There’s More to Makeup Than M.A.C.

I once had a rather exhausting conversation with a potential makeup client that went something like this:


Her: Do you use M.A.C.?

Me: Of course! I have several M.A.C. products in my kit, but also use a variety of other brands.

Her: Nah, but I wear M.A.C. You got Studio Fix in that kit?

Me: Yes. But for the purpose of photo shoots, I prefer to use foundations that are formulated especially for use on-camera. Your pictures will turn out great, as these products are made to look amazing when the lights flash.

Her: Oh, no. I only use M.A.C. Nothing else can touch my face.

Me: [insert raised eyebrow here] I see. Have you had bad experiences with other products? if you don't mind my asking, why do you only use their makeup?

Her: I never tried any of that other stuff. M.A.C. is the best.


Oh, ok . . .

The conversation went on for a little while longer, and from it I gathered one simply fact: M.A.C. mania is alive and well! Hearing some women's unwavering obsession with the brand, you would think makeup was born when M.A.C opened its doors. Contrary to popular belief, the brand is but 20 years old in the United States---far younger than most of us! And many would be surprised to know that it's owned by none other than Estée Lauder. I can only imagine the horror on all the young makeup snobs' faces in knowing that their holy grail line was owned by our grandmother's favorite cosmetic company. Ha!

Now trust and believe, I adore M.A.C. as much as the next chick (if not more)! Please believe I keep a mean Lipglass and Mineralize SkinFinish on deck. The allure goes without saying. You walk through the cosmetics department and are automatically drawn to the counter with the bold black/white/wooden decor, booming music, and super-hip employees. You would swear multicolor asymmetrical razor cuts, tattoos, and fly clothes were in their job description. Then you see the products: bright shadows and lip glosses in every hue and finish imaginable, yellow to blues, shimmers to mattes---the works! And the price point? More than your average drug store brand of course, but certainly a steal for a professional-grade line. What's not to love---right? Well, maybe . . .

But what about all the other amazing products on the market---those that also cater to the needs of women of color and have been proven to give us high quality, long-lasting results? Surely M.A.C. isn't the only route to achieving a flawlessly "beat" face. Many other lines have an equally impressive rap sheet: countless years of satisfied customers, use in television and film, features at fashion week shows, etc. With these companies in mind, we'd like for you (just for one moment) to step out of M.A.C madness and consider some other great options. You never know, you just might find your next must-have makeup staple.

Here are 8 Lines You Should Try Out:


For those who prefer a sheer, natural-looking foundation with buildable coverage, Nars' "Sheer Glow" is an excellent choice. It's lightweight, dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, and fragrance free. And, according to the brand, will actually improve the radiance and texture of the skin with continued use. Their shade offering is great too, but bear in mind that certain colors are best found online.

Makeup Forever:
MUFE's "Face and Body" makeup is another great lightweight liquid foundation. Its waterproof formula is ideal for all skin types, and has a natural satin finish that is said to last long throughout the day. It masks imperfections and fills out fine lines and enlarged pores without giving the appearance of cakey, overdone makeup. And, as a plus, it can also be used on the body for those of us who have discoloration or scars around the neck, chest, and other areas.

Iman Cosmetics is known for providing a full range of products specifically geared towards the needs of women of color. Her "Second to None" stick foundation is a nice cream to powder option that's infused with jojoba and vitamins A, C, and E. The oil-free formula gives good coverage and keeps shine at bay (especially when set with a loose powder), leaving the skin silky and semi-matte.

*Note: Unfortunately, many stores use demographics to determine which product shades they keep stocked. So if you are unable to find your exact foundation match, fret not. Try another location, or even online, where you will likely have a wider range of color options.


Loreal HIP:
Loreal really set themselves apart from fellow drugstore cosmetics brands when they introduced their HIP (High Intensity Pigment) collection. And as the name implies, their products are packed with vibrant color! Each eyeshadow duo is priced at roughly $8, and includes not only two complementary shades, but a mirror and reusable sponge applicator as well. If you're feeling extra funky, try the electric blue "Showy" duo. And for a plum play on the classic smoky eye, try out "Sculpted".

If you favor more neutral colors with just a hint of sheen (as opposed to full-on glittery shimmer), Lorac has you covered! The line features a broad range of colors each season that always includes beautiful browns, nudes, and the occasional pop of blue or purple. The formula is extremely smooth and blendable, which allows for easy application. For everyday wear, try "Serenity"---a gorgeous pink champagne. And for girl's night out, rev things up with "Green Room"---a tempting teal green hue.

If you're a fan of cream shadow formulas, you'll love Shisedo's "Hydro Powder". The creamy, long-wearing colors can be applied with a slightly damp sponge or even fingertips. Wear them sheer, or build up the intensity---either way, they blend easily, last throughout the day, and resist creases or fading.

*Note: When it comes to eyeshadow, primer is your ride-or-die BFF. In order to ensure that you get the most true, vibrant, and long-lasting color, apply a product such as Too Faced Cosmetics's "Eyeshadow insurance" first.


Maybelline has been receiving excellent feedback on their "Color Sensational" lip products. Each shade is packed with pure pigment and gives a crisp, smooth application. They're easily accessible at any local Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. And with nearly 60 colors to choose from now, there's something for everyone (but we hear that "Red Revival" is a sure winner!)

If you need a last minute lipcolor and don't wanna spend the big bucks, NYX will hold 'ya down every time. For a couple dollars you're sure to get moisturizing long-lasting wear that has a nice velvety finish. And the shade options are ridiculous! Whether you want a nude pink, metallic gold, or bright orange---there's a NYX lipstick for you.


Nars: You heard what Drake said---"Orgasm blush, lipstick, and concealer." The fact that a rapper would be fully aware of the best-selling blush in stores nationwide proves that NARS hit the nail on the head with their cheek colors! They're all smooth-wearing, highly-pigmented, and easy to apply. A little bit goes a longggg way with shades like the deep rose "Taos" and bright red-orange "Exhibit A".

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.


Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...


— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.


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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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