Style

My Beauty Uniform: Candace Reels

My Beauty Uniform: Candace Reels

Candace Reels is an LA-based activist and the founder of Female Collective, an apparel brand and online community that celebrates and uplifts all women. Here, she shares surprising lipstick advice, her trick for at-home manicures and what you can do right now to make a difference…

Candace Reels Beauty Uniform

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in beautiful, sunny Los Angeles! As a kid, L.A. felt like it was all about beauty — how you look and who you know. It was a lot to take in. I was exposed to the film and TV industries, and saw many white women being promoted for their roles or appearing on the covers of magazines. Luckily, my amazing parents would always tell me I mattered as much as everyone else in the room. Nowadays, they’ve also allowed me to live at home while chasing my dreams and building my baby, Female Collective. Because of this, I’ve been able to focus on what I need to get done. I’ll finally be moving out this week!

Candace Reels Beauty Uniform

How would you describe intersectional feminism, and why is it so important?
It means creating equality not just between men and women, but also breaking it down by class, by race, across all lines. As a black woman, I can’t separate being black and being a woman, so I need to talk about racism within feminism. We have to make sure we fight for all — black women, brown women, Muslim women, native women, trans women… The world is full of people who are suffering in so many ways, and we need equality for everyone.

Let’s talk about Black Lives Matter. Why is it imperative that everyone gets involved?
Naomi Wadler, the 11-year-old girl who spoke at the D.C. March For Our Lives, inspired me when she said, ‘I’m here for the young black girls and to speak for them.’ There are white kids who are afraid of being shot at school, and of course that is something we should care about. But there are black kids who are afraid of being shot anywhere — in their homes, on the street, anywhere. Just like with feminism, you have to break these issues down across race and class. We don’t typically feel as affected by issues until they happen to us, but we need to have empathy for what other people are going through, even if it’s not our own experience. Let’s make this a bigger conversation.

Candace Reels Beauty Uniform

Do you wear makeup? What products are part of your “everyday face”?
I used to wear lots of makeup because I would find something on my face to be annoyed with. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more confident in owning my so-called flaws. I’ve used the same L’Oreal True Match foundation for years; I found my color (classic tan) and have refused to change it up. After that, I’ll use Tarte blush in Peaceful, a peachy color, and for highlighter I like Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop. To make my eyes look bigger, I use this lash primer before two coats of Urban Decay Perversion mascara.

How do you switch it up for special occasions (or whenever you’re feeling dramatic)?
When I’m feeling a bit extra, I’ll put on a bold lip. I love mixing red and pink lipsticks together to create a beautiful rich color that pops! My favorites are ColourPop liquid lipstick in More Better and Bad Habit.

What’s your skincare routine?
My daily cleanser is Pacifica Kale Detox deep cleaning face wash, which is perfect for oily skin. After that, I use Thayer’s witch hazel rose petal toner. It calms down all the oil but doesn’t dry me out. I put it on both day and night. I follow that with Heritage rosewater and glycerin spray, which makes my skin feel refreshed and smells amazing. For moisturizer, I use Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Daily Shade with SPF 18. Clearly, I’m obsessed with anything and everything rose.

My Beauty Uniform: Candace Reels

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with self-love?
It sounds corny, but when I wake up every morning, I read a list of affirmations. I say that I love myself and that I can get anything done. Especially in this age of social media, it’s important to remind yourself that you are enough. Sometimes, I’ll blast music to release tension. One of my favorite songs is ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin; I also love Motown and anything by Rihanna. Just a quick, five-minute dance will do it.

Do you do your own nails?
Yes, I love doing pedicures and manicures. It feels relaxing and meditative. This is really random, but I rest my hand on a shoebox while I’m painting. My hand is stable, and the polish goes on more easily. I like Revlon’s ColorStay Gel Envy — it doesn’t chip right away like other polishes.

Do you have a signature piece?
At this point, I honestly feel weird leaving the house without a hat! I could be going on a date, to a meeting, brunch with friends, it doesn’t matter. Hats help me stand out in a crowd. Lately I’ve been wearing a lot of Brixton.

