The Adaptogen Aficionado Who Applies Products In Threes


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.

“Hi! I’m Devin McGhee (@devinkielle). I live in Atlanta, and I’m the founder of the adaptogenic beauty brand Deon Libra. When I was little I really thought that Beyoncé’s life story would be my life story. After that I wanted to be a fashion designer, and in college I wanted to be a screenwriter—actually, I was in grad school for film and television when I started the Glossier Brown community. When I started shopping from Glossier, I remember not knowing which shade of Skin Tint was going to match me, or if I needed to buy two and mix them, and I just started talking about that kind of stuff. You can be very vocal and honest without being nasty because it’s about the facts. Glossier reached out to me to consult, and I also started consulting for personal care brands and a few small, Black beauty brands.

And then my dad died. After his autopsy we learned that he had a massive stress-induced heart attack—he was 54. Honestly, the average Black person doesn't have access to the same wellness and stress-management resources as, say, Gwyneth Paltrow does, and heart disease, diabetes, and eczema affect Black people more than anybody else. I started reading up on how to manage stress naturally, and that’s how I found out about adaptogens. Basically, adaptogens are plants that can adapt to the environment that they're grown in, and they can help your body adapt to stress. Now, white people know about adaptogens. If you go to Goop there’s stuff about adaptogens everywhere. But no one’s educating Black people about this stuff! I had started making body butters in my kitchen and selling them under the name Deon Libra—Deon is my dad’s middle name and Libra was his zodiac sign—but when I really started to think about building a business, I realized I wanted to focus on longevity for Black lives. It’s cool to have a great body lotion or cream, but stress took my daddy from me and I don't want that to happen to anybody else. Deon Libra launched with editorial, because I can’t sell you something you don’t know anything about. Phase two is topical adaptogen skincare products and ingestibles.

In the morning, I put on my robe, go to the kitchen, and turn on the kettle. While the water’s heating I do my skincare. I'm a huge fan of the Supergreat app—they sent me this powder face wash with reishi mushrooms from a teen brand called Recurrent, and it literally looks like seasoning salt. I wash with that first, and then I double cleanse with the iS Clinical Warming Honey Cleanser because honey is antibacterial and really good for acne and eczema. I get eczema in the weirdest places—it’s only my eyelids, knee caps, and butt. Next I apply our topical product, which is in the final stages of formulation. I cover any maskne with pimple patches—usually Starface or Evenprime. And then I go back into the kitchen to make my Mud Wtr. It’s basically mushroom coffee with a ton of adaptogens in it—it’s seriously the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve been working with Black chefs to develop adaptogenic recipes for our site that are familiar in the Black kitchen—for example, instead of mushroom coffee, a chef made us an adaptogenic chicken rub. You still get the benefits, but it’s something you’re used to cooking and consuming, and maybe that’ll make you more open to other things later on. Recently, all of these people in the Black wellness space are going vegan and practicing yoga… I love that for us! But it doesn't mean you don't want your grandma's biscuits, or fried chicken on Sunday, or mimosas at brunch with your friends. Being relatable is really important to us, and a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be restrictive or inaccessible. I worked out this morning, but I also had tacos for lunch, you know? There's a balance.

I can probably count the times I wear foundation in a year on one hand. I honestly think I'm traumatized from seeing my dad in a casket. We look a lot alike, and sometimes liquid foundations are so matte that I think I look dead. If I do wear foundation, I really love the Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick because it looks the most like skin to me. Whereas a liquid foundation covers everything, this is really buildable. And instead of using a concealer, I like to use the Cocokind Chagaglo highlighter under my eyes to brighten them up a little bit. Somebody in college told me MAC’s Feline eyeliner is the blackest black they have, so I keep using it on my lower lash line. And I don’t wear eyeshadow but… Remember how I get eczema on my eyelids? I started using my Eczema Honey cream, so while I’m preventing a flare up or treating it, I also get a glossy lid effect. If I want something super glossy, I use the Flesh Beauty Fleshpot. And then I use Cloud Paint in Storm on my cheeks and my nose, because it makes me look super flushed. I can’t live without that.

