After a year, I am exhausted of hearing how we’re living in unprecedented times. At best, it’s a “Yeah, no shit,” moment, and at worst? Emotional rollercoasters and not getting out of bed ‘til tomorrow. What’s more baffling to me is how these times have disproportionately affected a significant portion of our population, and just how damn resilient they are. The sheer amount of fatigue I know we all feel just doesn’t seem to faze my black friends and colleagues. Not because they aren’t exhausted also, but because their fight is far greater. That’s my white privilege – being able to allow myself to rest when fatigued because the fight for legitimacy of my existence isn’t at the core of my exhaustion. 

It’s appalling that we’re still having these discussions in 2021, but here we are.

My February started as it never has before: living with a partner I’d met 11 months ago, watching my first Sundance Film Festival with him from my couch while he covered certain films as press. Being fortunate enough to piggyback on his access (it’s a small apartment, please don’t come for him, Sundance!), I saw some incredible cinema spanning every facet of the human condition. Our favorite film we saw was easily Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised): a documentary by Questlove featuring previously unseen footage of the Harlem Cultural Festival that took place in the summer of 1969, not too far away from Woodstock’s own “3 Days of Peace & Music.” 

The documentary ended with my favorite singer, Nina Simone’s performance, and let me tell you – you do NOT need to be a person of color to revel in her influence and powerful calls to action. She is phenomenal, and damn was I excited to see her in her prime, courtesy of Thompson and his incredible film. 

This is my answer to her call.

As a capitalistic society, the best way to join or continue the fight is with your money. You may not like it, I can’t say I do, but it’s the truth. Allyship takes many forms, but none packs quite the quiet impact as much as supporting small black-owned businesses. When you shop small, your money actually goes to the owner’s ability to clothe themselves, feed their children, keep a roof over their family’s head. It doesn’t go to some unnamed CEO’s next yacht or mansion. 

Butter By Keba

Image courtesy of Butter By Keba

Butter By Keba is a premium line of all-natural moisturizing products paired with clean fragrance and designed for anyone who desires softer, smoother skin or loves smelling amazing all day, and I can attest to that myself. I was intrigued by BBK’s Egyptia collection after perusing the online store, especially the description of the Lotus Nut scent. 

Billed as “for the exotic ones who love the Caribbean and are always in search for the next flight+hotel package to the islands,” Lotus Nut is the scent for fans of a lighter floral scent, especially with the notes of jasmine and rose. I’ve never been one for floral perfumes due to my body chemistry being too warm for most, but jasmine is my favorite smelling flower. Spring in Austin is permeated with the fragrance of the fresh blooming jasmine, and coupled with the fireflies at night, it feels like magic is in the air. 

Butter by Keba captured that sentiment so fully with Lotus Nut, that I’m inclined to see what other sense memories can arise from another of the available scents. 

Heathmade

Image courtesy of Heathmade

Founded and created by a ten-year-old, Heathmade is this chemist’s dream. Not only did I love making lotions and soaps when I was that age, it inspired a lifelong love of STEM.

Unfortunately, the sciences are lacking in BIPOCs, so supporting Heath results in supporting a future for children like him, inspired to make the world a better place through curiosity. 

And just in case your curiosity has you wondering how his products feel and smell, I’m happy to report that they are DIVINE. I’ve been using the RELAX Travel Set for nearly a month now, and I’m not kidding when I say I smell like Froot Loops, and I LOVE it. The lotion bar has helped heal my sunburn due to its emollient and soothing qualities.

If you also happen to be like me and need your lip balm to taste good since you bite your lips, no worries here.

Sweet Orange is tasty!

Kazmaleje

Image courtesy of Kazmaleje

Kazmaleje is a female, black-owned business empowering women and men to rock their natural curls. The brand’s KurlsPlus combs are sturdy in your hand (except when wet and your hands are covered in conditioner, ha!) as you work through your tangles that are par for the course with curly hair. I may be a white girl, but I got those fine Irish waves and my hair tangles absurdly easily. 

