Does one bishh need all these products??!! If you’re asking ME then the answer is HELLSSS YEAH!! All year long I receive dozens and dozens of phenomenal products to try. Not all of them make the cut but the ones that do have that extra something that stands above the rest.
You see, for me skincare and beauty products are connected to the power of my inner beauty. Prioritizing ME is why this one bishh loves the ritual of self care!! The time and attention that I put into caring for my body or my face or my hair is therapeutic; it is more than 1 single product. The cumulative practice behind applying each product has healed me over the years. The effort each of us make for ourselves is essentia!! That is why I am so passionate about sharing beauty as a 43 year old black woman. It is a perspective that is under-represented. We like beauty. We like caring for ourselves. Yet you don’t see the mature black woman in the beauty space so much.
Our annual New Year’s blog traditionally lists my top 10 favorite products that I used that year. Then it hit me…after 2 yrs being a guest judge for the Byrdie Clean Beauty Awards and recently the Zoe Report beauty awards, I think it’s about time that TTL had their own beauty awards!!! I’m over here trying the products right?? I have my own perspective so why not share it with you darlings!! It is a unique privilege and honor to be a person that is looked to as an “expert” to try products from so many gorgeous brands. So yeah we’re flipping the annual New Year’s top 10 products into TTL‘s first annual beauty awards with 10 categories I think you all are gonna LOVE!! Narrowing the selects down was no easy feat. To help narrow the selects, I will only be highlighting the best of the best NEW products I tried in 2021.
CRITERIA: To make the cut it must:
- …have exceptionally quality ingredients
- …have inspiring branding
- …freakin’ work!!!
- …make me want to reach for it daily
- …elevate my skincare moment
BLACK AND BEAUTIFUL
// Black Owned and Killing It//
+ Pound Cake Cosmetics, Cake Batter Lipstick in Color: Strawberry
Lip color lifts the spirit. For me that’s why I LOVE wearing a beautiful red lipstick. Pre-pandemic as a corporate flight attendant I pretty much wore red lipstick like every single day. It became my signature look!! I have tried many, many red lipsticks. The color needs to have the right undertones to compliment the natural pigment in my lips. A long lasting matte finish is also a must, but it should also feel comfortable on the lips. The moment I put on Pound Cake’s Cake Batter lipstick in color Strawberry, I immediately knew it was made for brown skin. The color pops beautifully, has a flawless matte finish, is super easy to apply…I mean it glides on like butter! It wears very comfortably on the skin and babes it is a clean beauty product. Let’s not leave out that it is made by a small black owned brand. What more can I say? It’s a perfect product in my opinion. CLICK HERE TO SHOP!
For reference, I’m wearing Pound Cake’s Cake Batter lipstick in color Strawberry in this video ⬇️
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//For Skin that Glows//
+ Supergoop Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost
The number one TTL skincare question is, ‘HOW DO YOU GET THAT GLOW?’ Well babes, if it’s a glow you’re after, one of the coolest glow-tastic products to come out in 2021 has to be Supergoop Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost which recently dropped on December 28. If you have drier skin or are looking to “boost” your winter skin you babes HAVE to try this!!! Supergoop sent me an advance sample of the product back in early November and I have been using it ever since. I was so honored not only to be able to try it ahead of launch but that my opinion of the product was meaningful for the brand. As a Supergoop fan girl I have tried EVERYTHING they make, so it has been a hella special experience!!! Anyway lovies, when I say this is a fabulous product I mean it. Lightweight oil-serum that hydrates, restores the skin barrier AND protects skin from UVA radiation. And I know what you’re thinking “…an oil?? Is it greasy??” Nope, not greasy at all; absorbs quickly into the skin. I have been enjoying this spf on days that I am not gonna wear makeup, applying 2-3 drops to my face and neck as the final step in my skincare routine.
BLACK DON’T CRACK
//Keep your Skin Aging Beautifully//
+ Shani Darden Retinol Reform
Babes I literally just finished this retinol serum only a couple days before Christmas!! Over the last several months I used 2 pumps 1-2 times per-week as a part of my nightly routine. In a previous blog (Retinol 101) I described ‘retinol’ as the ride or die fountain of youth ingredient; the one ingredient that is the gold standard for warding off the signs of aging aka fine lines, wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. 2021 marks the first year that I have introduced “traditional” retinol into my skincare routine in the form of Shani Darden Retinol Reform. Now I won’t dive too much into what retinol is and its benefits, you lovies can refer to the blog I mentioned. BUT what I can tell you is adding this transformative serum to my routine has been a preventative measure that I am very happy that I have taken. You babes know this, I am always on camera with the lens all freakin’ zoomed in and you know what, IMO my skin is maintaining the plumpy-bounce of someone half my age!! So yeah, I’m gonna continue using all the preventative measures I can!! OH and Cool thing is this one comes in a sensitive skin verison.
