Oct. 12, 2015 was the day I heard about Vivrant Beauty. I was going about my daily routine reading my favorite blogs when I saw Vivrant Beauty: Could This Be the Sephora for Women of Color on Mater Mea. My heart was elated and I immediately shared it with coworkers and loved ones. When I decided to start Melanglow Dec. 2015, there was no question that I would reach out to Desiree for the 411 on her brown beauty inventory.
Introduce yourself & why you do what you do.
I’m Desiree Verdejo, a beauty-loving New Yorker that launched Vivrant Beauty in my Harlem neighborhood and online. Vivrant Beauty is a beauty boutique that caters to women of all skin tones and hair textures with gorgeous, effective skin care, hair care, and cosmetic products.
Describe the inception of Vivrant Beauty.
Vivrant Beauty is the boutique that was sorely missing from the beauty retail landscape. I couldn’t stomach heading into another cluttered ethnic aisle or beauty supply store to guess which products might work for my naturally kinky hair. I hated shopping for skin care and hair products in completely different settings. Vivrant Beauty brings these products under one roof (and website!) and tops off its curated selection with an approachable, knowledgeable staff.
Other than textured hair products, what makes your boutique unique as it relates to women of color?
We’re proud, first and foremost, that half of the products on our shelves are person-of-color owned. Of course black men and women have contributed beautiful products to the natural hair industry, but we also have nail products, skin care products, personal care items, and makeup created by people of color.
As a woman of color, I knew that we had to have a selection that spoke to the unique needs of brown women, because that is a voice that’s sorely missing in beauty retail. Many people are selling brown women products, but few are catering to us. The range of our makeup colors and the variety of hair products that suit kinks, straightened hair, and protective styles show our understanding of textured hair, and we consider general effectiveness and the unique needs of brown skin care products when we add on new products in this area.
What’s your most common customer concern?
In skin care, we are often asked for products that treat hyperpigmentation, as scarring on brown skin can be darker and therefore last longer than on lighter complexions.
Our favorite items for hyperpigmentation are:
- Juara Rose and Willowbark Blemish-Free Mask – We love to recommend this mask for breakout-prone skin, because the kaolin-clay goes deep into the pores to clean dirt, oil, and makeup while willow bark and natural botanicals work to fade dark spots.
- Yuli Cell Perfecto PM – We’re obsessed with this brightening face serum that’s enriched with sea minerals, botanicals, and peptides to treat dark scars. It also has a naturally-derived retinol that helps to treat the texture of the skin, which can be affected after a tough bout with acne.
- Lastly, for dark marks and for glowing, brighter skin, Ren Glycolic Lactic Renewal Mask and the Mario Badescu Glycolic Toner are cult favorites for good reason and among our favorites to recommend.
What’s your favorite black-owned skin care brand?
I’m really excited about Cleanse by Lauren Napier, which are individually-wrapped face cleansing wipes. They are large, elegantly packed, and contain premium cleansing and moisturizing ingredients strong enough that just one cloth can clean your entire face. Our customers that workout regularly and those that travel often are addicted to the brand.
What SPF products do you recommend that won’t leave an ashy cast on brown skin?
All SPF products on our shelves must pass the no-ash test. When we have a customer that is not a religious SPF user, I’ll recommend Coola SPF Makeup Setting Spray, which is invisible, has SPF 30, and also keeps your makeup in place. For drier skin types, we also love Mario Badescu Moisture Magnet with SPF, because it’s a super rich moisturizer with a pink tone that blends into brown skin nicely.
When a skin care novice walks into your store, how do you help them build a regimen?
We love to start by evaluating skin types and then we like to fill in the holes of what our customers are not using. So many of our customers have oily skin and don’t use a moisturizers – we walk them through the best cream and oil options (there are many, e.g. Indie Lee Squalene Oil ) for their skin type. We also ensure that our customers appreciate the necessity of an SPF. Once those basics are established, we’re happy to talk enhancing masks, serums, and mists.
Sheet masks seem to become increasingly popular. How have your customers responded to this trend?
Our customers love sheet masks. They’re easy, effective, affordable, and also fun to use with a friend or partner. We currently stock Karuna Skincare sheet masks and are eyeing a complementary line since they’ve been such a hit.
What’s your skin care regimen?
I use the boutique as an excuse to justify the fact that I’m a bonafide product junkie. The truth of the matter is I always was one.
In skin care, I tend to reach for an incredibly gentle cleanser and toner like Juara Rice Facial Cleanser and Ren Cleansing Water. I use Youth to the People’s Antioxidant-rich Serum in the morning followed by an SPF and Yuli Cell Perfecto PM at nighttime. I have drier cheeks and chin, so I add a rich oil after my serum before bed – my favorite being Mun No. 1 Aknari Serum .
Currently, my hair is in box braids. Girl + Hair Under Hair Repair was created by a black doctor to care for the unique needs of protective styles and it’s currently my go-to system.
Follow Vivrant Beauty here: