Who Qualifies as a "Woman of Color"?

Back in February, I attended A Conversation About Women of Color in the Clean Beauty Industry with Beautycounter at the Prince St. store in NYC. Early on in the conversation, the consultant next to me raised an interesting point that I hadn’t previously considered: She said she had invited her friend of Indian-descent to the store that night, but her friend opted not to come because she didn’t feel like “women of color” included her. In other words, she thought the term “women of color” was synonymous with black women.

By definition, “women of color” includes everyone who is not white, although I can understand the confusion. WoC is often used interchangeably with "black women,” and can be misinterpreted as an exclusionary term for Asian, Latina, Native American, mixed race, and anyone who falls outside of the black-white binary. And it’s worth mentioning that that’s the way I use the term here at Freckles On Point.

Talking Light-Skinned Privilege in the Black-ish Colorism Episode

I honestly think Black-ish is one of the best sitcoms of all time. Network sitcoms tend to be very formulaic, often to the extent of dumbing down any potential for intelligent humor for the masses. And even when we do get lucky with a hit network sitcom like Friends or Modern Family, you’ll notice the writing often peters out after Season 3 or 4 as the show progresses. To me, Black-ish has managed to avoid all of these traps – and tackle some incredibly difficult topics along the way.

Season 5 has been no different, and the writers continue to swing for the fences. The episode “Black Like Us” aired on January 15th, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In this episode, Diane isn’t lit properly for her class photo, sparking a heated family debate about colorism and light-skinned privilege. The show opens with a short animation introducing viewers to a brief historical and cultural context about colorism.

It’s not talked about a lot here in the U.S., but light-skinned privilege is pervasive in Asian culture too, which made me very happy to see Asian people included in the Black-ish video. Whether you travel to Thailand, Japan, China, or Korea, fair skin prevails. In Thailand specifically, where my family is from, being a half-white/ half Asian model or actress is your ticket to fame, or at least help you break into the entertainment industry. Light-skinned privilege is a complicated issue woven into our culture with a lot of ugly, painful historical roots around the world that I won’t get into here. But in our everyday lives, we can start by being more aware and taking notice of how it shapes our own perceptions of beauty and the beauty standards that deserve questioning or dismantling altogether.

Watch the full animated video on ABC’s website.

Beautycounter Night Time Skin Care Routine: How to Take Care of Your Skin in Your 30s

After posting Beautycounter Morning Routine: How to Take Care of Your Skin in Your 30s, it sounds like a lot of you are also interested in starting a good night time routine. If you’re new to a skin care routine altogether, I always recommend starting with AM or PM so that you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many new steps and products.

There are plenty of variations for skin regimens, including the infamous 12-step Korean beauty regimen that was all the rage for a hot minute until people figured out that that might not be the most sustainable routine to incorporate into their daily lives. I follow Beautycounter’s regimen because it’s only 4 steps: Cleanse, Prep, Treat, Protect. You can always add more products in, but these four steps are a really good baseline.

Check out this night time routine:

Ew! Asbestos Found in Makeup At Claire's

Well here we are again: The FDA found asbestos in three makeup products sold at Claire’s and is calling on Congress to pass new laws enabling the government agency to tighten regulations on the cosmetics industry.

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Asbestos has been shown to cause cancer. It’s the thing contractors hope not to find on every HGTV home renovation show when they flip an old house, and rightfully so because it can kill you. Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibers that are inhaled and can then cause four types of cancer: Lung, Ovarian, Laryngeal, and Mesothelioma.

As far as the beauty industry is concerned, asbestos can be found in products containing talc. Most recently Johnson & Johnson was in the headlines after a jury ordered them to pay $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women who filed lawsuits claiming that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused ovarian cancer.

A big part of Beautycounter’s mission includes advocating for safer laws and more regulation. You can read more about their advocacy efforts here. In the meantime, don’t buy makeup for you teen (or you) at Claire’s and shop Beautycounter’s line of cleaner, safer makeup with ingredient transparency.

A Conversation About Women of Color in the Clean Beauty Industry with Beautycounter

Last Wednesday, BEAUTYCOUNTER hosted a great event for consultants about women of color in the clean beauty industry at their Prince Street store in SoHo. We learned so much about the company’s upcoming inclusivity initiatives – both big and small – from two women of color in particular: Kerryn Agyekum, VP of Corporate Communications and Community Expansion and Minetta Archer, Northeast Regional Director. They did a really great job of facilitating an open, welcoming conversation about the challenges clients and consultants face when selling to women of color, ranging from what kind of approach to take/not to take in conversations to helpful makeup techniques for women with deeper skin tones. I was encouraged by the many white consultants who asked thoughtful questions and were especially mindful about what language to use and were open about wanting to do better to serve women beyond their own communities.

First of all, if you haven’t been to the BEAUTYCOUNTER flagship in SoHo, you’re missing out. It’s beyond cute. The staff is so helpful (and diverse!), and there’s even a phone booth where you can call any member of Congress to advocate for better beauty legislation. They even provide phone numbers!

First of all, if you haven’t been to the BEAUTYCOUNTER flagship in SoHo, you’re missing out. It’s beyond cute. The staff is so helpful (and diverse!), and there’s even a phone booth where you can call any member of Congress to advocate for better beauty legislation. They even provide phone numbers!

Kerryn Agyekum, VP of Corporate Communication and Community Expansion. I love that a large part of her role is all about working with the company’s inclusivity initiatives.

Kerryn Agyekum, VP of Corporate Communication and Community Expansion. I love that a large part of her role is all about working with the company’s inclusivity initiatives.

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It was a great night! Any excuse to go to the Prince St. store, really. It was so worth braving the snow for!

