Wednesday, February 20

Beauty and Fashion Secrets for Women of Color

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I had the pleasure of meeting Christelle at the Phenomenal Women Conference hosted last September in Geneva where she was one of the speakers on the “female writers panel”. After her contribution it felt that not only she could be an interesting addition to our blog due to her wide range of expertise, but also that she would help us discuss hot topics for our Black and African JetsetBabes out there.

Beauty and Fashion Secrets for Women of Color
instagram.com/mistyonpointe

Hi Christelle, could you please introduce yourself to our Jetsetbabes, and tell us more about your background and achievements? 

My name is Christelle Kedi, and I’m a Paris born and London based beauty and fashion Writer with a strong interest in African history of aesthetics. I have written 4 books and appeared in 2 academic anthologies. I studied makeup and beauty salon management, and obtained a master degree in fashion imaging and promotion.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/yayadacosta

I mostly worked with and for the African and diaspora markets in TV, movie, creative consultancy, beauty business consultancy, fashion and beauty editorials as a freelancer before transitioning into writing since 2013. Currently, I am a part-time beauty history lecturer in a beauty school in Paris and beauty and fashion Writer the rest of the time.

Her instagram is: https://www.instagram.com/christellekd/

Hair & Skincare : 

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/yayadacosta

When I first saw you one of the first things I noticed about you is your healthy, natural and voluminous curly hair. Black women who live in Europe & US often wearing their hair straight; otherwise, they don’t come across as elegant looking. What do you think about this and do you have any advice? Should Black women opt for wigs & weaves or can they do without?

My essays are actually about deconstructing this overwhelming American propaganda of a unique type of beauty. The African American experience of having to follow Hollywood’s beauty standards does not reflect the reality of the 95% of blacks who are neither Americans nor living in America.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert-christelle-kedi
instagram.com/yayadacosta

Therefore the overpublicised view of African American experience and canon of beauty shouldn’t be taken as the absolute rule for the majority of Black women. In fact, as for the other minorities living there, they should make better use of the Internet to find out about original forms of aesthetics still used by African and Caribbean women worldwide.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert-christelle-kedi
instagram.com/freddieharrel

Angelique Kidjo, Yaya Dacosta, Freddie Harrel, Baroness Amos, Christiane Taubira, Victoria Santa Cruz, Dame Sirleaf Johnson, Winnie Mandela, Shinghai, Jocelyne Berouard… are all African or Caribbean celebrities who had successful careers with or without a Western spouse but keeping their hair natural.

I believe it is a question of interest in finding out other role models than the overexposed African American ones who may choose to blend in with their hair often due to lack of curiosity and/or desire to step out of Hollywood’s supremacy.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/tarajiphenson

What is the secret to healthy and beautiful hair?

The best secret is the one applied by Rastafarians: little to no animal food, plenty of water, no processed food or sugar and 90% of meals made out of food full of nutrients ( green vegetables and all types of fruits). As for the teeth, hair only beautifully grows if food consumption is healthy.

What advice can you give to black women how to style their natural hair in an elegant & classy way?

Style depends on context and self-awareness: what one may call elegant may not be for someone else. Healthy hair is easy to manage, but they require discipline in food consumption first before considering any beauty treatments. Once again are Rastafarians experiencing hair growth issues?

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert-christelle-kedi
instagram.com/yayadacosta

You have written a study about the beauty industry. What is the most striking thing that you have learned? What was your main conclusion?

I learned that what we call beauty nowadays is a limited view of what it used to be before the creation of TV. 150 years ago, beauty was diverse in every single part of the world! Nowadays, everybody wants to look alike, and it limits my creativity as a makeup artist, and it is destroying a multicultural view of humanity. Even mother Nature keeps its originality in plants, flowers, and animals so we can appreciate a different type of beauties…

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/yayadacosta

What skincare products do you think are the best for black skin? Any particular brands or products?

90% of skin care brands are made by about 10 giant laboratories worldwide. The skin tone is just a question of foundations… in organic chemistry and in dermatology, apart from the level of melanin, there is no difference in beauty treatments or products. 

The people who are complaining about lack of choice in skincare often do not drink enough water, drink alcohol and then rely on ‘miraculous beauty creams’ to correct their lack of discipline! Your skin is your largest organ so please feed it from within first before criticizing marketers for exaggerating benefits and features.

