“As the firstborn in an African household, you’re either a doctor, a lawyer, or a pharmacist. [Your parents] sacrifice so much to get you to a place where you have opportunities that they’re not going to let you risk it, so I went to school for nursing. I got in and did my first semester of clinicals, and that’s when I thought, this isn’t gonna work for me. [Laughs] I wrote my dad a letter—it was very dramatic. And then I dropped out of school.
On my 25th birthday, I promised myself that if nothing changed that year I was going back to school. I started my beauty YouTube channel that October and it skyrocketed. My first video was on time management [laughs]. But after that, it was just beauty. [The Darkest Shade series] is really what set it off. My [YouTube] will always be about furthering representation, furthering the inclusivity of beauty in drugstore aisles and within the beauty industry as a whole. When I first started, I was very nervous. There’s one specific video that I remember I was not going to post. It was how to match my face to my body, because I have a lot of discoloration within my face and my chest. I was so scared to put myself out there like that. It took some motivation from someone that’s very close to me to say, ‘Well, your sisters would really enjoy and appreciate something like this. You would’ve appreciated something like this when you were younger.’ And as [my audience] grew, I found more sisters and more stories. It felt more than just my little community, it felt more like, this is going to change the world. Now I have a bunch of sisters who are looking up to me, and I can’t let them down.
Right now I’m working with CVS as their Beauty Inclusivity Consultant by figuring out new brands to potentially stock in-store. The reason why I love drugstore [beauty] so much is because you don’t have to wait. When I run out, I can just go in and get what I need. I also do a lot of in-house consulting and things like that. I actually just launched a Masterclass on hair, skincare, and makeup, with different amazing Black artists. That project was big for me. And then there is one last thing on my bucket list—hopefully it will be announced very soon.
A lot of my skin is genetics, but I do have to maintain it. I have to hydrate it and make sure I exfoliate because it gets really dull. I like Neutrogena's Hydro Boost line—it has one of my favorites, the Hydrogel Mask. I also use the Hydro Boost Cleanser and it’s really lightweight. It gives you sudsiness, but it still is gentle and not drying. Also, it smells really good. I have a few different oil cleansers. I use the Biossance Squalane Oil Cleanser in the morning, and at night, I use the Go Awf Naturel Cleansing Oil from Uoma by Sharon C. I think it’s convenient [to have two oil cleansers] because I shower in one bathroom, and I finish my night in a different bathroom. For moisturizer, I’ve been using the Biossance Squalane Moisturizer at night. For dullness, I really love the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair for the hydration of fine lines. That one is top tier. Before you even wake up, when you put it on, it just does its job. And I’ve been using the Dose of Colors Cold Pressed Booster Multi-Use Oil. It is really thick, but it penetrates. It’s the perfect topper for your moisturizer.
In the morning, I double-cleanse again. There’s an aesthetician that I feel like everyone goes to, Guidance to Glow, so I use some of her serums in the morning. There’s a stem cell one, the Ultimate Growth Factor Serum, that’s a rejuvenating nighttime serum. Then she has a peptide and hyaluronic acid serum, the Copper Complex Peptide Serum, that I use in the morning. After serum, Tula has this 24-7 Power Swipe Stick for your eyes that’s so convenient. I don’t have to fumble with my fingers and try to get in there, it’s just a swiping action. I have allergies, so I really itch my eyes a lot. On top of that, I have puffiness, and the caffeine in it helps to reduce the puffiness. [Sunscreen] depends on mineral or chemical formulas, obviously. The mineral sunscreen that I use sometimes is from Biossance, but I only use it when I’m wearing makeup because it has a slight purple-ish hue to it. If I’m not wearing makeup, like today, I’ll wear the Black Girl Sunscreen. It’s so good.
[If I had to do a face with my holy grail products], my foundation would be L’Oréal True Match in C12. I use a concealer that matches my complexion, and then one that’s just a little bit lighter to brighten. I like the Estée Lauder Double Wear Concealer in Very Deep. Urban Decay has a really nice concealer that I like, the Stay Naked Concealer, and it’s really dark as well. Fenty Beauty has a new undereye balm that isn’t really a full concealer that I like too. That’s for ‘no makeup makeup’ days. Initially, when I first started, I couldn’t find anything to match my complexion, so I would match my foundation to my chest. Now that I have so many different products that match my face, I match my foundation to my face, and I use concealers and powders to balance everything out.
The MAC Conceal and Correct Pro Face Palette has a really good contour shade. Sometimes brands just won’t go deep enough in general. Manipulating their shade range to seem like it works for deeper skin tones [is also a problem]. I’ve seen brands come out with a product, and their darkest shade isn’t necessarily the most perfect match [for dark skin], but they’ll say, ‘Oh, just put it underneath your eyes and in your highlighter areas.’ But don’t try to force or manipulate a foundation shade that doesn’t match—it doesn’t help anyone.
