Karen's Essentials

Posts by this author:

Mented Cosmetics

In my last post I shared I wanted to try more Black Owned Brands (BOBS) (not just natural hair products).  Over the last few years many BOB cosmetic brands have launched. Mented Cosmetics is a brand that has created nude lipsticks for women of color. I am a nude girl when it comes to lip color, lip sticks and foundation are my absolute favorite makeup products. Mented Cosmetics had a sale last week 25% off, free shipping and orders over $45 received a free full size lip stick.

First impressions from ordering online to actually receiving my order was a seamless process. The site is easy to navigate and user friendly. There are pictures of multiple hued women of color wearing the lipsticks which makes it easy to imagine how the shade may look on you. For example for each color lipstick there were 4 models wearing the same shade.

I ordered 4 lipsticks and got one free. The lipsticks are $16.50 each, you can also buy collections of 3 for $45  or you can create  your own collection of 3. My order shipped quickly and  I received my order in about 4 days. The packaging is beautiful, it came in the box pictured above with the lipsticks bubble wrapped and a beautiful thank you card also pictured.


Minted Cosmetics $16.50

I ordered the shades Nude LaLa, Foxy Brown, Dope Taupe, Brand Nude, and Mented #5 (freebie). The packaging is very similar to Mac Cosmetics lipstick they even have that vanilla smell which I love. The formula is very creamy,  and super moisturizing that glide on effortlessly, the formula is super pigmented. Even though the lipstick is a cream formula it doesn’t move all over your face and outside the lip like some cream formulas. I normally prefer a matte lip because you don’t have to reapply as often and I love the look of a matte lip. Cream lipsticks are a little more high maintenance since they must be reapplied more often. I did have to reapply after eating, but even then the color wore off evenly not patchy, the color faded evenly. I absolutely love the formula! Mented Cosmetics is a brand to watch there is also a collection of nude glosses and nude nail polishes.


Are you a nude girl or do you prefer more color? Do you prefer matte or cream lipstick?


Over the years I have tried dozens and dozens of natural hair products and have narrowed down my favorite black-owned natural hair brands; most of these brands are owned by black women. I want to support and promote as many black-owned businesses possible. There was a time most of these brands could only be purchased online now most are sold in stores that are easily accessible. I actually don’t mind purchasing products online that work for me; I have to plan though to ensure I don’t run out of the product before repurchasing.

Oyin Handmade https://oyinhandmade.com   (Target)

Uncle Funky’s Daughter http://unclefunkysdaughter.com   (Target)

Camille Rose Naturals https://www.camillerosenaturals.com (Target)

Darcy’s Botanicals http://darcysbotanicals.com

Curl Junkie https://www.curljunkie.com

Curls https://www.curls.biz

Qhemet Biologics https://www.qhemetbiologics.com  (Sephora)

Moisture Love https://moisturelove.com

Donna Marie Beauty https://www.donnamariebeauty.com


I love these brands and have used all of them for many many years! If you would like to hear more about any of these brands and their products let me know and I will review them for you guys.

There are so many black-owned brands in the beauty industry and beyond; I want to expand my support to other black-owned businesses and review their products on the blog. Stay Tuned.

What are your favorite black-owned brands? What brands would you like me to try?




Let’s talk night-time skincare routine, I have made a concerted effort to take care of my skin the last few years, by using products that work for my mature, combination oily, sometimes acne prone skin. As mentioned in my last two posts you have to take care of the inside of your body first (drinking lots of water, good night sleep, exercise etc.,). Some of the products I use are a bit pricey but they work for me and I think the products are worth the investment.

Boscia MakeUp BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil $32 Sephora https://www.sephora.com/product/makeup-breakup-cool-cleansing-oil-P254604


I used to remove my makeup with makeup wipes  and  micellar cleansing water to remove my eye makeup; the makeup wipes would leave my skin irritated, left a film behind and the micellar water was just an extra step. I then started to use cleansing balms or oils to remove makeup. The Boscia Cleansing oil $32 works great at removing makeup, including eye makeup. I use one pump of the oil on my hands rubbing them together and apply the oil to my face in circular motions the oil literally melts and dissolves the makeup.

I then wet my Makeup Eraser $20 with warm water to remove the makeup  the cleansing oil has dissolved. I prefer this very soft towel with nothing on it to makeup wipes. You can also use this without a cleansing balm or oil and it will do a pretty good job of removing your makeup. I rinse all the makeup from it and use it the next day or hand wash it daily. My cloth has lasted for over a year and I have a few of the cheaper version backups that work just as well. I have found cheaper versions at Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart etc. (they are harder to find)

My beloved Clarisonic Mia $169 (Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom) this tool changed the way I view skincare. I have used my Clarisonic for over eight years (mine sadly died a few months ago). I now use my husband’s a manly version, the design is more masculine and smaller looks nothing like this one but it does the same thing; we switch the brush heads ( we share a lot but that would be gross) lol. Clarisonic Cleanses the skin 6 times better than hands alone. There are several brush heads to choose from (gentle, deep pore cleansing etc,.) I wet the brush and apply my cleanser that I only use at night.