Any other style tips you’re willing to share?
For sunglasses, I like a brand called Crap Eyewear, based in L.A. They have amazing vintage-looking frames that are pretty affordable. When it comes to clothes, I also like mixing menswear with womenswear. That way, I know no one else will have my outfit on!

Candace Reels Beauty Uniform

What’s the story behind Female Collective?
After graduating college, I wanted to be a fashion buyer, but after a couple different jobs I realized it wasn’t the career for me. I was 26, and I felt lost and was struggling with self-love, so I started an Instagram account to help encourage myself. I would post quotes, photos of women I looked up to, and memes that made me laugh. I didn’t tell anyone about it, but it started gaining traction. Next thing you know, I turned it into a clothing brand and online community that’s about celebrating, uplifting and supporting all women. It’s been quite a journey, and I’m loving every minute. One of my all-time favorite posts is a photo I took at the Women’s March in 2017. It’s a photo of a bunch of men holding a big sign saying, ‘Men Of Quality Respect Women’s Equality.’ It’s a very special one to me, because I’m always talking about how men need to join the fight.

My Beauty Uniform: Candace Reels

What’s your process behind creating the Female Collective T-shirts?
The lines usually just come to me when I get inspired about a subject. My top three are: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-Ding For Planned Parenthood (50% of the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood), Queen RBG (featuring an image I drew of Ruth Bader Ginsberg), and The Rise of the Woman = The Rise of the Nation (I truly believe this).

What are a few actionable ways for women to help make a difference?
I always tell people to choose a cause they’re passionate about, whether that’s women’s rights, LGBTQ issues, the environment, gun control, Black Lives Matter… From there, learn about who’s already fighting for these issues in your community. They’ll help you figure out how you can get involved. You can also start following Instagram accounts of people and organizations involved in social justice, as they’ll share specific ways for you to help. Most of all, the best thing you can do is truly listen to the marginalized people affected by these issues.

Candace Reels Beauty Uniform

Do you have a routine for winding down at night?
I will check social media, although I know that’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do! Then I read a couple chapters of a book. I’m currently reading Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis, who is one of my biggest inspirations.

A Cup of Jo - Candace Reels

As a proponent of self-love, how do you navigate the often confusing world of beauty?
I love beauty products and fashion, and I try to support businesses that feel empowering. If a brand wasn’t feminist before, but is trying to capitalize on a feminism ‘trend,’ I avoid it. I love how Fenty Beauty came out with so many shades. Rihanna is creating a brand for ALL women. Beauty standards are something I hope we’re growing out of; there isn’t just one standard. All kinds of people — of different shapes and sizes — are beautiful.

Candace Reels Beauty Uniform

Thank you so much, Candace! We love you.

P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, including a hair stylist and a neuroscientist.

(Photos courtesy of Candace Reels/Female Collective.)

  1. Tracey Rae Beal says...

    Candace, you are beautiful and clearly brilliant and driven and creative and awesome! I dont indent do try to diminish any of that (couldn’t if i tried).

    But I am so struggling with WHAT TO DO?! First, BLM is real and important and not just about police brutality. In fact I feel it ends in police brutality. How do we counterbalance it at the beginning? My mother-in-law is an educator in the bronx in a ‘terrible school’ but she doesn’t know how to speak or write or teach grammatically correct english; she doesn’t know how to do middle school math, etc. She is caring and lovely but when we suggested she move out to CA to live with us her teaching credentials wouldn’t come close to passing and by all means we wouldn’t allow our children (bc we are privileged and have options) to go to a school with a teacher like her. i’m not perfect and don’t expect teachers to be perfect but I do hope they can provide those who are most disadvantaged to LEARN?!
    how do we change these circumstances? WHAT DO WE DO? frustrated and t-shirts help but won’t cut it.

  2. lulu says...

    New fave! <3

  3. “Beauty standards are something I hope we’re growing out of; there isn’t just one standard.”
    Yes, please and thank you!

  4. Tshego says...

    What an amazing collection of hats!!!

  5. Janesfriend says...

    Amazing interview, thank-you. I have just fallen into her instagram and now can’t (and don’t want to} get out. Could you ask her to do a week of outfits, v please?? Every picture is like a fashion shoot.

