The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of the lovable, consummate, and loyal Into The Gloss reading community. Submit your own on Instagram – post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) And add the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie so you can be featured on ITG.
“I’m Akili King (@akili_), a beauty writer and assistant editor for Vogue Magazine. My job is to write stories for the Vogue website and occasionally for print, come up with ideas, help freelance writers get what they need for stories, attend (virtual) events, and meet with beauty brands to learn more about their upcoming product launches. Before the pandemic, I also supervised the cosmetics cabinet.
I currently live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, but I was born and raised in Chi-Town! I have always loved telling stories through writing and have experimented with beauty for as long as I can remember. My grandmother Lillian had the most amazing vanity and I played dress up with her lipsticks, blushes and wigs. Then my grandpa would take everyone dressed in Polaroids – it was a whole photo shoot. As I got older, I spent a lot of time watching beauty vloggers on YouTube. I love that my job allows me to combine so many of my passions. It’s most fulfilling when I tell inspiring stories about women in color. I love to push the boundaries of beauty – health, wellness, self-care, and celebrating your own path to find trust.
For me, beauty isn’t just about products – it’s about how you take care of yourself and take care of your soul. What do you read or see that fills you with positivity? What activities do you do outside of work that nourish your spirit? Do you take time for yourself, for skin care or for wellbeing? Do you drink water and feed your body food? All of these things nourish your inside and reflect the outside! There is no such thing as a magical product that fixes all of your problems, and inner work coupled with a product-oriented routine is so important. Of course, I have to try a lot of products for work, but in the end I often come back to the same core products and ingredients that I know I love.
I like to clean with Ceraves Hydrating Foam Cleanser, which gently clarifies and has a moisturizing effect. Kinship’s peeling pads are so gentle (and much gentler than a physical peel) but really go a step further in removing impurities from your skin. When I don’t want to exfoliate, I like to use the toner from Epi.logic and I also like the Aura Mist from Keys Soulcare. It has a soothing smell that makes me feel like I’m giving myself a spa treatment. Next, I could use Epi.logic’s vitamin C serum, but I’ve loved Osea’s Makelbalsam for mask days. It’s a light balm that you can use as either a spot treatment or a moisturizer, and my skin feels minty to the touch. I love Nau’s caffeine eye cream because of its depilatory properties and, SPF-wise, I love Black Girl Sunscreen, Supergoop and Sonrei. They are all transparent and do not leave a white sheen.
Klur makes my favorite mask. It’s called Supreme Seed and I love it because it clarifies and acts like a cleanser when you take it off. I’m also in love with Queen Afua’s Rejuvenation Clay, which is included in her Detox Kit. I can recommend the entire kit to anyone looking to do a cleanup. The mask contains the purest ingredients and it really clears my skin – it dries very quickly. Sometimes I layer them all over my face and do a quick mask. Sometimes I treat them over night with a thin layer over my problem areas. Epara and Youth to the People’s masks are great moisturizing and soothing options.
I have very sensitive skin and I break out almost every time I wear makeup. Because of this, I like to keep my makeup routine very natural and minimal, unless I go to a fancy location or do a shoot. It is rare for me to do a full face, but I love the basics of Beautyblender, Uoma Beauty, and Black Opal. My favorite flushes are from Mad Hippie, and I love a number of lip products – Dr. Pawpaw’s new tinted balms, Victoria Beckham Lip Liner and Glossier, Fenty and Tower 28 Glosses are all in rotation. Inika mascara is super natural and doesn’t irritate my eyes, and I love using it with Pat McGrath’s eyeshadow palettes. If you have thick brows like mine, I recommend Fenty’s new brow products as well as Chanel’s Boy de Chanel pencil.
I made fun of my natural hair and went through a time in high school where I was really ashamed of it. I would hide it with an iron and eventually suffer so much heat damage that it all broke off. After that, I spent so much time digging into YouTube tutorials and tips for natural hair. There is absolutely nothing wrong with straightening your hair. But for me the journey consisted of realizing the beauty of the versatility of black hair and most importantly, loving it in all of its forms! I worked on a series called Texture Diaries to remind readers that they are not alone in their hair experiences.
I used to be scared of laundry day, but now it’s probably my favorite beauty routine. In recent years I have valued wash day as a meditative time where I can really think and take a deep breath. I really steamed my hair while I was in deep condition. I have low porosity hair and steam helps moisture penetrate deeper. Mine is from Q-Redew. The oil and deep conditioner from Bomba Curls are my favorite combination for wash days. The oil is ideal for a pre-poo treatment and the deep conditioner is just super nourishing. If I don’t have these products, I’ll never go wrong with castor oil as a pre-poo treatment, and I also love everything about Carol’s daughter and Camille Rose (inexplicably, all of their stuff only works for my hair). Oribe’s moisture and control line is good too. When I have braids or protective styles, Dark and Lovelys Tension Tamer is a lifesaver for my scalp.
I also love bath time. I light Kusudi Incense from Niara Sterling or my favorite candle from Bum-Cake Vintage, which is shaped like a shell. Epsom salts or magnesium flakes are great when my muscles are sore, which it often does. I also love Masha Tea bath flowers – my editor Ella gave me these! I love Terra-Torys soaps and also the soap from Redoux – it is gentle on my eczema-prone skin and smells so good. I immediately feel reassured when I take a shower with it. Oui the People razors look so luxurious (the gold!) And I love how it gives me a super close shave in one smooth stroke. I like to use body oil after shaving. I love the smell of Fur’s and Narloa’s that has ylang ylang and grapefruit. I think it’s great that I can see the marigold, which is great for treating eczema, floating in the bottle. Klur’s body oil is another great option.
I have a lot of eczema on my hands, so hand cream is especially important in winter. Karité’s comes in a large bottle for a hand cream and really lasts a while. I love the bamboo top and that it has shea butter added to it. Shea butter is great for eczema-prone skin like mine, and I love Oye Green and Hanahana. All the pretty colors on Hanahana’s new packaging are so happy! When I want something light, I use Kubrakay’s shea butter. The whipped formula is perfect and still super moisturizing.
I don’t like heavy scents. I bring Amber the Alchemist Florida Water when I’m worried about being scared, like on a road trip I did last summer. It always purifies the energies in every room I am in. Diptyques Do Son reminds me of the sea and is also very calming. My grandmother really likes it so I feel connected to her when I wear it. And Liha’s roll-on fragrances are really great when I need a quick boost. Each is named for a Yoruba goddess who is dope. Yemoja soothes with frankincense, Oya contains uplifting grapefruit and rosemary, and Oshun is sensual orange, jasmine and ylang ylang. I love to roll up one of them, inhale the scent, and meditate on my intention for the day.
When we’re not in a pandemic I love getting massages and facials from Samantha Mims of Dermasaa when I want to relax. But there are so many non-beauty related things to relieve stress – in general, I am very creative and grateful for this opportunity. I’ve had a journal since first grade and I love writing poetry. I like to meditate and also do yoga and pole dance. Music is very healing to me and I always listen to records, hang up, sing for fun or even make music videos with my roommate and best friend. I’m a huge fan of nostalgia, and watching classic black-lead movies is so comforting – I loved going to theaters, especially Nitehawk or Metrograph. When I’m really down, I love turning to women’s devotions and reading books that are about self-love. And when all else fails, chatting with friends and family is always helpful. I am so grateful for my church. “
– as ITG said
Photos about the author