Women of Detroit and their Mother's Beauty Rituals

My mom is really just the coolest ever. Sure, she’s done some “uncool” things: she had me convinced (for years) that I should trust strangers to pour hot wax on my eyebrows, she thinks low rise jeans look “nice” on me, she thinks my obsession with Diva Cups is weird, she thinks white sneakers are “geriatric”, she often tells me I’m dressed like an extra from Mean Streets, but like, “not in a good way”.

All that said, she’s still really just so frickin’ cool it undoes me.

All she does before going “out” is brush her eyebrows, like a true Sicilian goddess; she pats olive oil on her face before she goes to bed, she has the most perfect streak of grey hair above her left temple that as far as I can tell she doesn’t ever think about, she’s got the most beautiful big, boney, Sicilian nose you’ve ever seen not on Al Pacino. She wears clogs and socks in an un-ironic way. She always has holes in her pants. When she was 18, Carl Weathers (Sylvester Stallone’s rival in the 1st Rocky movie) asked her to get a drink and she tripped down a flight of stairs in front of him, whilst wearing Candies!

Coolest of all, she possesses a potent amount of self respect and not a single ounce of vanity in spite of all her coolness, beauty, and radical self possession. She worked full time, sometimes two or three jobs to raise my sister and I on her own. She always answers the phone when I call her and she’s always telling me I need to sleep more (who doesn’t want to hear that?). No matter how long her shifts at the Mexican restaurant where she works, she comes home, draws herself a loooong empsom salt bath, and takes the time to drink a big jar of water and scrub her fingernails and toes with a bristle brush. She taught me that “beauty is as beauty does”. That having it is a product of self care, self respect, and some self-mothering.

My mama and older sister in 1991… is there anything on the market that can make my face that fresh?

My mama and older sister in 1991… is there anything on the market that can make my face that fresh?

Here’s to mama’s/mum’s/mother’s/mommy’s & mom’s that are cooler than white sneakers, high waisted jeans and tracksuits. We owe you everything. Ladies of Detroit, tell me, tell me, how cool is you mom?

Maxine McCrann : Florist

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My mom is pretty low-key and easy-going when it comes to beauty. She never used harsh soaps on her face and really has 0 wrinkles at age 62. She always talked about not stripping away your skin’s natural oils. She just rinses her face with cold water most of the time! And she always always wears sunscreen.

I have a ton of coarse hair that can easily become really dry. My mom would heat up olive oil and brush it into my hair when I was feeling a bit frizzy. I'd leave it on for a few hours, and afterward my hair would be soft and glossy.

She taught me to take care of myself in ways that make me feel good; if you feel more confident, you'll look so much more beautiful. She's also very into relaxing. She deeply believes in getting enough rest, taking baths, and going for long walks every day.

Lailani Ledesma : Actress

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My mother never encouraged me wear make up, especially when I was teenager so she would give little tips that would boost my confidence while others were slathering on their black eyeliner, and some of those things I still do today; clear mascara for a dewy look, a tinted chap-stick for blush, and scrubbing your lips with warm washcloth and moisturizer for soft pink lips. My mom is a true blue 80's woman, she gets F U N K Y. I love watching her get ready, her definite must haves before a night out are either some big hoop earrings, or a slick black hat. She loves getting monochromatic with it, oh and she never forgets her mascara or lip liner. She taught me that I should always come first, especially when it comes to my health and to never let anyone influence my self-acceptance. She equated kindness with beauty, and she has this very pure childish enthusiasm that is infectious and beautiful.


Sara Aldridge : Executive Business Manager for 1xRun and Inner State Gallery / DJ with Nothing Elegant

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What's the best beauty trick you've learned from your mum? 

Confidence in key.

Was there ever a beauty disaster that your mama helped you survive?

I once thought it was a great idea to shave off my eyebrows. Not quite sure what I was thinking, but my mom was great at reassuring me they'd grow back and physical beauty is not nearly as important as inner beauty and putting out good energy into the world. If you have a good heart your beauty will radiate.

What did your mom do to get ready for a night out or a special occasion?

Always a glass of bubbly before heading out.

What did your mom teach you about beauty/feeling beautiful?

My mom has always been great at giving my sister and I freedom to find our individual beauty on our own. She was always really supportive at letting us try new things whether it was dying our hair purple, going through our gothic phase and wearing all black or seeking out new ways of thinking that empowered us and made us feel beautiful. I think allowing us to fall outside of the box and not live up to any "traditional" beauty standards or trends has been incredibly liberating for me.


Morgan Hutson AKA Supercoolwicked : Performer

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What’s the best beauty trick you’ve learned from your mum?

The best beauty trick I learned was using lipstick as blush. It’s so cost effective, plus you get a DOPE monochromatic look out of it. She’s all for simple hand application. I feel like it gives off a sort of effortless beauty vibe.

What did your mom do to get ready for a night out or a special occasion?

Gotta say, no special occasion would happen without the Fashion Fair foundation! My mother is dark skinned and she wore Fashion Fair because they were a company that focused on Black women’s skin tones. She didn’t have to mix foundations to find the right color with them. No occasion was a go without the Fashion Fair.

What did your mom teach you about beauty/feeling beautiful?

My mom taught me that beauty is simple. Sure, it’s fun to go over the top and be big and glamorous, but you can hit the mark just as hard with less. She taught me how to use what I got! Everything I need I possess. Find what you like, and play on that!


Isabella Achenbach :  Exhibitions and Publications Project Manager at University of Michigan Museum of Art

What's the best beauty trick you've learned from your mum?

Wearing sunscreen! My mom taught my sisters and I to appreciate natural beauty. She's a total beach babe (grew up in Miami and worked on the crew of a Jamaican sailboat) and taught us how underrated a little beachy exfoliation day and salt water hair treatment can be. Add a little lipstick after a day at the beach and she's ready to go. My mom always wears "pink chocolate" lipstick by Clinique. My sisters and I all own a tube now too. It's such a good color and matches all of our skin tones.




Linda Jordan : Attorney

What's the best beauty trick you've learned from your mum?

My mother always said, "the secret to wearing makeup is to make it look like you're not wearing any at all." She had a minimalist approach that is forever ingrained in me.

What did your mom do to get ready for a night out or a special occasion? (What was her signature?)

She put on eye-liner. She normally didn't wear any.

What did your mom teach you about beauty/feeling beautiful?

My mother has a way of finding something beautiful in everyone. Someone doesn't have to be cookie-cutter perfect to be beautiful in her eyes. She also taught me to that confidence is beautiful, which is very important as so many women have been taught to be shy and demure.

Chelsea Romeo Allen