My name is Jordan. I work as a director’s assistant in Los Angeles, but I do not drive for Uber, so I’m not totally cliché. I’m originally from the East coast, but I have been calling LA home for almost 3 years now. My mother is African American and my father is Mexican American. Even though I’m half Mexican, I grew up with my mother and have dark features so I’ve always identified black if anything.
My ethnicity and identity are intrinsically bound to my beauty preferences, but that wasn’t always a good thing, or so I thought. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, who I was and what I looked like was not valued at school. Blonde straight hair and blue eyes were given precedence over everything, and because I was the antithesis of that image, I just assumed I wasn’t attractive. That kind of low self-confidence definitely made me a quieter kid. Luckily I grew up and was able to move out of that environment when I went to college. College opened my eyes to what is considered beautiful and it’s not always what the media tells you it is. I learned to straighten my hair less and be more unapologetic in my appearance. I definitely have not mastered all my insecurities, but realizing that there are so many different ways to be beautiful is like a giant sigh of relief when you grow up black in a society that prioritizes white ideals. Like learning “You’re pretty for a black girl,” is not a compliment, no matter how much the person saying it means it to be. My hope is that as more images of women of color start populating magazines, TV shows, etc., young girls won’t have to wait until college to feel empowered in their skin. I still feel like my hair is the biggest emblem of my struggle to reconcile my ethnicity with my beauty preferences. The great thing about having multi-ethnic hair is that it can pretty much do anything, which means I've tried a ton of different hairstyles (weaves, braids, short, long, twists, you name it). My hair and I fight all the time, but I’m hoping one day I’ll just let her be.
I have learned many cultural tips throughout my life, but the one that sticks with me the most is the use of a silk bonnet, silk wrap or a silk pillowcase to keep my hair in the best condition. With curly or coarse hair especially, it’s important to be gentle and retain as much moisture as possible, which the silk fabric helps to do. The silk is also great against breakage. I don’t use it every single night, but I’ve had the same silk scarf since I can remember and make sure to wrap my hair before bed if I want it to look good in the morning.
Although I’ve been resisting it my whole life because I’d rather drink a glass of juice or something from Starbucks, water is what keeps me healthy. It’s the most obvious statement ever, but it’s tried and true. I have a 32oz Nalgene water bottle that goes with me everywhere and I try to drink around 96oz a day (I usually stop around 80). It’s the best thing I could do for my body inside and out.
The first thing I do when I wake up is take a shower and wash my face. I don’t have to wash my hair very often since it’s so thick and curly, but when I do, I wash it a few times and then let my conditioner sit on it for 15 minutes before rinsing. When I get out, I moisturize and that’s about it. I work in a very small office so I only put on my makeup if I know I have plans after work. At night I repeat the same steps and use Ponds cold cream to take off any makeup that survived the day.
Recently I started using African Black Soap to wash my face and it’s a game changer. My skin feels amazing, and makes me wish I had been using it all along. One of my biggest issues with my skin is scarring, so I use raw shea butter to moisturize and fade my scars over time. Once or twice a week I’ll use a charcoal face mask to help clean and brighten. Lately my roommate and I have been scouring Instagram and Youtube looking for new face masks to try. I also use shea butter and black castor oil on my eye lashes. Both products are great for hair growth, so it doesn’t hurt to put a little on my lashes as well. I’m always keeping my eye out for the next best thing in hair/skincare so my routine changes from time to time, but I think the African Black Soap and Shea Butter are here to stay.
If I could create the perfect beauty product for myself it’d be a pill you take that boosts your self-esteem so no matter what you look like, you still look great! And a foundation that doesn’t come off until you wash it. I’ve rubbed my face on way too many people’s clothes, so now I just try to avoid hugs.
I choose beauty products through YouTube, recommendations from friends, and more YouTube. I think social media has really changed the way women of color have gotten to interact with the beauty industry, and in doing so, has changed the industry as a whole. Within YouTube are communities of women whose hair and skin doesn’t fit the status quo who are allowed to express themselves outside the confines of a Eurocentric beauty commerce. You can go on YouTube today and find a vlogger who looks like you, whose hair curls like yours, whose skin looks like yours and sit there for hours watching them try different products and learning what would work best for you. I’d trust a YouTube vlogger like Naptural85 with 800,000 subscribers on what to do use on my hair more than I would a L’Oreal ad. And with these vloggers, you’re not just finding what works best, you’re finding what works best and is affordable. These vloggers understand that the women watching these videos are on budgets just like them and, more often than not, a dupe of lipstick will probably work better than the original for half the price. The wealth of knowledge that I have about hair and skin products I owe to YouTubers. Products such as black castor oil, tea tree oil, charcoal masks, silk bonnets, all products traditionally found in black beauty supply stores for decades, can now be found at your local Target. This outlet for women of color wasn’t around 10 or 15 years ago, and has shown a credible demand for inclusivity in the beauty world, influencing an entire aisle of products where before there was just a small “Ethnic” section.