21 Self-Care Essentials Beauty Founder Nyakio Grieco Swears By

Welcome to Take the Edge Off, a series that breaks down the beauty and self-care routines of influencers, CEOs, experts, and celebrities to discover how they unwind and decompress, while taking a closer look at the holy grail essentials they’re currently raving about.

As a first-generation American, Nyakio Grieco, entrepreneur and cofounder of inclusive retail site Thirteen Lune, began her journey in beauty at a young age, learning the importance of clean ingredients and formulas from her Kenyan grandparents. After working in the entertainment industry fielding deals on behalf of major celebrities, Grieco quickly realized there was little to no beauty brand representation stemming from the continent of Africa–which led her to launch her namesake line, Nyakio Beauty, in 2002.

“I ended up leaving that job and starting my skincare line, Nyakio Beauty, which was based on family beauty secrets that I learned from my grandmother, who was a Kenyan coffee farmer,” Grieco tells BAZAAR.com. “She taught me my first beauty secret–how to make Kenyan coffee scrub from her farm using coffee beans, oils, and rods of sugarcane to exfoliate. And then, my grandfather was a medicine man, so my whole life, clean beauty was never a trend; it was how I was raised. And I knew about the efficacious power of oils, because my mom would always use them on my skin and hair. And so, I wanted to bring those kinds of African beauty secrets that I knew would work on all skin types to the Western world.”

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After growing Nyakio Beauty first on her own, and later with the help of brand partners, Grieco launched the products in a number of well-known prestige stores, like Fred Segal and Jeffrey New York. Following the murder of George Floyd and countless other African Americans at the hands police officers, Grieco continued to gain recognition as a Black indie founder through the inclusion of her brand on a range of best-of beauty lists.

“I always say that I took my pain, and I turned it into purpose,” she says, recalling one of the most heightened moments of racial reckoning in America. “I started shopping those lists. And when I shopped those lists, I found that there were so many brands I had never heard of that had very little distribution. We were seeing beautiful initiatives, like the 15 Percent Pledge come about, but my cofounder and I were like, ‘Let’s take our own pledge and start something that’s going to bring more equity to the beauty industry.’ We as Black and Brown people spend so much money on beauty, and it’s only fair that we take up a little bit more shelf space, and that Black and Brown consumers better see themselves reflected on that shelf.”

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Grieco and her partner (11 Honore’s Patrick Herning) founded Thirteen Lune in December 2020, in an effort to not only provide minority-owned brands with greater visibility, but also debunk the myth that Black and Brown people make products only for their own races and ethnicities. “Thirteen Lune was born to be a platform where we could highlight BIPOC brands, but also be the first of its kind to be a truly inclusive retailer. We dedicate 90 percent [of retail space] to our BIPOC-founded brands, but 10 percent is dedicated to allyship. This is not our fight to fight alone; if we’re going to be truly inclusive, we have to include allies who have been serving us long before 2020.”

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Thirteen Lune started with just 13 Black-owned brands and has since extended its purview to represent more than 120 companies from both BIPOC and ally brands, like Joanna Vargas Skincare and Dr. Barbara Sturm. The retail site is continuing to expand, partnering with JCPenney to enhance and diversify the company’s beauty offerings. “We got a call from JCPenney saying they were looking for a new partner that was dedicated to true hyper-inclusivity as they were creating the JCPenney beauty space. So we signed a deal, and now are opening 600 stores nationwide over the next year,” she remarks. “It gives us the chance to amplify and celebrate founders who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have made it to national shelf so quickly, as well as inspire the next generation of Black and Brown founders to take up more space and build generational wealth.”

Ahead,BAZAAR.comcatches up with Grieco to find out more about the entrepreneur’s top product choices for every day beauty and wellness. Read on for a closer look at everything she uses to reset her energy and totally decompress–from palo santo sticks and a bevy of crystals to a range of covetable skincare essentials–plus, the importance of meditation and mentally clearing your space.

What are you reading these days?

I’m reading Cicely Tyson’s autobiography, Just As I Am: A Memoir. I mean, what an amazing woman; I have always looked up to her. So sad that she’s not here on this earth with us anymore, but it’s so amazing that she was able to deliver this gift to us. And talk about taking up space and being ahead of her time, and facing challenges head-on, but still standing in her grace and power. And so, I keep it behind me so that when I have breaks–because I don’t get a lot of time to read these days–I’ll just pick it up and be deeply inspired by her journey.

When you read books and stories about, you know, Nelson Mandela or Cicely Tyson, all these people that fought the good fight before, it’s like, “Okay, we got this,” right? Like, they did the hard work, and now we just get to continue. And doing it in an industry–you know, beauty is fun, it’s universal. It connects us all, and so I’m just glad that I found and stepped into my purpose through the lens of beauty, because I love it. So it’s a great way to live in purpose.

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What are some of your go-to bath and/or shower products?

