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.
“I'm Akili King (@akili_), writer and Beauty Editorial Assistant at Vogue Magazine. My job consists of writing stories for Vogue’s website and occasionally for print, pitching ideas, helping freelance writers get what they need for stories, attending (virtual) events, and taking meetings with beauty brands to learn about their upcoming launches. Before the pandemic, I oversaw the beauty closet, too.
I currently live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, but I was born and raised in Chi-Town! I've always loved to tell stories through writing, and have been experimenting with beauty for as long as I can remember. My Grandmother Lillian had the most amazing vanity, and I would play dress-up with her lipsticks, blushes, and wigs. Then, my Grandpa would take Polaroids of me all dressed up—it was a whole photoshoot. When I got a little older, I spent a lot of time watching beauty vloggers on YouTube. I love that my job allows me to combine so many of my passions. It’s most fulfilling when I get to tell inspiring stories from women of color. I love being able to push the envelope when it comes to the boundaries of beauty—it's health, wellness, self-care, and a celebration of one’s journey to finding confidence.
For me, beauty is not just about products—it's about how you take care of yourself and nurture your soul. What are you reading or watching that fills you up with positivity? What activities are you doing outside of work that feed your spirit? Are you taking time to care for yourself, skincare or wellness-wise? Are you drinking water and feeding your body fueling foods? All of these things nourish your inside and reflect on the outside! There’s not one magic product that will fix all of your problems, and inner work in tandem with a product-oriented routine is so important. Obviously I do have to try a lot of products for work, but I often end up coming back to the same core products and ingredients that I know I love.
I like to cleanse with Cerave’s Hydrating Foam Cleanser, which is gently clarifying and hydrating. Kinship’s exfoliating pads are so gentle (and much gentler than a physical exfoliant), but really go the extra mile to get impurities out of skin. When I don’t want to exfoliate I love to use Epi.logic’s toner, and I like the Aura Mist from Keys Soulcare as well. It has a calming scent that makes me feel like I’m giving myself a spa treatment. Next I might use Epi.logic’s vitamin C serum, but for maskne days I’m loving Osea’s Blemish Balm. It’s a lightweight balm you can either use as a spot treatment or a moisturizer all-over, and it leaves my skin feeling minty fresh. I love Nau’s caffeine eye cream for its depuffing ability, and SPF-wise, I love Black Girl Sunscreen, Supergoop, and Sonrei. They’re all transparent and don’t leave a white cast.
Klur makes my favorite mask. It’s called Supreme Seed, and I love it because it's clarifying and works like a cleanser as you’re taking it off. I’m also in love with Queen Afua’s Rejuvenation Clay, which comes in her Detox Kit. I highly recommend the whole kit for anyone wanting to do a cleanse. The mask has the purest of pure ingredients and truly clarifies my skin—it dries super quickly, so sometimes I’ll layer it on my whole face and do a quick mask, and other times I’ll spot treat overnight with a thin layer just over my problem areas. The masks from Epara and Youth to the People are great hydrating and soothing options.
I have very sensitive skin and break out almost every time I wear makeup. Because of that, I like to keep my makeup routine very natural and minimal, unless I’m going somewhere fancy or doing a shoot. It’s rare I do a full face, but I do love the foundations from Beautyblender, Uoma Beauty, and Black Opal. My favorite blushes are from Mad Hippie, and there are a bunch of lip products I love—Dr. Pawpaw’s new tinted balms, Victoria Beckham lip liners, and Glossier, Fenty, and Tower 28 glosses are all in rotation. Inika mascara is super natural and doesn’t irritate my eyes, and I love to use it with Pat McGrath’s eyeshadow palettes. If you have thick brows like mine, I really recommend Fenty’s new brow products as well as Chanel’s Boy de Chanel pencil.