  6. Daniela says...

    The blog has been on point recently! I love the beauty uniforms, house tours, and anything food related. So great to read, whether I’m at home on the couch or on lunch at work.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad to hear that, daniela! means a lot. xoxo

  7. SK says...

    Where can I buy that “Human Being” shirt?

  8. Rachel says...

    Candance is awesome!! What a great addition to the beauty uniform series <3

  9. Meg says...

    Love, love, love this interview. Also — that croissant!! IT IS SO PERFECT!!

  10. BW says...

    Style goals!! Genius and inspiring. (And that blush beret..)

    • Maiz says...

      Yes, that beret and all of her hats!

  11. Lizzie says...

    Candace is smart and beautiful. I wish, though, that her activism were more connected to specific policy that would affect not just how people feel about themselves and others, but actually structurally change society. BLM, social justice, feminism- these are all high level outlooks that don’t end up affecting the majority of people’s lives very much if they aren’t connected to concrete policy. For example, tell us about voter suppression, and the importance of paper ballots so that POC can make sure their votes are counted. Or tell us about political candidates sponsoring innovative apprentice programs that give women and people of color and poor people and young people and everyone a chance to escape poverty and join the middle class. Or if BLM is your issue, talk about which programs most effectively retrain police departments to adopt in order to avoid bias in policing. All of these policies connect philosophy to change.

    • K says...

      This was fairly short interview that just touched on those topics. Absolutely all the things you mentioned are important, but so is having gaining support for a movement deemed (unfortunately) controversial to some Americans. In such a short interview, I don’t think she could realistically go through all those policy issues.

    • Hmm I respectfully disagree with Lizzie. Structural change is impossible without changing people’s outlooks. And as a feminist who is constantly frustrated with what I see on the internet, it really does make a difference to see someone who believes the same things I do.

    • em says...

      I agree, Lizzie. If this instagram account were just one of a couple hundred, I’d be okay with just the feel good, self-empowerment slogans and jargon. But it feels like we’ve made some headway in that (as there are thousands of people posting these messages) and now can start to talk about concrete ways in which we can make changes, particularly if someone has 150k+ subscribers. Sometimes these empowerment shirts look like modern day versions of the 1970s happy face t-shirt (which I really like). While I think those happy faces actually did some real good, it’s time to put our thoughts into specified action.

  12. A Martin says...

    So inspiring! I LOVE that she mentioned that she lives with her parents so she could focus on her passion. No one talks about the economic impact of pursuing passions while building up a business/movement.

    I am also loving that “Investing in Families “ art!! The graduation picture with the cholo and his daughter ❤️#realfamilies.

    Oh and her pink beret ❤️

  13. LB says...

    I cannot believe I didn’t know about Candace and the Female Collective! Thank you for the introduction CoJ! Love her unique style and I am 100% behind her. I will definitely feature her on my site and introduce her to my community.

  14. jeannie says...

    Candace is such an inspiration for finding her own style and her own voice. The photographs are gorgeous!

  15. Sasha says...

    I love Female Collective, one of the best accounts on Instagram! And so fun getting to know Candace better here. COJ finds the most interesting and important and inspiring women to feature. I love that young women like Candace are making the world a better place.

    And her hats are just plain awesome. Also, I’ve thought puffy sleeves were silly until now, but she makes them seem so cool.

  16. Carrie says...

    She’s like… impossibly stylish and amazing. Straight from a hip ass fairy tale.

  17. Katie says...

    She’s so cute! Seconding Perversion – best mascara I’ve tried!

  18. Cara says...

    She is beautiful and her style is amazing! I wish I could pull off even one of the outfits (or the short hair!) that she’s rocking.

  19. Lizzie says...

    Just wondering if you are planning on doing a post on how Caroline is back? I notice her name popping up as the author again over a month ago but no announcement that she had returned. Very happy to see her writing on cup of jo again!

    • Jessica S says...

      I think they mentioned something a few weeks back about how Caroline is helping out while one of the other regular writers is on maternity leave.

    • E says...

      I think I saw that she’s covering for Lexi on maternity leave?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, she is covering for lexi, while she’s on maternity leave. it’s so nice to have her back!

