A Beauty Minute with Dana Oliver

5 years ago by

One year ago, I became a mother, and the time I have to spend on my morning beauty routine has drastically changed. My son is now a toddler, so I have to either be super efficient about my regimen (he’ll run into the bathroom at any moment) or find ways to incorporate him into my self-care practice.

I usually wake up around 5am (or whenever my mini human alarm clock rolls over in the bed, sits up and alerts me with his happy clap). I get him dressed for the day and then we make our way upstairs so I can get ready for the day. I remove my satin bonnet, spritz my shrunken Afro with The Mane Choice Hair Type 4 Leaf Clover Leave-In Spray and use my fingertips to detangle and fluff my curls into shape. But if I’m feeling lazy, I’ll cover my locks with a chic turban from The Wrap Life or Fanm Djanm. Then, I wash my hands and cleanse my face and neck with Earth Therapeutics Micellar Cleansing Water. I like how gentle, yet effective this product is at refreshing my skin.

Next, I tone with Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 PIGM 400. The brand’s P50 lotions are my secret weapon to achieving an even complexion. I don’t get as much sleep as I’d like to these days, so I fake that well-rested look with eye creams. My current favorite is Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème. It also makes for a great makeup primer for the under-eye area.

I’ll brush my teeth and then spritz my face with Olay Mist Ultimate Hydration Essence before I apply Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum and the Environ Vita Botanical Mela-Fade Serum System (to tackle a few pesky dark spots along my jawline). Around this time, I’m trying to keep my son from lifting the toilet seat or messing with the bathroom garbage can. So I’ll pick him up, stop by the hallway mirror to recite our daily affirmations (“You are worthy. You are brilliant. You are beautiful. You are awesome. You are blessed.”) and grab Drunk Elephant C-Firma Vitamin C Day Serum out of the refrigerator. I smooth that on before my last skincare step, and frankly the most important, applying sunscreen. I’m loving Paula’s Choice Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 and Black Girl Sunscreen is a staple.

– Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra-Fine Shape & Define Pencil
– Pat McGrath Labs MatteTrance Extravaganza Lipstick
– Kiss My Face Sport Balm SPF 30
– Love Beauty & Planet Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower Hand Lotion
– Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15 or BareMinerals Bare Pro Performance Wear Powder Foundation (for those days I desire a bit more coverage)

Once I put my son down to bed (he still doesn’t sleep through the night… help me!), I can really focus on my beauty routine. I typically shower in the evenings and reach for the Luv Scrub Mesh Body Exfoliator and a hydrating body wash. As soon as I hop out of the shower, I moisturize with SheaMoisture Purple Rice Water Velvet Skin Body Lotion or jojoba oil. Next, I wash my face with Bolden Skin Clarifying Cleanser or Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Foam Cleanser. Whenever I wear makeup, I make sure to double-cleanse with Julep Love Your Bare Face Hydrating Cleansing Oil. I lightly pat my face dry with a white towel, then I tone with Biologique Recherché Lotion P50 PIGM 400 (great for making sure I remove all makeup and deep cleansing my skin).

I follow up with Environ Vita Botanical Mela-Fade Serum System (my aesthetician at Rescue Spa in Philadelphia recommended using this 2-step treatment in mornings and evenings). Then I apply Biologique Recherche Crème Contour Des Yeux VIP O2. To finish, I moisturize my face and neck with Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Face Cream or Glow Recipe Watermelon Sleeping Mask.

Before I lie down, I always make sure to protect my natural curls with a satin bonnet or scarf.

What do you do monthly in the name of beauty?

I try my very best to get a salon manicure and pedicure at least once a month — running around after a toddler does quite a number on your feet. I even take my own nail polishes so that I can touch up my nails.

Postpartum hair loss has been a struggle, but I trust fellow new mama Rimmy Sparkles for professional wash and gos. I also recently had my tresses styled by Tori McCutcheon and she taught me a lot about how best to use mousse and why I can’t afford to skip out on weekly deep conditioning treatments.

How do you define beauty and what inspires your relationship to beauty?

My definition of beauty is what makes me feel and look like my best self. Whether that’s a sunscreen that doesn’t make my dark skin look ashy, a mindful meditation class that helps to ground me on a hectic day or a hearty laugh shared with my son, these are all things that make me feel beautiful.

The Black women who raised me, as well as my sister-friends, have had the most profound impact on my relationship to beauty. From the simple to ornate ways we adorn our hair, skin and bodies to the encouraging words we use to uplift and inspire each other (Yasss, Queen!), Black beauty is incomparable.


Dana Oliver is the beauty director of branded content at Yahoo Lifestyle and the creative behind beauty, wellness and self-care blog Beauty for Breakfast, where she writes about beauty from her perspective as a mostly plant-based new mom who inspects ingredient labels a little bit more carefully these days.

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