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"Hey there! My name is Leticia (@leasterisco). I'm a Dominican girl living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I currently work at the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism Office for Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay—my job consists of promoting my country as a tourist destination. Through my job I've started to love my country more than ever, particularly the people who live in it. Accepting myself as an Afro-Caribbean/Afro-Latina woman has been a process, but in my job, I get to show my roots and how proud I am of them. South Americans love, besides Dominican beaches, how rich Dominican beauty is. They love our people, our diversity, and most importantly, our infectious joy. I try, through my work, to help my fellow Dominicans to perceive and love themselves as foreign visitors do.
As a Dominican woman, beauty has always been part of my life. I remember, as a kid, going every Saturday to the hair salon with my mom and sister and spending the whole day there. I'm the only member of my family that's curly. I see it as a blessing now, but it wasn't always that way. I started chemically straighening my hair when I was six years old because I felt like I had to do it. All my friends had straight hair and in a way, society demanded I did, too. It's been 10 years now since my big chop and decision to go natural, and I have to say, it's the best decision I've made in my life so far.
I wash my hair every 2 weeks with shampoo free of sulfates. I really love Jamaican Black Castor Oil from Shea Moisture—it leaves my hair with amazing texture and the smell is incredible. I always put coconut oil on the day before washing my hair—I use a Dominican brand called Solo Coco. On other days, I just use a co-wash. Right now I’m using Tresemmé Botanique with coconut and aloe. For leave-in, which I only use on days that I wash my hair, I use Cantu Shea Butter. That gives my curls definition and lasts longer than any other product I’ve used. Daily, though, I spritz my hair with water and a little bit of the Cantu Argan Oil. I also use the Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture Scent and Shine Coconut Oil on my split ends—smells amazing and gives a natural shine that my curls love.
Last year I actually had an awful breakout, caused by all of the vitamin B12 I was taking from whey protein. I was dealing with an unimaginable amount of stress, so I threw out all of my skincare products and started just using jojoba and tea tree oil, and watching my diet. In weeks, I saw results. I stopped using coconut oil to wash my face recently, but now I just use Bioderma Créaline. Even if I’m not wearing any makeup, I just use it to cleanse my skin after a long day of being exposed to the pollution of Microcentro Buenos Aires every day. I also wash with jojoba oil—my skin loves it. Since it's winter in Argentina, I follow it up with Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich. I have a friend who's a flight attendant, and whenever she's in the US, I ask her to bring it back for me.
I also use Glossier's Stretch Concealer in Deep. It's my favorite—most concealers look too gray on me, but this one is tailor-made for my skin tone. For mascara I'll use Benefit They’re Real, and for the lips, I usually just wear a shea butter lip balm that I get from Miss Rizos Salón in the Dominican Republic. Or Taupe from MAC, which is the perfect nude for my skin tone—I've repurchased four times! On special occasions, I'll do MAC Ruby Woo, but I keep it pretty simple. My beauty philosophy right now is about embracing who I am. I'm of African descent, sometimes I have pimples, I have skin marks, I'm not my ideal weight, I can be lazy and not wear any makeup... That's who I am and that's ok! I'm a small island girl living in a big city, in love with nature and just embracing who she is."
—as told to ITG