When I was little, I just knew my mom was one of The Supremes. Actually, she wasn’t just one of them, she actually was THE Supreme, Miss Diana Ross.
I figured this out using my excellent 5-year-old powers of deduction, of course.
My mom’s name is similar to Diana Ross so I was convinced that Diana Ross was just her stage name and her real name was the one on her driver’s license. (No kidding, Hannah Montana had nothing on my mother.). She sang just as well. She had Diana Ross hair. And she wore red “yipstick.”
Only fancy, famous performers wore lipstick. So there you have it. She was Diana Ross.
Eventually, my mom had to sit me down and have a serious talk with me to explain that no, she wasn’t Diana Ross.
Eventually I came to believe her (mostly), but what stayed with me was that incredible confidence, poise and glamour that made her the most gorgeous woman in the world to me.
So while I love my mom for passing on things like nice teeth, nearsightedness, an amazing sense of fashion, and a peach cobbler recipe that makes angels weep, I’ve always appreciated her Black beauty and skin care habits that have stayed with me.
These are the five that always make me feel beautiful, no matter what the mirror may be seeing. Even and especially when I look nothing like Miss Diana Ross.
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Top image: Silk Electric, 1982, by Diana Ross, © RCA Records
1. Cover your head when you sleep.
I have vivid memories of going to bed wearing a bonnet — or a clean pair of undies (really) — on my head to protect my hair while I slept.
(Now they didn’t always stay on; I’m a wild sleeper. I’ve had kung fu fights and performed musical numbers in my dreams. For real. But that’s another article.)
Covering your hair protects your locks from moisture-stripping pillowcases. When I went heat-free and fully natural with my hair a few years ago, turns out this smart beauty tip became even more important. So I found some great products that make it easier.
I always sleep in a satin bonnet hair cap. I happen to adore this one, because it doesn’t have elastic, and the hem keeps it firmly on my head. But to make sure I’m covered on all fronts (I’m a wild sleeper, remember?) I swear by these affordable DreamHome satin pillowcases I found on Amazon. They come in every color, too. And they totally do the trick.
2. It’s all about that butter.
Friends. I cannot emphasize the importance of The Butters enough.
Some of my earliest memories are of getting out of the bath tub, being wrapped in a towel and being sat right down on the bed for the butter lotioning while my skin was still partly damp. I’m pretty sure that’s why my skin hasn’t changed much since kindergarten.
Black kids and parents all know this particular ritual, but if you don’t know it, it’s really adorable: Your mom or dad puts a bunch of lotion in their hands, rubs them together to warm it up, then one part at a time, you stick out your leg, and they get your leg. You stick out your other leg. You do your arms, your back, your tummy, then you tilt up your face and your parents use what’s left on your face before kissing your forehead, dressing you in your nightgown and sending you to bed with strict instructions to ACTUALLY GO TO SLEEP.
So this Black beauty tip isn’t just a good one to keep my skin looking amazing, it brings back favorite memories every day.
Now that I’m older, instead of using pure butter-based balms, I mix my favorite moisturizer and a butter together in my hands. My all-time favorite shea butter body lotion and shea butter body balm is made by Habibi Body. They’re organic and handcrafted, they come in a ton of different scents, and they’re just perfect.
If you need a little extra moisturizing, like in the winter, add a few drops of the Habibi body oil to your lotion or lotion-butter mixture and that will do the trick.
Pro tip: this stuff also makes an amazing styling pomade for natural Black hair with texture like mine.
3. Never leave home without red or berry lipstick.
My mom always has a tube of the perfect deep red or berry lipstick in her purse. It’s really the only thing she needs, and it’s a beauty tip that’s always served me well.
I used to be a full beat with contour, highlight, and lashes kind of girl, but as I’ve gotten a bit older, I only wear makeup about 80% of the time. When I find the need to look elegant quickly, I’ve realized that as a dark-skinned woman, a dark red lipstick or a wine colored gloss does the trick faster than anything else.
In a pinch, I can also use my lip color as blush and a crease color for a quick “full face” fakeout.
I have so many different red lipsticks, but I always carry OCC Lip Tar in “Stalker” from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics with me because it’s the perfect shade of blue-red. Whatever your color, I find OCC Lip Tars are perfect for women who want opacity, longevity, and the ability to mix and customize colors.
I also use about half a drop of it topped with lip balm to make a really nice DIY lip stain.
See? I can’t leave home without it.
4. Scented body creams make a gal feel special
The thing I love about body creams is how they’re a more subtle version of your signature scent,
but they linger longer. Moisturizing creams can be applied almost anywhere, so your limbs are soft, perfumed, and beautiful.
And this is a beauty tip that goes back to my childhood, too.
Way back when, my sisters and I knew that we would be getting a babysitter, movies, and pizza when Daddy wore a suit jacket but he wasn’t going to work, and Mommy put on her “yipstick,” floofed her hair, and pulled out her jar of Estee Lauder Youth Dew perfumed body cream.
My current go-to body creme (creme with an “e” because I’m fancy) is either my Habibi Body Balm in the Warm Milk scent, or Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb Body Cream. It’s a huge splurge, but it’s so rich and perfectly scented and I just love it. Plus it lasts me forever.
If you prefer the Youth Dew, which is more affordable, then get that. (I can’t believe it but they still make this stuff.)
The jar is this large frosted glass with a gold lid and as a kid, it was the most elegant thing I had ever seen. And I still love the scent so much. It kind of smells like Clinique Aromatics Elixir, for comparison.
5. Always use “Lip Stuff.” At least that’s what we call it.
There are few things as legendary in my house as what we call “Lip Stuff.” This is the beauty product that has been in my family longer than I have. In fact, it’s been in my family so long, and so many of us use it, that we’re able to order it wholesale, a case at a time.
What is Lip Stuff, you ask?
Rosebud Salve is amazing. It doesn’t cause any allergic reactions, it has a mild scent that’s actually really pretty, it moisturizes like nothing else, and the tins can be repurposed for any number of uses. In my family, we only use the original salve. We keep one tin in each bathroom, one in the kitchen, and one in each car.
That usually leaves 4-6 tins for us to grab when we lose one, or…accidentally seal it forever by stepping on it somehow and jamming it shut. So don’t do that.
Lip Stuff is so precious in my family, I once lost my tin and was almost in tears. Until I found it on the ground in my parking garage. WHERE MY NEIGHBOR HAD RUN OVER IT LIKE A COMPLETE MONSTER WHO DIDN’T EVEN CARE THAT LIP STUFF IS PRECIOUS.
My tin was squashed, but I didn’t care. I took that thing up to my apartment and risked losing every one of my fingers using a very sharp knife to pry that tin open.
Success! But I really need to remember to to order another case next time I visit my mom.
I should also check out any new yipsticks she may have picked up. My mom always has the best stuff.