“The thing about growing up in Texas is that people think it’s this vast ranchland. People do have horses, but they also have cars! I went to a predominantly Black elementary school in a predominantly Black neighborhood, the third ward. For whatever reason, my elementary school happened to have all of these old movies… They would show us Disney movies sometimes, but they’d also show us 70’s Blaxploitation films, like A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich and Cornbread, Earl and Me. Cleopatra Jones with the late Tamara Dobson is probably one of my all-time favorites. And my family was considerably older, so at home we would listen to Earth, Wind, and Fire, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Shirelles… anything that had a “The” in front of their name, we listened to it. As an adult reflecting on ‘70s and late ‘60s Black culture, one of the things that I’m enthralled by is how visible representation was at that time. I’m sure it was regulated, but Blaxploitation did legitimately give voice to Black creatives in the film industry. We were able to have our own narratives, and it was unabashed.
I always knew I would have to leave Texas because I wanted to work in entertainment. I came to LA and took comedy classes at Upright Citizens Brigade; by 2016, I was in a place where I could get bills paid by performing. But the year after that was inexplicably hard for me. I was super broke. I had a lot of time to just sit, and because I had so much free time, I started coming up with funny ideas that I thought could be magazine articles. One of them, for example, was a series of essay vignettes called ‘The Dudes You Date; The Vans They Wear’ that broke down different personalities, like the Tour Manager, the Improv Guy, the Odd Future guy. But I wasn’t getting a response from media outlets. I made a couple zines, and from there I started pairing my words with digital design work. Eventually that became an online shop called Brownie Points. The visibility of my designs paired with my writing helped me connect with so many people—like, when I started making things that said ‘Bad Bitch On Antidepressants’ on them. My depression was something I struggled to be transparent about, and I held onto a really negative idea about medication, so I decided to flip it on its head. Bad bitches look out for their mental health, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person! Sometimes I worry that the things I put out there are too specific, but then a person reaches out like, ‘Lexapro gang!’ That shit’s priceless to me. Even though I had set out to express myself, I’m really geeked to see how my work helps other people feel less alone.
Now I’m working on a book, ‘Not Everyone Is Going To Like You.’ It’s going to be a bit of a guide, a bit of a reflection, and chock full of my illustrations. I’ll be completely honest here: so much of interacting on social media, especially now, is tethered to self esteem. I know some folks might say that it’s irrelevant, but I’m a strong advocate of recognizing that social media is just as important in our lives as real life communication is. You’re never completely disconnected from who you are on social media, and it’s hard to post what you want and not care what someone thinks about it. You can’t afford to appease the small subset of people that don’t like you. I came to that conclusion by living in LA—friendships in LA can be kind of superficial. I so wanted to be liked so I overextend myself. I thought that if people saw me laboring, they would think I was valuable, and I wouldn’t be disposable. But you can do all that and still be disposable. People should like you for you.
At night, I’ll double cleanse. The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm is my first cleanse and after that I’ll go over with the La Roche Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser. I have eczema, and these don’t mess up my skin barrier. I have lots of different treatments that I trade off on depending what my skin is doing. I don’t like to use two actives at once. Usually I just use my prescription tretinoin, which is 0.1-percent. If I’m having a breakout, I’ll use the PCA Acne Gel with two percent salicylic acid. If I’m having a cystic breakout, because hormones, I use the De La Cruz ointment. It smells like Vicks Vaporub to me. If I have real intense post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after a breakout, I’ll either use the Faded serum from Topicals, or this prescription Tri-Luma, which is a combination of tretinoin, hydroquinone, and fluocinolone acetonide. I also have Exederm if I’m having a flare up of eczema or dermatitis. I was in Arizona last week getting some dental work done, and I stopped at a local Marshall’s. They had the CosRx Snail Mucin Essence and CosRx Snail Mucin All in One Cream for like 12 bucks. Marshall’s, hold me down! I’ll keep it 100—since I was a kid, I’ve been terrified of snails, so I don’t quite know why I wanted to buy this. But I do like how moisturized my skin is when I use it. It looks nice and healthy, even if I have a diet of Jelly Belly Sours. I top it off with The Ordinary Squalane Oil. I had tried slugging for a while, but squalane is more similar to the oils skin naturally produces, and I think it works better than putting Vaseline on my face.
You’re never completely disconnected from who you are on social media, and it’s hard to post what you want and not care what someone thinks about it.
I just wash with the La Roche Posay cleanser in the morning, and then I’ll use The Ordinary’s Buffet on my face and decolletage. I have gone through so many different sunscreens to find a semi-perfect one—Bondi Sands Fragrance Free Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 hasn’t let me down yet. It’s a chemical sunscreen, which is super important to me because it doesn’t leave a white cast, and it feels like a really nice moisturizer. I love that I’m-wearing-sunscreen glow. It’s not drying, it’s reef-safe, and it’s great for sensitive skin. The hard part is finding it in stock at a CVS. I’ll check different locations on the app, and then go get it with my little 30-percent-off coupon.
I felt like the pandemic robbed me of my glow, so a few months ago I did microneedling at this doctor’s office in LA. It was a combination of microneedling and heated infrared frequency actually, and it’s called Morpheus8. I won’t lie: it was really painful. Oh my god, it hurt like hell. I told them to stop before they even got to my neck. I know the whole purpose of the treatment is that it stimulates collagen production in the skin, and that’s why you have to wait a few weeks to see results. But at first I was like, ‘What the fuck? This is expensive and it doesn’t do anything.’ I thought I wasted so much money, and I was telling everyone that it wasn’t worth it and that I’d never do it again. But now… hell yeah, I’d do it again. After about a month, my skin did look different. Next time, I’d like to find someone who will be a little more understanding about the pain.
