Posts Tagged Beauty

How CoverGirl Pivoted From "Easy and Breezy" to Achieve the Ultimate Glow Up

Remember the morning you woke up and realized that the Olsen Twins were full-fledged adults? Us, too. The sisters went from cracking cases and the occasional “You got it, dude” to embodying fashion icons.

Their glow up was real, and so is CoverGirl’s. Subtly, over the past few years, the brand known for easiness and breeziness grew up. It rebranded as a chicer, more mature version of itself, offering a wider range of products and a new look. But it also offered something more important than upgraded packaging: inclusivity, before it was a commodity. CoverGirl named a male ambassador – a CoverBoy – in 2016, and the brand partnered with female engineers in 2014. The ambassadors the brand celebrates are diverse in age, race, and vocation, and much of the credit goes to CoverGirl’s powerhouse senior vice president Ukonwa Ojo, who comes from a long tenure in brand management, overseeing the marketing strategy for brands like Cheerios, Durex, and Betty Crocker before accepting the role with CoverGirl almost two years ago. Leaving her parents and Nigeria at 15 for America, Ojo went to college at the University of North Carolina, focusing on business and finance before deciding to return to school for brand management, something she felt more connected with. We discussed her eagerness to join the CoverGirl team, what she hopes to change for the better, and the future of representation in beauty.

POPSUGAR: Did you have any reservations coming into an industry that’s perceived as surface level and superficial?
Ukonwa Ojo: For me, no. Not at all. My mom was a fashion designer, so fashion and beauty have been a part of my life for so long. And if anything, I feel like I’ve been lost. I’ve been working 20 years, and I’m like, “Beauty, where have you been all my life?” I can be a businesswoman, I can run a profit and loss statement and make my numbers and all that, but I can wear lipstick, I can get glammed up, I can have a stylist, I can have my makeup done.

“This is such a fun industry, because it really challenges me intellectually.”

This is such a fun industry, because it really challenges me intellectually. It’s really hard to win in this industry. It’s very fragmented, it’s lots of innovation all the time. It’s very fast-paced, and digital is important – it’s even more important here. You have to be constantly moving and innovating, so I love the intellectual challenge of that. But then it also appeals to my inner girl in terms of my love of fashion and color. I really feel like I can bring my whole self to work. That’s been amazing for me.

PS: Thank you for saying that, because I don’t think our industry gets enough credit, especially when you said “intellect.”

UO: Oh, this is a hard job. To win in beauty is really, really hard. I don’t know how many industries you go to where you’re launching collections every five minutes. You’re always thinking, “What’s the next big thing?” You’re always trying to stay ahead of the game from a consumer standpoint, staying relevant for every generation. Because all people participate in the category; it’s not just a section of society, especially for a mass brand like us. There’s nothing at all easy about playing and winning in this industry, and I love that. I love the intellectual challenge of that.

Model Maye Musk

PS: That’s so refreshing to hear, because a lot of times with brands, they focus on one group of people. I know my mom personally feels left out, and I just absolutely love Maye Musk . She’s a stunning woman, owning her age. And my mom sees her and is like, “Oh, I can wear CoverGirl still.”

UO: Yes you can, exactly. And that is so important that we never, ever, ever, ever, ever walk away from that.

PS: What impressed you about CoverGirl before you got started with the company? And then, when you got there, what did you know needed to change? What were your hopes for the company?

UO: What impressed me was the brand. It’s iconic. This is a brand where I’ll get into an Uber and you’re chatting and then, it’s like, “What do you do?” And you’re like, “I’m SVP at CoverGirl.” They’re like, “CoverGirl!” Everybody knows this brand and loves this brand. I personally live that because I get DMs all the time of people wanting to be CoverGirls. It means something to be a CoverGirl. The brand stood for inclusivity way before inclusivity was the cool thing to do. And I think people really give the brand credit for that.

That goes back to our founder who was very visionary, right? In 1961, calling the brand CoverGirl because he wanted the makeup of CoverGirls to be available to every girl. That’s the DNA that empowers this brand. Every year, because we introduce new CoverGirls probably on a yearly basis, we’re always asking ourselves, “Who has been part of this category but has never been celebrated before?” That really pushes us to introduce new narrative, new dialogue, to celebrate different types of beauty – not the idealized standard of it.