There’s a brand we have called Enso Apothecary, and they have this Shavasana Eucalyptus Bath Soak. I don’t get a lot of time to take baths, but when I do, that is my go-to. It smells heavenly, and eucalyptus is obviously so amazing: medicinal and healing. And when I’m showering, I love using Selfmade’s True Grit Resilience Scrub. It’s so yummy and leaves your skin feeling hydrated and soft, and not stripped of its natural oils.

And then, after any scrub or bath soak, I love to use the Elixa Bath and Body Serum by The Established–it just leaves your skin silky, silky soft. And, you know, our skin is made up of oils, and so it understands oil more than any other form of product. I have super-dry skin, so it just soaks up all that hydration.

What beauty or self-care products do you use on a regular basis to help combat Zoom fatigue?

I love the Joanna Vargas Bright Eye Firming Mask–it’s amazing, and I will just walk around town in it, I don’t even care. I also love using the Buttah Vitamin C Serum. I suffer from hypo- and hyperpigmentation, and that has been really, really healing for my skin, and Dorion Renaud is just the most fabulous founder.

On days when I’m not using the Joanna Vargas eye mask, we have this brand named Switch2Pure that has this jade mask that I like to put in the fridge that helps to depuff and calm, like, not even just the eye area, like, calm me–just having that kind of coolness from the jade. And jade is such a magical stone.

And then, I swear by now and use every day, the Shani Darden Sculpting Wand. I’ll sit here in between Zooms and use it to lift and tone the skin where I get the little lines just from squinting a lot. It’s an investment, but I swear by it. I sent one to my mom for Christmas, and she keeps sending me FaceTime pictures.

Do you have a favorite hand sanitizer, soap, and/or cream right now?

I love the UnSun Cosmetics SPF 15 Hand Cream–I’m a big proponent that we need to wear SPF obviously every single day even if you’re inside to just make sure that we are giving our skin that protection, but people forget about our hands. So it’s super nourishing, and it gives you a little SPF, because that’s actually one of the places we show age first, is our hands.

I also love the Senteurs D’Orient Orange Blossom Hand Soap; I love anything orange blossom, clementine, tangerine. It just reminds me of summertime, and it’s so good and really hydrating for a hand soap. For hand sanitizer, my go-to is by iS Clinical–I buy them by the dozen. It’s like a spray with a cap, and it’s really chic, super hydrating, and doesn’t have that alcoholic smell, but is medical grade, so you know your hands are clean. It’s great. I take it on the plane everywhere I go and put in my kid’s backpack. It’s not your typical Purell price, but it’s worth the investment.

Do you ever light a candle or stick of incense to decompress? If so, what are some of your favorites?

I love to meditate, I love to clear my space, so I use the Satya and Sage Goddess Candle–it’s so beautiful. And I like sage and palo santo, and I’ll have crystals out when I’m meditating–I love the whole vibe. I get my crystals from Vega Jewelry, and then I typically use Urban and The Mystic’s Smudge Bundle. And in my kitchen, I love lighting the Leland Francis Pansy Candle.

What was the last beauty product you put on today?

I used my EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum today as my sunscreen, and also the Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick–I’m obsessed. I’m not a big foundation person, but it provides that kind of no-makeup-makeup look, so I’ll use it under my eyes, and along the edges of my face, and then just kind of blend it in–I do my makeup in, like, 20 seconds.

Are you into bold makeup, no makeup, or no-makeup makeup right now, and why?

I love to get glam, like, when I have somewhere fun to go, but on a daily basis, I do think that, like, skin care is the canvas to highlight anything. But I do love to even out my skin tone–I’m obsessed with the nude kind of lip, but I have darker pigmented lips, as most of us do. And so, we have this brand called CTZN, and they have our nudes. So it’s, like, the full range, because nude is not just pink or peach, so everybody can find their nude. I wear their Sarajevo color. Then, I’ll top it with its corresponding gloss and do an additional layer of the Ami Cole Lip Treatment Oil over that for extra hydration.

What’s the last fitness class you streamed or attended in person?

I do PlyoJam–it’s so much fun! It’s like that workout that you want to do when you don’t feel like working out, but you know you need to exercise. They use plyometrics, but also, like, fun dance moves and have the most incredible playlists. So when you stream it, you can see what the playlist is, and you’ll be like, “Okay, this one is Rihanna and 50 Cent, and they also have an arm workout that you can do that’s, like, all Disney songs.”

Their intermediate classes are only 30 minutes, and it’s the most fun thing. I discovered it during the pandemic, so I’ve only ever streamed it, but I would read about it all the time and kept hearing about it. And now it’s, like, my hands-down, go-to dance sort of workout.

And then, I also do a lot of sculpting with Justine Kennedy’s class, FRMATION. So I do 30 minutes of PlyoJam, and then a FRMATION sculpt–it’s not so hard in impact, but you feel it the next day.

What’s one piece of self-care advice you’d recommend to our readers?

We’re all living in such frenetic times, and there’s so, so much unknown, so I would say go easy on yourself. Go easy on yourself and find power in saying no. We’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, but we were almost shot out of the cannon. You know, we still have our Zoom life, but then we still have events, et cetera, et cetera. There’s something nice about having the power to say no and be with yourself.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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