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.
“Hello! I’m Ruqayyah Al-baari (@ruqayyah.zb) and I create custom gold grillz. I’m originally from Miami, Florida, and gold teeth are a huge style staple in the south. There’s a specific grill style called perms that are glued to the teeth—they’re permanent, you can’t take them out. Perms indicate a certain level of freedom. When someone comes in to get perms, it pretty much means that they're a boss and no longer have to work within the system. I was really inspired by seeing all of these young people, specifically young Black people, crowning themselves in that way. It was the energy I was attracted to. Somehow I came across an apprenticeship at a gold grill shop in Miami and started learning the craft there. It was surprisingly lucrative, and it made me want to try to make other things.
Now I live in LA and also create ceramics, textiles, and floral arrangements. I like to work with my body and stay physically preoccupied, which is another reason I love what I do. Working with organic material on a weekly basis definitely makes me think more about the cleanliness of my skin. I also go to a ceramic studio most mornings, which leaves me with very dry hands. I’m always relying on my hands, and it tends to get messy.
I try my best to keep my body healthy and prioritize what’s going on internally. I wake up around 5AM most days, though my bed is filled with lots of little pillows and cushions that keep me in a deep sleep. Eating a proper breakfast is important for my overall vitality throughout the day, and proper for me means rice, veggies, and soup. I also go to sleep before 9:30PM whenever possible. If I’m well fed and rested, I’m probably looking my best! It’s important for me to laugh regularly and recline often. Beyond that, my approach to beauty is whatever requires minimal upkeep throughout the day.
I wear a lot of leggings and have very dry skin, especially living in LA. My butt has to deal with a lot of friction. I love to use the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream on that part of my body—I was looking for something that would help with firmness, and this is the only product I actually noticed a difference with. It also smells amazing, is very moisturizing, and keeps my skin soft and hydrated even after a whole day of wearing super tight jeans. In the shower I use Aesop’s Geranium Leaf soap, and sometimes I blend a bit of tea tree oil with it. And to moisturize the rest of my body I use baby oil mixed with Aesop Geranium Leaf lotion. I also make a lot of DIY treatments for my body. I make a turmeric, honey, and baking powder mask for the dark spots on my armpits. I learned about that growing up, from friends who are Indian. Honey is a very nice soothing agent, and I like to use raw honey. It’s a little too thick to mix up so I end up melting it in the microwave just before. I also make a honey brown sugar scrub that I use all over my body twice a month. And the big beauty realization I made recently was using lime juice as deodorant. I started over the summer, and it really helped with body odor and sweat.
I’m almost militant about my skincare routine. No matter how tired I am from being out or up late, I try my best to fully take my makeup off, cleanse, and moisturize. It keeps my skin soft and helps minimize dark circles around my eyes. Aesop’s Parsley Seed facial cleanser is great for those who live in a city and are concerned about air pollution. It doesn’t dry out my skin and it helped me clear up frequent breakouts I started experiencing about a year ago, when I moved to LA. Sunday Riley’s UFO Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil has also been a lifesaver for helping my skin acclimate to new acne caused from the dryer weather. The results were almost overnight. I always apply Aesop Camellia Nut moisturizer as soon as I wake up and before I go to bed, and I recently started using a jade roller in the mornings to help with absorption and smooth out my puffy eyes. Finally, once a week I’ll do a turmeric mask. It’s similar to the one I make for my armpits, but I swap out baking soda for lemon juice. It could just be me, but I feel like honey really addresses my pores.
I’ve been using Bareminerals foundation since 2011. I’m hooked on how it lets me keep a natural glow, even when I’m wearing a full face, and how dewy it keeps my skin. I can also get a really close match to my skin tone, which is often a challenge for me with other brands. I remember when I was a preteen I would walk around glazed with body glitter and feel like the prettiest girl on the playground. I still love glitter, but now I use a Glitzstick, which is hands down the most innovative beauty product I have ever tried. It’s from Ka’oir Cosmetics, the original creator of the glitter lipstick look. It’s some of the most durable lipstick I’ve ever worn and it comes in super fun colors. Sex is my favorite Glitzstick shade—it’s a super bold deep red shade that’s just perfect. I love it so much I use it on my eyes as well. When I do that, I like to double up with shadow from the Ka’oir K Palette, which is my absolute favorite. You can make so many different looks with these shades. My favorites are probably Vday and Twisted—I tend to wear a lot of pink when I’m feeling extra sensitive, which somehow makes me feel more delicate.
My hair is natural. If you want to grow your hair, the two biggest things are not washing it every day and making sure it’s detangled when you go to sleep. I’ll wash my hair two times a week, which I know sounds gross to some people. If it’s hot out and I’m sweating, I’ll wash it one more time. Keracare Hair is by far the best shampoo and conditioner I’ve ever used. It’s a reset for my texture, and if I have any flatness or lack of volume from wearing my curls for a few days, this stuff brings it back to life. It also gives my hair a lot of shine and moisture. If you have curly hair like mine, then you need to make sure it doesn’t get knotted. When hair gets tangled, it ends up coming out when you do finally brush it. Detangling leads to less breakage overall. I section my hair with scrunchies, mist it with a spray bottle of water so it’s damp, not drenched, and detangle with a wide tooth comb.
Another thing that’s made my hair super healthy is a deep conditioning mask I make myself. I mix about two tablespoons of the raw honey with one egg, apply it all over my hair, and put a plastic cap on so it’s totally sealed in. Then I’ll clean my house, or just hang out for a few hours, and rinse it off. I do flat twists when I’m going to sleep to keep my texture overnight, and I will sometimes put heat on my hair and wear it straight. But honestly, I really love the idea of not having to put such constant effort into my hair to have a style. I’m mesmerized by the advancement of wig culture and how realistic a wig can look if installed properly. Obviously a good wig is super expensive, so it’s definitely a commitment, and I think more than anything it’s a lifestyle. But I would love to try a full lace wig with human hair, especially in a fun color. I’ve never dyed my hair, so it would be fun to experiment that way.”
—as told to ITG
Photos via the author