Beauty and Fashion Secrets for Women of Color
instagram.com/mistyonpointe

What about more invasive procedures (peelings, injections, surgery, etc.)? 

People should ideally start using them once their collagen levels start dropping. For most women, it starts with the perimenopause (around 35 years old and onwards). Anyone starting before is either ginger hair (very fragile skin) or someone who wasn’t drinking enough water during all these years, not sleeping enough, drinking alcohol, smoking, avoiding essential nutrients from consumed green vegetables.

These treatments were created for maturing skins not to be used during childbearing years…unless specified by a medical professional.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/yayadacosta

What is your beauty routine?

Drinking plenty of water, no alcohol, no meat, good sleep, exercise.  My daily makeup application stands better as it is a consequence of discipline.

You are a makeup artist, can you give us any make up hacks or tips for black women on how to do their make up in a classy way? What colors, products, and techniques work best?

One of the first lessons taught in beauty school is that advice can only be given individually (due to allergy testing) and face to face (for insurance reason). Therefore it is difficult to provide anything else than general guidance:

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instagram.com/violadavis
  • washing your face with soft products (I personally use clay, I wouldn’t advise soaps!);
  • cleaning it twice a day using products adapted to skin types (lemon juice for oily skins for example;
  • olive oil or rose water for dry/ mature skins);
  • applying moisturizers according to skin needs.

I cannot name or mention brands here as most are created in the same laboratories. I personally prefer using vegan beauty brands or create my own skincare products.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/johnrussophoto

What African beauty secrets are useful for women from all backgrounds?

African beauty secrets are still in use in our society and can benefit all women: clay for skin cleaning, sugar for hair removal, coconut for teeth whitening!

Style & Fashion : 

Beauty and Fashion Secrets for Women of Color
instagram.com/leomieanderson

Any overall secrets/tips on how to elevate your look?

I would suggest to master both one’s body type and color range. Copying someone else is not elevating but rather showing a lack of style.

Secondly, I would suggest to respect the rules set in European classic theatre since most of people perceive look elevation as ultimately Western. The rules are time (age), location and circumstances. 

What is your definition of class and elegance? 

Class+elegance=style

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/violadavis

Having lived in Paris New York and London, what differences and similarities have you noticed?

NYC is indeed the most European city in America however the overall understanding of Couture, the difference between style and fashion are challenged by the use of megastars to introduce classic European brands to the locals. It creates a crowd of followers/copiers rather than truly stylish people.

London is very experimental in terms of colors and cuts in fashion, but red nails and lips are still perceived as audacious in the corporate environment for example. In Paris, people never left the Coco Chanel’s legacy of wearing black. People keep wearing beige, black, brown, blue and grey while color is more used in makeup and accessories than on clothes. Just look at the people attending the Paris Fashion Week!

Work (Personal development & relationships advice):

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert-christelle-kedi
instagram.com/yayadacosta

I read that you organize a conference about black women sensuality once a year. How did you come up with this? 

The idea came up as I met many black models who turned lingerie models then turned into porn actresses in an attempt to rise to a sex symbol status before finishing their career. They were all portraying Western sexuality and often misinterpreting the difference between sensuality, erotism, and pornography. I figured out that the average black folk thought the same way. I decided to launch this yearly event to educate people so upcoming erotic actresses would be inspired by alternative forms of sensualities.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/violadavis

So what is your definition of sensuality? What can a woman do to be more sensual and be connected to her femininity?

African sensuality is linked initially to marriage and childbearing. Traditionally a married woman willing to conceive would use mass seduction messages to let her husband know about her intentions. Her feminity would then be enhanced by the use of accessories, makeup, perfumes…to elevate her sexual appeal.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/ajanaomi_king

The first year the conference was about black women and pornography could you tell us more about it? 

The first event was about sharing some statistics about the alarming rise of black women worldwide getting into pornography without fully acknowledging the consequences of this type of career once they have started. The aim of the conference was to give clues about the socio-psychological implications of such choices. We had a psychologist and an image consultant who discussed about this topic.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/zoeisabellakravitz

How do you think black women are presented in the media? And how does it influence them in their daily lives?

My opinion will seem harsh however my next essay is about skin bleaching.
Black Women in the media are mostly Americans, and it does influence those who are living in the South hemisphere not to improve themselves but to consume more relaxers and bleaching creams…creating debt and skin cancers on the way.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/violadavis

The second year the conference was about Polygamy. What was the outcome?

