How To: Age Like Angela


Ask any black woman with good sense and a bottle of Essentia water in her hand how she wants to age and her answer will be Angela Bassett. She is always slaying roles and serving body. Always glowing… even in the most unflattering of lights and minimal makeup. Imagine being this gorgeous (and virtually ageless) at 59 years old! The woman can’t sit through an interview without being asked about her workout, lifestyle choices and skin care routine. Spoiler alert: she eats a vegan diet… lots of raw foods… and works out enough to make us all feel like lazy pieces of sh*t ūüôā

For the past few years, Ms. Angela has been working with a very experienced and well-known dermatologist by the name of Barbara Sturm to formulate a range of products For Darker Skin.¬†I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I do know that the products are extremely overpriced! Seriously, the cheapest product in the line will run you $70 and the most expensive one is a whole $300. The range focuses on brightening, hydration, anti-aging and reducing the appearance of oily skin. While these are common skin concerns among black/brown people, I feel as though they are pretty common in most people. But what isn’t common is having four hundred extra dollars laying around to age like Angela.

This is why you have me, Essence. Your friendly neighborhood Esthetician to read through all the ingredients on the products and find comparable, affordable alternatives that will pretty much do the same thing for your skin. When it comes to anti-aging, it is never too early to start. In fact, the sooner you start focusing on it, the better. The goal is to focus on hydration, avoid inflammation and look for ingredients that will maintain a healthy pH balance in the skin (ideally 5-5.5). So basically, dry skin is aging skin.

There are a number of anti-inflammatory agents out there but in¬†Dr. Barbara Sturm & Angela Bassett luxury line for skin of color,¬†there are plant-based ingredients such as Purslane, African Whitewood and Magnolia. For hydration, the line uses Hyaluronic Acid and lots of rich natural oils. Hyaluronic acid is a special ingredient because it is found naturally in the human body. It is responsible for maintaining moisture in the body/skin and lubrication of our joints. When used in skin care products, it pulls water from the air into the skin to increase plumpness. This may be part of the reason the big ticket, $300 item in Sturm & Bassett’s line is Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Now let me show you why there is absolutely no need to drop that much on HA.


Skin of Color

Foam Cleanser ($70) – foam cleansers are typically better suited for oily/acne prone skin. They are gentle, yet tend to strip the skin of excess oils. Sturm’s formula does use Hyaluronic Acid in it to help counteract stripping the skin of necessary oils and Salicylic Acid to break up any congestion within the pores. There is also Purslane for anti-inflammation.

The Alternative: P:rem Safe Relief Cleansing Foam ($20) Рsame foam texture, hydrating qualities and anti-inflammatory properties. Although it does have some exfoliating acid, it does not contain the Salicylic. So it will get rid of dead surface skin, but not congestion in pores. If you need Salicylic, here is a great affordable option to include in your routine from The Ordinary for only $5.30.

Enzyme Cleanser ($77) – described as a “foam & gentle peel in one” that can be used 2-3 times a week, this granular (scrub-like) texture turns me all the way off. Anyone who knows me knows I am not here for applying anything srubby/gritty on the face. The great thing I did notice about this product is that it has loads of brightening agents via Vitamin C.

The Alternative: Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel ($28) Рuses very anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe, honey and willowbark alongside Vitamin C and natural hydrators like castor oil and glycerin to treat and brighten skin. Doing so without that nasty, abrasive grittiness.

Face Cream ($215) and Face Cream Rich ($230) –¬†I decided to lump these two face creams together because they are both very similar formula wise. The only difference in the two is that the Rich one has a heavier texture due to the use of heavier oils in the formula. Things like macadamia oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, sweet almond oil, shea butter, avocado oil and of course, hyaluronic acid contribute to hydration of the skin.

The Alternative:¬†J. One Hana Cream¬†($50) – probably one of the richest face creams I have ever. In my top 10 arsenal of hydrators to combate winter skin. It uses most of the same oils as Sturm & Bassett’s line PLUS niacinamide, vitamin C and biotin to contribute to healthy oil production and brightness in the skin. And the little jar goes a long way because the moisturizer is already in the shape of a ball. That means you’ll no longer have to worry about overusing product! If you should find yourself feeling as though your skin needs more moisture (which I doubt would happen), you could always add in a few drops of¬†Rose Hip Seed Oil¬†available for $9.80 at The Ordinary.

Hyaluronic Serum ($300) – hyaluronic acid for hydration and lumicol for complexion brightening. It is unclear on the website how advanced the hyaluronic acid formula is, but no hyaluronic should EVER cost $300 unless it’s going so deep into your skin that it hits bone!

The Alternative:¬†Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex 2 (MMHC2)¬†($35) –¬†water-thin formula instead of the conventional, heavier serum texture because it penetrates the skin extra deep for hydration. Advanced technology that helps your body to produce more hyaluronic acid. This slows down aging by way of hydration and preserves the integrity of skin. I have been using it for a little over a month and it has truly changed my skin for the better.

So while the luxury skin care line by Dr. Barbara Sturm & Angela Bassett could run you about $670, these alternative products would target all the same skin concerns for approximately $540 less! A lot of the time, we equate luxury with price when in fact, cost and worth are two completely different topics. This is when reading and understanding ingredients come in hand! I know what you’re thinking: “Thank goodness I have Essence to sort all this out!”

You are welcome, beautiful ūüėČ



Top 5 (Dead or Alive)

These are my Top 5 skin and body care brands in no particular order. They have helped me to both glow up and maintain said glow on multiple occasions! I pass on this knowledge to you. Consider it a gift from the skin goddesses ‚̧

  1. AVEDA¬†: with consistency, Aveda products produce great results on my skin type (combination). My favorite product from them is the Intensive Hydrating Masque. For the best results with this product, keep it in the refrigerator and apply after you’ve properly exfoliated your face. Leave it on overnight to maximize results
  2. Origins¬†: I have tried many products from this brand… and love them ALL! Since I cannot decide between the 2, I’ll share my 2 favorite products from them. The Checks and Balances cleanser and the Night-A-Mins moisturizer. The cleanser is beautiful in every way. But the moisturizer! Let me put it like this… if you are experiencing a breakout, slap it on before bed. When you wake up, it will be greatly diminished if not completely gone.
  3. Dermalogica : This whole brand is like the Regina George of brands. You want to call them a snobby hoe but at the end of the day, you cannot help but want to be down with them. They are pricey but worth every penny. The Special Cleansing Gel and Active Moist moisturizer have been my dynamic duo since the summer. I am loving the results thus far!
  4. GLAMGLOW¬†: I wont even lie… I underestimated this line when I first tried it. I saw the packaging and ads and assumed it was just for play. I was seriously wrong! My favorite is the ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment. I sleep in it before all major life events. It continues to amaze me. And it smells sooooo good ūüôā
  5. DERMAdoctor¬†: This is mandatory. I struggle with dry skin in the winter and the KP Duty Dry Skin Duo has revived me more than once. I’m ordering a new one as I type! It is a mechanical and chemical body exfoliator along with a wonderfully balance AHA moisturizer. It works best after a fresh wax and a long, hot bath.