I like the Murad Cleanser $38 because it is a cream cleanser that doesn’t lather, although it is an acne cleaner it doesn’t strip my skin the Salicylic Acid helps my acne prone skin while the Hyaluronic acid helps my skin retain moisture. This product is formulated for adult acne prone skin.  The 6.75 ounces last about 6 months. I apply a dime sized amount to my wet brush head and cleanse my face. I pat dry with a clean washcloth.

I then apply only to my t-zone (forehead, chin, and nose) Peter Thomas Correction pads $40 for 60 pads. Since I don’t apply the product to my entire face I cut the pads in 1/2 so I only purchase every 4 months. The pads help to minimize pores,  and contain anti-aging ingredients. The product’s  Glycolic acid, salicylic acid (these acids are chemical exfoliators) I can do a separate post on acids if you’re interested.

Sunday Riley Luna Oil $55-$105 I have been using for a few years. I got a sample from Sephora along with the Sunday Riley Good Genes and I saw an immediate difference in my skin. The Luna Oil contains retinol which is an anti-aging ingredient that helps plump the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines while also clearing the pores. The oil has a very herbally smell (which I love) The oil gets its blue color from blue tansy (a flower). I only use 3 drops (I don’t fill the dropper) I literally use 3 drops onto my hands and I pat the oil into my skin I let it sit for a few minutes and move on to the next step. The Luna oil last almost a year before I have to repurchase.

For my serum I use Sunday Riley Good Genes $105-$155, this was the first high-end skin product that I purchased that I was truly wowed by. The next day my skin looked amazing, my skin was brighter, plumper and over time my skin tone has evened out. Good Genes contains Lactaid acid which acts as an exfoliant to remove dull skin, even out skin tone and clear pores. I prefer chemical exfoliants over physical exfoliants. The physical exfoliants with the little scrubbies (yes I made that word up) actually are often too harsh and rough for my skin. I use physical exfoliants only occasionally. I purchase the large bottle of the Good Genes in November and I have only used a quarter of the bottle. I use a half a pump nightly. It will last almost a year as well.


Clinique All About Eyes $32-$55


My final step is to add my moisturizer to my face and my eye area with my beloved Clinique products. I know for some this may seem excessive but my little routine works for me. These are my tried and true products that keep my combination oily skin balanced, my skin radiant, my acne prone skin under control and the anti-aging properties of these products has preserved my mature skin. I know how to make my products last so I only purchase during Sephora’s twice yearly sale and Ulta’s sale. I love makeup but I invest in good skincare so that my skin looks good with or without makeup.

I enjoy my skincare routine both night and day because it’s my time to do something for me.

What is your night time skincare routine?

I have taken pretty good care of my skin when it comes to cleansing but over the last several years I have invested in products that not only cleanse my skin but also moisturize, balance, nourish and treat my mature skin. As mentioned in my last post Clinique All About Eyes Review skin care starts with what we put in our bodies. We can use products with great ingredients, even get regular facials but that is only a small part of taking care of your skin. We have to eat right, be well rested, exercise and drink at least half our body weight in water. Missing these components of our routine we will literally be throwing money away if we only invest in good products.

Both my morning and night routine are pretty simple; today I am going to share my quick morning skincare routine; these are the things that are working for me; I have used these products for at least a year (most for many years).

Shiseido Facial Cotton $10.00 Sephora or Ulta https://www.sephora.com/product/facial-cotton-P173726



The first thing I do in the morning is wet a clean washcloth and wipe my eyes. I then moisten a Shiseido Facial cotton with the  Thayers Aloe Vera Lemon witch hazel $10.95. I have found cleansing my face with a face wash morning and night stripped my skin, my skin produced more oil, which caused me to be super oily in my t-zone by the end of the day. I replaced my face wash with witch hazel to lightly cleanse my face in the morning. I love Thayers Witch Hazel; it is all natural without drying alcohol I prefer the lemon because it works well with my skin type.   Witch Hazel acts as a toner to really balance my skin and reduces the size of my pores and helps to keep them clear. There are several varieties to choose from depending on your skin type rose, unscented, and cucumber. There are other brands of witch hazel that are cheaper but Thayers works best for me.

The Shisedo Facial Cotton $10; I can almost hear someone asking “why would you spend $10 on cotton pads”.  160 come in a pack,  you don’t  need to use multiple pads because they don’t tear, they don’t leave behind “fuzzies” on your face and they are soft as well, cotton.  Try them and thank me later!