This year we discussed about people judging polygamy (polygyny for men and polyandry for women) while they adopt serial monogamy ( several relationships in a lifetime with one person each time). Polyandry did exist in North and East Africa until the birth of the Ottoman empire. Fraternity through the same mother is less challenging than the one from the same father as the identity of the mother is always very clear.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/yayadacosta

Are monogamy and marriage failed concepts?

Marriage is a consequence of property management of female bodies in patriarchal societies. To ensure a patrimony or legacy, men organized themselves to exploit female bodies and labour. What do women gain from marriage except some comfort (only if the husband is wealthy)? I believe women are not made to be monogamous since they can physically have unlimited orgasms meaning several partners in a day! Now the only way men found to control this female libido was to possess their vagina, womb, name, and youth through marriage.

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/ajanaomi_king

A lot of people are trying to shame women for trying to improve their lifestyle and choosing a partner who will provide for them. What do you think of hypergamy?

Hypergamy is everywhere among mammals in the animal world. Only alpha lions or wolfs can reproduce! Why would humankind behave differently? I believe married women should be able to choose whether to work or not especially after childbearing. Remember that once children are grown up, your life doesn’t stop but at the same time what would be the point of giving birth to let strangers taking care of your offsprings?

What was your second essay about? How has your work and what you discovered in your essays impacted your lifestyle and choices?

My second essay is about the dissemination of fashion trends among 22 black European online influencers across 9 countries. I learned a lot about self-gratification and the unmet needs of black Europeans in terms of local role models. Beyonce is great, but she lives in the USA!

beauty-and-fashion-secrets-from-an-expert
instagram.com/violadavis

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About Author

Wiam is from Geneva Switzerland. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration, a Master’s in Management and Strategy and a Master’s in International Trading. With a professional background in Finance, she has now decided to create her own business as Conference Organizer and blogging for JetsetBabe. Wiam likes to write about self-development to empower women around the world and help them become the best version of themselves. She loves to experience life to the fullest and has a background in modeling, being a beauty pageant winner, dancing, sports and more. One of the things she enjoys the most is traveling and discovering other cultures and places which lead her to learn six different languages. To get in touch: Instagram @ Wiam_Bai_Mei

21 Comments

  1. Melissa Leeds on

    I did not like this article at all. Well, it was hard to read because, some of the hair imagery was just ridiculous. That picture of Yaya at the bottom of those two blonde girls was just weird. I am very frustrated by these images. Viola Davis is not the look! How can you have these articles about 110 pound gorgeous Russian models, who have married well…. then act like black women can settle for looking like Viola Davis, to nab a millionaire? The truth is ladies, as a black woman, you have to look as good as the Russian Jet Set Babes, or better. Yes you can have natural hair, but it better look great all the time. Any gray hair showing is a definite no go!

    • i get your point, but maybe Ana didn’t want to sound too harsh on the topic since she as a WW who don’t experience the same as a BW and at least she has tried to give visibility to the topic and talk about the different options for the BW.

    • Viola Davis IS a great look! Resembling her in any way is not to settle. She is beautiful, genuine, and articulate.

  2. She gave examples of Aja Naomi , Zoe kravitz and Missy Copeland and woman with nice hairstyle , fit bodies and great skin.

  3. She seems a bit bitter about American BW but still, most Blacks worldwide seem to mimic them in all ways, fashion, slang, accessories, etc.

    She sounded very dry and actually gave very few useful tips that I could use but what do I know I’m ‘only’ an American BW.

    • I agree with you Lav. She sounds very bitter when it comes toward black Americans. She could look on instagrams explore page to know that plenty of black american women wear their natural hair and can look elegant with it. There are a lot more natural black women in american than relaxed, esp. compared to how things were in the 90s.

      Also, to say that black women in american media is what’s causing black women outside of the us to bleach their skin and relax their hair is a gross falsehood. Skin bleaching is a worldwide issue due to european colonization of non european lands.

      There was a lot of negativity in this article, and I wouldn’t trust anyone that tells you to use lemon juice on your skin. Ask any esthetician if it’s good for your skin, and they would tell you no.

      Word of advice: Do basic research.