  20. Loved this interview. Loved that so much of it was focussed on her building her business, and on her thoughts about what intersectional feminism is and why BLM matters (which, I mean, we hope people already are familiar with these things, but, sadly, not everyone is and her answers are great introductions. I feel like printing them off and handing them out. on cards to people!)

    On the completely shallow end of things, her style is so amazing and a week of outfits would also be amazing just to hear how she picks out what she does to put them together.

  21. Ro says...

    What a beautiful person! Not only do I love Candace’s style (that yellow hat…) but could she possibly be any more inspiring? I adore people who figure out what they want to do in life, and then do what they can to make it happen.

    Thanks so much for spreading the word about her brand, since I hadn’t heard of Female Collective. Now, off to follow her on Instagram AND buy a t-shirt :)

  22. Molly says...

    Love this! Love Candace! Love Female Collective! I’m so happy to see this on Cup of Jo.

  23. Amy says...

    YES, MAMA, YES. I love how much Candace just radiates. Kudos for featuring not just women of style, but women of passion, courage and wits!

  24. Jen says...

    The movement that I’ve seen COJ take over the past five years has been amazing. For many years, I loved COJ, but always felt frustrated by how white it felt. I am inspired by this blog seeking out strong women of color to feature in fantastic posts. And, the questions about the importance of intersectionality and the BLM movement are spot on. Thank you, Candace and COJ!

    • A Martin says...

      Yes yes yes!!!!

  25. Samantha says...

    “..we need to have empathy for what other people are going through, even if it’s not our own experience”

    Once more for the people in the back-
    “WE NEED TO HAVE EMPATHY FOR WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH, EVEN IF IT’S NOT OUR OWN EXPERIENCE”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. Lea says...

    What an awesome person she is. Let’s take it even further! Let’s not wait! Let’s take the fight all the way, and stop limiting love altogether. In terms of beauty – why work so hard now to make black “beauty”, and plus-size “beauty” mainstream, while the people who get hailed in those beauty categories still have the kinds of faces, and hair, that we associate with traditional beauty. What about people with asymmetrical faces? Huge noses? Very thin hair? Warts? Deformities? How long will those people have to wait in order to feel beautiful (i.e. loved/accepted)? While I agree with all my heart with the sentiment of the fights that are ongoing, it feels like polishing a corner in a huge, dirty room. Let’s focus on the beauty of DIVERSITY and the commonality of HUMANITY, rather than creating new elites in new categories! The same thing with all kinds of equality. Men fighting for women, white people for black people, cis for gay and trans and so on – it’s just a bandaid on a huge wound. Yes, it feels amazing that there is finally a bandaid where before there was nothing… I just want us to move forward faster. We are ALL raised in the belief that we have to perform in order to deserve love and acceptance – and that is what is creating all the division in the world. Also white men. I look at my sensitive, sweet little boy, knowing that while I will do all I can do tell him otherwise, he will grow up in a world where he is expected to be ashamed of weakness, be always assertive, and look a certain way. What a waste of a loving heart. Or maybe not. Let’s fight for the breakdown of all those prerequisites for love and acceptance.

    • em says...

      I was thinking the same thing after I read the sentence about white girls moving up in the film industry. I thought, okay but she has a traditionally beautiful face. What about girls the majority of girls who don’t transcend skin color with their beauty?

  27. Lianne La Havas has a beautiful live cover of Say A Little Prayer on Spotify, it is one of my favorites! She is amazing!

  28. Katherine says...

    AMazing. One of my favorite posts in the years and years I’ve followed your blog.

  29. Anne says...

    Girl – you are doing things. Work!

  30. Amy H says...

    Wow, loved reading this one!

  31. Jenny says...

    Such a crush on this woman! She’s so pretty, and living with such intention.

    What a great woman to interview/spotlight/etc!

  32. Bets says...

    She is going to change the world! Love her positivity and her outlook – go girl!

  33. China says...

    I am so into her message and her hats!!! Also, she is wearing the puffed-sleeve trend better than anyone. Love.

  34. j.fizz says...

    Truly inspirational.

  35. Michelle says...

    I just started following Female Collective and now I’m even more obsessed!! Thank you CoJ!

  36. MA says...

    Awesome! Love her style.

