Marjon Carlos is the type of gal that you'd love to call your BFF. She's a New York City-based writer who is whip smart (she's a former Vogue.com staffer), easy on the eyes (her killer complexion and lipstick game are on point) and lights up any room she walks into (#Facts).
And if that's not enough, she's got a dope beauty routine, a list of must-have products and sage beauty advice that you're going to love. ESSENCE caught up with Carlos and got the full scoop!
We just love your hair! What are your must-have hair products?
I’m a hair chameleon—going from butt-grazing braids to chin-length weave to letting my own curls fly—so my medicine cabinet is filled to the brim with products that promote healthy hair. You have to have a strong foundation to experiment on! So I use tea tree oil on my scalp along with Shea Moisture’s scalp treatment, and then I apply a mix of Jamaican castor oil and shea oil on my edges. I am a big fan of Shea Moisture’s Leave-In Conditioner, along with Mizani’s Miracle Milk. For twist outs, Shea Moisture’s Curl Pudding is king and for my “Sade” slick backs, I use a combination of coconut oil, Eco gel, and this incredible gel Mielle Organics Styling Gel, that smells divine.
ESSENCE's own Julee Wilson gifted me the MarulaOil by Paul Mitchell brush last year that makes my hair so soft and slick without breaking my ends. When my hair is crazy dry, a good cheap mask is Creme of Nature’s Argan Oil, which is like literally $2 and works wonders, or even a mix of Bentonite clay. Strong rubberbands are key, along with tiny hairpins. Then for good measure, I take Biotin to promote growth and go see my stylist of 10 years, Leona Wilson, as much as possible!
Ok, so what are your must-have cosmetic products?
I am slowly becoming a make-up girl. I’ve never contoured or anything like that, but I do use Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer everyday. It just acts like Photoshop and smoothes out your skin for a very natural glow. I then use MAC’s Minerialize Skin Finish in “Dark Golden”. I’ll apply Dior’s Airflash Foundation for more coverage if I’ve got a big event and just need to heighten the look a bit more. I then apply Dior Diorshow Mascara, which is great for length. Fun story: I was getting ready for ESSENCE’s News Editor Chrissy Coleman’s wedding a few months ago and turned on a YouTube tutorial on how to perfect the cat eye—I’m now damn good at it! I line my eyes everyday with L’Oreal Paris’ Voluminous Liner Noir. To finish it all off, I’ll either add a very nude lip with MAC’s “Verve” or for the perfect gloss, Fashion Fair’s Lip Brilliance High Shine Lip Lacquer.
Tell us a little about your skincare regimen?
At 34 years old, my skin gets my full attention—so I have been really working on a solid routine. I start out by using Nubian Heritage Black Soap in the morning, which smells fantastic. I then apply Thayer’s Witch Hazel as a toner, which leaves my skin squeaky clean. I am a big fan of Dr. Sturm x Angela Bassett’s line for women of color, so I use their hyaluronic serum and then the rich face cream. At night, I may switch it up and use Urban Skin Rx’s Eventone Night Repair. For lotions, I love Glossier’s Body Hero and Johnson & Johnson’s Cocoa Butter Oil. When it comes to masks, I’ll either use Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Mask, Glossier’s Moon Mask, or Herbviore Brighten.
Who are your personal beauty icons? Why?
I think Cicley Tyson and Lena Horne are perfect examples of how Black women simply don’t age—we just get better with time. Diana Ross and Tracee Ellis Ross have cornered the game on hair. I appreciate that for them frizz is hardly something to tame but an entire look. Donna Summer, too! Rihanna is just so brave with her looks and has inspired me to play with mine with abandon. I remember cutting my hair off to look like hers back, back in the day—pixie cut, shaved side, blonde streaks, the whole thing.
What is the best beauty advice you’ve ever been given?
I know how eye-roll inducing the adage of “Love the skin you’re in” is, but it really has meant more and more sense to me recently. I feel like I’m owning my body and appearance in a way I didn’t before and it’s really quite freeing.
Favorite red lipstick color of all-time?
“Russian Roulette” by MAC.
What is your best beauty secret for these colder months?
Stay ash-free at all costs, so moisturize! Also, turn the melanin up with a tropical vacation. I just got back from Jamaica and my tan completely evened out my skin. Oh and try monoi Tahitian oil—you’ll smell like summer year-round.
How do you practice self-care?
Hitting the gym helps me clear my mind and get rid of a lot of anxieties I have. I’ll tune out the world and sweat out all the shitty toxins and thoughts I have been absorbing. A weekly manicure is a fun indulgence and a must: I literally zone out and allow myself to be pampered. A good dinner or drinks with my best friends is also key: we’ll just talk out all our issues and discuss the politics of the day. It makes me feel supported and loved!