      • Dear Madam,

        Thank you for your feedback.
        I studied beauty treatments and lecture future beauty professional on history of cosmetics.
        For sourced information, my essays hold on average 200 academic sources.

        Opinion is not sourced information…

        Now prefering to buy expensive chemically recreated is a choice which lead to skin issues and switching onto others brands. Buying and consuming cycles become endless.

        I prefer looking like Anrette Larkins ( an African American aged 76 and using natural beauty products rather than Jada Smith who may no longer be able to smile and she is not yet 50!).

        Peace, beauty and constructive feedback for all!

  4. No bitterness Madam, just being underrepresented as an African woman where 85% of global black women do live

    Once media will be about representing statistics then I will not have to raise my voice.

    For once that an African woman talks about that subject, she is bitter!!!

    For more tips, I am happy to book online sessions.

    Peace

  5. I like that they found her and appreciate her time. However, I would not say that what she values is at all aligned with jet set lifestyle if she is citing rastafari culture. Maybe some advice is relevant but for those who know anything about Rastafarians, a jet set woman is the complete opposite of everything they stand for. She is an ageing skin consultant and it’d be more helpful if next time she focused on giving anti ageing advice for black women.

    • a jet set woman is the complete opposite of everything they stand for”… could you elaborate more detailed please ?and is not rastafari culture a a spiritual thing btw?

    • Christelle Kedi on

      Dear Madam,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      There is culture and globalization of culture.
      My next conference in USA will be held in LA this month on 24 and 25th February.

      My books are full of tips and advices backed up with scientific evidence. You may get them from Amazon.

      A jet set woman has standards and goes the long way: no excess in consumerism but trust in long term goals.

      Looking 10 years younger is a long term goal and as a beauty specialist I chose to cite a popular culture rather than giving the name of contemporary African cultures mostly unknown to the majority of people.

      For more specific examples of African Royal beauty practices ( as class and culture must be socially acceptable for some of you), my essays are all about it.

      Peace, beauty and style

  6. Ana, you’re going to go far in life and you’re going to get everything you set out trust me. Just wanted to say that you offer something new and different, keep doing what you do, I wish you good luck and professional success because you deserve it totally. Thank you for this post and keep posting more interesting topics i love reading all of your blog )))

  7. Ethno-elitist, tribalistic-minded, and out of touch with what men REALLY want when it comes to jet set babes of color! CONDESCENDING towards African American black women’s beauty standards based on WHAT WORKS to attract the men! Remember, American Black women DID NOT create the beauty standards! This woman’s advice depends on location and region, so it might work in Europe, but not in America… especially in the South, California, Las Vegas, etc.

    Please let this woman know not to OFFEND your American following, because many of us found this wonderful site via watching YouTube videos and instagram. (Two AMERICAN companies that Europeans also utilize to reach audiences.. in case her nose was so high in the air, that she forgot)! Even Naomi Campbell ( A black EURO woman) doesn’t look like what she described!

    Ana, keep up the good work! Please have more expert women of color do articles that do not offend a group of women, and seems to only give irrelevant opinions, instead of REAL advice.

    • Christelle Kedi on

      Dear Madam,

      My essays with over 400 academic sources on ancient (beauty) practices are available on Amazon.

      Opinion and emotion is not to be compared with professional academic view on a global phenomenon of under-representation.

      Being classy is also about open-mindness in terms of global culture whether black or not.
      Being classy is also about understanding and accepting gracefully different views.

      After having experienced living in only 3 different countries through my entire life, I unfortunately witnessed under-representation.

      Facts are 95% of black women are not represented.

      Peace, beauty and open-mindness

    • Christelle Kedi on

      Dear Madam,

      Has Naomi Campbell married yet?

      She is SINGLE until married.

      Peace, reflection and Beauty

  8. Christelle Kedi on

    Dear Madam,

    In African entertainment business , ( I surveyed and investigated over 100 African celebrities across the continent) skin and is called ‘going Michael Jackson’.

    I agree bleaching and hair straightening is not coming from USA as I reconstructed it in my first essay Beautifying the body in ancient Africa and today (2013). Mediatisation and global promotion of these practices started with black America.

    I have written few academic articles on that matter FYI.

    I should give a conference in LA later this month through #Nappywood network.
    I would be happy to discuss further while sourcing my argument.

    Peace, beauty and style

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