  37. Love Candace and Female Collective! Thanks so much for this great feature :)

  38. B says...

    Beautiful, style on point, and such a social justice role model! Love all of this. Thanks for lifting up and fighting for all women!

  39. Emmie Mai says...

    I really enjoyed this interview with Candance. I’ve been following her on Instagram for awhile now and really appreciate her style. Thank you for including more women of color. Love it!

  40. Lucy says...

    Love the mix of activism, beauty, self-love. Also, Candace looks like she’s from another era–so classic!

  41. Josee says...

    Magnetic! And hats! Yes!!!

  42. Katherine says...

    I’ve been following Candace since the election and she has made me feel so much more passionate about getting involved and doing something. I have overwhelming anxiety and dermotillomania, and I used to struggle so much with feeling like I was enough. The Female Collective and Candace’s positivity has also helped me remember that I am beautiful and that I am worthy, just as I am. Thank you so much for featuring such a fearless and fierce, beautiful woman. Love you Candace, thank you for all you do!!

    • Siobhan says...

      Katherine I hope you don’t mind this comment but I was wondering have you had any treatment for your dermotillania? I suffered with this for over 10 years but eventually got a referral for cognitive behaviour therapy. I was sceptical but it absolutely worked. Still have occasional bouts but it’s vastly improved. Yours could be a completely different situation of course, but might be worth investigating if you haven’t already considered it. Sending love – anxiety is horrible!

  43. Nan says...

    Wait, I’m trying to figure out how she could ever find her face “annoying” – what? She’s model-beautiful. But what’s even better is that she has such great personal style and is an activist for human rights. It shows that she’s as beautiful inside as she is outside.

  44. Sarah says...

    So many of the comments on her instagram account are mean and obscenity-filled. How on earth does she rise above it? So grateful for Cup of Jo readers being so kind and tactful, but even the occasional snippy comment here can linger with me. Oof! The internet!

    • Brianna says...

      She’s amazing at that. The feminist accounts on Instagram get the worst trolls ever. People are vicious.

    • Yes every time I come across a feminist post anywhere on the internet I have to remind myself not to read the comments. It’s not worth it! Except cup of jo of course :) :) :) Agreed, the internet is in many ways amazing, but many ways horrible.

  45. Laura says...

    Inspirational! And I positively love your haircut. It’s amazing.

  46. Kim G says...

    I started following female collective sometime around the election. I’m so glad Ms. Reels is being featured!

  47. LV says...

    wow, really loved this one! inspired by her message and mission. and hats.

  48. Morgan says...

    She’s so inspiring and also the most beautiful person i’ve ever seen

  49. mb says...

    I don’t know where to start gushing about this woman! Her social activism, enthusiasm, positive energy? Or on the completely shallow end and talk about how she is absolutely adorable (her eyes are so big, she looks like she is an illustration!) or her awesome style? She’s wonderful! Can’t wait to see more from her!

  50. Jane I. says...

    At first glance, I thought “What is Cardi B doing on Cup of Jo?!” Haha! I so, so loved this post. Love her style and I especially love the piece about the intersection of race and feminism. This is such an important message that I hope never gets forgotten. Go girl!

  51. Brittney says...

    Almost as good as the post itself, is this comments section. As a WOC, who is also an avid consumer of culture (including this blog!), it’s incredibly affirming to see BLM, intersectional feminism, and activism as an integral part of someone’s style choices. And for it to be presented as such, not just a wink and nod, really is the icing on the cake. Scrolling through the comments reminded me that it’s possible to find community anywhere. That means a lot to me, and a lot of other people, I’m sure!

    • Sasha says...

      Your comment made me tear up! This is a really special place.

      I love Candace’s suggestion to listen to those who are marginalized. I am a better person for the stories shared here, trying every day to listen more thoughtfully and intentionally.

  52. Courtney says...

    I know she mentioned the hats but how can we have an entire beauty interview and NOT TALK ABOUT HER AMAZING HAIR?! Her hair is so cool. I need a step-by-step rundown of how she gets it to look like that!!!

  53. EMichelle says...

    Candace is such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing her message as well as her style.

  54. I had no idea she was behind that account! Just lovely black girl magic. A classic beauty.

  55. mado says...

