Tell me about yourself.
Yana: My name is Yana and I am from New York. I'm a college student studying history. I’m biracial–half white and half black. My mom grew up in Brooklyn and my dad is British. I started growing my hair out then photographers and brands started hitting me up. I love supportining other black men and women. I thought it would be great to shout out black owned brands. As I grow my social media following, I want to focus on black owned brands. As a women of color, it’s my duty to help smaller brands.
What are your beauty struggles?
Yana: I’ve definitely struggled with acne since middle school. It would go away then come back, but I’ve grown to accept that I have problem skin. My beauty process has been about self-growth. My hair was permed for a long time because I grew up in area where I was the only girl with really curly hair. My mother thought I needed to assimilate so she permed my hair. When I got to college, I was introduced to so many other people of color. I had never seen what my natural hair looked like so chopped it off. It was a huge decision for me. My family, especially my mom and my grandma were against it. They cried and were like “You were so beautiful with your straight hair” and said things like "You won’t get a job or find a man because you have curly hair", but I found strength and support in my community on line.
How has community been important for you?
Yana: Seeing other women empowered me to continue my journey. As I grew out my hair, I saw that people were looking up to me. The community grows as my hair grows. I get messages from people saying how I inspired them to cut their hair. I love talking about my REAL hair journey because social media can be so superficial. If my journey can help someone else, I want to do that.
Do you think beauty is political for people of color?
Yana: Yes, but unintentionally. When I cut my hair off it was for me. What happens in our community is if an individual does something then it represents everyone. People thought cutting my hair was me being defiant against white supremacy. I don’t feel like my hair or the products I use should be a politcal statement. Those things are a basic rights and shouldn’t have to be a political fight. It’s sad because people don’t realize it’s a basic right. It is also on our community to take real action. We call out brands who do something racist but we continue to buy from them. It’s simple, if they don't support us then we have to stop buying from them.
What makes you feel unstoppable?
Yana: Getting up in the morning and putting an effort into the way I look. I love beauty and fashion and putting effort into things I love like school and Instagram. I feel unstoppable when I feel good about myself.
What’s your self-care routine?
Yana: I don’t really have a routine. I feel like self-care is bigger than a mask. It’s about knowing when you need a break. Mental health goes into self-care. You need to be able to listen to yourself and know that it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to have down moments. I don’t have a specific routine, but I love spending time with the people I care about and taking extra time to deep condition my hair. My current favorite skincare brands are Fresh, Hey Honey, and Lush. I love listening to mucis. My favorite artist is Nao– she’s been my fav for the past 3 or 4 years. Her whole album is so great!
Keep up with Yana on her journey: