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Interview with Siraad Dirshe, ESSENCE Beauty Editor

Originally from Boston, Siraad Dirshe has always been a storyteller. Siraad has worked at major brands like Samsung, Nike, and Clinique telling consumer stories and developing marketing strategies. In her current role as the beauty editor for ESSENCE Magazine, Siraad now has the honor and privilege of connecting with and telling the stories of Black women across the globe.

Her mission is to help Black women, across generations, feel like their most beautiful selves, both inside and out, and empower them to live their lives unapologetically.

You’ve experienced the beauty industry from several angles, from a particular brand to now an editorial publication. Can you give us an insider scoop and talk about what it’s like working on each end?

I always considered myself a fairly creative person, which is why marketing always felt like the obvious choice -- and how I ended up working in marketing for most of my career. However, writing and being able to work on something, autonomously, from start to finish is truly something special. In most cases, when you're writing a story it's you're idea that you're bringing to life with each keyboard stroke and I think that's magical.

What are the skincare trends that you're most excited about as the weather starts to heat up (finally!)?I'm excited for super glowy and tanned skin. I have really dry skin, so the winter can really do a number. As the temperature starts to heat up, I use less skincare products which I'm always excited about.

On Skincare: I often forgo a moisturizer. Instead I'll just massage an oil, after cleansing, on to damp skin and let that soak in. I'll then follow-up with a gel like sunscreen that's super light. In the summertime, less is certainly more when it comes to skincare.

On Makeup: I also love really glossy lids and lips in the warmer months. At the moment, I can't think of any new products I'm dying to try but I'm sure Rihanna or Pat McGrath will drop something soon that will make me lose my mind. 

Can you talk a bit about how other wellness practices might help contribute to glowing skin? Why is it so important to do more than just double cleanse? 

I truly believe beauty starts from the inside out. So caring for your body, in the form of lots of sleep, water and healthy diet, really do contribute to the way your skin looks and feels. Stress (which is super hard to avoid!) does a number on your skin -- stress pimples and breakouts are super real.

So I always like to start my day with warm water, lemon, apple cider vinegar and dash of cayenne pepper. It's a great way to get things going, as well as hydrate first thing in the AM. Water and staying hydrated is super important for me; it makes me feel good, and helps my skin looks great.

When it comes to cleansing the skin, I like to make sure I get everything off each night so I truly believe in double cleansing. I always start with an oil cleanser, then follow-up with a water-based one. I'll even go back in with a makeup wipe or even cotton pad to make sure any dirt, oil, and makeup is completely gone before going to bed.

In addition to the body, I also like to take care of mind. I have several breathing exercise I do when I start to get stressed out. I also have recently started to journal again; lately it's been helping me feel centered and balanced.

What are your favorite products or ingredients to recommend to women of color and why?

Ohh, I have a lot but I'll keep it short. I think Vitamin C is really great (I just did a post about the benefits on my Instagram) for fading hyper-pigmentation, which many women of color deal with. I also love oils. I just discovered Moringa oil (not sure if I'm late or not to this) and I really love how my skin has been looking an feeling. Lastly, a daily SPF is a must for us! Even though we have more melanin in our skin, we still need to protect it by wearing a sunscreen.

Between the Shea Moisture campaigns of the world and the whitening culture from industry leading brands it's hard as a woman of color to feel like you have a place in the beauty industry. Are there any hopeful signs you're seeing that brands are working to empower women of color? 

For sure! There are so many examples of brands working to empower women of color (oh hey Rihanna boo!), which does make me hopeful. Now that's not to say that still isn't work to be done, but I do see some bright spots. I think it's important that we as consumers continue to hold large brands accountable, and also support (with our dollars) those brands that are doing it right.

There are lots of quality beauty brands founded by women of color that are doing the important work of creating products that truly fit our needs and represent us in the advertising. I love Beneath Your Mask, Hanahana Beauty, Golde and of course The Lip Bar. I'm inspired by all of the Black women who not only create amazing products but equally important build diverse-centric brand.

What advice would you give to women of color who are just getting started on their skincare journey?

I would say take it slow and find a routine that works for your lifestyle! Like everything, there are lots levels; you can be super obsessive about it or not care at all. I think it's really about finding a few products that really work for your skin, and being with consistent with them. I think having a good cleanser, a moisturizer and oil that works along with SPF are a great place to start.

You've been on a healthy skin journey for a while now, what have you learned? Share your routine with us!

The most important thing I've learned is that all the cliches about the impact drinking water, getting sleep and eating healthy has on your skin are actually really true. It sounds like such boring skin care advice, but they truly make a huge difference. That being said, I do love exploring and experimenting with different products. A must-have for me is a good chemical exfoliant (like the one listed below).

Okay, so my routine can vary quite a bit but here's my typical daily PM routine since it's a bit more intense: I always start with an oil cleanser to take off the day's grime, dirt, and makeup. After trying a bunch of oil cleansers, Tatcha's Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil is by far my favorite. It gets everything off and leaves my skin feeling hydrated but clean. I'll then follow-up with a traditional cleanser like Biologique Recherche Lait U . Because I like to make sure my face is actually clean, I'll usually do a once over with a makeup wipe to make sure I've got everything.

After cleansing, I'll follow with Biologique Recherche P50 to exfoliate and Origin's Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion ($34) to tone. Sometimes I’ll do a hydrating sheet mask or detoxifying clay mask. A few times a week, I’ll add a vitamin C serum in the mix to help with my hyperpigmentation. Clinique's Fresh Pressed is super effective! Last but not least, I'll slather on a heavy moisturizer before heading to bed. Right now, I'm using Tata Harper's Creme Riche.

The less expensive, but definitely holds it own, younger sister of matcha powder. Think Sasha Obama, or Solange Knowles, yes now you’re starting to get the picture. Nearly every part of the plant can be eaten, it has the pods of peas and the leaves of spinach and you can grind it into a powder and make a $7 cult tea out of it. 

Moringa oil is a powerhouse when it comes to removing dirt, so consider this ingredient when shopping for your next cleanser.

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