of being bound to their specific recommendations. Here are some of my most important takeaways:

ALWAYS WEAR SPF

SPF is essential in protecting your skin! Not only because the suns rays are aging, but because many of the products used to combat common skincare issues, like Vitamin A, Lactic Acid or Salicylic Acid, make your skin photosensitive, very sensitive to the sun. So, get you some SPF! All the accounts above have made tons of great SPF suggestions that don’t leave a white cast. I’m currently using Neutrogena’s HydroBoost Water Gel Sunscreen with Hyaluronic Acid.

 

RE-APPLY YOUR SPF

It’s not enough to apply SPF first thing in the morning, it needs to be reapplied throughout the day! And not sparsely! You want an even application. And for those days you’re wearing make-up, check our mineral SPF, sprays or powders, that can be easily reapplied over top of your make-up.

 

OVER EXFOLIATING IS DEFINITELY A THING

My combination skin coupled with my hyper-pigmentation can have my skin looking all kinds of rough. To deal with those dry patches, and to try to lighten my hyper-pigmentation, I’ve always been a lover of physical exfoliants. And I was going in. A little too in. I scrubbed hard and often, which left my skin smooth, but also raw. Turns out, over-exfoliating is a thing. And it can actually make hyperpigmentation and acne worse, which explained a lot. After learning that, I decided to try out chemical exfoliants, and have found them to be a much better alternative. Since introducing them to my skincare routine, not only has my skin been able to shed dry skin without all that harsh abrasion, they’ve also greatly improved my hyper-pigmentation, skin tone/brightness, and they’ve also helped with oil-control. If you’re looking to get into chemical exfoliants, remember to start slow! Ren Skincare’s Daily AHA Tonic has been a staple of mine for the past couple months and I love it.

 

SKINCARE IS NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL

As someone who can be chronically lazy, when I imagined my skin at it’s best, it always came from very little effort on my part. I figured one day I’d try this one treatment, or this one product that with solve my problems and just give me clear skin. So, if someone with clear skin would give me a recommendation, I would jump at it, without bothering to considering the factors that make them, and their skin, different from my own. But, skincare is self-care, and you can’t expect someone to do it for you. Through my own research, and trial-and-error, I’m on my way to creating the perfect regimen for my skin. And, with the help of these accounts, you can too.

By: Vanessa Fajemisin
Cover photo by Glossier