What I’m Using to Help My Skin Survive Summer Heat, Mask-Irritation and Never-Ending Stress

If you’ve been living these past few months, then you likely have been under significant stress. Between lots of work from home, my startup venture, volunteer work, and research, it’s been hard to take care of myself. Add to this the stress of the pandemic, and the continuing trauma of extrajudicial killings, and the ceaseless litany of crazy news every day, and it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone is looking or feeling their best. These are tough times to say the very least, and understandably my health and appearance aren’t always at the top of my priorities.

Although that is true, I find that it remains important—perhaps now more so than ever—for me to include a mindful practice of self-care and wellness that is built on intentional discipline and self-management. To that end, while it has been very easy for me to let my hair grow out of control, to wash my face only when I notice that I look like I’m dying, and to wear athleisure at every possible juncture, I’ve been taking the road less traveled these past few months and building blocks of time into each day to mind my physical, mental and spiritual health. A part of that practice has been tending to my appearance—and combating the nasty effects of stress, which for me have manifested chiefly as exhaustion, acne, massive dark circles, and the occasional day-long spiral into despair.

Each day I try to work out for at least an hour, burning around 1200 calories above what my body manages on its own. I read for a couple of hours before bed. I meditate on what I’m grateful for and what I’d like to achieve when I wake up and before I fall asleep. And, where my appearance is concerned, I like to practice a twice daily ritual that involves cleansing, polishing, and pampering my face and body to look my best (given the circumstances). As I do so, I envision the stressors of the day being buffed away, revealing the vibrancy of my essential self beneath all the turmoil.

It may seem a little vain given all that’s going on, but when things started getting profoundly dark this year, I said to myself (while quitting once and for all the nasty habit that are smoking cigarettes and periodic binge drinking) that I would need to “give myself the love and care that I need and deserve as though my life depended on it, because it does.”

Thus, my ever-evolving practice of self care was born, and here we are months later. I’m more fit than I’ve been in years, and I look pretty good too. That does’t fix what’s wrong in the world, but I feel good enough about myself, and am well enough that I have the energy to act—managing the affairs of my own life and giving what energy I have left over to fight for others. Each day, I’m working to “fill my cp” that it may runneth over into others. I think that’s an OK thing to do.

Anyway, having given that background, I wanted to briefly share with you some of the tools i’ve been using in my body and skin care wellness ritual as we navigate one of the most challenging and stressful summers in recent memory. These things are helping to keep me in positive spirits, and I hope they can help you, too.

With Love,


Now, without further ado, here are the products and techniques.


All images courtesy of Troupe Beauty.

Each morning and night, I like to use this cleanser to polish sweat, dead skin cells and detritus off of my face, ears and neck to contribute to a clean, fresh feeling. I use Nayamka Roberts-Smith’s 60-second (or more) cleansing method to massage the cleanser into my face, taking special care to address my “problem” areas and stimulate blood flow.

Typically, I rinse thoroughly, shave, and cleanse once more with a different and basic cleanser like Beauty Kitchen’s Honey & Oatmeal gel.

Daily light moisture – Rosen Skin Care Rose Water Face Dew

Point blank, I just like spraying rose water on my face after I cleanse in the morning and throughout the day because it smells good and feels nice. I think it also helps my skin to look and feel like shimmering silk.-


Contrary to popular myths, people with dark skin are susceptible to sunburn and despite my best efforts, I get it all the time. Aloe is soothing and I am prone to spraying it on my face and body even when I’m not burnt because it just feels divinely refreshing. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also help to reduce splotchiness and issues with texture, which translates into a buoyant and spry look for me personally.


Pictured: The sun failing to fry me thanks to good SPF at Nelson’s Landing in Searchlight, Nevada.

Speaking of sunburn, I’m in the camp that believes that we should be protecting ourselves from UV ray exposure. I’m also a person who gets CRAZY dark circles around his eyes if I’m exposed to too much sun without protection (this is apparently a fairly common phenomenon… who knew?)

Salt & Stone’s SPF 50 is a great option for my active, oftentimes outdoor lifestyle. Its decent protection lasts through my workout regimen and through my frequent hikes, and protects me from looking like somebody has punched me in both of my eyes. The ingredients are simple and effective for those of you who are concerned about dousing yourself in something unfamiliar.

Bi-weekly Mechanic Exfoliant – Upcircle Coffee Face Scrub

I used to use a mechanical exfoliant almost daily. Not only was that unnecessary, it probably did more harm than good. These days, I might use a mechanical exfoliant once or twice a week. I like this coffee scrub (you may recall that I used to make my own) not only because of the natural fragrance of coffee-and-floral combination, but also because you can feel your face tingle with warmth and life each time you use it. I think I catch a slight buzz, too, but that might just be quarantine-related delirium.


This product is straight-up amazing. Similar to retinol (which I use nightly as well, but which I won’t be linking to because it’s prescribed), this contains a very modest corrosive agent that eliminates dead skin cells and promotes healthy cell turnover. My skin has been glowing like never before lately, and my fine lines are a thing of the past.

That’s all for my recommendations for now, folks. If you end up buying something and absolutely loving it, I’d love to hear about it (just because I like to know if information like this helps people in some small way).

Alright. That’s all I have to share for now.


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