My job is incredibly fun for me personally because it really is aligned with my values. And I’m such a girl’s girl. I love the whole thing. Then, to be a part of a brand that has an impact on culture. I can change the way that people define beauty, can change the way people feel about themselves. I’ve had emotional conversations with people that said, “When you made this person a CoverGirl, I felt like I was part of the beauty dialogue for the first time. And I’ve been a part of this country forever. I’ve been a part of this culture forever. But for the first time, I felt like I was part of it.” To be a part of a team that does that and has the opportunity to do that, I honestly don’t know what other job you would have that would tick all those boxes. So it was an easy yes for me, to be honest.

PS: When I think of CoverGirl, I think you are usually at the forefront of who is going to be the hot CoverGirl or CoverBoy. Obviously, Katy Perry, you guys got her early.
UO: Rihanna, Taylor Swift. If you literally go through the list.

PS: I loved seeing the commercial last year with Nura Afia .

UO: She was the first ambassador to wear a hijab.

PS: Is there one category that you guys are hoping to tap into this next year that you haven’t yet?

UO: I wouldn’t say we haven’t yet, but I think we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve always stood for ethnic diversity, we’ve always stood for age diversity. And I think now, nobody really embodies that more than Maye. I personally love her, but she just really embraces her age and allows us to be able to talk to all women.

The third piece that we’ve been really been trying to establish, and I see us doing more of, is vocational diversity, which is particularly important for girls. Historically, in the beauty industry, we only celebrated entertainers. You had to be an actor, a singer, or a model. Literally, almost 100 percent of the CoverGirls in the entire industry came from those three vocations. So what happens to all those other millions and millions and millions of women? Vocational diversity is one area where I think we’ve led the charge on.

We continue to push, so that’s why in our slew of CoverGirls, we have a model, we have a singer, but we also have a businesswoman in Ayesha Curry. We have a motorcycle racer and a fitness enthusiast with Shelina (Moreda) and with Massy (Arias) . We have a director and an actor with Issa . With the Clean Matte collection, we were able to launch with Girls Who Code for female engineers and females in science. Once again, so many women who participate in that never, ever thought they would be part of the beauty conversation ever. So we’ve gotten so many positive responses from females in science who are like, “Oh my God. I’ve never seen myself as part of beauty. This is first time ever.” I think there’s so much more that we can do.

PS: Let’s talk about I Am What I Make Up. It spoke to me when I first saw it on television. I’m sure that was a huge task when you guys were thinking about the rebrand. What were the goals, and what was important to achieving that?

UO: It was a blessing for me that I wasn’t a part of the beauty industry before. I joined a year and a half ago, and when you join, you get the opportunity to listen a lot. You listen to the people who love your brand. You listen to the people who don’t love your brand. You listen to your team. You listen to your retailers. You listen to all your partners.

One thing that we realized was makeup was not getting as much credit as it deserved. A lot of women don’t realize this, but every day with their makeup bag standing in front of the mirror, they are creating a version of themselves they want to show the world that day, and with that came the confidence that they needed to take on the world. We talked to so many people. They were like, “If I have a big presentation, I need my red lipstick.” The only other thing that they talked about that was even close was high heels. She would talk about how her makeup for a wedding was very different than her makeup with girlfriends, versus if she’s going to the club and it’s like, “Well, why is that?” “Well, because I want to project different aspects of myself and different aspects of my personality to different people.” That was the insight really underneath it all. And in the spirit of what I wanted to change, because our slogan was “Easy Breezy Beautiful,” it was a handcuff, because when she’s navigating all of those different dimensions of her personality, she needs different types of makeup for all of those. And they’re not always easy.

“Because our slogan was ‘Easy Breezy Beautiful,’ it was a handcuff, because when she’s navigating all of those different dimensions of her personality, she needs different types of makeup for all of those. It’s not always easy.”

PS: Amen.

UO: CoverGirl in the past would make the choice not to participate [in certain looks or events] because we would say, “That’s not easy and breezy, so that’s not CoverGirl.” And our perspective was like, “We should never judge that.” If that same woman says, “I want that look for this occasion,” we should give that to her. Because we’re her partner, and we’re her ally, and we want her or him to have everything that they need to succeed. When we looked at our portfolio, we realized that we had gaps. That’s why in our Spring collection, we launched 114 new items. There are lot of products that I have on my face that we literally didn’t have before Spring, and now we do. So in the morning, when I just wanted to lay low in a hotel, I could do that. But if I’m talking to Kirbie and I know she’s going to come in with a beat face, I better show up, right?