Sometimes brands just won’t go deep enough in general. Manipulating their shade range to seem like it works for deeper skin tones [is also a problem].
I’ve been using a translucent powder from Bare Minerals to set my face all over. The Danessa Myricks setting powders are also good. I finish my undereyes with that. Coloured Raine has a lot of beautiful blushes. I love a good red, but orange is one of my favorites for a natural, everyday look. NARS blush in Exhibit A is a really good, nice orange blush. I put it closer to my temple area, and I almost ‘C’ it out and put the slightest bit on the apples of my cheeks. I also use the Midas Cosmetics x NeonMUA bronzing and contouring palette that came out probably a year ago. It’s one of my favorites. Coloured Raine also came out with some bronzers that I love, especially their Cocoa Goddess Bronzer. I haven’t really been using much highlighter, but I will always live and die by Dior’s Nude Luminizer [ed. note: discontinued].
Recently, I’ve been going back to winged liner. I really like the Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel in 77. For mascara, I’ve been loving one from Maybelline. And for brows, I like the Nyx Micro Brow Pencil. In the beginning of my brows, I kind of reverse contour, which is when you use a lighter powder or a powder that’s your skin tone. To do that, I put concealer in my brows using mini strokes, and it looks like I have fluffy brows.
My go-to lip combo right now is obviously my Dose of Colors collab, the Nude Lip Set. The matte lipstick is truly one of one. If I ever change from nude, I have an orange kit with them as well, which is basically an ode to a coral lipstick that actually looks flattering on deeper skin tones. I am also a fan of red lipstick—I love a blue-red. MAC has Ruby Woo, which I love, and obviously my other favorite red lipstick is the one that I created with MAC. [ed. note: discontinued]
I go to Salon Daba in LA to get braids and my natural hair washed. [Amina’s] really chill, and her braids don’t hurt, which is number one. And she does a really amazing job with my braids underneath my wigs. Sometimes I wear my natural hair out, sometimes I don’t. I also use a bunch of hair oils for my scalp. Mielle’s Rosemary Mint Scalp Oil is good. It’s really tingly and it feels great when you massage it in. Glamsquad also has these combs in a clip, and they stay. I use them to hold my hair back when I’m styling it and things like that. I think I feel the most like me wearing the hairstyle that I have right now. It took so long, 15 hours, but it was supposed to take two days.
In the shower, I use Crème of Nature. Their shampoos and conditioners are some of my favorites. Pantene’s Gold Series is really good too. I didn’t think that I would like it, but it’s really nice. If I’m changing up my styles more, I’ll probably wash my hair once a week, but it just depends.
BODY + FITNESS
I hike about four days a week—it’s a really great way to start your morning. I also do pilates two days a week, and it is truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They make it look so easy and I’m like, dying in the corner.
I use a lot of different moisturizers on my body. Right now I’ve been using the Tula one that just came out, the Moisturize and Exfoliate. It doesn’t have acids in it, but it has these tiny flecks. It’s really hard to find a brand where a lot of their products actually work for you, and that’s Tula for me. For body soap, I like something big—I don’t want it to run out in three seconds. Right now I’ve been using Dove. I normally shower in the mornings after I work out. At night, if I’m really really cold, I’ll take a bath. I love scrubs in the bath. I also love epsom salt because I work out a lot, and Homebody has some really nice bath salts. Candles in the bath are nice—I make it an experience with a bunch of FORVR Mood candles.
FRAGRANCE + NAILS
For everyday fragrance, I’m not too particular, but for working out, I’m very specific. I like to have something that’ll combat the sweat, so I use a very fresh, clean scent. Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue is so good, and it’s so strong. You can see me looking crazy, but I just don’t want you to smell me looking crazy. [Laughs]
I do my nails a lot more often than I should—every two weeks if they’re not chipping. The lady who does them does a bunch of different gel polishes. For a minute I was on a Coconuts Over OPI kick. That one is such a beautiful nude shade, especially against my skin tone. It’s a gel and a regular shade, so if you like regular polish you’ll find it too. I bite my nails—that’s where I take out most of my anxiety, so if I got my nails done last week and I pick them all off this week, I’ll get them done again. Or, I’ll rip my polish off. It’s terrible. I’ve tried acrylics in the past, but I don’t really care for the look of them. The only thing that I’ve tried recently that’s a little different is the Impress press-on nails. It’s a gel press on, but they’re applied the same way as a gel, which is really cool.”
—as told to ITG
Nyma Tang photographed by Katie Thompson in LA.