+ Rodial SPF Drops
With so many SPF products out there how do you choose the RIGHT one?? I know darlings, it can be overwhelming so let me help you by introducing you to one of the most unique spfs that I have had the pleasure of using in 2021, Rodial SPF 50 Drops. I have partnered with Rodial to test & share products from their skincare collection that I love over the next few months. Right out the gate this SPF serum blew me away with how hydrating and seamlessly it melts into the skin. Let’s say you want to use one product for your skincare routine. I would say use this!! Packed with a blend of ingredients like antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and Butterfly Bush that will restore & replenish, hydrate, and protect skin from free radical damage caused from sun & blue light exposure!! Yep babes you get all that in one bottle!! This SPF is brown skin friendly meaning it leaves zero white cast while giving the skin a youthful radiant finish.
IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY
//Never Leave Home Without It//
+ Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks
For the last two years I have had the distinct honor of being a Sephora Squad lunch partner. The biggest perk working of with Sephora is being introduced to a number of brands and products like this one that have become my holy grail favorites. Baby cheeks from Westman Atelier is one of those “in case of emergency” products you can have in your purse ready to go to polish off your look so that you are feeling ready for anything. If you are looking for a product that you can apply to your lips, cheeks and eyelids that makes you feel elevated and beautiful this is the one for you. The packaging and the branding is mmmwhaww, chefs kiss. At this stage of my life I find myself gravitating towards brands and products that are not only going to look good on me but that also give me a beautfiul experience each time I use the product. This is what I get every time I use Baby Cheeks, makes me feel so special.
+ Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm
You know what’s in my pocket as I’m sitting here by the fire writing this blog? Summer Fridays lip butter balm in color vanilla beige! If you’re like me, having dry ass cracked lips is cause for an emergency! I find myself reaching for this balm above all other brands because it glides on so beautifully, it is SOOOO damn soft and bouncy on the lips, like it feels hydrating but not greasy or sticky. And babes the beige color is so beautiful, it looks like a lip gloss but with the restorative and healing benefits of a lip balm. If you have not already clicked the shopping link what are you waiting for!?!? Do yourself a favor and grab one of these lip balms and thank me later ;))))
LUXE ON A DIME
//Inexpensive but Top Notch//
+ Tower 28 Beach Please Blush
Luxury doesn’t always have to come with a price tag; there’s lots of ways to embody a luxe moment without spending a ton of money. That’s why I am and will always be a fangirl of clean beauty brand Tower 28 products. The Beach Please cream blush collection is INCREDIBLE!! I only use cream blush. Cream blush is most like natural skin texture and Tower 28 gets that. Beach Please is perfectly pigmented, you can build up the color, and compliments all skin tones. And yes,I know they compliment all skin tones because they look good on me, they look good on my daughter May AND they look lovely on Xia too!! The Beach Please collection is formulated to be applied all over your face. I love applying it to the apples of my cheeks, to my nose bridge, to my eyelids – you can even pat the product onto your lips. It is an all encompassing product and like I said has a great price point.
+ Tower Shine On Lip Jelly
The only thing I love more than lip balm is lipgloss. I have every single color of the Shine On Lip Jelly collection. Meaning that each color looks freakin good on my skin tone. Every morning when I am getting ready and I’m going to pick a lip color I cannot tell you how frequently I find myself reaching for my one of the lip jelly collections because they feel so damn good on my lips. They give my lips just the right amount of color, not too much, not too little while giving my lips a sexy pout.
+ Tower SOS Mist
I love it because it has a fresh water smell, and I like to spray it after I’ve put my dollops of skincare on to rehydrate my skin since your skin is more receptive to skincare when it’s wet. Great as a setting spray and just to refresh the skin throughout the day.
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
//Everyone Needs This//
+ Lux Unfiltered No 14 Conditioning Body Cream
I think it’s become an unspoken fact that when I give a gift I give skincare. I’m always looking for products that anyone would love. In 2021 I really fell in love with the No 14 body cream in Santal fragrance from Lux Unfiltered. I am majorly endeared to the brand because I am a fan of the owner, Sivan Ayla, an influencer turned baddie boss-Mom. I love her, I love her aesthetic, I love her branding and now I love the products she makes. It gives me pleasure to support a small family owned business. In addition, what truly makes this lotion great IS that you can leave it the bathroom for everyone to use. I go hard on this with one at night. I love going to bed with the gentle scent of Santal. The lotion has a soothing soft silky texture, hydrating without being greasy or oily and the clean formulation feels lovely on the skin. If you’re not into the Santal fragrance it also comes in fragrance free. CLICK HERE TO SHOP!