I love to layer products on my lashes, lips, and brows. I actually did a brow lamination on myself at home recently. My brows are really curly, and I always sort of feel like they look like pubic hairs. I just wanted to straighten them out and fill in the sparse areas. I went on Amazon and found a kit with great reviews, and it’s honestly been great—they’re still holding up four weeks later. Then I use Benefit Precisely My Brow shade 5, the Merit Beauty Brow 1980 pomade, and an Anastasia brow marker to really lightly fill in some strokes. I shimmy a disposable mascara wand in my brows to blend everything. At any given moment I’m probably wearing three different lip glosses. I use Du Wop’s Lip Venom as a base because the tingle feels so good. Then I use Innbeauty Project’s pink-ish glaze to brighten my lips, and a thin layer of their lip oil with gold shimmer on top. My fiancée Britt won’t kiss me when I wear lip gloss, but lip oil is less sticky. I also usually wear two or three mascaras. I start with Merit Beauty’s Clean Lash, which really surprised me—it makes my lashes look so long. Once that’s dried down a bit I use Milk Makeup’s Kush mascara, and if I’m really feeling fancy, I put on a thin layer of Too Faced Better Than Sex on top. The best way to get all of that off is with Simple Micellar Wipes. I open my eyes and kind of pinch my lashes between the wipe, and then I gently rub them to dissolve the mascara without pulling out my lashes. It takes a few minutes, but it really works.

I also like to layer my fragrance. It’s just light layers, because you don't want to give anybody a headache. I use this tiny el cheapo amber oil that I ordered from Luckyvitamin on my wrists, and then I add a little vanilla oil roll on from Whole Foods. I usually spray either Snif’s Way With Woods or Byredo’s Gypsy Water after that, but lately I’ve been experimenting with the vanilla oil, Way With Woods, and the Twilight body spray from Lush. It makes me want to fuck myself. It’s so good. I'm also really big on mixing essential oils. I have a Vitruvi, and their blends are great but so expensive. I've just started buying all of the single ingredients from Now Essential Oils and replicating their scents on my own.

My hair is really thick and long. I started wearing knotless braids about a year ago, and it is the best investment. I can just wake up and go. My natural hair is so much work, even when I press it out—I still have to wear two bonnets at night, a shower cap in the shower, and if it’s hot outside, my hair reverts immediately. The one thing about these braids is that they take 12 hours to get done. Shakera Braids Atlanta does it, and I always ask for small, waist-length braids. I keep them in for five weeks, then I take out and wash the front section, and I get just that part rebraided. That takes six hours, but it’ll be good for another five weeks—it’s still better than going to the salon every two weeks for a silk press. I have seborrheic dermatitis, so about every 10 days I wash it really thoroughly. I use the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo first, and then Head & Shoulders because it’s the only thing that consistently keeps the flare ups down. After that, I go back with a hydrating shampoo. I wash my body with Lush Honey I Washed The Kids, and when I want to exfoliate I’m obsessed with Frank Body. I’ve tried all their scents, but my favorite is the peppermint one.

My dad did not believe in chipped nail polish. Like, if my polish was chipped and I was about to go see my dad, I would take it off first. Eventually I just started doing gel so I didn’t have to worry. I go to Sugarcoat in Midtown, and my signature nail color is OPI Big Apple Red. When I got engaged I had a sparkly red manicure for Christmas. It’s always red. Red’s my color. Actually, it’s really interesting—before we launched I started doing surveys on Instagram to help with branding, and people had really different perceptions of the color red. Non-Black people usually responded that the color red makes them feel enraged or fearful, and the Black responders all said that red made them feel bold, and powerful, and invincible. Now, all of the Deon Libra branding uses the color red. I definitely felt like I was on to something with that.”

—as told to ITG

Photos via the author