PS: You better show up.

UO: That’s why we love I Am What I Make Up, because it allowed us, as a brand, to really stand for equipping her for whatever version of herself of himself they wanted to project to the world that day.

PS: You came to America as an immigrant when you were 15. What advice do you have for the 15-year-old right now that wants to fill your shoes and thinks, “I can do it, I just don’t know how to get there.” What is your best advice?

UO: I would say when you’re younger in your career, you wonder if you can really do what you love as your vocation. I spent my first five and a half years in finance. While it taught me a lot, and I got really good at managing a business and running a profit and loss statement, I realized I didn’t want to wake up and do that every day. It just wasn’t me. I took a risk to quit my job at the time and go back to business school and study brand management.

It was a huge risk because I had a good-paying job, and I was doing really well in it, but I just didn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life. So I would say take the risk to lean into who you are, because I wholeheartedly believe that your gift is wrapped up in that. I don’t think you can separate the two of them. And I don’t think you can show up as your best self if you’re doing something that is not core to who you are, who you want to be. I wish I had known that a little bit earlier, but I’m glad I realized it, and I made the choices that I wanted to make.

When I was at 15, my dad was a pilot. He said, “You can go anywhere in the world to study in a university.” I said, “Well, I want to go to America because I want to run a business, and it’s a capitalist country.” He said, “OK, go.” I came here without my parents or anything, and it was a risk, but it worked out. I took another risk when Coty [CoverGirl’s parent company] came knocking and said, “Do you want to run CoverGirl?” I’d never worked in beauty before, but it sounded like it would be a heck of a lot of fun. And it turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun! So, I think just being superopen to just leaning into that piece that you feel like, “This is totally wrapped up in who I am, and I think I’ll do well there.”

10 Latin American Beauty Brands You'll Want to Add to Your Vanity

Growing up Latina, there’s a good chance that the women in your family taught you the ways of beauty early on, passing on their lists of tried and true products they can’t live without and their impressive DIY secrets , and maybe even telling you to replace your favorite drugstore and Sephora buys with brands that they knew and loved back home.

While you may be too attached to your Urban Decay Naked Palette (we don’t blame you) to abandon all your usuals cold turkey, we rounded up some favorite Latin American brands that are hands-down worth a try and could easily become your new beauty go-tos. Grandma will be so proud!

Additional reporting by Alessandra Foresto

11 DIY Beauty Remedies Your Grandma Always Talked About That Actually Work

Every abuela has one: that wild concoction she whips up from ingredients in her kitchen and swears by every time you have a pimple, dry skin, unruly hair – you name it. As kids, most of us rolled our eyes and went along with it, but we’ve done a little digging, and it turns out maybe Grandma wasn’t so crazy after all. Many of those beauty recipes actually work! Warning: do try these 11 practices at home for smooth skin and silky hair – or get these beauty buys that are also grandma-approved .

1. Using mayonnaise as a deep conditioner for healthy hair.

According to hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins, this old-school method works because of the fat to protein ratio. “The oil softens the hair, making it shinier – and the protein in the eggs will make strands stronger.” He recommends applying the treatment to dry hair, and leaving it on as a mask for 15-20 minutes. Shampoo twice, and condition afterwards. But, Hawkins notes, this treatment works best for hair that isn’t fine or limp.

2. Dabbing nails in olive oil for a healthier look.

Nail expert Stephanie Stone debunked the myth (common in Dominican culture) that rubbing garlic on nails will make them strong (according to studies, it has no benefit). But, she says, applying olive oil (a popular DIY beauty ingredient in Puerto Rico) on nails and cuticles throughout the day is a great way to improve their health. “Keeping your hands and nails moisturized is key, especially if you’re trying to repair damaged nail beds. I’d also recommend applying it lightly throughout the day instead of a full on soak. But consistency is key!”

3. Coconut oil as a body moisturizer.

“This one 100% works,” says dermatologist (and Sofia Vergara’s derm!) Dendy Engelman, M.D., of coconut oil for soft skin, a popular technique in many Latin American countries. “Coconut oil is mostly made up of saturated fats and medium-chain fatty acids, which help repair the skin barrier, trap water to hydrate skin, and also reduce inflammation. And recent studies show it’s also a great treatment for eczema.”

