The Beauty Expert Chasing Effortless, Natural Makeup

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The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of Into The Gloss' lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Submit your own on Instagram—post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie for a chance to be featured on ITG.

"Hey! I’m Desiree Verdejo (@dverdejo). I live in Harlem, in New York, and I own a beauty boutique called Vivrant Beauty. I launched it a couple of years ago to cater to brown women with premium beauty products. I just couldn't understand why there would be makeup lines on shelves that did not offer my foundation shade, or why there were so few options at major beauty retailers for hair products for my kinky hair. As a beauty junkie, my beauty goals are simple—anything that will deliver clear, glowing skin and shiny, defined curls. I’m easy. Sourcing products for our shelves and e-shelves, though, has made me hyperaware of the stories behind the serums and hair masks. There are so many amazing products on the market so it’s been really important for me to offer a healthy mixture of women-owned, person-of-color-owned, clean, and local products.

In beauty and business, I like for things to appear effortless. No one needs to know how much went on behind the scenes. I usually use a few drops of Becca’s Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation in Dark Golden. It can be hard to find really pigmented natural makeup but Rituel de Fille is a brand that does color so well. Their Lovesick Crème Blush is a go-to. On most days I’ll also add a bit of Becca’s Rose Gold Shimmering Skin Perfector to my cheekbones for a dewy look and then I’ll load up on a voluminous mascara. The Lip Bar is a brand that I love for what I call their 'brown girl nudes' that are never too pink or chalky on, and their Chocolate Spritzer lipstick is one of my favorites. At nighttime, my favorite red is a liquid-to-matte lip named Trust Fund by Gold Label Cosmetics. It stays on forever and really brightens up your eyes, skin, and teeth. If I’m feeling sultrier, I’ll swipe on Rituel de Fille’s Written in Blood Lipstick.

When I get home every day, I immediately remove my bra, shoes, and makeup. I keep these individually wrapped Cleanse by Lauren Napier Wipes in my purse and around my apartment so that I can easily take off makeup. Before bed, I double cleanse starting with Ren’s No. 1 Purity Balm Cleanser followed by one of my favorite cleansers, either Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser or Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser. Next, I go back and forth between using Cane and Austin’s Glycolic Pads and Yüli’s Panacea Elixir. I’m nine months pregnant and I’d say the things that I miss most are bubby, high-waisted jeans, and Yüli’s Cell Perfecto PM. Nothing has lightened my hyperpigmentation and cleared my skin’s texture more than this serum—but some folks are fine with natural retinols during pregnancy but their safety has not been proven. I follow up with a lightweight but rich moisturizer, like Antonia Burrell’s Cream Supreme Moisturiser or Youth to the People’s Age Prevention Moisture Cream. I wrap it up with Antonia Burrell’s Bright and Light Eye Cream which really plumps up the dull skin around my eyes.

I go back and forth between wearing my hair in braids or in a ‘fro. It takes about five hours to braid my hair, but they last a couple of months. There’s a brand called Girl + Hair that makes a product set specifically for braids and hair weaves. I wash my hair weekly with their Cleanse product and then use their Nourish Leave-In Conditioner. It’s lightweight but has really moisturizing ingredients for the dry, kinky hair. On a daily basis, I just run the Nourish through my hair and scalp, and that’s my entire routine unless I feel like wearing my hair in a side braid or something.

When my hair is in a ‘fro, it's another story altogether. People assume that curls are quick and easy but my process actually takes forever. I wash my hair weekly and always deep condition. I wear Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair Mask for about an hour underneath my showercap from Shhhowercap. I like to moisturize and detangle with a leave-in conditioner—Earth’s Nectar’s Coconut Curls and Sienna Naturals are a couple of my favorites. Then I make small twists in my hair adding a bit of Earth’s Nectar’s Honey Curls Gel which I love because it really defines your hair without making it hard. Once my hair dries and I unravel the twists, I have defined but fluffy afro which gets bigger each day. I love it."

—as told to ITG

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