Welcome to Take the Edge Off, a series that breaks down the beauty and self-care routines of influencers, CEOs, experts, and celebrities. Find out how they unwind and decompress, while taking a closer look at the holy grail essentials they’re currently raving about.
When we asked NYC salon owner and professional stylist Candice Witherspoon about her favorite curl cream to use on her clients, one of the first brands she named was clean hair care brand Adwoa Beauty. “I love using the Adwoa Beauty Baomint Moisturizing Curl Defining Cream on my clients,” she previously told BAZAAR.com. “It not only feels refreshing, but is also great for overall curl definition or a long-lasting twist-out.” And that essential is just one of many coveted products the brand’s CEO and founder Julian Addo has created for curly and coily textured hair types.
Addo began her beauty journey after immigrating with her family from Liberia to Staten Island, New York. Unable to receive a work permit at the age of 14, she befriended a local hairstylist in her neighborhood, and eventually grew her own client base, charging up to $20 per person to create signature styles. “Growing up in an inner city, there’s always a hustle. You’re doing something, and a lot of girls, they just did hair,” Addo says. “Some people weren’t good at it, but I was just really good at it. And I built a clientele.”
The founder ultimately earned her cosmetology license, and later created her first beauty brand, Bella Kinks, which began as a blog to track her natural hair journey, and eventually transformed into a natural hair events company. “I felt since I had the experience that I would go about it from a more educational standpoint. So my events took that tone, and because I was one of the only ones with my credentials, it got really big and we started doing events all throughout the US, and I became a prominent figure in the natural hair community.” After achieving a fair level of success and buzz, Addo leveraged her platform by freelancing behind-the-scenes with Sally Beauty for more established hair care brands.
Although she initially intended to avoid the limelight, ultimately her desire for more elevated beauty options for the Black community inspired Addo to create a product line herself. “I just wanted to see it come to light for the culture for the community. And really for Black women, because you had products that were either marketed to all people, or just to Caucasian hair types that looked [higher-end]. We didn’t have anything in a natural community that look like that. So, I just really wanted to see us have something that worked and looked nice, because people want both—we’re in a digital era.”
To challenge and evolve the standards in natural hair care, Addo founded her current company Adwoa Beauty, with “Adwoa” translating to “female born on a Monday” in Ghanaian culture. “Adwoa Beauty was born out of my frustration by how we were being marketed to, and how our packaging looks not only by mainstream [companies], but by also, quite frankly, Black founders. I feel like when we have a seat at the table, we tend to bring the same stuff. Even when conglomerates make products that are marketed to this demographic it always looks a certain way. I just got frustrated. And I felt that if I kept critiquing it I couldn’t not do something about it. I knew that in making a brand, I had to create something that I liked and felt confident talking about. I’m making it for me first, and hoping that there are other women and men like me that want this type of product.”
For a closer look at the rest of her holy-grail beauty favorites, Addo gives BAZAAR.com an inside scoop on the key products that round out her daily routine, which often starts with a morning workout. From a robust collection of audiobooks to rose-scented hand soaps and candles, read on for a breakdown of how the beauty CEO and founder finds supreme chill and woosahs on the regular.
What are you reading these days?
I do a lot of audiobooks since I work out on a treadmill in the mornings. Right now, I’m listening to The Richest Man in Babylon by George Classon, which is about wealth building and mindset—it’s really great. And it’s a quick read, only four hours on Audible. I also listen to a lot of encouraging podcasts on Spotify, like a series from motivational speaker Jim Ron.
What are some of your go-to bath and/or shower products?
That is so crazy that you asked that because I’m like going through a ton of stuff trying to find what I love. I’m using the Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash—it’s really rich and creamy. I also really love the Sol de Janeiro line because it’s aromatic, and that’s something I gravitate to when I’m stressed or had a hard day. I also love First Aid Beauty’s KP Bump Eraser because it has AHAs in it, and I love to exfoliate. Fresh’s Brown Sugar Body Polish Exfoliator is another one of my go-tos—I’ve been buying it for years and always get the large tub in Sephora.
What beauty or self-care products do you use on a regular basis to help combat zoom fatigue?
Honestly, the biggest self-care moment for me is when I’m working out and eating right. I have a Zoom with my staff every morning during the work week from 9 AM to 11 AM, so I make time for a workout before then. And that’s what I like to communicate to my staff, and make sure they’re living a good quality of life as well. You can’t output if you’re not inputting.
Do you have a favorite hand sanitizer, soap, and/or cream right now?
We typically go back and forth between BYREDO’s Rose lotion and hand soap and Aesop’s Reverence Aromatique hand wash and cream.
Do you ever light a candle or stick of incense to decompress? If so, what are some of your favorites?
I love BYREDO’s scents and Diptyque’s Roses candle—rose is an easy fragrance go-to for me. I also recently started buying FORVR Mood candles by Jackie Aina.
What was the last beauty product you put on today?
Adwoa Beauty’s Baomint Moisturizing Curl Defining Gel. I literally just recoiled some of my coils prior to this call, so that was definitely the last product I used.
Are you into bold makeup, no makeup, or no-makeup makeup right now, and why?
I’m not really into bold makeup, because I still like to look like myself. Most days when I come into the office, I’m not wearing any makeup, save for a little lipstick. But I’d probably have to go with no makeup-makeup, since when I do wear it, I usually fill in my brows with Boy Brow by Glossier, a skin tint from Ami Colé or Tower 28. I don’t do lashes or liner unless I’m going out, but I really love using red lipstick from Dose of Colors. The rest of my makeup is always neutral, and then boom, I have a red lip, so it’s always that for me.
What’s the last fitness class you streamed or attended in person?
The last fitness class I attended in person was probably SoulCycle pre-pandemic. I don’t even remember when that was, 2019? But I use the treadmill and my Peloton at home and go back and forth between them for workouts. And then sometimes I’ll have three- and five-pound weights by the treadmill, or walk with the weights, so I’m getting a full-body workout.
What’s one piece of self-care advice you’d recommend to our readers?
I speak to so many people—whether it’s doing things like this, or other business owners reaching out to me in DMs—and I’ve noticed that a lot of people just lack confidence, especially women. And I think it’s so important to one, have one confidence in yourself, and two, confidence in your abilities, because the world is so tough that if you don’t find that confidence and your voice, I just don’t see how you ‘re going to make it. And that affects every area of your life: your relationships, your job, your everything. Everything is self-care—it’s caring for yourself. It’s not skincare and haircare, and all of these expensive things that are found in a store. That’s part of it, but it’s not the root or foundation of self-care. More people need to take time to get to know themselves.
Tiffany Dodson is the Associate Beauty Commerce Editor at Bazaar.com where she covers all things beauty and shopping, including new product drops and can’t-miss sales. Her work has previously been featured in SELF, Bustle, and Teen Vogue.