Beautycounter Morning Routine: How to Take Care of Your Skin in Your 30s

So maybe you got away with eating Taco Bell through college and the occasional spritz of drugstore sunscreen. In my experience, life after 30 is when shit’s just starting to get good! My skin though? Not so much.

After I turned 30, I started looking tired all the time. My undereye circles got darker even when I stayed in all weekend to sleep and watch FRIENDS reruns, I got these weird bumps that didn’t know if they wanted to be pimples or just clogged pores. And no matter how much I lathered on moisturizer, I’d wake up to sad, parched skin. Almost all of my Beautycounter clients echo these same problems. So let me reiterate once again: Girl, it’s not you. It’s them (your 30s). Your 30s are an interesting time for your skin because it’s when you first start to see early signs of aging, but you’re not quite ready to turn into your mother and shop at the same department store makeup counter as her yet.

I get it. The Rejuvenation line is Beautycounter’s anti-aging skin care line, while the Countermatch line is geared toward adequate hydration and age prevention. Blend these two lines together and you get one hell of a skin care routine for your 30s! Check out the morning routine below:

The Best Non-Toxic Shampoo for Itchy Scalp

Here’s the deal: My scalp itches all the time. I mean like ALL. THE. TIME. I’ve tried everything, from medicated shampoos, anti-dandruff shampoos, scalp treatments, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, washing less often, washing more often – you name it. Some things have worked better than others, but after a while I’m just back square one.

My biggest splurge recently was a Japanese Head Spa in NYC for a scalp massage. I met with a stylist who got all up in my scalp with a flashlight that had a built-in camera that projected on to her iPad so we could an enlarged look at my scalp. I was so sure she would tell me I had some sort of scalp condition, or at least see how irritated it was from all of my scratching.

But no.

Instead, she told me that my scalp was healthy and that I had beautiful hair. “Then why all the itchy?” I asked. She said it could be climate or stress. Or both. She moved the flashlight-camera around my head. “See?” And see I did. My scalp looked fine.

So WTF?

While I have not found conclusive answers for the cause of my own personal itchy scalp, I encourage everyone to check with their doctor first because there are a lot of scalp conditions out there that require legit medical treatment.

So here’s what I was using over the last 6 months:

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PROSE CUSTOM HAIRCARE

PROS: Fast shipping, a custom formula, and regimen. Your custom formula is based on the results of your hair quiz that takes everything into account from your hair length to your location for the next 3 months. You can even opt for silicone-free and fragrance-free, which I did. I bought the full 3-piece set: Hair mask (pre-shampoo), shampoo, and conditioner. The whole thing cost me $88 and lasted just over 3 months. My hair was so soft.

CONS: The hair mask actually made my scalp itch more over time, even though it was supposed to do the opposite. My personal formulation recommended that I use it 2-3x a week, but you have to leave it in for at least 20 minutes. The 3-step process started to feel really time consuming after the excitement wore off.

EWG Rating: N/A. Prose is relatively new but I don’t think it’s possible to get an EWG rating because every formulation is different. The website claims “natural beauty” but without transparency, I’m not convinced.

But when the itching got worse, I suspected that I might be allergic to one of the ingredients without knowing. Your Prose order comes with a little instruction booklet and lists the main ingredients in each product, none of which I have a known allergy to.

Out of sheer convenience, I then decided to try:

BEAUTYCOUNTER DAILY SHAMPOO

PROS: My hair is so soft! The shampoo lathers really well and was not drying at all – two of the most common complaints with sulfate-free shampoos. It has a light citrus scent and as someone who is sensitive to heavy perfumes and synthetic fragrance, I find it refreshing and not overpowering at all. Best of all, my scalp is dramatically less itchy, like so so much less itchy.

CONS: There were a few times I noticed slight separation so now I just give the bottle a little shake before using.

EWG Rating: 2

And there you have it! In my opinion, BEAUTYCOUNTER Daily Shampoo is the best non-toxic shampoo for itchy scalp that I’ve found. Unlike other sulfate-free brands, it has a rich lather and doesn’t dry my hair out. Plus BEAUTYCOUNTER bans 1,500 harmful or questionable ingredients from all of its products, so while I might not know what synthetic ingredients other brands use that make me itchy, I know I’m less likely to be exposed to skin irritants with this shampoo.

This Is the Correct Order to Apply Your Skin Care Products

Whether you’re trying a new skin care regimen on for size or you’ve been layering up since Mandy Moore was popular the first time around like I have, knowing which products to apply first can be tricky. And based on what I’ve seen, depending on what you Google or who you talk to, the EXACT order to apply your skin care products might vary slightly, but overall they’re pretty similar. It’s not a perfect science, is what I’ve concluded.

No surprise here but I love BEAUTYCOUNTER’s approach to skin care regimens. They break their regimens down into 4 steps:
1. Cleanse
2. Prep
3. Treat
4. Protect

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This is basically a plug-and-play model, which my overworked brain is all about. Once you know the correct order to apply your skin care products, just customize this 4-step regimen to fit your morning and nighttime routines. Mine looks like this:

AM
Step 1: Cleanse - Rejuvenating Face Cleanser
Step 2: Prep - Brightening Mist
Step 3: Treat - No.1 Brightening Facial Oil
Step 4: Protect - Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion

PM
Step 1: Cleanse - Rejuvenating Face Cleanser
Step 2: Prep - Brightening Mist
Step 3: Treat - Overnight Resurfacing Peel / Countermatch Intense Moisture Serum
Step 4: Protect - Countermatch Sleep Recovery Cream

See? That’s not so hard to remember right?