I was made fun of for my natural hair growing up, and I went through a period in high school where I was really ashamed of it. I would hide it with a flat iron, and eventually suffered so much heat damage that it all broke off. After that, I started spending so much time obsessing over YouTube tutorials and natural hair tips. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with straightening your hair. But for me, the journey was in realizing the beauty in Black hair’s versatility, and most importantly, loving it in all its forms! I worked on a series called Texture Diaries specifically to remind readers that they're not alone when it comes to their hair experiences.
I used to dread wash day, but now it’s probably my favorite beauty routine. In the last couple of years I’ve grown to appreciate wash day as a meditative time where I can really reflect and breathe deeply. I’ve been really into steaming my hair while I deep condition. I have low porosity hair, and steam helps moisture penetrate it more deeply. Mine is from Q-Redew. Bomba Curls’ oil and deep conditioner is my all-time favorite wash-day combo. The oil is great for a pre-poo treatment and the deep conditioner is just super nourishing. If I don’t have those products, I never go wrong with castor oil as a pre-poo treatment, and I also love anything by Carol’s Daughter and Camille Rose (inexplicably, all of their stuff just works for my hair). Oribe’s Moisture and Control line is good, too. If I have braids or protective styles of some sort, Dark and Lovely’s Tension Tamer is a life saver for my scalp.
I also love bath time. I light Kusudi Incense by Niara Sterling, or my favorite candle from Bum-cake Vintage, which is shaped like a seashell. Epsom salt or magnesium flakes are great when I have sore muscles, which is often. I also love Bath Flowers from Masha Tea—my editor, Ella, gifted me those! I love Terra-Tory’s soaps, and also the soap from Redoux—it’s super gentle on my eczema-prone skin and smells so good. I feel instantly calmed when I shower using it. Oui the People razors look so luxurious (the gold!) and I love how it gives me a super close shave in a gentle swipe. Post-shave, I love to use body oil. I love the smell of Fur’s and Narloa’s, which has ylang ylang and grapefruit. I love that I can see the calendula, which is great for eczema, floating inside the bottle. Klur’s body oil is another great option.
I get a lot of eczema on my hands, so hand cream in the winter is especially important. Karité’s comes in a big bottle for a hand cream and really lasts a while. I love the bamboo top and that it's infused with shea butter. Shea butter is great for eczema-prone skin like mine, and I love the ones from Oye Green and Hanahana. All the pretty colors on Hanahana’s new packaging are so joyful! When I want something lightweight I use Kubrakay’s shea butter. Its whipped formula is perfect, and it’s still super hydrating.
I don't like heavy fragrances. I bring Amber the Alchemist’s Florida Water when I’m worried I'll be anxious, like during a road trip I took last summer. It always cleanses the energies of whatever room I'm in. Diptyque's Do Son reminds me of the ocean and is also very calming. My grandmother really likes it, so I feel like I'm connected to her whenever I wear it. And Liha’s roll-on fragrances are really great when I need a quick boost. Each is named after a Yoruba goddess, which is dope. Yemoja is calming with frankincense, Oya includes uplifting grapefruit and rosemary, and Oshun is sensual orange, jasmine, and ylang ylang. I love to roll one of them on, breathe in the smell, and meditate on my purpose for the day.
When we’re not in a pandemic, I love getting massages and facials from Samantha Mims of Dermasaa when I want to relax. But there are so many non-beauty related things I do to relieve stress—in general, I’m very creative and I’m grateful for that outlet. I’ve had a journal since the first grade, and love to write poetry. I love to meditate, and also do yoga and pole dancing. Music is very healing to me, and I’m always listening to records, DJing, singing for fun, or even making music videos with my roommate and best friend. I’m a huge sucker for nostalgia, and watching classic Black-led films is so calming—I used to love going to movie theaters, especially Nitehawk or Metrograph. When I’m really down I love to turn to women’s devotionals, and also love reading books centered around self-love. And if all else fails, chatting with friends and family is always helpful. I'm so grateful for my community.”
—as told to ITG
Photos via the author