    I love everything about this. Inspiring!

  56. jac says...

    Listen…marry me.

    <3
    Until then, I will creep you on instagram.

  57. This is so great and I loved hearing about her business! I would love to see an interview series on female entrepreneurs!

  58. Catherine says...

    I’m such a hat person. Where did she get the “girl power’ beret? I love it and all her hats.

  59. Christina says...

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! Her stories are the best thing that comes up on my IG feed. Candace is truly beautiful inside and out. So glad to read this article about her!

  60. K says...

    SO GREAT. So happy to hear about BLM on this blog and hear about its connection to feminism!! I wish more people understood how you cannot hold the values of feminism to be true without supporting BLM. Equality for all genders, all races.

  61. MM says...

    She is so cool and her style is absolutely amazing!!!!! She is so spot-on about weaving race into the larger conversations. Although I can’t agree about reproductive rights, I admire what she’s doing and love her confidence and passion.

  62. BEST beauty uniform yet!
    (i say that every one, but i really mean it!)

  63. jeannie says...

    This may be my all time favorite beauty uniform! Candace is so inspiring! I just checked out her blog and got lost in it for ages – nodding my head, getting informed, and sometimes laughing out loud! Love the “Human Being” shirt and her confident personal style. Thank you!

    • jeannie says...

      I mean instagram and website, not blog. :)

  64. Meghan says...

    Love her point about avoiding brands that ‘capitalize on feminism’!

    • Eva says...

      agreed!

  65. Denise says...

    Wow, Candace is a powerhouse! She lifts my energy even through the internet and her activism is her most beautiful quality of all. I love that she does a 5 minute dance for self love. Plus those hats!

  66. Katie says...

    Loved this one! What an inspiring woman.

  67. Caitlin Lee says...

    I love her feed! And the hats. I wish I was a hat person.

  68. Lauren E. says...

    OMG I saw her on a plane once! I felt a little like a creeper cause I kept staring at her but she just looked so effortlessly cool. Love this one.

  69. Brilliant post – weaving in beauty with activism and complex concepts. I would love to see more of this here! Love Candace and everything she’s about. <3

  70. Virginia says...

    Dammmm- she is so cool

  71. sarah says...

    This is so inspiring! Feminism must be intersectional or what is the point?

  72. Laura says...

    I love love love her and everything she stands for!!! So happy to see her here!!

  73. D says...

    OMG- love this lady!
    Go Girl!

  74. Carla says...

    So beautiful!

  75. Sara says...

    What a great message! I REALLY love this post.

    And, though it seems beside the point even though it was a beauty uniform post, Candace is so gorgeous I could look at pictures of her all day.

  76. Heather says...

    COJ – you guys have been killing it with the Beauty Uniform and Week of Outfits series lately. Feminist Collective is one of my FAVOURITE accounts on Instagram and I loved learning a bit more about the amazing woman behind it! I love how honest and aware Candace is. She speaks from the heart and her style and self-care routine come across as really authentic as a result. Sharing this post RIGHT NOW with one of my best friends because I think that she’ll love it too! What an amazing way to start the long weekend, thank you Candace, Caroline and the COJ team! I can’t wait to read more articles like this on the blog. xx

    • Heather says...

      Oops! I got a bit excited while commenting. My post hould read Female Collective*

  77. Zm says...

    Stunning! ??

  78. Laura says...

    A++++++++++ beauty uniform. Love everything Candace stands for and how she chooses to express it!

  79. Anna says...

    I love her! Thanks so much for sharing, Candace!

  80. Lena says...

    Candace is an icon for brains, beauty and action. Love her!

    • Megan says...

      Agreed! Inspirational. Loved this post and so glad to be introduced to the Female Collective. Candace is a gorgeous powerhouse.

  81. Kimberly says...

    Love!

  82. Betsie says...

    Wonderful! Thank you for featuring Candace!

  83. Liz says...

    Love her message, love her style.

  84. Cynthia says...

    I love the hats! I remember when a well-dressed woman never went anywhere without a hat and gloves.

  85. Love this one!!! I follow the collective on Instagram and it’s so great to put a face to the great human behind it! ❤

    • Leah says...

      Yes, exactly what Katie said!