Glow and Behold: Amanda Nwobu Talks About Skin Care

Name: Amanda Starghill-Nwobu
Hometown: Dallas, TX 
Occupation: Marketing Researcher at TextureMedia, formerly Content Editor at NaturallyCurly; Founder and Editor of Melanglow
Instagram: @melanglow
Fun Fact: “Hot wings are my favorite comfort food. Flats only.”

A graduate of The University of Houston, Amanda Starghill-Nwobu started Melanglow in hopes to inform and educate black female consumers that all skin care products aren’t made equal. African-American women spend about $7.5 billion annually on beauty products and purchase more than twice the amount of skin care products compared to their non-Black counterparts [1]. Yet, some mainstream brands still fail when it comes to variety and quality of black skin care products. She feels that every woman should have the very right to look and feel beautiful and confident in their own skin regardless of color. Well, Amanda is combatting her frustrations against the cosmetic industry by creating a digital space to chat with black professionals in the cosmetic industry, exploring new beauty products, and building an online community.

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MN: What led you to start a blog about skin care for women of color?

AN: I created Melanglow, because there are only a handful black beauty bloggers who focus on skin care. Black women purchase more in the beauty category than any other demographic, despite us being underserved, so it only made sense that there was a platform that represented our voices.
Melanglow is also a space for women of color to become more informed shoppers and learn about black-owned skincare brands. Social media, specifically Instagram, has allowed artisans and small business owners to reach new customers in a way that wasn’t accessible before and I wanted to highlight those brands. I always thought in the back of my mind, What if Instagram goes away or isn’t as popular? What happens to these brands? It’s almost like black-owned skin care companies have to reach a threshold of success before mainstream media or publications notice them and it shouldn’t be that way.
In addition to showcasing those brands, I wanted to see more content focusing on the products that these brands and black-owned retailers carry. I’ve always been a curious person, so I hate the experience of shopping online and hoping someone answers my question in the reviews section: Does this work for oily skin? What is this ingredient for? How many ways can this product be used? Can this be used in the daytime? You’ll notice in my interviews that I like to ask specific questions about the products.
When our schedules align, I also like to interview black professionals in the beauty industry like estheticians, dermatologists, and cosmetic chemists to ask about best practices, packaging, and other elements we as consumers may not consider.
For my personal skin care diary, follow my Instagram stories, which is where I am most active.

MN: Was there anybody who influenced Melanglow?

AN: Of course! Ashley Weatherford from August Skin and Felicia Walker Benson from This That Beauty.

“Just because you didn’t burn, doesn’t mean you didn’t experience damage. The efforts you’re making for long-term results won’t matter if you’re not wearing sunscreen.”

MN: What’s one skincare secret you wish people knew about?

AN: Price is not always indicative of quality. Try to learn more about ingredients. I understand the appeal of product packaging to match your bathroom aesthetic and all of your favorite influencers telling you what to buy, but take the time to educate yourself. For example, there is a vitamin C serum that my esthetician recommended, so I purchased it and it worked. When it was time to replenish, I used Google to search for a more affordable serum with the same key ingredient and I found one!

MN: What are your favorite, must-have beauty products?

AN: Serums! If you follow me on Melanglow’s Instagram stories, then you know I love a good serum. I call them the workhorse of a skin care regimen. I see cleansing, moisturizing, and SPF as maintenance products, but when I want to see certain improvements in my skin, like less post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, I look to serums.

MN: What’s one skincare myth that women of color need to completely debunk?

AN: “We don’t need sunscreen.” Everyone experiences sun damage, some at a faster or slower rate than others. We should all make efforts to protect our skin. Granted, I know that many of us (i.e. black women) tend to sag more than wrinkle, why not make efforts to look even more youthful. But aside from vanity, sun damage is real, so everyone needs to wear sunscreen every day, even when you’re indoors. If there are windows and clouds in the sky, your skin is still being exposed to the UVA rays. Just because you didn’t burn, doesn’t mean you didn’t experience damage. The efforts you’re making for long-term results won’t matter if you’re not wearing sunscreen.

“If anything, I’m seeing more black women, like the founders of Bolden, create the products they want to see in the marketplace.”

MN: Is there a certain celebrity or personality whose skin you idolize?

AN: Where do I start? Tracee Ellis Ross, Amy Sall, Ashley Weatherford from August Skin, Diarrha N’Diaye, Solange, Beyonce, Kai Avent-deLeon, and the list goes on!

MN: What advice would you give someone who has no clue about having or maintaining good, healthy skin?

AN: Before you start splurging on products, look at your current regimen and start with changes there. Sometimes it’s not the products but how you’re using them. Are you cleansing twice a day or twice a week? Are you waiting until your skin is completely dry to apply your moisturizer? Are you touching your face throughout the day? Do you even use moisturizer or are you relying on Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion?

MN: Do you see the beauty industry progressing in making products for the specific needs of black and brown women?

AN: Unfortunately, I’m not. Until Glossier Invisible Shield, it was challenging to find an affordable sunscreen that didn’t leave a white cast on darker skin complexions. And for the black women who want to exclusively use mineral sunscreen, which contains physical blockers, it’s even more challenging. If anything, I’m seeing more black women, like the founders of Bolden, create the products they want to see in the marketplace.

MN: What frustrates you the most about the beauty industry?

AN: The lack of and under-representation befuddles me.

MN: Is there something in particular that you wish that beauty brands should do more? Focus more on the quality of their products? Delivery of the product? Promoting women of color more in the media?

AN: Research will be one of your best investments.

MN: Where do you hope to see Melanglow in the future?

AN: I just want Melanglow to continue its mission. Highlighting more black skin care makers and empowering black women to be informed shoppers.

To learn more, please check the website Melanglow.

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