The Bridging Beauty and Wellness Digital Conference was the virtual gathering we all needed. From skincare to meditation to black owned cosmetic companies determined to make waves in an industry slow to make room for them, BBW Con was well-timed and well stocked! Best friends and journalists, Sha Ravine and D’Shonda Brown, pulled out all the stops “to curate the necessary conversations that give space to our entire being as women of color navigating these industries” (Sheen Magazine). Sha and D’Shonda recognized that the connection between beauty and mental health needed to be spotlighted now more than ever while most of us have been unable to avail of most of our almost ritualistic practices of maintenance and coping.
Hosts Sha and D’Shonda treated attendees to the story behind how and why the whole thing came together and it certainly came together. An idea and vision combined with a seemingly unrealistic goal came to life and their gratitude was palpable. As was the energy! BBW Con attendees were encouraged to network and connect in the YouTube Live comments section and it set the tone for the sisterhood and camaraderie that the whole event would nurture.
Separated into four sessions, BBW Con seamlessly integrated the likes of journalists, therapists, dermatologists, yoga instructors, writers and beauty editors. Panel one was all about #Skingoals and Upping Our Self-Care During Quarantine. Dr. Karen Kagha and Dr. Elyce Love tag-teamed their best tips and practices to keeping our skin moisturized at a time of excessive hand-washing and sanitizing. Encouraging the use of warm water instead of hot water in showers and keeping a light moisturizer at the ready, their combined message was moisturize in a practical way and do it as often as you can. The two dermatologists and beauty founder, Lauren Napier, also tackled navigating at-home foot care with the use of their favorite foot scrubs and peels. Most educational was the complex topic of eczema – a common condition brought on by inflammation of the skin’s protective layer – the varying causes and practices used to diagnose and thwart flare ups.
Lauren Napier shone as she spotlighted her innovative and versatile makeup wipes that do so much more than remove makeup. Each wipe is infused with a selection of high quality botanical extracts to work with and nourish your specific skin type. With recyclable packaging and the biodegradable wipes themselves, you can’t help but get behind Lauren’s impactful mission of “feeling good taking it off” while sparing the environment.
Panel two was all about Black Women, Self-Love, and Mental Health during COVID-19 and the eclectic mix of panelists made a heavy conversation so palatable. Kicked off with a proper virtual saging by spiritually led businessowner, OlanikeeOsi, anxiety, healing and boundary setting were the key topics covered in such a beautifully safe space. Social Worker and Mental Health Care Advocate, Shevon Jones, and Miss United States 2018-2019 winner, Andromeda Peters, brought light to the misconception that comes with asking for help in the black community and gently pushed all women of color to do the work of reparenting our thoughts and our mind while being intentional about moving negative energy through the body in moments of heightened emotions and stress.
The #SelfishBabe app founder herself, OlanikeeOsi, brought an impassioned call to all women to really take this to time get to know themselves and what they want in order to show up as their truest and highest selves in the world and their relationships.
The third panel covered Women of Color in Beauty with compelling insights and first-hand experience from beauty editor Khalea Underwood, beauty and culture reporter, Darian Symone Harvain, and freelance beauty writer Blake Newby. This panel gave us a behind the scenes look into what it’s like being the shakers and the movers of the brands we consume as a culture while also defining what culture is. Blake said it best; WE are the culture and things don’t move without us. The disparity between the fact that African American women have the highest buying power bar none and yet still struggle to find themselves represented was the hot topic and for good reason. The duty was ultimately put on us as consumers to really do the research and be intentional when deciding which brands we choose to support because, well, it matters. We aren’t required to shop the same after COVID-19 and most of us never will.
The fourth and final panel really brought home multi-faceted wellness and living well, covering all things nutrition and physical wellness and how different that can look for each of us. Yasmine Jameelah, Wellness and Size Inclusivity Advocate and founder of the Transparent Black Girl community, Self-Love Coach and Educator and founder of The Self Love Organization Denise Liv, and holistic nutritionist Amber Gordon talked sustainable eating habits and exercise that really reinforce the brain-body connection.
Just when you thought you had your fill, BBW Con threw in one last gem with a fireside chat with none other than keynote speaker and founder of BlackGirlSunscreen, Shontay Lundy. Perhaps more impressive than the elimination of harmful ingredients and that annoying white residue, is the need Lundy’s been able to fulfill in such a short period of time since the creation in 2016. 2020 marked their international debut with BlackGirlSunscreen touching down in Nigeria. Lundy’s passion to educate and protect melanin worldwide is doing the hard work of rewriting the story black women historically have been made to believe that sunscreen isn’t for us.
“Built by the hands and on the backs of black women” (Brown), the first annual Bridging Beauty and Wellness conference was so tasteful and honest and necessary. I’m already counting down the days until next year’s; virtually or not, let’s bring that same energy!
Watch the full conference here!