As mentioned I have combination oily skin with large pores on my nose, the sides of my nose and I am prone to blackheads mostly in my t-zone and have occasional breakouts. Nothing seemed to work to keep my pores unclogged and oil production under control.  I needed something to help me keep this situation under wraps.



After cleansing my face I apply my Clinique All About Eyes $32.50-$54 eye cream under and around my eyes. As mentioned in my review this cream has made a huge difference in the appearance of fine lines, and dark circles plumping the thin under eye skin. I am now a believer; eye cream is a must. Clinique All About Eyes Review


I use the Kate Somerville clearing lotion  $ 42, in the morning after the Witch Hazel and before my moisturizer, I only use this product on my t-zone (nose, sides of my nose, chin and the middle of my forehead). Since I use such a tiny amount it will normally last for at least 6 months. It doesn’t dry my skin out and really helps to keep my t-zone clear.


Mario Badescu Rose Facial Spray $7-$14 such a treat, the mist is very soothing and moisturizing it is an extra layer of moisture during the winter months, before adding my moisturizing cream. In the summer I store it in the fridge which is super refreshing. It can also be used as a final step after applying makeup to help everything meld together.

Moisturizing my combination oily skin properly has been a game changer, I would cleanse my face at night and use a very light moisturizer and no moisturizer at all in the morning. I thought if I “over moisturize” my skin it would make me oilier. WRONG! By not moisturizing my skin properly,  produced more oil, which leads to clogged pores and breakouts. The Clinique Moisture Surge $12-$52.50 Line has also aided with balancing my skin. I love this product! I buy the larger size and it lasts roughly 3-4 months I use it day and night.

I haven’t forgotten about sunscreen I use it daily year round, however, finding a sunscreen that isn’t too thick, doesn’t leave a white cast, and doesn’t break me out has proven to be difficult. I am testing a few out and will add an update to this post or do a separate review/post.  I apply my sunscreen before my moisturizer by the way.

This is my routine and what I have found works best for me; everyone’s skin is different. When creating a skincare routine keep your skin type in mind. Do you have normal, dry, oily or combination skin? Do you have sensitive skin? Acne prone skin? Do your research and find out what works best for you and your skin. Get samples of products. Sephora and most major department stores give samples. (skincare, makeup, even fragrances) no purchase necessary. Try before you buy.

Do you follow a skin care morning routine? What are your favorite products? Is there are a problem area that you can’t figure out? Please share any skin care tips that are working for you.

I would love to hear what works for you.  Let’s Talk Skin Care (leave a comment).


The skin under our eyes is very delicate and thin as we age that delicate skin loses elasticity. Our eyes often show the first signs of aging with; dark circle, fine lines, crepey eyelids, under eye bags. Here are some things we can do to help slow down the signs of aging:

  • Get Enough Sleep -when I am tired my eyes show it all
  • Use Sunscreen Daily- Sun ages your skin tremendously, not to mention the risk of skin cancer
  • Cut Back on Sugar
  • Limit Alcohol
  • Limit Caffeine
  • Stop Smoking
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Limit Salty foods

We also need a good skin care regimen, I admit I thought under eye creams weren’t necessary and a huge waste of money I just used my face moisturizer under my eyes. I received a sample of an eye cream in one of my subscription boxes (a few years ago) and I was amazed at how much better my under eyes appeared. I tried out a few over the years that seemed to all work the same and were just okay nothing earth-shattering. Fast forward to age 51 and my concealer and powder seemed to cling to every fine line and wrinkle (not that I have a lot), and to make matters worse I wear glasses that high light my under eye situation in a not so flattering light.

I decided to try Clinique All About Eyes $32.50-$54.00 https://www.sephora.com/product/all-about-eyes-rich-P174502?skuId=971473&icid2=products%20grid:p174502

Since I already use Clinique Moisture Surge Moisturizer and love it I hoped the eye cream would work for me as well.


Clinique has a great price point for makeup and skin care for a “high end” brand. I have been using it for only a few weeks but I see a dramatic difference. My under eye skin is more supple, my under eye circles have diminished slightly and my makeup applies smoother and looks so much better. It has a mousse-like texture that is very light yet super hydrating that seeps into the skin and it also plumps the skin with moisture. The formula works well with my concealer and powder it’s not so heavy that it causes my concealer to crease nor is it too light with little or no effect. It has a very light scent that doesn’t linger or irritate. I apply it day and night, you need the tiniest amount it will last at least 3-6 months before I have to repurchase. I would highly recommend this product. Clinique can be purchased in most major department stores, Ulta and Sephora.

Do you use an eye cream? If so what do you use? What is your skincare routine?