+ Necessaire EVERYTHING
I was introduced to Necessaire in 2020/21. It was literally on everyone’s Instagram page and I was so keen to try their products. I was like these products are tight because like everyone I follow loves this brand!! I mean everybody and their mama is raving about clean beauty brand Necessaire. I was kinda thinking, am I missing out on something here? I’m always into manifesting things and in 2020 when Necessaire reached out to me about doing a collaboration I did a little happy dance because FINALLY I was gonna be in on the hype!! Necessaire sent over an assortment of products for me to try and I was saying to myself ‘OK OK T, lets see if these live up to all the hype’. I fell in love with every single product I tried!! Oh wait babes, I’m leaving out the best part – all the products are totally unisex!! The aesthetic is my kinda vibe – minimal & modern. The bottles elevate shelfie moments. Very instagrammable! The scents are thoughtful plant-based fragrances and for me I find myself wanting to use the body scrub AND the lotion AND the shower gel AND the deodorant pretty much every day.
CLEAN AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
//Top Clean Beauty//
+ RMS Straight Up Volumizing Peptide Mascara
I don’t know about you babes but it is my opinion that mascara should definitely have a clean formula for the simple fact that it’s on your eyes and it’s going to get in your eyes. RMS mascara is a runaway obsession for me because it clings to my lashes so beautifully. The formulation gently washes off with warm water. I apply mascara to my bottom lashes every day and it never transfers or leaves me with raccoon eyes.
+ Milk Makeup Flex Concealer
I have been wanting to tell you darlings about Milk Makeup Flex concealer for months now. I AM IN LOVE WITH IT! What makes this concealer so special is that it does not crease ever ever ever! The formula is incredibly hydrating so instead of it sitting in your fine lines it fills in your fine lines and plumps your under eye area so that you don’t get the creepy fine lines. I’m not sure if this is how they meant to formulate it, I’m only describing how it wears on my skin. I put this concealer on very sparingly in the morning and no matter what I do it lasts all day! Some days I only wear this concealer. I go with color Cinnamon which is an exact match to my skintone. It blends & melts so beautifully into my skin. Then on days that I’m gonna do a full face complexion I use a lighter color, Golden Honey, to brighten my under eye area. Lovies when I say that it doesn’t budge all day I am telling you my under eye area is locked and I don’t even have to set it with a powder.
+ Kora Organics Berry Bright Vitamin C Eye Cream
One of my favorite OG clean beauty brands out there is Kora Organics. I don’t know if you guys know this but I did a modeling job for Miranda Kerr, owner of Kora. She reached out to me to shoot a campaign for a new product that she was launching. Turns out it was this fabulous eye cream called Berry Bright. Ever since receiving the product and modeling the product for the campaign I have used it every single day since. Not only am I obsessed with Kora organics I am particularly enamored with this product because it comes in a sustainable refillable container. Basically you take out the inner pod from the outer jar and replace it. Since using it I have seen my eye area less craggy…if you know what I mean! The eye area is one of the first areas to show signs of aging and for me I am particularly proactive in taking care of my eye area. I am also prone to milia so I cannot just use any old eye cream. It has to be the right formula and this one babes is a dream!
//Extra Extra Boujee But Worth the Splurge//
+ Hourglass Equilibrium Collection – Makeup Collection
Can I express how very RARE it is for me to love both makeup and skincare from one brand?! Hourglass has blown me away with their range of products, the flawless branding and packing, and the all round extra boujee feeling I get each and every time I reach for anything Hourglass. 10/10 does not do it justice babes!! In Summer 2021 Hourglass reached out for a Fall 2021 campaign for their skincare collection Equilibrium. After nearly 2 months of trying the products I was like WHOA I love them all. I was expecting to select maybe like 1 or 2 products but my skin flourished using the entire collection!!
- My goodness the REBALANCING CREAM CLEANSER is PHENOMENAL – I’m actually super obsessed with it!! Love the soft creamy texture; it gently lifts dirt from my pores while also leaving my skin soft and hydrated.
- The RESTORING ESSENCE is like liquid silk, definitely gonna cry big boujee tears when it runs out!!
