I know I was not the only one looking to reinvent myself during quarantine. Though the weeks of isolation could have been beneficial to improving my mental health and overall well-being, I opted to take care of my skin and up my drip.
I was tired of the cookie-cutter “baddie” influencer tropes that gave me the same insecurities a Barbie doll did— I wanted to see innovation and more representation in influencer culture. Coincidentally, with social media being my only window to the world during these times, I found myself drawn to new, up-and-coming online creators. I especially loved seeing people of color express themselves through makeup, skin care, art and fashion.
Supporting creators of color has been something I have been more proactive with in the last few years. It has been important for me to uplift these creators within the online community, especially as a brown woman who has not always had representation in the media.
Furthermore, it is an ongoing trend for Black creators to go unrecognized and for their work to be shared without credit. Recently, TikTok has received backlash for crediting white creators when it comes to creating new dance and fashion trends. Despite their large followings, Black creators rarely receive the same pay or recognition as their white peers.
Thus, it is important for us to continue to boost and support Black artists and creators and give them the recognition they deserve.
Two creators I will be sharing with you this Black History Month have succeeded on the internet by connecting with their audience and giving them fresh tips and content on the regular. Now, though many of you are familiar with their content, I think they deserve all the hype and appreciation for the hot takes and inspiration they have provided for the fashion and beauty communities.
Personally, my skin broke out a lot during the first phase of the 2020 quarantine. The skin care industry was on the rise and people were starting to pay attention to what things help and what things harm their skin. Unfortunately, I learned that I could not always resonate or apply skin care tips from white creators or estheticians because I have more melanin. Thus, different products, like exfoliants, affect me differently — and I would damage my brown skin if I used the same exfoliation techniques as someone with a much lighter complexion.
Thankfully, we have many estheticians of color now.
Please welcome Tiara Willis and Wisdom Kaye.
Tiara Willis is a 20-year-old esthetician from New York. At age 14, she started branding herself as “MakeupForWOC” and has helped many women of color learn to take care of their skin according to their skin tone and skin type. She is also one of many influencers of color today who has made moves in the makeup and beauty world, which has previously been predominantly driven by white influencers.
I personally found Willis through Twitter, as she is known to be very interactive with her audience. She frequently leads Q&A sessions and has even provided answers to my skin care questions (which is great, because I probably would have damaged my skin barrier)!
Willis provides a lot of great advice, but these are the two tips I have included in my everyday skin care routine: sunscreen and slugging.
There’s a common misconception that people with darker skin and more melanin do not need sunscreen because they would not experience sun damage. While one may not see immediate issues, not using sunscreen can cause hyperpigmentation, skin cancer or a weaker skin barrier. Plus, investing time and money into sunscreens now will help prevent wrinkles in the future!
“Slugging” is both an age-old trick and a new trend. Willis is one of the many influencers who helped popularize the technique, which includes using petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline, Aquaphor or Willis’ favorite: the CeraVe Healing Ointment) all over the face in order to lock in the moisture of the skin by creating an occlusive layer to stop transepidermal water loss.
These tips have been so helpful in repairing my skin after some of the most stress-inducing periods of the pandemic. (Why does my skin do this to me?) I think anyone can learn from creators of color, especially experts like Willis. Her content is curated to serve people of color, thus she should get recognized for it.
While I enjoyed my first few weeks of quarantine rotating between two different pairs of sweats, I wanted to get back into expressing my creative side through fashion.
But during lockdown, there were not many places to look to for inspiration — nor did I have the money to buy new pieces to scale up my style.
Fortunately, during the last few years of welcoming the new decade, TikTok influencer Wisdom Kaye has made many moves in the world of fashion.
Kaye notably stands out for his formal streetwear attire. He actively participates in themed fashion challenges brought to him by his followers. Some of these include dressing for different time periods, creating outfits in specific budgets (he actually made outfits that cost $30,000 and $30???) or my personal favorite: blindly picking items from his closet to create a look.
Kaye attended New York Fashion Week in the fall of 2021 and was even featured in Vogue. He even mentions that a lot of his style inspiration comes both from “what he saw on the runways and on the streets.”
What is great about Kaye’s content is that it inspires people to take styles from anywhere, whether it be a show, a thrifted piece or someone’s street look — and to make it your own. His content has something for everyone, as he experiments and plays with different colors and aesthetics that exude boldness, confidence and originality.
Black creators have been carrying this generation and bringing innovation in the forms of makeup, skin care, art and fashion. They create trends and bring new waves of creativity that help us better define and express ourselves.
These creators should never be overlooked. They are trendsetters and pioneers — they shape the world around us. And as we participate in the culture they create, let us continue to lift them up so they get the credit they deserve.
Robyn Violanda is an avid social media user and popular culture fanatic who believes that people of color deserve credit for the work they do on their platforms and the influence they have on popular culture.