Aspen and I attended the University of Houston pre-2013. We had been following one another on social media but nothing much beyond that. When I decided to launch a skin care blog for black women, Aspen was one of the first people to contact me volunteering to help if I needed anything. This mother of the cutest child on Instagram, Zwi, has been capturing her life as a young mother and wife as she dabbles in photography and embarks on family adventures. Aside from sharing beautiful images, Aspen also has a beautiful canvas, so I wanted to get the scoop on her skin care journey, regimen, and product faves.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Aspen Cross, a 24-year-old working mom and wife in Houston. Although I spend five days a week working for a home-building company, I spend my nights planning and building my future dream life and spend my weekends venturing with my family. I love gourmet food, art, and traveling, and I’m so glad to share my joy with my daughter and husband. I’m also a transitioning vegetarian but…it’s a challenge. A girl loves to eat.
How has your skin changed over the years?
I’d say I have combination skin that varies seasonally. For example, in the summer heat, it’s more susceptible to being oily whereas in the winter, it’s a tad bit drier. I used to have really sensitive skin, everything would make me feel like I was burning. I didn’t run into any major skin issues until puberty, mostly just breakouts on my face in my mid-teenage years and a nasty bout of itchy eczema during my freshman year of high school that I later realized it was triggered by mold and my skin cleared up as soon as I moved from that residence. I didn’t pick at my face much, so I have minimal dark spots but I wouldn’t say I have perfect skin. I still get a few painful bumps during that time of that month, but for the most part, I’m happy to say I normally have clear, glowing skin.
What do you love about your skin & what are your concerns?
As mentioned, I only really worry about my skin around the time my cycle is starting because a few small bumps tend to pop up.
Walk us through your daily and nightly regimens with your favorite products.
I’m in the process of switching over to all-natural skin care products. Currently, I wake up and shower using Dove soap and then wash my face using Clean and Clear face soap. I have a new natural face mist on the way that I’m excited to try out. On my lips I use a vanilla cardamom lip balm by Balm & Co. It has been a Godsend in my whole moisture situation. I usually apply makeup Monday-Friday and try to let my face be bare and breath at least one day a week. At night, I wash my face and pat it dry with a towel.
What has changed your skin care practices?
I do believe that what you put into your body is made evident on the outside. In other words, if you want healthy skin, consume nutrient-rich foods that target whatever areas you want to work on. There are lots of valuable articles that list these specific foods.
How do you avoid a skin crisis?
In addition to trying to “eat healthy” most of the time, I make sure I don’t sleep in makeup. I wear a layer of makeup daily, and I wash it off before I go to bed because I don’t want it to sit and create buildup in my pores. My skin needs to breathe. I also try to keep my hair out of my face. The oils in my hair contribute to breakouts if I am not careful. Lastly, I drink as much water as I possibly can to stay hydrated and moisturized.
Who is your melancrush?
My melanin crush has to be either my best friend Chloe’ (who has amazing, smooth dark skin) or my friend Leslie. People I don’t know in real life? Solange and Kerry Washington. Definitely.
How do you shop for skin care products and where?
Lots of online shopping! Most of the time it’s referral-based. Someone has told me about a product or raved about a line on social media and I check it out for myself. I like small, handmade brands that offer unique scents or products. One thing though, I do stick with my old faithful Clean and Clear face soap for my nightly wash. I plan to do better in the new year and nurture my body with more natural ingredients.
How do you pamper yourself?
Away from home: I enjoy sugar scrub herbal pedicures which target the dead/dry skin on my feet, ankles, and legs. The various natural herbs (my personal favorites are peppermint, lemongrass, or green tea) have healing properties when used in different parts of the body to treat a range of things from headache and nausea to inflammation and cell regeneration.
At home: I really enjoy having a full body scrub (face to feet) in the shower with Frank body scrub. Known for their cheeky phrases and captions, Frank is an Australian skincare line that specializes in natural, coffee-based body scrubs and body creams. I use the scrub just a couple of times per month for a good full-body exfoliation. I especially love the cacao scented coffee scrub and got it specifically for my stretch marks and my daughter’s eczema. It dried her eczema but didn’t get rid of it, which leads me to the other product I love: Lush! Lush’s line of handmade body products is a favorite of mine for sure. I started by picking up a 4-in-1 fun kids’ bar for my toddler and within a week of using, her eczema was gone without a single trace! So I started using their products as well.My favorites are the Sultana of Soap (a really soft, creamy, fruit-filled cleanser) and their assorted bath bombs. I bathe with them and feel moisturized and rejuvenated from head to toe. One of my favorite little indulgences.
What would you like to see in the beauty aisle?
I’d love to see natural products that are actually natural! So many brands seem to just attach that word to sell a product. You look at the ingredients and see all the harsh chemicals that you’d see in any other of their other products. I think it’s really important to read the ingredients of anything you are putting onto/into your body, be it food or cosmetics. Also, to make a positive comment, I’m happy to see more shades for women of darker skin tones available. It’s a bummer sometimes when I check out higher end beauty products and the shades offered are made only for fairer skin, but I just take it as they don’t need my patronage anyway.
What would you like to see on Melanglow?
I’d really like to not only read science-based information from professional dermatologists and specialists (and personal q&a if possible), but also a forum for Black women to discuss with one another what kind of skin care products and regimens work and don’t work for them.