My curly hair care journey has had me changing brushes often. Finger-combing works great in the shower for those with a coarser strand, but with fine, dense hair it doesn’t work as well. The Wet Brush is another good option, but being 100% honest here – the KurlsPlus Paddle Comb is my absolute favorite brush I’ve ever used. I use it to detangle before getting in the shower, I use it to detangle with conditioner in the shower, and I use it to distribute product evenly throughout my hair when I’m ready to rock my waves for the day. I’m actually thinking of using the regular comb or the pick for the product distribution, but for now, I’m impressed with the state of my hair, and how little hair loss comes with the detangling process. 

Bonus points for the larger rounded edges of the combs feeling like a head massage!

Ecoslay

Image courtesy of Ecoslay

Another brand in the curly hair care “genre,” Ecoslay deserves every bit of attention it gets. Made from natural ingredients, their products are just what you need to give your hair the boost and nutrients it needs to maintain its natural beauty, and you wouldn’t believe how yummy your hair will smell after use.

I received the Orange Marmalade Curl Definer to try and let me tell you, flax seed gel is the crème de la crème of homemade curly hair products. My desire to try the gel for my own hair never outweighed my lack of desire to make it myself, so I was thrilled when I found I could buy it premade from someone else! And premade in a nice pump bottle with a delicious orange-y scent. I have yet to perfect the purpose of the Curl Definer in my own routine, as my hair is either too heavy right now or too low-porosity for the gel to quite keep my waves pretty all day, but I’m not giving up! It seriously smells too damn good!

So Supple Organics

Image courtesy of So Supple Organics

When I received my package from So Supple Organics, I was surprised as I didn’t remember shopping on their website at first. But hey! New skin care products deserve to be tried and I wasn’t going to let not knowing where they came from stop me! Though maybe it should…haven’t people died through skin absorption of toxic chemicals…? Fortunately, SSO believes that simple and natural is better when it comes to skincare, so no worries here!

All products are handmade of the highest quality natural and organic butters, oils, and herbs sourced from Ghana, India, and Australia. You can be sure that each ingredient is carefully chosen for a beneficial purpose, and it really, REALLY shows. Since adding the Hibiscus Mint Tingling Toning Mist, Dewy Ultra Hydrating Treatment, and Glow Brightening Serum into my (now, ten-step) nighttime routine a few weeks ago, I have seen the effects and they are ILLUMINATING. I’ve been seeking that glowy, dewy, spotless skin since I hit puberty, and being real with you, even my hormonal breakouts are greatly diminished. This is some HOLY GRAIL skin shit right here. 

MDEE Beauty

Image courtesy of MDee Beauty

MDee Beauty by Deidra Smith is a paraben-free lip color brand designed to pamper lips with vitamin E, shea butter and avocado oil to keep your kisser smooth and moisturized, for long-lasting results. With a variety of lipsticks, matte liquid lipsticks, lip stains, and lip glosses, there is truly something for everyone. Deidra says, “Though the market is flooded with beauty products, there was still a void. I believe my product fills that void. My product not only looks good, feels good and is good for the health lips of your lips. With a variety of colors, textures, and sheens I believe that void is now filled.”

And I couldn’t agree with her more. Though her colors are highly pigmented to pop on darker skin tones, those with light skin still look great, if you’re unafraid of a statement lip. I decided upon the Movie Star Liquid Lipstick for my warm, light beige skin and have received nothing but compliments when I wear it! 

Colors aside, I was deeply impressed by the wearability of MDee’s liquid lipstick. I have tried many brands known for their staying power as I am not a fan of reapplying (I wear colors that need precision application that can’t really be achieved in the restaurant bathroom), and this brand is easily the perfect balance of silky and moisturizing without transfer. 

Considering my partner won’t kiss me when I’m wearing lipstick for fear of getting it on himself, I really appreciate that!

Well, I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite products from various businesses here to start your search, but don’t let this stop you from seeking out other brands more suited to your own needs. 

Black History Month may be coming to a close, but we’re not done fighting for equality yet. Keep your fight with you throughout the year, because we are a stronger society together, than apart.