If nothing else, my brows will be done. They frame my face and show my emotion! This is a little unconventional, but right now, I’m using the Got2b Styling Spiking Hair Gel, and out of all the eyebrow gels I’ve ever used that is the one. This $10 hair gel? It lasts all day. I’ll typically fill them in with a NYX Brow Pen, which I like because you can make the strokes really hair-like. From there, face. Concealer has been a struggle, and right now I’m using the Elf Cosmetics 16 Hour Concealer. But what I prefer is just using Maybelline BB Cream in the color Deep. It’s maybe seven bucks and blends in seamlessly with my skin. Then I use Glossier Cloud Paint in Dawn on my cheeks, and a little bit over my nose if I’m feeling flower-child. I like how dewy it looks. For lips, it’s either the NYX Lip Lingerie Pencil in Teddy or their Lip Lingerie Matte Lipstick in Teddy. I also sometimes line my lip with a Wet ‘n’ Wild eyeliner in Simma Brown that’s $1.99 at Walgreens. And sometimes I use regular beauty supply store lip gloss. I think it’s called Broadway Lip Gloss. When I’m home and not wearing a mask I like to wear Glossier Balm Dotcom in Wild Fig. Thrive Causemetics Mascara is hands-down the best mascara ever. I’m not even exaggerating. I’ve tried so many mascaras, and no one is touching Thrive. No one. I don’t really do eyeshadow, but if I have something special I use this body paint kit from Mehron for a bold, retro blue ‘60s eye. Mehron is a stage makeup brand, and I use it for my eyes because the colors are so bold and vibrant. I need that, especially on my skin tone. It shows up without any primer or base.
I do my hair out of order: I deep condition with the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Yogurt Treatment first, and then wash second. I use Neutrogena T Gel or Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength because I have seborrheic dermatitis. After that I put my hair in braids or a twist out using the LOC method, but in a different order again, so LCO. I use liquid (water), cream (leave in conditioner), and then oil to seal it all in. My hair type can soak up so much moisture, and the Sienna Naturals Dew Magic Leave-In hydrates and smells amazing. It’s Issa Rae’s line! I’m a fan. I’ll seal it in with Biosilk Silk Therapy.
I went natural in 2009—I worked at Urban Outfitters at the time, and one day when no one was in the store I cut it off in a dressing room. I had wanted to do it for some time, but my mom would not allow it. As a kid I would get silk presses, which I hated. I would always get burned by the hot comb around my ears. I threw a fit when I was in third grade because I didn’t want to be burned by the hot comb anymore, and wanted relaxer instead. My eighth birthday party got canceled, but I did get my relaxer! And obviously I didn’t know that relaxers came with chemical burns. I learned how to take care of my natural hair from YouTube and natural hair blogs, and it seemed like a good chunk of Black women were doing that at the same time. The community expanded, and there were more resources available.
Discovering that I had seborrheic dermatitis was really significant for me. A lot of Black women suffer from seborrheic dermatitis and just don’t know it—you assume that your head is itchy because of braids or the type of hair you’re using. I was prescribed ketoconazole, an antifungal, to help clear it up. But, fun fact: it’s usually prescribed as a shampoo, and those shampoos are not formulated for highly textured, Black hair. I don’t wash my hair every two to three days. And, when I did use it, it was so completely drying. Eventually I learned that it’s also available as a foam, which is great because I can spray it directly on my scalp, even if I have braids. Other than that, this Aveda Scalp Remedy Dandruff Solution, which has salicylic acid in it, helps.
BODY, ORAL CARE, + FRAGRANCE
My friend got me the Bathing Culture Mind and Body Wash, which I love, but I swear by The Honey Pot’s Sensitive Wash. I’ve been using Honey Pot for years—their body wash, their menstrual products… It’s a Black-owned company, and it’s made periods much more comfortable for me. I shave with a Billie razor, but I don’t necessarily shave with the intention of removing all of my hair. I do laser, and I shave so that when I do get laser, it’s nice and clean. My laser place is the LA Beauty Skin Center in Glendale. I bought a Groupon for six sessions for like $99. I’m on Twitter the whole time they’re doing it, and to me, it just feels like cool air. I make my own body butter by whipping together avocado butter, mango butter, and aloe. One batch can last me half a year, because it’s super, super shiny—I only need to use a little.
I want my perfume to smell like sex. I want it to make people think, ‘Damn, I’m trying to fuck her.’
I really want to talk about this Burst toothbrush. My teeth have never been this smooth before. I found out about it on Youtube—I don’t know why I do this, but sometimes if I’m up late, I watch physical therapy videos and dentist videos. There was one video where dentists put it to the test against Quip, and it took away way more of the plaque. So I bought a Burst online on sale for like 50 bucks. Honestly, I can feel the difference.
I like my perfume to have a little bit of oomph in it, a little attitude. I’m not a powdery, floral girl—this might sound weird, but I want my perfume to smell like sex. I want it to make people think, ‘Damn, I’m trying to fuck her.’ Do you know what a win that is, to have someone tell you that you smell good? Fragrance makes such a lasting impression on people. So I definitely want patchouli. And sometimes musk or sandalwood. I have one from the Zara Jo Malone collection that I like, and I have another one called Love Potion No. 3 that I got from an indie perfumer at an art opening. But my signature is probably Glossier You, because I’ve had people tell me I smell good several times—more than several times—when I’m wearing it. I always keep that in the rotation.”
—as told to ITG
Rinny Perkins photographed in LA by Katie Thompson on September 23, 2021.