- The BIOMIMETIC SKIN ACTIVE SERUM is something special only to be used at night to help cells regenerate.
- In the AM the supremely luxurious DAY FLUID SUNSCREEN BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 30 protects & hydrates skin.
- In my best singing voice…My skin loves the RESTORATIVE HYDRATING CREAM!! This moisturizer is richly hydrating but does not clog my pores. And babes if you want radiant glowy skin then I highly recommend treating yourself to this cream. Only the smallest amount is needed, after nearly 6 months of using it my jar is still half full.
- The one product I have to use sparingly is the INTENSIVE HYDRATING EYE BALM. It is a remarkable product but my eye area is prone to milia so I only use it a couple of times a week.
CRACKS AND CREVICES
//Best of Body Care//
+ Klur Body Oil
Applying Klur body oil is my favorite way to lift my senses at night. I really got into using this body oil in 2021 because after I’ve been working hard from home all day I find myself wanting to connect with my senses. This body oil does that for me. I find that a little bit goes a long way. I particularly like massaging this body oil into my elbows, onto my feet, my hands and my bum because the bums get so dry!! Darlings, it’s just lovely. And did I mention this is also a black owned brand?
+ The Ouai Body Scrub
Ooh La La nothing is better than exfoliating your body. It is so important to care for your body as you would care for your face. I exfoliate my face 3 to 4 times a week so naturally I have adopted exfoliating my body 3 to 4 times a week. That’s been my 2021 gift to myself. The Ouai Body Scrub is like having a spa at home. Who doesn’t want a spa moment at home?! Made with sugar, coconut oil, and prebiotics this rich scrub will have you reaching for it on the regular!!
+ Fenty Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body Cream
I have literally given everyone I love this body butter because it is THE BEST body butter for everyday use. Hmmm, I can smell the light beautiful fragrance right now, I can’t put my finger on it but whatever it is I love it!! The cream itself is super soft and silky, hydrating but not oily. My skin feels brand new after each use, so smooth, plump, and richly moisturized…whatever you wanna call it my skin is happy as hell! I don’t know if you darlings knew this but Fenty Skin is a clean beauty collection!! This cream is also sustainable in that it comes in a refillable pod that can be recycled. I absolutely love that because it’s a product that I’m gonna go through frequently with the added comfort of knowing that I can recycle the inner pod.
LET’S GET TONED!!
+ Herbivore Jasmine Green Tea
I have been using Herbivore products for years now!! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the owners and hearing them speak about their philosophy and the beautiful plant powered ingredients they use in each product. Somehow along the way trying all these skin care products over the years I’ve missed trying the Jasmine toner. Are you currently using a toner? If you’re looking for an antioxidant-rich, refreshing and extra gentle toner I highly recommend you give this one try. For most of 2021 I have used this toner to hydrate between each of my skin care steps, especially during my nightly routine. I like to mist 2 to 3 pumps on my face between each step because this allows the products to absorb more quickly into my skin. Think about your skin as a wet sponge versus a dry sponge. A wet sponge absorbs water more quickly so I like to keep my skin very moist in between steps. As my skin dries down then I re-mist my face with this toner for the next step.
+ RenSkincare Ready Steady Glow AHA Toner
I have aging, oily acne prone skin. I am constantly trying to balance these two dualities. I have found that in caring for my oily skin I am also satisfying the needs of my aging skin. Ren Skincare AHA toner has become a holy grail product for me in 2021. I’m about to finish my second bottle of the year!! It is a chemical exfoliant, meaning it has enzymes in there that are going to get into your cells to break down the dirt, oil, and sebum. Whereas a physical exfoliate has more abrasive particles in it that breaks down and fluffs away dead skin. For anyone who has oily skin it is crucial that you are exfoliating. I use this toner at night. As soon as I’m done double cleansing my face I go in with this toner. It gets in there and basically, like I said, breaks down any bacteria or dead skin. It really just keeps my complexion clear because if I don’t use it I will get clogged pores and breakouts. This one is just freaking awesome. Since using this toner I have noticed far fewer breakouts and my complexion is brighter and clearer. I use it almost every night. That’s probably why I’ve already gone through two bottles of it!! I keep a backstock of it because I just think it is so effective and when I find something that is this effective I just need to have it. I need to make sure that my ass never runs out of it like that is not an option!
Thanks for checking out TTL’s first annual Beauty Awards! I’m looking forward to a new year of getting to know even more new brands and products. Any products you think I should try next? What’s your favorite product of 2021?
Happy New Year darlings!!