4. Adding honey to hair conditioner for softer tresses.

A custom common in Caribbean Latin America, honey is a natural moisturizer, which Hawkins says does work to help rehydrate your locks. And using unprocessed honey will give you an extra bonus: it’s full of enzymes that will help create a healthy scalp and prevent dandruff.

5. Agua maravilla to fight blemishes.

Also known as witch hazel, this is common in many Latino families, especially from Puerto Rican and Dominican backgrounds. Engelman says it works because the mixture contains anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antibacterial properties. Engelman also recommends Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Refreshingly Clean Towelettes ($6) to control blemishes and calm bug bites.

6. Washing hair with Coca-Cola for shine.

This is a long-time favorite technique among not just Latino families, but celebrities like Suki Waterhouse . Hairstylist Nunzio Saviano gives this traditional trick the thumbs up: “The acidity closes the hair cuticle, which makes it look healthy and shiny. But be careful: the sugar can leave your hair sticky, so you might need to rinse it out quickly. Apple cider vinegar is an alternative that might not be as messy!”

7. Beach sand as a skin exfoliant.

“Sand is essentially finely granulated rocks, so it’s perfect to remove excess dry skin cells,” Engelman says. “But because it’s so abrasive, I’d only recommend you use it to exfoliate feet. It might be too harsh for other parts of your body.”

8. Manzanilla grisi shampoo to lighten hair.

Saviano says that this traditionally Mexican and South American product – which contains Flor de Manzanilla and claims to both wash and lighten hair – does work, but he would use it sparingly. “This will maintain your tone and even lighten it at times, but if you use it too much, your color might become dull or even fade.”

9. Grape skin paste for glowing skin.

Grapes are a gold mine, says Engelman. “They’ll have a brightening effect over time because they contain vitamins B6, C, and A, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, selenium, and flavonoids, which act as antioxidants and remove toxins from the skin.”

10. Sugar and lemon juice as an antiaging exfoliant.

According to Engelman, the sugar crystals act as an exfoliator, sloughing away dead skin, while the lemon juice helps peel away dead skin cells because of their content of alpha hydroxy acid (which is found in many antiaging treatments). Exfoliating is important, Engelman says, “because as we age, our skin doesn’t shed as effectively. Plus, getting rid of dead cells helps your moisturizers penetrate better.”

11. Avocado for healthy cuticles.

“Actually, rubbing avocado oil on cuticles is more effective than actual avocado,” says Stone. But good news for avocado lovers: “Avocados in a healthy, balanced diet will help you see overall improvement in your hair, skin, and nails, too.” Bring on the guacamole!


The Most Beautiful Spas in the World – and Which Treatments to Try!

We’re going to be honest with you: one of the best perks of being a beauty editor is getting to test out luxe spa and salon treatments. At times, we fly all over the globe just to get the freshest ingredient (such as homegrown lavender from Provence, France) or the most peaceful massage (nothing beats the fresh air in Manchester, VT) and the poshest scene (ahem, Miami). Whether you’re planning a spa getaway or just looking for some R & R in your hometown, we’ve curated the best of the best to bring you our list of must-try worldwide spas and salons. Get ready to book some “me” time!

Parisiennes Share Their Tried-and-True Hair, Makeup, and Skin Care Secrets

I’m not going to lie; I moved to Paris for all the cliché reasons – the sophistication, the culture, and the grandiosity that can make anyone feel just a little bit royal. Of course, there’s also Paris’s beauty – in its cityscape and in its people. So when I decided to explore global beauty standards for my docu-series, Pretty , Paris was the first place I started. In a nutshell, Pretty is a look at beauty everywhere. I’ve been traveling to cities across the globe, namely Paris, Milan, London, Tel Aviv, and Casablanca, speaking with women about their country’s and city’s beauty ideals and their own relationship with beauty.

Beauty in Paris

Effortless. If you ask almost anyone in Paris what it means to be beautiful, the word effortless will surely come up, which was exactly the case when I spoke with natives Sonia, Carole, and Sarah. They each explained that French beauty is very natural and inconspicuous. Even if you spend a lot of time on your appearance, you have to look as though you didn’t. In terms of physical characteristics, Sonia explained that the ideal French woman is tall and thin with somewhat regular features.

