The Chef Who Gave Up Facial Cleanser

The #ITGTopShelfie interview series focuses on the beauty routines of Into The Gloss’ lovely, accomplished, and loyal community of readers. Submit your own on Instagram—post your Top Shelfie (tag us @intothegloss!) and include the hashtag #ITGTopShelfie for a chance to be featured on ITG.

“Hello! I am Tara Thomas (@cheftarathomas). I live in New York but I’m currently visiting my lover in Norway—he just moved into a new apartment in Copenhagen. I am a chef, restaurant consultant, model, gardener, and writer, and I also handle community things at Caldera Magazine. I use my voice at Caldera to talk about food empowerment, a topic I’m very passionate about. I put the concepts to use at Phoenix Community Garden and Breaking Bread NYC, two organizations that bring people together through food.

I’ve been interested in beauty since I was four or five, and spent a lot of time when I was younger trying to be something I was not. I used makeup to try and fit into a beauty standard that excluded me, and it felt like a lot of work. When I was 16, I started using more natural products, and I let my hair be natural too. I loved finding ways to feel beautiful that required the smallest amount of effort. My beauty philosophy is that beauty should empower yourself and inspire others. Now, my routine has to agree with my ethics—I like when my beauty products are plant-based, free of animal cruelty, and multi-purpose. I approach every new product with skepticism and a lot of research, because I know not everything is going to work for me. When I treat every new product like an investment, it feels more exciting to add it to my shelf. I would love to try Epilogic by Dr. Jeanniton next. I’ve seen so many other Black women rave about it!

My probiotics are the start of my beauty routine. I either drink Tart Vinegar or kombucha. I also use CBD—I love Gossamer’s Dusk and Dawn. Then I take a shower! I only ever wash my body with the Redoux Turmeric Botanical Bar. Scent really ties into my beauty routine—something about the way a steamy bathroom highlights the scents in all my products is truly so fab. Sometimes I’ll wash my face with that bar too, but usually I just splash my face with cold water and give myself a quick massage.

The reason I don’t love facial cleansers is that once I met this old woman at a store whose skin was immaculate—not a sign of age. She told me she was in her 70s, but her skin was stuck in pre-puberty days. I was struggling with acne, and so I asked her what her secret was. She said that cleansers kill the layer of healthy bacteria on the skin that helps protect it, so she never used them. I stopped using cleanser and two months later my skin was clear and my texture was improved. I think now, my skin just feels healthy.

My work wife Asia Grant of Redoux made my dream hair cleansing bar which makes my scalp feel clean, not dry, and my curls just pop. After I get out of the shower, I lightly coat my hair with the La Tierra Sagrada Jojoba Hair Medicine. I’m pretty loyal to the La Tierra Segrada line—it’s centered around ritual and has palo santo oil in it. My hair smells like it for days! Next I massage the Treatment into my hair from scalp to ends. I finish by adding shea butter to my hair, and I either air dry my curls or put my hair into braids.

I moisturize my body with raw shea butter that I get from a local African market or order online. When I want an extra treatment, I like to make my own face masks. I typically use a powdered clay, a good olive oil like Brightland, a few drops of the Young Living Valor essential oil, and a spoonful of chlorella and spirulina. After I rinse that off, I let my face air dry, then follow with the Youth To The People Adaptogen Soothe and Hydrate Mist. Under the Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, which I use when it gets cold out, it’s so, so moisturizing. Next I massage in the Redoux Moringa Mallow Energy Balm, which makes my skin feel elastic. Once it’s absorbed, I finish with the Redoux Borage Ginseng Active Serum.

I don’t wear much makeup, but I love how it can really be like a mood ring. I treat makeup that way. Recently I’ve been so inspired by the makeup artists I interact with—they always show me something new! When I do my makeup, I love to use the By Humankind Bamboo Stem Cotton Swabs—plastic-free and so easy! Something I wear every day is Rituel De Fille’s Inner Glow Creme Pigment in Lust, which I can use on my lips or cheeks. I really enjoy that it’s bold, warm, and glowy. I also love the Glossier Colorslide in Magic Carpet and Adult Swim to add a pop to my eyes. I add glow with the Milk Makeup Flex Highlighter in Iced.

Stress makes life feel so bumpy. When I’m working, I try to relax by drinking tea, massaging my hands with shea butter, listening to jazz, and diffusing essential oils. To unwind I really enjoy getting into the bathroom and having a little spa party. Lately since I’ve been in Norway I’ve been taking baths—my apartment in New York does not allow for it. I love to use Sounds bath salts, which are infused with ethically sourced botanicals and make unique scentscapes in my bathroom. At the end of a spa party, if time allows, I love giving myself a manicure. The J. Hannah polishes glide on and dry so fast—the shades I love are Fauna, Dune, and Akoya. My best friend from high school and I used to spend one night a week painting our nails, creating DIY products, doing hair and face masks, and deep exfoliating. Asia and I had a beautiful day at the spa more recently that felt like an evolution of that memory. I think it’s so fabulous to bond over beauty.”

—as told to ITG

Photos via the author

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