Many Parisians sum up this archetype with a commonly used expression: “la petite Parisienne” – a woman who acts as though her appearance doesn’t matter but pays attention to every detail of it. She wears Adidas Stan Smith sneakers with oversize coats and drinks red wine. However, despite looking beautifully understated, locals know that she’s got a number of beauty secrets in her arsenal. Thankfully for us in the States, Sonia, Sarah, and Carole shared some of theirs.

This Is Jennifer Lopez's No. 1 Beauty Secret

Jennifer Lopez just revealed the beauty secret she swears by, and it’s totally not what you think. The multitalented singer and actress, who recently blew our minds with all her sexiness at the American Music Awards and really doesn’t seem to be aging at all, told Entertainment Tonight that her top beauty and mommy essential is – drum roll, please – sleep.

“Sleep is very important,” she said, “I get my seven to eight hours sleep no matter what.” J Lo has been busy filming Shades of Blue in New York, but snoozing is still high up on her list of priorities – not just for herself, but for her kids, Max and Emmy, too. “There is a limit. You will fall down at a certain point, and mommies can’t do that. Mommies have to be good for the babies at all times. They need to know that you’re solid and strong and good.” And there you have it! Whether you’re a mom or not, it’s called beauty rest for a reason, right?

4 Tips to Prevent Exercise Acne

The following post was originally featured on Fit Bottomed Girls and written by Susan , who is part of POPSUGAR Select Fitness .

If there’s one thing I definitely don’t miss about my adolescence, it’s acne.

(Also up there? Not having a CLUE how to grow my bangs out, general social awkwardness and feeling totally weird in my body. But that’s for another post.)

And while I’m happy that the majority of my adolescent acne woes are behind me, I still get the occasional annoying breakout – some of it is hormonal, I know, but others fall squarely in the exercise acne camp.

And it’s no fun! You go to the gym to feel better inside and out – not break out! Which is why we wanted to share these tips how to prevent exercise acne from New York Dermatologist, Dr. Jeremy Fenton of the Schweiger Dermatology Group , for Be-YOU-tiful Week .

How to Prevent Exercise Acne

Nothing feels better than a good sweat session. Working out isn’t always as good for your skin as it is for your health. A build-up of sweat can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Not to mention, touching your face transfers oil and bacteria (which thrive in moist, humid environments like the gym) to the skin, leading to possible acne flare-ups. Here are four easy ways to prevent exercise acne each time you hit the gym.

  1. Don’t postpone showering. Showering soon after a workout will prevent sweat from sticking around and mixing with dead skin cells to clog pores. If you don’t have time or access to a shower right after your workout, you can use a medicated pad with salicylic or glycolic acid (such as Clear Clinic ClearMe Pads) for a quick wipe-down to prevent exercise acne.
  2. Use the right body wash. Trading out your regular soap for an antibacterial or anti-acne wash containing ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can also be helpful at preventing exercise acne. One tip for using a benzoyl peroxide wash is to leave it on for a few minutes after you lather (shave or brush your teeth in the shower) before rinsing it off. This can help the medication sink in. There are also micronized forms of benzoyl peroxide on the market now that have smaller sized particles of the medication, allowing for deeper penetration into the pores and follicles.
  3. Exfoliate regularly. Regular exfoliation is the key to preventing the buildup of skin cells: exfoliating scrubs, body brushes or just a washcloth can make a big difference.
  4. Breathable clothing. Try to wear loose-fitting, breathable cotton clothing. The tighter, synthetic materials just compress the sweat and dirt into the pores.

Do you know notice exercise acne flare-ups when you don’t do these things? I’ve found it’s a little bit better for me in the winter than the summer just because I sweat less and there’s less humidity in the cooler months, but number 3 is so key for me!

These Are Adriana Lima's Best Beauty Secrets – Straight From the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show taped on Nov. 10, and as we expected, our favorite Brazilian VS Angels killed it on the catwalk – especially Adriana Lima. It was the supermodel’s 16th – yes, 16th! – fashion show with the brand, and (as expected) she looked hotter than ever. Of course, we wanted to know everything about what went on to get Adriana ready for the sexy night , but the secrets we were dying to know the most related to that gorgeous skin and supershiny hair. POPSUGAR Beauty editor Lauren Levinson went behind the scenes at the show to get us the scoop. Keep reading for Adriana’s best beauty tips , then check out her sexiest VS moments of all time.

Additional reporting by Lauren Levinson